Saturday, June 13, 2009

Zack's success in the USA!

Zack was in AVID at Sigonella for his 7th grade year and part of 8th . . . a note from his mother.
Hi To All of You,
    Well today another miles stone passed in our lives.....Zack graduated from Middle School.....yesterday was their awards ceremony.  We just got a package in the mail from Kohls Caring Kids he won the store level and his package is being sent to the regional level for a $1,000.00 scholarship, his school put him in for this.  At the awards ceremony he was given an Excellence in Science award, A Presidential Academic Excellence award and a special award from the Hershey's (chocolate corp) for Outstanding Leadership.  I was totally blown away, I thought he was just going to to get his student of the month!! 
    Hope this finds all of you doing well, please drop a line when you get a chance!
HUGS to ALL and many thanks to each of you who had a part in making him the awesome young man he has become!!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

More Senior Accolades ~~~

Updates on AVID seniors:
Jen Patron was accepted and will attend the Coast Guard Academy Prep School.
Brittany Banta has received additional acceptances at Carlos Albizu University and St. Leo University, both in Florida.  Brittany also was awarded the Mineo Commissary Scholarship!
Tim Frost has decided to attend the University of Texas at San Antonio.  In addition, he was accepted at Baylor University.
Congratulations to all of these seniors on the rewards they have earned for their hard work! The entire AVID program is proud of them.

Evening of Literature

The following AVID 8th graders were involved in Mr. Corey's Evening of Literature recently: Kassandra G., Steven K., Cassie R, and McKenzie E.  Cassie was also in the flute ensemble.  Congratulations!

AVID Family Workshop After Action Report

 The After Action Report from Ms. Sibayan's AVID Middle Schoolers after the last Family Workshop:  
"AVID family night turned out well. I think we all did a good job in the Phantom reading. There was a moment where we had a fault, but we overcame it and continued. So overall I think it was well done."
"I think making the cookies was pretty fun. I kind of wish that I could have helped set up."
" I was happy to see a lot of people eating and enjoying our cookies. We should have been louder while we were doing our screen reading, but overall it was pretty good. I think it would be fun to make/decorate cookies again because it shows how dedicated we are toward AVID and family nights."
"The things I needed to do was pay extra attention to what was being said because my mom learned a lot. Because of family night, my mom won't buy me a car for college."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sigonella Community Scholarship

The Sigonella Community Scholarship can help you with the cost
of college education.

Who's eligible? All active duty personnel or command sponsored
dependents currently stationed at NAS Sigonella, or any graduate of
Sigonella High School.

When? The application deadline is 15 May, 2009.

The scholarships are for members of the Sigonella community and
funded by donations from organizations and individual members of NAS
Sigonella. They may be used for payment of tuition, fees, or books, and
are sent directly to the educational institution.

Applications can be picked up at the school's liaison office
located at Stephen Decatur Elementary School, bldg 218, room 102A, or at
the Middle / High School front office. Your completed application
package must be submitted not later than May 15, 2009 to the School
Liaison Officer, Chief Michael Ewert. For questions, please contact
Chief Ewert, 624-3242, All donations
towards the Sigonella Community Scholarship must be collected prior to
May 15, 2009.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Brittany's Off to College!

Congratulations to AVID Senior Brittany B. on her recent acceptance to Lynn University in Florida. Lynn, founded in 1962, is a private, coeducational institution located in Boca Raton, Florida.
Brittany has been in AVID for three years. This year she was a senior group leader and mentor. She is an active participant in JROTC and varsity softball. In college, Brittany would like to study psychology. Congratulations, Brittany!

Ms. Pienta on AVID 30th Committee

Ms. Maryellen Pienta, the AVID Coordinator at Sigonella, has been invited by AVID Founder Mary Catherine Swanson to serve on the AVID 30th Anniversary Celebration Advisory Committee. This committee will play an instrumental part in planning the 30th Anniversary – particularly with regard to the launching of the AVID Archives and the programmatic aspects for the opening and closing sessions at the 2010 Summer Institute in San Diego, California.

AVID at Patch High School featured in Stars & Stripes

Below is a portion of the recent article about AVID at Patch High School in Germany:

At Patch High School, 65 students are enrolled in Advancement Via Individual Determination, an elective course designed to give academic support for students who aren’t working up to their potential.

