AVID has big fans


Staff writer

Ten weeks into its introduction to the Federal Way school district, AVID — a college prep and study skills training program — is finding firm believers in teachers, students and School Board members.

“Last year I pretty much passed the seventh grade with low Bs and Cs,” said 13-year-old Kymian Roland, an AVID student and eighth-grader at Totem Middle School. “This year in my progress report card, I had all As and two Bs.”

Roland first heard of AVID late last school year and applied to participate after learning the program can help him get into college.

In his AVID elective class, Roland is learning how to take Cornell notes, stay organized and ask critical questions. He is considering becoming a cardiac surgeon — and AVID is bringing that goal within closer reach than before.

“I always wanted to go to college, but it (AVID) pretty much boosted me,” Roland said.

His AVID teacher, Rosemarie Matestic, helps students like Jessica Ricker — an aspiring actress who wants to attend Washington State University — and Wyatt Gavino, an aspiring scientist who wants to attend Yale, create the foundation for college acceptance.

“I wanted to do it,” said Gavino, 13. “They said they would teach us how to get grants and how we could work to get scholarships. I want to go to college.”

Has he made any progress since the beginning of the school year?

“I can write better,” Gavino said. “I can take notes fluently. I can listen and write at the same time now. I do want to continue AVID. Even though it’s hard work, I know it’s worth it.”

“So far, I see a lot more organization, more attentiveness,“ said Matestic, who teaches Writing, Inquiry, Reading and Collaboration (WICR).

Federal Way Public Schools and the Seattle, Mount Vernon and Tacoma school districts were the first in the state to adopt the program.

Four Federal Way schools — Sacajawea and Totem middle schools and Thomas Jefferson and Federal Way high schools — implemented AVID in September.

“Some people call it a college track program,” said Jerry Warren, AVID coordinator for Federal Way High.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. The 23-year-old international college prep program’s success depends upon each individual students’ motivation and hard work.

School staff members determined AVID students by reading questionnaire responses and interviewing students and their parents.

AVID spokeswoman Marlene Grueber said the program’s target demographic includes students who are traditionally underserved in colleges and students of average ability who have the potential to succeed with a rigorous academic program.

AVID defines “traditionally underserved” as low-income students, minority students and students who would be the first to attend college in their families.

“AVID has been shown statistically to increase attendance and decrease dropouts,” district spokeswoman Deb Stenberg said. “Students stay involved.”

Jefferson freshman Melissa Andrews, 14, said the program’s promises encouraged her to apply last year. She attends four tutorials and one AVID elective class weekly. She is also taking pre-IB English, math, science and Pacific Northwest history classes.

Andrews dreams of becoming a lawyer or marine biologist.

“She’s always talked about college,” said her mother, Jodi Anderson. “Since she got accepted into AVID, it’s like she’s 100 percent positive she’s going. It’s not an ‘if’ thing.”

Federal Way High English and AVID teacher Jennifer Ruby said she became convinced AVID works when she saw the program’s success statistics.

“I’m seeing a confidence in these students that I didn’t see in the beginning of the year,” Ruby said. “I’m seeing overall trends of students joining clubs, activities and sports.”

She and other school staff were trained for five days over the summer in Sacramento, Calif. in AVID teaching methodologies.

School Board member Charles Hoff first recommended AVID to the board during a meeting in January 2002. The board approved the program’s implementation eight months later.

After taking pre-IB or pre-AP classes, high school junior and senior AVID students are expected to take AP and IB classes and learn how to write a resume and college applications.

“In our four-year plan, everything we’re doing is to support kids getting into the college or university of their choice,” said Jefferson AVID teacher David Vinson.

AVID is a progressive, cumulative college prep program, and students are expected to remain throughout their time in high school.

Federal Way High freshman Rachel Turley said she hopes the study skills she is learning now and eventual college admissions guidance will help her become a doctor in sports medicine.

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565,

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