Friday, May 2, 2014

Advancement Via Individual Determination

It's a mouthful, isn't it?  AVID is just that - a mouthful, a life full, a very big bite to take.  It's getting ahead on your own power.  It's going to college, and knowing what that means in real life terms.

It's a seven year program, starting in middle school and continuing through high school.  Amphi Middle School's first cohort is graduating this year, and through the tears there were awards and applause and reminiscences.

"Do you remember those first essays you wrote, back in 5th grade?" led to groans and cringing. Describing change over time, the students were called leaders in the classroom, scholars who had bonded with the teachers who led them for the past three years.  There were Creative Thinker Awards and Leadership Awards and AVID-ude Awards and Kings and Queens of Tutorials were crowned in every grade.  Every name was read aloud, because, as Ms Wall, Vice-Principal and head cheerleader for AVID, told us, "It is important that everyone be recognized."

The GRIN volunteers were called upon to observe, comment, interact and then, after the ceremony, to serve at the buffet line.  As one wrote this morning,
The evening was different, however, in that we got to see the results of the school’s positive spirit of change. ....... the teachers (are) supporting and encouraging students to reach beyond their known world......
And what dreams they reach for.  I took photos of the story boards created by the 8th graders as their final project.  After field trips and research and interviews and conversations, they developed..... well... let's let them tell you themselves:
They were to describe their past, their present and their future.
This future dance major put her facts and figures on purple paper, adorning the board with leaps and back bends and sunshine.  Her words were as sunny and upbeat as her poster.

Several of the boys are convinced that professional sports are in their future.
Take the time to smile and read about this up and coming New England Patriot Quarterback: 
I've never read  a more honest analysis of the push me-pull you existence of a middle schooler.
When I asked him about it, he smiled, ruefully, and admitted that his intentions were often better than his actions.  Complimenting him on his stated determination to try, he blushed just a little and turned away. Saying it out loud makes it much more real. Writing it down makes it inescapable.
He was looking at his dream and assessing the costs.

It was a moment, denizens.

There were baby pictures from Africa from this budding OB/GYN
Her reasoning teeters on the edge between childhood and adulthood with disarming oblivion.
  These two are planning to attend Cal, together with a third friend who wasn't available for the photo opportunity.  Two are going to be medical doctors and one a forensic anthropologist.
They know where they will live, and how they will earn rent money, and how many credits it will take to graduate.  They are certain that, together, they will achieve what they dream.

The dreams were varied.  Some were new to me.

These are all first-generation-collegians.  They have no footsteps in which to follow.  AVID makes sure that they understand the ramifications of their decisions.  Financing the future is a major focus. 
We agreed that there aren't a lot of people with 422000 American dollars lying around, and that confidence in the future is a good thing.  Casting a wide net is a strategy that has worked in my life, but I, unlike this student, never had a plan.
Not all the parents spoke English; listening to her student translate her plan for the future nearly burst this woman's cheekbones.  We were so proud, standing there together, I reading along as the Spanish words brought tears of joy to the faces around me.
There was a great deal of thought given to the words on the posters. 
The future is very real for these students.
They know that it will take their Individual Determination to make their dreams happen, to create their Bright Futures 
They've all learned the same lesson: 


  1. When I began to educate myself as to how much it will cost my grandchildren to get four years of college at a state university, I was in shock! And these days I don't shock easily. Over $8000 a year just for tuition then there are books, room and board. When I was in college-- over 50 years ago-- it was $150 a year for tuition. I attended a college where I could take the bus to it from home-- city university. But still I could pay for that tuition by cleaning an office once a week, an office that had three rooms and all the desks to go with it. These days you cannot pay for that education by part time work. It is a disgrace because what has happened is the people of this nation have pulled back from putting enough money into the universities to make an education affordable by other than the rich and the poor (who are on grants). It has pushed the middle right out of it. I recognize universities that have put too much money into fancy buildings might have some of the blame but the whole situation horrifies me. I wanted to know because I felt as grandparents I wanted to help all four of them to go. I feel it's essential if you want to lead a realistic life and that doesn't mean a movie star or NFL quarterback but just a reasonable life with jobs that are interesting.

    I had started putting money aside toward it several years ago and with ours three years apart, I didn't expect to pay it all, but thought we could make a meaningful contribution. Now I see it'll have to be a lot more money set aside. We can do that but a lot of grandparents are barely getting by financially and can't.

    It's a national disgrace that we don't have college educations within the reach of all those students who keep their grades up in high school. We are shooting ourselves in the foot. It should not just be the poor and rich. The middle class is where real lives generally are lived and we can't afford to see it disappear :(

    1. Trenchant, as always, Rain.

      Kids are so deep in college loan debt these days that buying a house is a fantasy; all the money which would go toward saving for a down payment is now paying off loans.

      Cornell, my alma mater, is addressing the issue with a finanacial aid program for the middle class - $3K in loans per year, the rest covered with work study, fellowship, scholarship, family contribution and summer jobs. $12K is an appropriate debt level for an Ivy League education, I think.

      Your grandkids are lucky to have you in their lives.

    2. It's an irony that sometimes private universities are now cheaper than the state schools. Something is badly screwed up!


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