AVID celebrations set this coming week

Middle and high school students will be feted this coming week as part of the annual AVID Celebration.

The themes this year are #ThisIsAVID and The Power of One.

District Director Dianne Mata said there are a little more than 1,800 students in the program at the secondary level. The elementary campuses also use AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, a college preparation program.

“We invite every student,” Mata said. “We would love for all of them to attend. We do bus them to encourage them to get there in case parents have to work. We also encourage parents to go,” Mata said.

Students who have been newly accepted to AVID also are invited.

Mata said it’s hard to say how many people will attend, but she’s hoping the Odessa College Sports Center will be filled at 6:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

For inspiration, the secondary AVID classrooms watched the movie “Freedom Writers” and participated in daily journaling activities modeled after Erin Gruwell’s topics in the Freedom Writers Diary.

Complex Community Federal Credit Union contacted the Freedom Writers Foundation and were able to sponsor Sue Ellen Alpizar, one of Gruwell’s students, to be the AVID Celebration motivational speaker, the AVID newsletter stated.

There are about 810 students in middle school in AVID and 1,016 in high school.

Mata said the events are a lot of work, but a lot of fun. She added that the celebrations are probably the best part of her job.

“They’re all from different schools, but they all cheer each other on. The kids refer to themselves as an AVID family, despite if you’re (at) west side/east side schools. You don’t hear booing; you don’t hear, ‘We’re better than this school.’ It’s ‘we’re there to support each other,’” Mata said.

The themes and the celebration were inspired by Complex Community Federal Credit Union.

“We are always excited to celebrate the accomplishments of the AVID students. We meet these students in the seventh grade and work with them all the way through high school. To see them grow and develop is a privilege,” Lisa Wyman, senior vice president of credit union development and human resources at Complex Community stated in an email.

During the past six weeks, AVID students in grades eight through 12 watched the “Freedom Writers.”

“They then journaled and engaged in discussions about being an overcomer and fanning their inner flame and uncovering their power. That power not only as an individual, but as an AVID family, a campus and a community. To have one of the original Freedom Writers here in Odessa to share their story with these kids at celebration is so exciting,” Wyman said.

Mata said she is excited about having Alpizar speak.

“She’s actually going to speak to some of the seniors before the celebration on Monday at OHS and on Tuesday to some of the seniors at Permian High. Then she’ll speak in the evening at the celebrations,” Mata said. “There is a lot of excitement in the air. The students are really looking forward to hearing her inspiring message.”

Two seniors, Jonathan Spruill from Odessa High School, and Fred Henderson from Permian, were selected to read their essays and their topics are based on the “Freedom Writers,” Mata said.

Both are winners of the Crowe scholarship, donated by Superintendent Tom Crowe, Mata said. It provides $1,000 each for each student to go to any college or university.

Complex Community Federal Credit Union donates other scholarships, as well, that they select the recipients of and they will be announced at the celebrations, Mata said.

Kindles are also awarded to students from each school. Businesswoman Sondra Eoff makes the donation to the elementary schools.

“A lot of scholarships will be awarded,” Mata said. “We celebrate all students, but we especially celebrate our seniors. We celebrate them at the front and award them their AVID cords that they wear at graduation,” Mata said.

At the middle school celebration, the students are congratulated.

“It’s kind of an induction for our new students, so during the ceremony we will call up all of the newly accepted students. They receive a little ribbon that says AVID. We call it a spirit stick. Then they’ll get their contract. It will be read during the ceremony. The students and the parents both sign the contract committing to the obligations of AVID,” Mata said.

She said the atmosphere is welcoming and they get to see the excitement of the program.

“It’s a great place to honor them and welcome them into our family,” Mata said.

If You Go
  • What: AVID celebrations.
  • When: 6:30 p.m. Monday and 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
  • Where: Odessa College Sports Center, 201 W. University Blvd.