N Phoenix school puts AVID students on track
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 24, 2006
PHOENIX - When Jessica Valenzuela heard she would be in advanced-placement
classes in high school, she felt unprepared.
Jessica, 14, grew up speaking only Spanish and her mother has barely started
learning English. But North Canyon High School in north Phoenix had enrolled her
in August in a program called Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID.
She no longer gets stuck on geometry. Her notes also make sense because AVID
trained her to take notes properly and how to review and summarize the notes so
that she asks the right questions in class. advertisement The program, designed
to place low-income students on the college track, has teachers, counselors and
"I'm no longer scared of setting aside a problem because I'll get help from
tutors," Jessica said.
Jessica said her mother does not come to the school because she speaks only
North Canyon, in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, added AVID in
2005. Roughly 50 students are in AVID classes and spend 40 minutes a day
learning how to take notes and other skills.
Many students are selected while they are in middle school or the beginning of
their freshman year. Each must have a 2.0 to 3.5 grade-point average, good
attendance and positive behavior.
At North Canyon High, AVID students are expected to enroll and be successful in
at least one honors or advanced class by the time they are sophomores.
Arthur L. Greenway, North Canyon's assistant principal, said AVID changes
"You take these kids out of their comfort zone, that's how they grow," he said.
"By the time they leave this program, they are very articulate, they are used to
standing in front of a crowd, they look at you in the eye."
Tutors, for now, were recruited and trained from North Canyon's International
Baccalaureate program. They are seniors Rahul Gunnala, 17, and Ryan Haines, 18.
"I have one student who struggled with percentages," Rahul said. "He got all the
information, and he got all the answers but just didn't know how he did it. I
helped him by starting him with the basics of percentages during AVID hour. I
tested him and made sure he could do it."
An element of the program is parent involvement. To draw parents to North
Can- yon High, students put together a show for their parents four times a year
called AVID Family Night. They sing, dance or perform a skit. During a recent
show, AVID 10th-grade elective teacher Melissa Lopez coordinated a song and
dance using music from Survivor.
Sophomore Laura Encinas, 16, said walking onto a large high school campus can be
intimidating for a new student.
North Canyon High School frightened her as a freshman.
"The first time I went to biology class here, I was scared," Laura said. "I
joined AVID, and it helped me. . . . I'm more confident learning."