A group of 50 Conway High School ninth graders signed their AVID Contract on Wednesday, pledging to use all the tools at their disposal to prepare themselves for success in high school, college and in a career.

AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a program that teaches skills and behaviors for academic success. The program also provides intensive support from strong student/teacher relationships and creates a positive peer group for students. The ceremony officially begins the program for the freshmen, but also serves as a rededication for those more than 50 AVID students in other grades to do their best this school year.

“The program takes kids with the ability to achieve at a high level, but for one reason or another are not,” said Yaminah Jordan, AVID instructor and coordinator at Conway High School. “We expose them to guest speakers, test-taking strategies and organizational skill training…it develops a sense of hope for personal achievement through hard work and determination.”

Students apply to this program and are chosen based on test scores, then interviewed before officially signing onto the program.

“It’s a commitment about saying yes,” Jordan said. “It’s committing to…hard work, discipline and success.”

Three-time Olympian Amber Campbell, a graduate of Coastal Carolina University and national hammer-throwing champion, gave the students encouragement as they began their journey into the program.

Campbell spoke about her life experiences, and referenced a very difficult time in her life that made her feel like giving up. She shared how she moved ahead with her goals and kept pushing forward.

“Anybody who tells you life is all peaches and rainbows…lies!” Campbell said.

She referenced her favorite Bible verse from the book of Habbakuk, which says “Write a vision and make a plan.”

“When you think things can’t get any worse,” Campbell said, “it’s not about getting lost in the thing that knocks you down. It’s about making a plan.”

Students in the program are required to maintain citizenship, behavior and attendance standards, as well as maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA. They also must enroll in one AP class by their junior year, and actively seek help in class settings where they are achieving a grade of C. In addition, they are required to take an accelerated elective class, in which they agree to the rigorous curriculum that includes structured tutorials and strong teacher support.

Parents of all AVID students also sign the contract promising to support their children.

“It’s a journey that is just beginning,” said Tanika McKissick, an assistant principal at CHS. “We want you [students] to move forward and be great!”

The AVID program started in California, but is now all over the world, and impacts nearly 1.5 million students in 46 states and 16 countries/territories. Their mission is “to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.”

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