School named AVID National Demonstration school


Karla Romero, Reporter

*UPDATE: Thursday afternoon, AVID representatives named North Garland High School an AVID National Demonstration site.

As the school waits to be certified as an AVID National Demonstration school Thursday, many wonder why the certification matters. Co-coordinator of the program, librarian Mary Archer seems confident the school will receive the recognition as well as benefit students in the long run.

“By getting that National Demo we’re opening up to a whole new set of people and that’s what we want,” Archer said. “We want the rest of the district looking at us; we want other districts looking at us. How exciting would it be to go any place, whether it’s at a job, at a university, and you say ‘I graduated from North Garland High School,’ and they go ‘Oh my gosh, that is one of the top schools.’”

Although the school has only been a part of AVID since 2008, Archer has been part of the program since 2004. She said others involved in the program at school have also been part of the organization, known worldwide, at some point before arriving at the school.

“I can’t say that 100 percent of the staff [is trained], but it’s as close to 100 percent as you’re gonna get,” Archer said.

Many students have spoken out against some of the core values that the organization has implemented throughout the school, including Cornell Notes and binders.

“We’ve really pushed the C-notes, and you’ve got your nay-sayers on the staff, as well as the students,” Archer said.

According to Archer, Dr. Kevin Hunter had his students take a pre-test before a competition. The average number of questions missed was five. After he had them review their notes the AVID way, the average number of questions missed on the test was less than one.

“It’s not that they wrote their notes any differently,” Archer said. “All they did was they went back to them, re-read them, circled and highlighted and they worked with them, instead of just putting them in the binder. That’s what Cornell University says – don’t stop at writing everything down. Go back and look at it, and maybe seven days later go back and look at it. There’s your repetition, and that’s why your retention rate goes up.”

As the school gets closer to the Thursday visit, interest in the program as an elective class has increased.

“When you’re just talking about the AVID elective class, you usually look at about 10 percent of your population being in the actual elective class,” Archer said. “I’ve had kids turning in applications to be in AVID, so I know the interest is really spiking.”

Archer believes the school will receive the National Demonstration title due to the students’ and staff’s enthusiasm toward new challenges.

“Even though I’ve only been here for three years, what I’ve noticed is it doesn’t make any difference what you put in front of the students and the staff here,” Archer said. “They’re like, ‘Ok, bring it on, let’s do it.’”

If the school were to be named one of the National Demo schools for AVID, it would benefit greatly, because only 3 percent of AVID schools are recognized nationally.

“It puts the spotlight on us more. It’s like having the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. You know it’s good. You know it’s great. Everything that goes on at North is good and great, but you want somebody to put that seal on it,” Archer said. “When you do stuff well, you want to showcase it. AVID is known worldwide, so if they see that seal on it, they don’t question the validity of everything that goes on at North.”

The recognition will not only benefit the school by putting it on the radar, it will also benefit the students by ‘branding’ them for the rest of their careers.

“[Schools and employers] automatically have prejudged you based on what they’ve heard about a particular school, so that’s how I feel like our students are gonna benefit. It is just the fact that they are graduating from a top school, and that name carries on,” Archer said. “North has always been a leader. Now other people will know we’re the leader. If they want to come see something, they will know that North is where you want to go, and look and see what we do.”

North has always been a leader. Now other people will know we’re the leader.”

— Mary Archer