Santa Fe, Pioneer and Whittier high school students were honored at the annual AVID Senior Recognition Celebration. The event recognized the 88 seniors who successfully completed the Advancement Via Individual Determination(AVID) programs at their schools.
The celebration took place at the Vic Lopez Auditorium at Whittier High School. Whittier Union High School District administrators, family and friends were among those present to honor the seniors.
AVID is a college preparatory program that provides students with the academic instruction and support to qualify for admission to four-year colleges and universities. Santa Fe, Pioneer and Whittier high schools provide AVID programs in the district.
Santa Fe High School has a nationally recognized AVID program that has existed at the school for close to 20 years. As an AVID National Demonstration School, Santa Fe is visited by teachers and administrators from schools across the country that are in the process of implementing AVID at their sites.
“AVID is a nationally recognized program that has graduated more than 40,000 students for more than 30 years,” said Lilia Torres-Cooper, Whittier Union’s Director of Federal and State Categorical Programs. “The program began in 1980 in San Diego and its mission has remained the same: to close the achievement gap, prepare students for a rigorous college program both at the high school and university level.”
Torres-Cooper says the success of Whittier Union’s AVID programs continues to be the strong collaboration between teachers, parents and administrators. Not only do students develop life-long friendships, but they also learn effective study habits, critical thinking skills and instructional strategies that support their academic efforts, she said.
“Whittier Union’s AVID students have a genuine desire to do well and reach their full potential,” Torres-Cooper said. “AVID provides our students with the support, instructional structure and encouragement to succeed.”
AVID seniors Jacqueline Cisneros, of Pioneer High School; Riki Esquer of Santa Fe High School; and Christopher Rodriguez of Whittier High School each spoke about how their participation in AVID helped them to attain high academic achievement and motivated them to continue on to college.
“It was an AVID teacher that opened up my eyes and allowed me to envision my dreams,” Riki Esquer told the audience. “Now my dream is becoming more of a vision rather than something that can only be imagined.”
Esquer said that with the help of her “AVID family” she was able to overcome family issues at home and take on leadership roles at school, after school activities, and volunteer work at a local hospital in addition to doing well in school.
“I can honestly say that AVID allowed me to grow into a strong individual,” said Esquer, who will attend Mount St. Mary’s College in the fall.
This year’s AVID Standout Seniors are Kerinda Frith, of Pioneer High School, who will be attending UC Riverside in the fall and will major in engineering; Stephanie Ortiz, of Santa Fe High School, who will be attending the University of San Francisco and major in biology; Amanda Meneses, of Whittier High School, who will be attending UCLA and will major in psychology.
“Being chosen my school’s AVID Senior Standout is a great honor because there are so many successful AVID students in my class – it could have gone to any one of us,” Frith said.
“AVID gave me the support and extra tutoring I needed to help me achieve at a high level,” Frith said. “I took five honors courses, four AP classes and was able to maintain good grades while participating in sports and clubs on campus and working as a tutor.”
Frith said her AVID class also helped her to prepare her college applications in advance of her senior year.
“I prepared all of my college applications in my junior year so that during my senior year, all I had to do was submit my applications and then concentrate on what I needed to do to graduate,” she said.