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May 31, 2011 > Kennedy graduates first AVID class

Kennedy graduates first AVID class

Submitted By Jennifer Elemen
Photos By courtesy of Dave Williams

Editor's Note:
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a well-known program designed to assist struggling students at the secondary school level, to become college ready and reach their potential through a rigorous program of academic survival skills, collaborative study groups, tutorials and support.

There are many schools in our area that include the AVID program as part of their curriculum. Among them are American, Kennedy and Washington high schools in Fremont, as well as Newark Memorial High School, and Hayward High School. According to Kathy Ashford, Director of Secondary Education at FUSD, "AVID is definitely catching on and by next year all five Junior High Schools in Fremont will offer the program."

The following is an article written about the program by Kennedy High School teacher, Jennifer Elemen.

Twenty of this year's seniors at John F. Kennedy High School are the first graduating AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class in the school's history. All of these students are going on to college and have demonstrated commitment, hard work, and integrity. All of them have forever changed and this outstanding program, in turn, has changed them.

AVID Coordinator and AVID Senior Seminar Teacher Dave Williams started the program with Counselor Lindsay Rotter in 2008 with the first class of freshmen. Each proceeding year, another teacher has been added to accommodate an additional grade level of the elective class. Corrine Waller teaches this year's juniors while Margi Thomas teaches the sophomores. This year, two classes of freshmen were added and two more elective teachers, Kevin Lydon and Jennifer Elemen. Kennedy received 85 applications from next year's freshmen, held interviews at Walters Junior High, and plans to offer two AVID classes for next year's ninth graders.

AVID is an international program with a thirty-one year history. AVID is a proven method for students to become college ready. For one period a day, students in this elective class learn organizational and study skills, work on critical thinking and asking probing questions, get academic help from peers and college tutors, and participate in enrichment and motivational activities that make college attainable. Their self-image improves and they become academically successful leaders and role models for other students.

Kennedy is a certified AVID school, the only school with this status in Fremont. Many on Kennedy's staff have been AVID trained, belong to the AVID site team, and utilize AVID strategies. This year's AVID students visited Stanford, UC Berkeley, California State University East Bay, San Francisco State University and San Jose State University. While there, students had the opportunity to meet guest speakers that included former Kennedy students, former non-Kennedy AVID students from CSUEB, industry professionals, school administrators and counselors.

AVID seniors made a heartfelt presentation to the FUSD School Board on May 11, giving testimony to the life changing effects that AVID has had on their lives, and about now having the tools and self-confidence to succeed. Principal Thomas Hanson wrote, "JFK students were, on many levels, very inspiring and made us all proud. There were student testimonials that held a full board room silent and stunned. Our kids are resilient, determined, and have a desire to succeed... I believe AVID has transformed both students and teachers alike."

Now reaching for their dreams, they serve as role models and inspire the younger AVID students and non-AVID classmates. The twenty AVID students were accepted into 79 colleges combined. The percentage of Kennedy graduates going on to four-year-universities is increasing and the AVID program has reinvigorated Kennedy High School. Counselors Jacklynn Sprague and Stacy Bamford are planning a celebration dinner for the class of 2011 JFK AVID graduates on Friday, June 10. Congratulations!

JFK High School AVID Class graduates of 2011:
Alexander Moore, University of Nevada, Reno, Nursing major
Amy Hogan, San Diego State University, Kinesiology major
Arbaz Quraishi, San Diego State University, Kinesiology major
Arlindo Bork, San Diego State University, Aerospace Engineering major
Charles Ruiz, Sacramento State University, Civil Engineering major
Dania Haq, San Francisco State University, Microbiology major
Elizabeth Miller, California State University, East Bay, Nursing major
Hannah Stephens, University of California, Santa Barbara, Psychology major
Jasmyn Jones, San Francisco State University, Human Resources major
Jose Khair, San Francisco State University, Psychology major
Kannika Bun, California State University East Bay, Engineering major
Kathleen Tang, University of California Santa Barbara, Mathematics major
Kevin Nguyen, Sacramento State University, Criminal Justice major
Michael Jones, Tuskegee University, Aerospace Engineering major
Rachael Takesaka, California State University East Bay, Business Administration major
Sadaja Scaiffe, California State University East Bay, Psychology major
Samantha Brinas, California State University East Bay, Health Services Administration major
Taylor Hoover Hart, University of California Santa Cruz, European History major
Thin Aung, Ohlone College, Economics major
Yovani Ureno, Ohlone College, Computer Engineering major

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