By Nancy Gutierrez

Students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at Steve Garvey Junior High School helped to put Lindsay on the map when they were chosen as the top two eighth grade essay writers from Tulare and Fresno Counties for an AVID essay contest.

There were 2,000 students competing in the contest between sixth and 12th grade students. Two students from each grade level were chosen as the top student essay writers. While every other grade level had winners from two different schools the eighth grade level was dominated by Lindsay students.

Shauna Williams and Priscilla Ramos, two students in Garvey's AVID program taught by Marla Ernest, were both chosen as the top writers out of all of the eighth grade participants from Fresno and Tulare County's. The girls received three certificates of recognition. Certificates were signed by members of Congress the Senate and the Fresno County Office of Education.

They were also treated to a dinner at Pardinis Restaurant in Fresno.

"It just goes to show you that even if you come from a small town that no one's heard of, smart people can come from that town," Ramos said. "Just cause we're small doesn't mean we don't know anything."

These girls demonstrated that they know a lot. Participants in the contest had to write an essay on what they thought of a quote by Danny Thomas that read; "Success has nothing to do with what you are in life or accomplish for yourself. It's about what you do for others."

The students chose how long they wanted the essay to be and had a time limit. AVID coordinators were mailed pamphlets to administer the essay question at school. Ernest said directions on how to administer the test were stringent.

Each of the girls responded in different ways.

"I wrote that it didn't suggest anything true about human nature," Williams said. "People like to do things for themselves before others. The quote introduces a concept that is important but is not true. If people lived by the quote we would be less selfish."

Ramos took a completely opposite view and focused her essay on the idea that having success isn't measure by the amount of money or fame they receive but by what you do to give back to society and people.

Ramos and Williams have been in AVID for one year. They both agree that the program has made them more organized and that it has helped with their writing and speaking skills.

"I didn't think writing was something I could be good at," Ramos said. "Everyone should take AVID it helps you in every way possible."

There are 26 students in the AVID program. Usually offered only to eighth graders, AVID will be available to seventh graders next year. Ernest said there are already 34 eighth graders signed up for fall.

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