Santa Maria High School is home to the AVID class of 2018, which has high hopes for the future. The four-year journey has given these students the opportunity to pursue a higher education and has inspired many to chase their dreams that were once thought to be only imaginary. Students from all backgrounds have had a hand in the AVID experience, creating a diverse learning environment that cultivates strong leaders and lasting excellence. For one class, taught by instructor Ms. Gonzalez, the path these students find themselves on is perhaps no different from that of their peers. That is, until one takes a closer look at the students behind AVID, and how their experience has shaped the journey they are soon to embark upon.
The lessons learned in an AVID class go much farther than that of the classroom. Once students have completed the AVID curriculum, they find themselves headed to college, or leading a path toward their own personal goals. Many students start in junior high, and continue on in high school. The curriculum itself is composed of engaging lessons such as tutorial sessions, where students group together and help one another on various problems they come across during the school day. For Jordan Tell, a graduating senior who will be attending Cal Poly Pomona, she described her transition to junior high AVID to high school, saying, “The AVID course I had in junior high was actually pretty rigorous… When I got into Ms. Gonzalez’s class, I got used to [the work] after a while, and once other students came in, I realized how easy it was for me and how challenging it was for them.” Being in an AVID course is no easy task, as the assignments one will take on require a student to be devoted to their course work, not only in AVID, but in all other courses as well. Sandra Cruz, a senior who will be attending UC Santa Barbara in the fall, commented on her AVID experience in junior high, describing it as “a free period.” Once in a more challenging AVID course, she felt the pressure to succeed, but soon found her own comfort zone in the classroom. She explained, “I was impacted by all the knowledge… I use all of the lessons that we’re taught in all of my other classes. My Physics class, because of AVID, I was able to pass with an A both semesters.” Many students in AVID also find themselves in a unique situation, being the first member of their family to attend college, an experience that Jordan describes as “nerve-wracking.” She went on to say, “I want to make my parents proud, and I really need to work hard to do that. All I knew before I even got into AVID was that I wanted to go to college. By joining AVID, I was able to learn what I have to do to actually get there… I have to know what to expect once I get there.” Attending a four-year university is a huge next step that these students take, and many aspects of such a decision may hinder a student’s chances. However, as Sandra noted, it takes determination, which AVID students surely have. She explained, “I didn’t know the difference between a four-year university and community college until AVID. At one point, I thought, ‘I’m going to attend a community college and see where that takes me.’ As I was going on, I was very determined: I knew my goal was to get to college. I know this program provides a lot of help, and it did. It has helped me reach my goal.” Another senior, Rafael Montano, who will also be attending Cal Poly Pomona alongside Jordan, felt the impact of his experience in AVID, saying, “If it wasn’t for AVID, I believe I wouldn’t be going to college. AVID gave me the confidence to go to college. I know it’s going to be tough, but I feel prepared for this.” Though the class may feel cumbersome at times, these students realize the important lessons that AVID has been teaching them since day one of the courses since freshmen year, and these lessons have taken these students a long way.
Part of being in an AVID course includes being part of a larger family atmosphere. Most students stick together in the same class all four years, and this lasting bond is critical for students to feel comfortable with the struggles that come with chasing their goals and working toward their dreams. Oftentimes it starts with the instructor. These students have grown alongside their teacher, Ms. Gonzalez, who took on an AVID course for the first time. Rafael described her influence, saying, “She motivated us. A lot of us were quiet at first, but now everyone is talking! Everyone is more involved.” The spark that Ms. Gonzalez provides for her students has created a learning environment that welcomes everyone and allows for all ideas and viewpoints to flourish. Jordan also commented on how Ms. Gonzalez has impacted her, saying, “She was always there for us and helping us. She always had hope for us. Even if we doubted ourselves, she was always there to bring us back up.” Though it may have appeared to be strictly business the first few years, eventually Ms. Gonzalez was able to open up with her students and build a foundation of trust and reliability between teacher and student. Sandra shared her experience with Ms. Gonzalez, saying, “In the beginning of the year, the class was distant. We weren’t always involved. But she brought us together. She has been a great inspiration. She is a powerful, strong woman, and I admire her because she has not given up. There have been many students that have left for various reasons, but to the people who stayed, she was always there for us with open arms.” For these students, having an instructor as dedicated as Ms. Gonzalez has been is truly something they have never experienced before, and are grateful to have. Even after their time in a classroom comes to an end, Ms. Gonzalez has assured her students that she is always there for them, whenever they need her guidance.
The AVID class of 2018 has been on a long road to finally get to where they are now. After all the years of hard work, their goals are within reach, with only months separating them from their next path in life. As these doors close, others will surely open for the AVID classes that follow, such as the classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021. These students have not only paved the way for their own success, but also the success of those who will come before them. Time will only tell what is in store for the graduates of the AVID program.