Thirty-six years ago, Mary Catherine Swanson, a passionate English teacher, designed and created a program to empower low-income students academically. The program allowed Ms. Swanson to enroll the students in college-preparatory courses in order to ensure their pathway to post-secondary education. It prepared the students for rigorous curriculum by implementing effective study methods & organization techniques, acting as a strong foundation for them to grow from, and providing a family-like atmosphere for them to lean on. The program that Mary Catherine Swanson created is Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). To this day, AVID continues to play a significant role in the lives of many students, more specifically the ones who lack domestic guidance in regards to preparation for four-year college entry.
Currently, the AVID program at Capistrano Valley High School is being cut after residing in the school for at least ten years due to a decision to limit the number of courses in order to comply with the constant decline in student population. Lacking a strong explanation for this sudden proclamation, the AVID students at CVHS, ranging from grades 9-12, have expressed great confusion and frustration as to why they are being stripped off of their supportive backbone. What the administration failed to realize is that the AVID students of CVHS have evolved the program into an environment in which they can efficiently and effectively acquire preparation and knowledge regarding the process of applying for college, the fundamentals of financial aid and scholarships, and how to approach standardized tests while remaining in a comforting environment. This comforting environment is due to the fact that the students move through high school together, interacting with one another almost daily. AVID students recognize the challenges, whether they are economic or social, that they themselves face, and there is overlap. Thus, trust within the students in ensured. This trust encourages their desire to see one another succeed, because by now the students have created an invincible bond.
Ultimately, it comes down to driven students surrounded by other driven students who are receiving catalytic information in a supportive environment. Because of this, AVID should be allowed to remain as a program at CVHS, just like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or Advanced Technology Mathematics and Science (ATMS) programs. If AVID remains, it will continue to lead its students through a college-bound route. AVID, at its core, is empowering and essential to guarantee that students at Capistrano Valley High School of primarily minority background reach their potential.