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Taylorsville Journal

High School Program Promotes Higher Education

Aug 04, 2016 02:47PM ● By Tori LaRue

Graduates from Taylorsville High School who participated in the AVID college preparation program gather for a picture. –Christian Barrios

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Taylorsville, Utah - In a few weeks Christian Barrios will head to Utah State University thanks to AVID, a program that provides academic and social support to prepare secondary students for college.  

The program is not targeted at 4.0 or remedial students but at in-the-middle students, oftentimes those who will be first-generation college students.

“I feel like, because of AVID, he won’t be just this average kid,” Christian’s mother, Mindy Barrios said. “All the little cousins he played with as kids dropped out of school and had babies. They now are 18-years old with 2 and a half year-old kids, and I wanted so much for my son. I knew college was the way for him, but I had no idea how to get it there.”

Mindy attended one semester of college before dropping out, and Christian’s father grew up in Mexico, attaining a sixth-grade education. Both the Barrios parents are self-described hard workers, but they said they didn’t know how to prepare their son for college.

Christian joined AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, in ninth grade and this June was part of Taylorsville High School’s second graduating class of AVID students. The 50 AVID grads were all accepted into higher education programs, many of them with scholarships.

AVID prepares students for college courses by creating a network of people that students can turn to for help when registering for classes and applying for schools, scholarships and financial aid. The program centers around an AVID class period. Students learn basic strategies, like note taking and problem solving during the course.

The program is intended to increase students’ endurance in the educational world, AVID instructor Jen Johnson said. AVID students are taking honors and AP classes by their junior and senior years.

“The students gain a level of ownership and maturity when they realize they are capable of doing whatever they want because they have the skills to do it,” Johnson said. “I get emotional thinking about it and talking about it. It’s amazing watching their journey to figure out who they are.”

If it weren’t for AVID, Christian said FAFSA would have been a headache, he wouldn’t have known how to apply or register for class and he would have felt as though her didn’t fit into the college scene.

“Now that I understand this stuff, I want to be a prime example for other kids,” Christian said. “The idea that only rich kids and kids with perfect grades can go to college is false. Anyone with right goals and right dream and right ambition can be a college student. I want people to look at me and think, ‘Hey, I can go to college too.’”

Christian shared his passion for college and the AVID program through a speech he gave in front of nearly 4,000 teachers at an AVID Summer Institute in Denver during the first week of July.

“While there, I realized I want to work in the marketing department for AVID,” said Christian, who will be studying communication in the fall. “I want people to know they can go out and follow their dreams. They don’t have to accept being average and feeling there is not enough potential out there for them.”

Christian’s little sister will be in eighth grade at Bennion Junior High next year, and she’s already planning to college, Mindy said.

“The first words out of her mouth when we were registering her for classes was, ‘I want to take AVID,’” Mindy said, adding that the influence that AVID has made on her family may last a lifetime. 

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