Virtual AVID celebration coming up

Ector County ISD’s AVID celebration will be virtual again with a video planned for release at 1:30 p.m. Friday and broadcast on Facebook at noon Sunday.

“We’ve been in the process of having senior experience, which this year is all based around pay it forward,” said district AVID Director Amy Anderson.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. Its mission is to close the achievement gaps by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society, the district’s AVID website said.

Anderson’s daughter, Abigail, is a senior this year and she got to participate in the senior experience which involved an art project that showed the impact one small gesture can have on people’s lives.

“I really enjoyed it,” Abigail Anderson said. “I think that it definitely was something that let us be free … It kind of felt like before, pre-COVID. We were all able to get together and do an activity together that was fun and engaging.”

Abigail Anderson, 18, said she plans to attend Angelo State University to study biology. She hopes to become a doctor of some type.

“I’m not sure if I want to go all the way and become a surgeon, or be a pediatrician. … I’m just going go with the flow,” Abigail Anderson added.

She noted that she has found AVID very helpful. Her first year of the program was her freshman year of high school.

“… It taught me a lot of different study tips and how to manage my time and just keep myself organized in my school life and outside of my school life,” Abigail Anderson said.

She has an older sister and a younger sister.

Complex Community Federal Credit Union, a stalwart partner of AVID, helped them put the video together. Former AVID student Matthew Alvarez at CBS 7 will be the emcee and there are several guest speakers, Anderson said.

“We’re excited to have him back as part of our alumni that are giving back to our seniors and helping them create this celebration,” she added.

Complex Community will be awarding scholarships and the two seniors selected to give speeches for graduation will get a $500 scholarship.

As AVID always does, each campus will receive Kindles that will be raffled off for those students exhibiting behaviors and skills and character that support AVID. They will get a chance to win a Kindle as part of the middle and high school campus celebrations.

Seniors participate in the Senior Experience with the theme of pay it forward.

“That art project that she’s talking about is going to be an eight-foot monument for the … seniors of 2021; Our class of seniors for 2020. Their senior experience art is going to be installed at UTPB, but COVID just put a little bit of a delay on that so they may be going up at the same time.” Amy Anderson said. “But we just, again, want to have our seniors have the opportunity to come together as a collective cohort of ECISD alumni that are moving on and kind of leave … a little piece of them. They can come back and tell their kids like when I was a senior we did this.”

Anderson said this is the second year that a piece of art has been created and installed somewhere in the community.

Amy Anderson said there are 7,077 students in AVID.

“… We have five elementary schools that do it school wide. So, there are campuses that implement AVID K through five and what’s very interesting is that we also partner with both Odessa College and UTPB who both utilize AVID …,” Amy Anderson said.

She added that there are plans to implement AVID on more campuses.

“It’s definitely a possibility,” Amy Anderson said.

Pre-pandemic, AVID piloted a leadership coaching program where community members mentored the students at Bonham Middle School and plans were to scale up to all the middle schools.

“We are in the second session of our middle school leadership coaching and we are doing that virtually. We did one cohort in the fall and now we’re in the second in the spring only at Bonham. Currently, we have about 30 students. We take about three of those students and we pair them with a community coach, a volunteer from our community with an ECISD host to help support the technology and just have a well-rounded group to be able to serve our kiddos. In case anything comes up, they have an ECISD host there to help,” Amy Anderson said.

Amy Anderson said conducting the sessions virtually was different.

“We learned a lot of things so we’ve refined that and changed a few processes. It is going better this time, but it’s … difficult. You would think it would be easier, but it’s difficult to build those relationships and capacities in a very short time over a Zoom with a sixth grader,” Amy Anderson said.

She noted that they have had to develop Zoom etiquette. When they come into a Zoom meeting, they should come in on mute and they should stay on mute unless they’re speaking. Then they should turn their camera on so everybody sees everyone and introduce themselves.

“I did not take a group because I’m trying to manage all the groups, so my role is to make sure that all the coaches are there first. We ask them to log in at 12 and then they can have a little prep time before the kids get in. The kids get in at any time between 12:10 and 12:15. They have a 30-minute session with them … I pop into the rooms, take attendance, and then closer to the end of that session, I drop a link and for reflection so that everybody has the opportunity to let me know how the session went; what went well; what didn’t go so well. And then I can make adjustments before the next session if there are adjustments to be made. …,” Amy Anderson said.

At the end of the year, she said, they will have a celebration where the coaches drive through the Bonham parking lot. There was a celebration at the end of the fall semester as well.

Remaining COVID friendly, the coaches will drive through the parking lot again this spring, honking their horns and flashing their lights. The students will come out and stand and make posters to thank the coaches.

Students will get a T-shirt that has AVID leadership on it. The coaches will get a T-shirt also.