East Ridge High set to graduate first AVID Students

When the Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) program was first introduced in 2009 at six schools in Lake County, the goal was to help students achieve higher academic standards and prepare them for college.

Lake County Schools is due to see some early returns from the program as one of the first schools to implement the program, East Ridge High, will graduate the first AVID class in Lake County. Fifteen East Ridge High seniors are set to graduate who have been working in the AVID program for the past three years as they began AVID classes in 10th grade.

“These students are some of the hardest working we have on campus,” said Donna Jesaitis, Assistant Principal at East Ridge High. “All 15 students have already been accepted to colleges. They are an incredible bunch of students and have been mentored very well by their AVID Elective Teacher, Brian Konopka.”

The first AVID graduating class from East Ridge High includes (anticipated college in parentheses):

· Jennifer Couch (Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando)

· Brooke Fultz (Roanoke Community College to Virginia Commonwealth University)

· Jillian Garrison (Lake-Sumter Community College)

· Justin Horton (Jacksonville University)

· Toni-Ann Lewis (The University of Tampa)

· Samantha Lindner (Lake-Sumter Community College)

· Crisel Mercedes (Lake-Sumter Community College)

· Allison Montero (University of West Florida in Pensacola)

· Irania Muniz Leon (Seminole State College in Sanford)

· Michael Ponce (Lake-Sumter Community College)

· Monisa Ruiz (Benedict College in Colombia, S.C.)

· Brianna Schellhorn (Valencia College in Orlando)

· Lindsey Thilmony (St. Leo University in Saint Leo, Fla.)

· Kevin Urbina (St. Leo University)

· Kira Weakley (Valencia College to University of Central Florida)

The aim of the AVID Program is to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges. Although AVID serves all students, it focuses on the least served students in the academic middle. The elective course is similar to any other regular class as it meets five hours per week. Students receive two hours of instruction per week in college entry level skills, two hours per week in tutor-led study groups and one hour per week in motivational activities and academic survival skills.

The college preparatory program was made available in all 18 middle and high schools in Lake County Schools this year. According to AVID’s website (www.avid.org), national research indicates that AVID schools send one third more students to four-year colleges than the local and national averages, and AVID helps to alleviate the achievement gap between students from different socioeconomic groups.

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