HEMET – West Valley High School is continuing their journey of success. School staff was informed that West Valley High School was validated by the National Advancement Via Individual Determination Program as a National Demonstration School. The school’s demonstration status is applied for three years.
West Valley High School was the first school in Hemet Unified School District to be named an AVID Demonstration School back in 2009. They have received this honor three times, and each time they are given the maximum time allotted for this status. The process to apply for the title of demonstration school is quite challenging. Staff has been working together to collect data to present to the National AVID Program. Once staff has applied their school for the process, representatives from the National AVID Program visit the school site to determine the effectiveness of the program on campus.
Two representatives from Riverside, Inyo, Mono and San Bernardino County AVID and one representative from the AVID Center National Office in San Diego joined school district staff and West Valley staff at the high school to determine the implementation of the AVID program. West Valley’s staff presented a PowerPoint presentation to their guests to solidify the validity of the program at their site. Guests visited nine classrooms, four AVID classrooms and five non-AVID classrooms to determine how widespread AVID was at West Valley. At the end of the classroom visits, the representatives discussed amongst themselves whether West Valley deserved to renew its Demonstration School status.
AVID representatives Michael Kelley and Sarah Pease and AVID Center National Office in San Diego representative Steve Elia were impressed by the implementation of AVID at West Valley. They wanted staff to continue their ongoing efforts in refining student-led tutorials, developing academic language in literacy and implementing the program schoolwide. They also noted various systems during their visit that they felt deserved recognition. They recognized staff’s ability to make the program open to all students that the program is student centered, and how it created a college-going culture on campus. Most importantly, the representatives saw the joy on student’s faces as they walked from classroom to classroom. They recognized the full implementation of the program on campus and realized the instruction and support they saw was not for their benefit, but recognized this integration was a daily occurrence.
The AVID program has been at West Valley since 1997. Throughout the years, strategies and focuses have changed to ensure students are well-prepared for college. AVID coordinator Donna Parker said West Valley staff has embraced AVID and is teaching its strategies in every classroom, not just AVID classes. She continued to say that the program allows students to think about life outside of high school and solidify their future plans. She said when students are in high school their plans to attend college become more real and concrete. “It’s not just a dream anymore, it’s a goal,” Parker said.
Parker and other AVID teachers at West Valley have collected data to compare results of students in AVID classes versus students in non-AVID classes. Based on the research collected, staff found AVID students’ attendance rates and grade point averages were higher. Last year, West Valley had 69 seniors enrolled in AVID. Out of these 69 seniors, they received 358 college acceptance letters.
Parker said she is thrilled with the adaption of AVID at the West Valley culture. She noted that many people are responsible for helping West Valley achieve this recognition for the third time. She said the leadership team has supported this program from the beginning. Dr. Janice Jones, West Valley principal, was a main contributor to the success of the program in the beginning stages when she was a teacher. John Bradshaw, assistant principal at West Valley, has been instrumental in making sure the program moves as smoothly as possible. He also encourages every student to be in AVID, because he knows they will benefit from the program.