The program is offered at high schools across Europe, but Patch is currently the only school in Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe to be certified as a "Level Three" schoolwide program, the highest classification impacting the most students. DODDS-Europe officials say other schools are working to expand the reach of their programs.

Claire Dickmeyer, the AVID teacher at Patch, started the program at the school 10 years ago and has watched the students flourish.

"Every one of them will go on to college," Dickmeyer said of her current group.

During a typical day in the AVID classroom, students spend a portion of their time with tutors to get extra work in classes such as physics, history and math.

They also work on college preparation. Starting in freshman year, the students spend time writing letters to colleges, drafting resumes and researching financial aid and scholarship opportunities. That early focus translates into higher rates of college attendance for the AVID students, said Dickmeyer, who is in the midst of a recruiting campaign to attract more pupils to the program for next year.

Indeed, 95 percent of the students who take part in AVID go on to college, compared to a national average of 60 percent, according to program data.

To be eligible, students must have a minimum GPA of 2.0, complete an interview and sign a contract committing to a college preparation course load. The students also must agree to take honors and advanced-placement classes.

Andrew Cass, a Patch senior, boosted his GPA from 2.1 to 3.0 during the past two years because of the study skills learned in the class. The special note-taking and organization techniques require a lot of effort, but they payoff, he said.

There’s also the close scrutiny from the teacher. "If you’re not doing well, Ms. Dickmeyer will interrogate you in front of the whole class," Cass said.

Read the entire article here:

AVID Student Named Athlete of the Week in Europe

Sigonella AVID Junior James Campbell was named DoDDS-Europe Athlete of the Week by Stars and Stripes on April 30!

The text of the article follows:

European athletes of the week for the April 30 edition


Track and Field

Last week: Campbell, a junior sprinter, threw his hat into what's becoming a tantalizing ring for the European 100-meter crown by clocking 10.90 seconds Saturday in Naples. That's one one-hundredth of a second faster than the season's previous fastest 100, run by Heidelberg's Chris Frazier the previous week and a personal best for Campbell.

But according to his coach, Jen Bunyan, Campbell might have more on his mind than Frazier at next month's European championships at Rüsselsheim, Germany. He might be gunning for a DODDS record.

"Before the meet , I ... pointed out the record of 10.50 (set in 2001 by Ramstein's Isaiah Fluellen) and told James he could do this."

Bunyan wrote that a friend and teammate helped Campbell along to his 10.90. "… I put his teammate, Horace Windham, who by the way also qualified for the (European) 100 (11.70) …in the same heat," she said. "They push and motivate each other.

"He is a truly great athlete who displays excellent sportsmanship at all times," Bunyan concluded.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

He's a Star!

AVID Junior Adam B. recently starred in his second major role of the schoolyear as he put in a very talented performance in a major role in Harvey, a comedy. Adam hopes to pursue a major or minor in drama while in college. Break a leg!

College Choices!

Congratulations to AVID seniors Tim F. and Jen P. on their recent college acceptances. Tim has received acceptances at Texas Tech and the University of Texas at San Antonio. He recently had the opportunity to visit both campuses with his dad and has yet to make a final decision on which he will attend. Tim plans a major in math education.

Jennifer P. recently was accepted at the University of California-Merced, one of the newer, if not the newest, UC campus.

Choices are good!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Family Workshop Well-Attended and Received!

On March 24, more than fifty students, parents, family members, and faculty gathered above former Applebee's for an AVID Family Workshop that was both entertaining and informational.

AVID Junior Niko R. was the emcee for the evening. He welcomed everyone and then introduced Assistant Principal Dorothy King, who gave a short address and welcome. Ms. Novak then spoke to the audience about upcoming college entrance tests and the inserts for the college binder. Next, we were all entertained by a reader's theater from Phantom of the Opera, performed by Ms. Sibayan's middle school AVID class.

Ms. Pienta gave a presentation about paying for college based on Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan..Parents were given a copy of the presentation for their reference.

Ms. Sibayan then introduced Brittany Z., who gave her farewell address to the crowd. She touched on the rewards she had reaped from AVID and told how certain she was that she was going to college. The evening ended with Ms. Lara awarding the door prize, a college guide, to Mrs. Gardner. Afterwards, everyone enjoyed cookies made by Ms. Sibayan's students and an AVID cake donated by Ms. Lisa Balboni.

The next and last AVID Family Workshop of the year will be held in May. The exact date will be announced soon.

