AVID helps kids take the steps and learn the habits they need to get where they want to be:
• I want to be the first in my family to go to college. But I didn’t know anything about anything. When my parents heard about this program, they said, “What’s it about? Looks like more work.” I do extra stuff at school, community service, I’m setting the bar for my younger siblings. No excuses.
• We went on a trip to 13 colleges in 4 days. On a chartered bus. I bonded with my friends.
• (Upon seeing a university campus) “Oh My God! They’re beautiful! I’m home!”
• Peters pushes us to where we want to be in the future.
• Peters pushes and fights; there is always a solution.
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And how do lives look several years out, once the students have graduated and gone on to pursue those dreams? The Cajon High School website has posted comments from AVID graduates about their last several years. The graduates mentioned some themes that were reminiscent of what current students said, others wrote about new discoveries. Here is how I would describe themes from the comments:
The Drive to See the World
So many entries pointed to the importance of getting out of the town, San Bernardino, where they grew up. They wrote about the difficulties of getting away and the invaluable lessons they learned when they did—and how it would shape their understanding of the town if they decided to come back.
The Powerful Push/Pull of Family
There are two strong contradictory themes here: the difficult home situations that drive students away, and the resistance many families show to the idea of their children leaving.
It’s All About Money
Money is a prominent obstacle. Lack of it is the first stopper. Managing money when it comes their way is the second.
The Appreciation for Attention, Standards, and Skills
All the students, whether in real time or in hindsight, valued the personal attention. They appreciated the deeply ingrained life habits and lessons, which many remarked have gotten them through rocky experiences.
Here, in the AVID graduates’ own words:
• From a graduate of ‘07: AVID was a true blessing for me. I really cannot imagine where my life would have gone without this stable program and caring teachers to help direct me. With the direction of Mr. Peters I was able to get my grades up and get into a four year university after graduation. I decided to attend Cal State University, Northridge and ended up graduating with a bachelors in Sociology last May, 2012. My parents were not very supportive with my decision to move over an hour away from home to attend college when there was CSUSB right next door; because of this I had to figure out a way to pay for college and living expenses on my own. In all honesty I can say that it was not always easy and I worked sometimes two or three jobs to support my choice of going away for school, but in the end I got much more out of the experience. It made me stronger, wiser, independent and proud of myself. Not only that, but now a days my parents respect my College was a great experience, yet extremely busy and tiring.
• From a graduate of ‘09: I thought I had it all planned out, but things do fall apart or obstacles do get in the way, but I was taught to get back up and try again. Avid taught and helped me a lot. Thanks to Mr. Peters and Mr. Kelley, I got the help/guidance to college. All the Socratic seminars taught me to not be afraid to ask questions or speak up in a room of 200 people. There were times, when I needed help or advice on what to do and Mr. Peters was always there to help. So don’t be afraid to ask him because he will not turn you away….
School may seem hard, but if you put all your effort, time, and hard work in, it will be worth it in the end.
• From a graduate of ‘07: School came easy to me and i slacked off as much as i could, but Peters was right there to keep me in line though. I attended CPP for a semester and got extremely bored with it and I didn’t want to even be in college. I decided to give CSUSB a chance and I loved it, But i quickly got bored of that too. I decided i wanted to join the Army and left for basic training 1 month later. People may look at me and see a huge failure but i see it as the exact opposite. I have been in for about 5 1/2 years now and visited multiple countries and done some pretty badass stuff and also some stupid stuff. I am currently working on a degree while in the military and I will be finished very soon…
Thank you Peters for always being there and not giving up on any of us no matter the stuff we told you or how unmotivated we were.
• From a graduate of ‘09: I am currently attending San Jose State University. I am majoring in Computer Engineering and minoring in math and I will be starting my fifth year in the fall. I am currently working two jobs to support myself and life is starting to get better. I had a rough year last year with the passing of both my grandfather and dad which set me back for graduation but I know its just an obstacle that I must get through…
When I was in AVID Mr. Peters would always tell me that I had the ability to get through many obstacles even with the odds against me and I truly believe that this is just another one that I must get through. I am also currently looking for an internship in order to get a hands on experience on what Computer Engineers actually go through on a day to day basis...
I should graduate in a year depending on class availability with all the budget cuts my school faces but no matter how long it takes me I know I have to finish because I promised both my grandfather and dad that I will. I just want to say thank you Mr. Peters for always pushing me and the rest of my AVID family to do our best and never give up because it is now embedded in me for life.
• From a graduate of ‘08: Upon graduating, I took the leap and decided to attend UC Santa Barbara. It was a tough decision, but I'm fortunate that I had Mr. Peters to push me. I was reluctant not only because it was "far" away from home, but also because I knew I would be competing against people from privileged backgrounds. I figured these kids would be much better prepared than I and that turned out to be true. However, this realization did not discourage me and it should not discourage you. After holistically receiving the worst grades of my life during my first quarter at UCSB, I improved my GPA every single quarter subsequently and graduated with Distinction Honors as a History major in 2012…
My time at UCSB also broadened my horizons and showed my that a kid from San Bernardino can make it just as far as the kid from the suburbs in Orange County. This mentality is what pushed me to apply to law school and take another shot at success. I just finished my first year at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Law school is tough, so if you ever think about applying, then don't take the decision lightly. I am happy with my decision and am currently clerking for the Los Angeles County Public Defender's Office.
In his report yesterday, my husband Jim mentioned the commitment that some leaders of San Bernardino’s school system have made to brightening career-and life-prospects for students in their troubled community. At Cajon High School I saw examples of what this effort involves, day by day and student by student.