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Student makes the grade

Education: Saugus High School junior Katelin Farenbaugh uses college-prep program AVID to improve GP

Posted: April 6, 2010 6:14 p.m.
Updated: April 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Saugus High School junior Katelin Farenbaugh honed such skills as disciplined study, collaboration, inquiry and writing when she took part in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at her school. The program targets students with a GPA between 2.5 and 3.5.

Katelin Farenbaugh, 16, knows what it means to be avid about making top grades.

The Saugus High School junior joined Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a structured college preparatory program that works directly with high school students in the district to enhance learning skills and increase aptitude for college-level academia.

The program targets students with a grade-point-average between 2.5 and 3.5 and is available to anyone who meets the criteria and shows determination to improve their academic standing.

The program's mission is to provide a rigorous curriculum to students who show a willingness to work hard and have a strong desire to attend a four-year college.

Teaching students effective tools such as disciplined study skills, collaboration, and inquiry and writing activities, AVID puts students on the college track and watches differences emerge one grade point at a time.

Farenbaugh is one admitted applicant of the 78 students enrolled in the program who continues to make great strides on the track to her future.

"My grades were really low coming out of junior high and my mom knew this program sounded like a good idea for me," Farenbaugh said. "Now I'm really glad I listened."

Farenbaugh joined the program in her freshman year with a 2.8 GPA from her junior high coursework and showed aptitude for greater academic achievements upon completing the AVID application.

"Because of how much this program has helped me, I'm taking Advanced Placement classes and now I have a 4.2 GPA," Farenbaugh said. "The AVID classes have been a big help in so many ways."

Through the methods of acceleration instead of remediation, Farenbaugh was taught specific strategies for reading, writing, thinking and talking, all of which will come in handy when the junior takes her SATs and prepares to apply for colleges next year.

But the AVID student knows that there is more value to what she has learned through the program that can't be seen or heard.

"The most important thing I feel this program has taught me is motivation," Farenbaugh said. "That's something that comes from the inside and will help me with the rest of my life. I feel like I've really been taught that if you want something badly enough, you stick it out and don't quit."

Farenbaugh attends the AVID classes every day amidst her regular school schedule of multiple advanced placement courses, as well as her involvement on the yearbook staff and in cheerleading.

Farenbaugh has a tip that helps her manage the well-rounded schedule.

"If something is hard, you can get the help you need if you manage your time and know where to look for support," Farenbaugh said. "This program has taught me that nothing is too difficult if you put your mind to it and know when to ask for help. I know that AVID can help anyone, but most importantly, teaches you how to help yourself."

AVID is a schoolwide approach to curriculum working in more than 2,700 middle schools and high schools in 39 states and 15 different countries. AVID Coordinator and elective teacher Crystal Hilstein has taught the classes on Saugus' campus since 2007 and seen what can happen when you put a student like Farenbaugh on the track to success.

"Katelin works so hard and is an exemplary student in the class," Hilstein said. "I watched her go from where she started to where she is now, showing a conscientious effort every day to be the best she can be. It's inspiring to see how far she's come and to think about where she's going from here."

Hilstein knows why this free program is helpful in more ways than one, and that even though students don't have to pay, the payoffs for attending the program are worth every effort.

"With the economy the way that it is, it's such a gift to be able to have an academic program like this one that is of no cost to the students and offers them a glimpse of hope for their futures," Hilstein said.

"For some of these students, they are the first in their families to strive toward attending college," Hilstein said. "Just the fact that we can give them the tools to believe in themselves will be well worth it for life."


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