By Cindy Scott Day, The Journal-Standard
Below is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in the JournalStandard.com. You can read it in its entirety here.
When 19 Freeport High School students walk across the stage Saturday and get their diploma, they graduate not only from high school but from AVID as well, a program that has readied them for college and life beyond the classroom.
"I love AVID," said Matthew Barber, who was accepted into the program as a seventh grader at Freeport Junior High. "Not only does it prepare you for college, with note-taking and study skills. But you also get to visit a lot of colleges. It helps you to visualize yourself there in that setting. You get to experience college first-hand." Barber will attend Bradley University in Peoria in the fall and major in mathematics. He wants to continue his education and eventually become a mathematics professor.
AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination — is a global organization that seeks to close the achievement gap and prepare students for college and beyond. The AVID program was brought into the Freeport School District in 1997.
Collectively, Freeport's 19 AVID graduates have a 100 percent college acceptance rate with scholarships funds totaling $1.3 million, said Jeff Schierer, district AVID director for the past three years and high school coordinator.
"I think we inspire kids who might not believe they belong in college," said Schierer. "We show them that kids just like them are in college and are successful. And we show them how to take that path too."
Being a part of AVID means being enrolled in an elective class offered from seventh grade through the senior year of high school. In the class, trained AVID instructors teach organizational skills, direct students into rigorous courses and make sure they have the language and math skills they need to succeed.
Ryan Shirley of Freeport was a freshman at Freeport High School in 1997 and entered the program that year. "I think it did exactly what is was suppose to do," he said. When he graduated, Shirley was accepted into Northern Illinois University, where he graduated four years later.
Used with permission from The Journal-Standard and journalstandard.com.