Spotlight: The AVID Program


Avid 12 poses for a group photo during college visit to Towson University.

Jourdan Zelaya, Features Editor

Paint Branch High School is not just a place where students attend classes for seven hours; a place where they sit in a classroom for seven periods and learn subjects; a place where they pass the time between lunch and the end of the day. No, there is definitely more to what goes on inside the walls of PB than meets the eye. From the strong-spirited student body (just look at the student section at varsity football games) to the generous administrative staff (Dr. Yarbrough’s introduction of “Student Appreciation Day” exemplifies this), many qualities make Paint Branch the unique school that it is.

However, other factors of the school also make it unique from other schools in the county; factors that not many people realize exist.

Paint Branch is home to a variety of programs that help ensure that students are on the right track academically. These include the Transitions program, run by Mr. Walker and Mr. Schiffgens; the Emerging Scholars program, run by Mrs. Powell; and the newest program that was introduced at Paint Branch this school year, the ACES program, run by Ms. Gudiel.

These programs each work in their own respective manner to help students become more college-ready. However, one program, which began at PB in 2014, has led the way for these other programs: AVID.
The AVID program, officially known as Advancement via Individual Determination, was first introduced to PB during the 2014-2015 school year. AVID, according to its website, is 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.” The first group at PB to join the program were sophomores during the 2014-15 school year, who are now seniors.
AVID staff filled the program with students who want that extra push to become more prepared for college once they graduate from high school. AVID recruiters visit middle schools eighth-grade English classes and tell them about the program. This introduction covers what they do in the class to ensure success to what is expected of the students who enroll in the program. AVID then selects its students by examining their academics; they typically enroll students who are in the middle range which can include B, C, and even D students. From there, they work on how they can help those mid-range students achieve a higher level of academic success.

The program has specific learning goals for each year, all of which are directed at building skills that are essential to becoming a successful student once you are out of high school and transitioning into college life.

“They work on organization skills their freshman year,” says Ms. Crump, PB’s AVID Director. “They work on note-taking skills, they learn how to properly study and take tests, and conflict and time management is a big thing as well.”

”Sophomore year is when they are starting to develop their top 10 list for where they want to go to college; this is also the point where you find out what GPA you must have in order to get accepted into the college that you want to go to.”

Junior year is then all about narrowing down one’s top 10 college picks into a top 5 list. Junior year is also the year when students take the SAT or at least prep to take the SAT their senior year. College essays are also a key part of junior year, and students begin to prepare for their college essay.
As seniors, students complete their college essays, polish them up, and make sure that their recommendations are ready to go to the admissions offices of the colleges that they’d like to attend. Seniors then complete applications to five colleges, and three of these must be completed before December 1st in order to meet this deadline that some colleges request.

Usually, AVID is a four-year program that students invest in when they start high school, but the seniors of the Class of 2017 in the program were able to bypass this rule and begin the program as sophomores. These students – since AVID was new to PB – were able to apply as freshman, one of the only exceptions to the program.

While the group essentially missed a year of the program, that didn’t stop the rate of success from flowing in for these seniors. “Well, it’s [the program] fun, because this is the first year that we have graduating seniors,” says Ms. Crump. “They started out as tenth graders, and out of the 50 students that initially enrolled their sophomore year, 90% of them have already been accepted into a four-year college, all thanks to AVID.”

Although AVID is extremely beneficial to the students and their post-high-school careers, Ms. Crump says that it isn’t always the easiest, particularly for students who habitually do less than average in their classes. “You have to make them understand that they can do this,” she says. “As their teacher, you have to aid and enhance their study habits and change them for the better. One of the biggest and most challenging parts of the program is changing their academic habits so that it works highly in their favor. Positive reinforcement is definitely a key in a rigorous academic program.”
AVID is a relatively new program to Paint Branch; however, it has already had a lasting effect on the students enrolled in the program. It safeguards the success that these students will achieve and sets them up for success in the future.