Lincoln Hosts National Showcase Event for AVID
When Amy Orellana and Alyssia Anderson were in 8th grade at Weeks Middle School they applied for a college readiness program at Lincoln High School called AVID. They had to be interviewed, something they were unfamiliar with and apprehensive about. But they made it. Now they’re juniors at Lincoln and as good a pair of ambassadors for AVID as the program could hope to produce.
AVID is Advancement Via Individual Determination, a global nonprofit organization that operates with one guiding principle: Hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support, and they will rise to the challenge, i.e., Great Expectations. For more than 30 years, AVID has prepared students for success. From its beginnings in one classroom in San Diego, it now impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of students throughout the United States and around the world.
The AVID program has been in place at Lincoln for four years, serving students who are traditionally underrepresented in four-year universities. During that time, the program has grown to support 250 students in grades 9-12. There are 42 trained staff members utilizing AVID strategies schoolwide in all disciplines. The current senior class, Lincoln’s first AVID cohort, is 40 students strong, and to date 38 have been accepted to four-year universities and been offered scholarships totaling in excess of $1 million.
No wonder Lincoln was chosen as the only school in Iowa to host a National AVID Showcase event on Wednesday.
Clad in blue AVID t-shirts as bright as their personalities, Amy and Alyssia escorted visitors around the building to drop in on classes and get a sense of how AVID works. Then back to the school library for a guest reception and presentation by Kim O’Donnell, Lincoln HS School Improvement Leader and the AVID District Director.
They had to be taken at their word that when they started in AVID they were self-conscious and unsure of themselves. Because now they are poised and self-confident. And grateful for what the program has done for them.
“I signed up for AVID because my parents hadn’t gone to college,” said Alyssia. “I thought it would help me learn how to apply and where to look for scholarships and financial aid and it has done that.” She will start her senior year next fall intent on some kind of a career in a medical field. Amy wants to get into criminal justice and is interested in Central Campus’s new curriculum in that field for next year as she prepares for school beyond high school.
AVID students are required to take at least three AP classes before they graduate in addition to AVID electives in practical areas like job/admissions interviewing. Tutorials are provided. On Tuesdays and Thursdays local college students from schools like Drake and Grand View universities come to Lincoln to help students who need it. But they are a resource for more than academic assistance.
“My favorite part of AVID is just talking to the college students,” said Alyssia. “They tell us what college life is like outside of the classroom.”
“Plus we go on campus visit fieldtrips,” Amy chimes in.
According to O’Donnell, AVID is aimed at “kids in the middle with GPAs between 2.0 and 3.0.”
aStudents from families where college hasn’t been the norm and may not necessarily be an expectation might otherwise slip through the cracks if not for a program like AVID that identifies and supports them.
“Kids learn about nuances like how to take notes in lectures and highlight a textbook,” said O’Donnell.
So successful has AVID been at Lincoln that a chapter is starting at McCombs Middle School in hopes of creating a Southside feeder pipeline.
After guiding their guests through the labyrinth of hallways at Lincoln and down a back stairwell to the library, Amy and Alyssia took seats at a table to wait for a panel discussion among AVID students, staff and parents. They make a great team. AVID brought them together.
“We really didn’t even know each other in middle school,” said Amy. They seem like kindred spirits now. Ones bonded by Great Expectations. Not the classic Dickens novel, the AVID mantra.