When the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) students at Salem Middle School started working on their yearly research projects in November, they quickly decided that they wanted to host a college fair for more than 250 seventh graders at their school. Entitled “Show Your Love for College Education,” students set to work to create an environment that fostered student interest while promoting needed skills for post-secondary education.
Students contacted colleges and universities across the nation explaining their project and inviting representatives from the schools to attend the daylong event. Overwhelming support was generated as school pamphlets, pennants, buttons and other college paraphernalia arrived at Salem. Representatives from Tidewater Community College, Norfolk State, Old Dominion University and the University of Alabama marked their calendars to personally be on hand to represent their schools at the February event. The other college representatives were the AVID students themselves.
Duke University representatives were eighth graders Rana Hodges and Shaiajah Dailey. They enthusiastically shared not only the opportunities at the school, but statistical information concerning diversity, class size, athletic offerings, tuition costs and campus security along with a PowerPoint presentation. When seventh grader Calista Rayburn told the “reps” that science was her favorite subject, Hodges responded, “Excellent, we just happen to offer a major in Biology and Environmental Science.”
Salem Middle School Assistant Principal Christopher Lawler and AVID instructor Katie Warnock welcomed students to the first college fair which they hope to turn into an annual event. “We are trying to promote happy, healthy futures for students,” Warnock said. “Having the information to make the right choices is essential and we want them to have it early.”
AVID is a research-based, college-readiness program designed to increase the number of students who pursue post-secondary education in four-year colleges or universities. Currently, almost 1,300 middle and high school students in Virginia Beach City Public Schools are enrolled in AVID core and elective classes, designed to raise the expectations of students and support them as they encounter challenges. The support system in place is meant to ensure on time graduation from high school and a successful transition to college.