AVID students celebrate college acceptances

Yassine Bounit, Corrin Flowers, Alexis Payne and Ronelle Drakeford stand in front of their acceptance letters. [photo by Krissy Gallagher]

Alexis Payne, a senior at Heights High, got into her top three college choices. She’s going to Eastern Michigan, third on her list, because it gave her a full ride. Jadrian Gantt made it into his top choice, the University of North Carolina. Yassine Bounit got into his top three choices, and Jaylen Benson has been accepted at more than 15 universities. 

Ronelle Drakeford is choosing between Georgia State University and Fisk University, which gave her a full ride. Christian Dillard is choosing between Morehouse, UNC, and the University of Connecticut, where he was awarded $96,000 over four years.

Corrin Flowers, a member of National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, and Leading Ladies, will head to the University of Findley in the fall. Herschel Hill is awaiting final word from Harvard, which flew someone to Cleveland for Hill’s admissions interview.

What do all these young people have in common, besides their bright futures? They are all AVID students. AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a national program offered as an elective course at Monticello and Roxboro middle schools, and at Heights High. With a focus on college readiness, AVID classes provide skills for organization, time management, studying, and strategies for advocating and communicating effectively with adults. Benson said of the program, “AVID didn’t just teach me how to be a better student, it taught me how to be a better person.” 

While these students feel prepared for the future, they are deeply saddened to leave their teachers. Claudene McCoy, who has been with this cohort of students throughout their entire high school careers, taught four classes of AVID seniors. “I don’t think I’m gonna leave her,” said Drakeford. “She said I can text or call her whenever I want.” 

Gantt doesn’t think he’ll necessarily call his teacher, but said, “I’m not really leaving her because I’ll carry everything she taught me with me when I go to college.”  

The students liken AVID to a family in which successes are celebrated, and support is provided. Payne said she’s always been a strong student, but “AVID pushed me to take harder courses, like more AP and Honors classes. Now I see the benefit of that because I’ve placed out of a lot of required classes in college.” 

The intense individualized help that students received in their AVID classes, while researching, visiting and applying to colleges, proved invaluable. They all commented on how far ahead of the game they felt when compared to their non-AVID peers, noting that they had finished their [college] essays when their friends were just getting started. 

The networking and connections available to them made a huge difference as well. “I would’ve lost out on lots of opportunities, like scholarships,” said Bounit.

Asked if they would recommend AVID courses to students just starting high school, this group unanimously and enthusiastically said they would. “Take it,” said Ronelle Drakeford Pay. “It’ll change your whole high school career.”

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, a graduate of the Heights schools and a former Coventry School teacher. She is a freelance journalist under contract with the CH-UH City School District.

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Volume 13, Issue 5, Posted 12:15 PM, 04.30.2020