Program boosts students' futures

May 14, 2008|By Gina Davis | Gina Davis,Sun reporter

Dozens of Baltimore County public high school seniors enrolled in a national college-prep program have earned commitments of about $3.4 million in scholarships from schools across the country.

Nearly $900,000 of that has been offered to 16 seniors at Woodlawn High School alone, and one student, Tensia Montoya from Dundalk High School, has received offers totaling $447,804 from five colleges, school officials said yesterday.

School leaders credit the AVID program - Advancement Via Individual Determination - which is aimed at students in the "academic middle" who are capable of more challenging work but need more resources, such as tutoring and training in organizational skills, to reach their potential.

Officials plan to recognize the seniors representing 13 county high schools during a ceremony tonight at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville.

"What's fascinating is that this isn't rocket science - it's good schooling," county schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston said yesterday in an interview. "There's a level of trust and confidence with regard to students believing in their teachers and teachers believing in the potential of the students."

In addition to taking advanced classes, the students have one period a day devoted to learning organizational and study skills and improving their critical thinking. They also visit colleges.

"Most students have to be disciplined to remain focused on a task," Hairston said. "AVID provides opportunities for that reinforcement."

Many of AVID's participants will be the first in their families to attend college, he said.

This year's graduating AVID class comes from these high schools: Chesapeake, Dundalk, Kenwood, Lansdowne, Milford Mill Academy, New Town, Overlea, Owings Mills, Parkville, Perry Hall, Pikesville, Randallstown and Woodlawn.

From this year's AVID class of 170 seniors, nearly 70 of them have $3,363,930 in scholarship offers. Nearly 99 percent of the seniors have been accepted into colleges; 97 percent were accepted in 2006 and 98 percent last year, according to school officials. In addition, two are expected to enter the military and three are heading to trade or professional schools.

The county began offering AVID in 2002 to 119 students at six high schools. This school year, 1,612 students are enrolled in AVID at 23 county high schools.

gina.davis@baltsun.com

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