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Samohi's AVID Achievers

By Sam Zivi

A little-known program is doing spectacular things at SAMOHI. Some 140 students who might otherwise have had minimal college aspirations are training for university success because of the AVID Program.

The acronym, AVID, stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. These kids are DETERMINED. Furthermore, they are advancing academically and developing study methods and other skills that will enable them to get into a university or college, and to make good once they are there. As I tutor them in math, from geometry to calculus and statistics, I am inspired by their dedication and impressed by the devotion of their faculty advisors.

In AVID, beginning as early as the freshman year, the students who elect to join the program are guided into academic courses that will qualify them for admission to universities. In addition, they are imbued with a positive attitude that generates confidence and resilience. AVID faculty advisors introduce the students to various universities by escorting them on visits to college campuses as well as by arranging interviews with visiting college representatives at SAMOHI.

The students raise funds to finance the college trips by selling candy to the student body at large. I have hopes that the selling of candy may be replaced by other sources of funds in the future, so that everyone may have fewer cavities.

In the program, AVID students enroll in a college-appropriate curriculum at SAMOHI, including mathematics, sciences, social studies and languages. Student progress is continuously overseen by four faculty members who also serve as counselors in non-academic aspects of college preparation.

The AVID program emphasizes parental involvement. There are frequent well-attended evening meetings of parents, students, and faculty at which parents become supporting partners in the program. The priority of homework over housework is established, and parents share in the goal setting and time-management aspects of their student's college preparation. As graduation approaches, there are college application forms and financial aid forms to be completed with parents' help. Then the realization that their student will soon be leaving for college descends on the parents.

The program was initiated by several teachers in the San Diego Unified School District in the mid 1980's in an attempt to reduce a growing drop-out rate. Since then, it has been adopted by school districts in many states. AVID has been a going thing at SAMOHI for some 10 years, and in that time SAMOHI has placed AVID alumni in learning institutions including UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, Occidental, Loyola Marymount, Cal State Northridge, Cal State Long Beach, University of Arizona, and Santa Monica College.

AVID is making a brighter future for its students and a better community for Santa Monica.

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