Mount Si High School (MSHS) will be graduating its inaugural Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class on June 7.
The Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) adopted AVID three years ago. AVID is an internationally-recognized, college-readiness program for eligible middle school and high school students. It’s a college readiness program designed to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in college. It emphasizes writing, critical thinking, teamwork and collaboration, organization, and reading skills.
“AVID students possess a desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard, but may not have had the opportunity to be college ready. AVID gives students that opportunity,” MSHS AVID teacher, Marcella Murphy said at the AVID senior night on May 28.
The class first began with 25 students enrolled. Nine of those students are graduating as part of the inaugural class.
“Three years ago, AVID came to Mount Si. We started with just three classes — two freshman and one sophomore. AVID is a class taken both semesters every year until graduation,” Murphy said. “The class of 2019 includes Mt. Si High School’s first AVID graduates. And this class of AVID sophomores from that first year have been my students for all three years.”
The inaugural class includes: Joe Harris, Gabe Burbink, Sean Gaffney, Jocelyn Morales, Justin Wotton, Richard Anderson, Frankie Cepeda, Niko Cepeda and Elena Lopez.
For Harris, he said he needed AVID.
“I needed help focusing on school and staying out of trouble,” he said. “I needed to get organized and realize that high school does matter.”
Lopez said she needed AVID to help advocate for herself.
“I needed a boost to get going and needed to learn to advocate for myself,” she said. “AVID has given me those tools.”
For Harris and Lopez, they said AVID has given them the peace of mind of having a plan after high school.
Harris will attend Northwest Lineman College in Idaho in the fall to become an electrician and Lopez will attend the University of Southern Alabama to become a nurse.
At the AVID senior night, each student took part in presenting the “Hero’s Journey” as the “Senior’s Journey,” comparing how their journey through AVID mirrors the archetypal story pattern.
Morales presented the “Meeting the Mentor” stage of the “Senior’s Journey.”
“Ms. Murphy taught us many ways to be successful,” she said. “We learned to set ourselves straight and build relationships.”
Wotton presented on the “Test, Allies, and Enemies” stage of the “Senior’s Journey.”
Some tests included binder/backpack checks, note checks, self advocacy. Allies included Murphy, AVID tutors, study buddies and teachers. Wotton explained that some of the enemies were themselves.
“You can be your own worst enemy, and you usually are,” he said. “Even though our enemies were sometimes each other, we’re the closest allies…I mean, I never really thought I’d be friends with any of you guys and look at us now. I consider you all family.”
Each senior paid honor to one or two of their staff members and/or teachers of choice during the senior night. For these seniors, they said several staff and teachers outside of AVID had a great influence on them through being supportive and patient.
Murphy bestowed each senior with the first AVID medallion that each AVID senior will wear at graduation from this year forward.
“I’m very proud to be their teacher, and I’m glad to be beginning this tradition,” Murphy said. “AVID is like a family.”
For Murphy, she said the greatest change she’s seen in her students is their level of confidence and self-advocacy.
“They’ve all come such a long way and it’s so rewarding to see them grow their confidence and realize they can really do anything,” she said.