Thanks to everyone for their support and participation in this awesome event!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Summer Opportunity in Washington D.C.

Sophomores or Juniors interested in working in Washington D.C. in the House of Representatives as a summer Page, see Ms. Ascierto for more details.

PAGE PROGRAM FACT SHEET · 2009 School Year ·
Pages are young people who are hired to serve as support staff for the U.S.House of Representatives. They are students in their junior year of high school, who come to Washington D.C. to live, work, and study as Pages. The program includes the House Page Residence Hall, the House Page School, and work responsibilities within the House.Students applying for the academic program should meet the following requirements:

  • 3.0 GPA based on core academic courses (math, English, science, social studies, foreign language)
  • High school junior/sophomore
  • Must be 16 years old by the beginning of the Page term
Eligibility for participation in the summer program includes students who have just completed their high school
sophomore or junior year.

Margie Ascierto
High School Counselor, Sigonella M/HS
Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, ITALY
DSN: 624-3249
CIV: 011-39-095-56-3249
Fax: 624-3899 / 011-39-095-56-3899

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Concentrate? Of course, you can!

AVID students recently completed a unit of study on concentration which culminated in writing essays based on what they had learned. They had to include a definition and background on concentration, common inhibitors, common promoters, and advice on how to improve it. Here are some excerpts:

"Concentration isn't just something on the back of orange juice cartons. Concentration is the ability to focus on what is at hand, and , despite popular belief, it is a learned behavior." (Adam B.)

"Concentration is not inherited; it is a developed behavior. A person has to learn to concentrate." (Nikia S.)

"Not being able to concentrate is not hereditary. So, you can't use your mom and dad as a hereditary excuse. It is a trait that is completely and utterly learned!" (Aidan T.)

"(Concentration) is something you have to attain, and be good at, to live a successful academic life. It may take some time, but it is totally possible, once you set your mind to it." (Krystal G.)

"Another leading inhibitor is something we often have to use in order to complete homework: the Internet. As helpful as the Internet can be to our studies, programs such as MySpace, instant messenger, and e-mail can all pose a major threat to our concentration. An easy way to avoid these sites is to tell yourself you can only be on them if your work is completed." (Tayler G.)

"To help improve your concentration, you're going to have to make changes, but first you have to recognize what's keeping you from concentrating. A few of your changes could be limiting your eating, finding a quiet place, and getting help so you can stay focused and understand the work you're doing." (Elexa M.)

"Even though you may not want to do your homework, if you record your assignments and when they are due, you will have a better chance of getting them done." (Shay W.)

"Another good one is keeping your things organized, because knowing where everything is is half the battle." (Michael M.)

"Determination helps your concentration because when you want something, it seems easier to concentrate." (Leah J.)

"You might even ask yourself questions such as: What do you have to do first to start your day? Or, what shall I do first for homework, study for my upcoming exam or complete a project that's due in a month?" (Lakara S.)

"You could make a game or song about what you're doing in class so you can stay on task. Think of ways to stay on task by doing something you like." (James C.)

"The first (promoter) is competing with yourself. If you put a time limit on the work you are doing, you can race against the clock. This will help you stay focused and you can also get your work done faster." (Chynnah T.)

"I know I can improve on making sure the distractions are put away and stay away. I need to prioritize homework over personal desires. I can also improve on making my work space more organized." (Ryan L.)

"Concentrating can be difficult but try not to get distracted; practice catching yourself when you do. If you get lazy or become tired, take a little nap before you do your work. When you're in class, ask questions so you know what you're doing when you work on your homework later." (Joem B.)

All the AVID students set personal goals for improving concentration while studying this topic and then measured the result. Almost all reported improvement in this area!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

School Nurse Inspires AVID Students

On February 23 and 24, our school nurse, Ms. Peggy Rettie, spoke to the AVID classes of Ms. Pienta and Ms. Novak about nursing and careers in medicine. She answered many of their questions and gave great information. Afterwards, students wrote articles about her visit based on their notes. Here are some excerpts from their work:

"(Nurse Rettie) said that she really loved her job and that she feels like she won a lottery." (Anthony B.)

"She tells us that you must love what you do or you won't enjoy your life." (James C.)

"'To be a nurse, you have to be smart, but most importantly, you have to be compassionate, ' she says." (McKenzie E.)

"In this job, you help people everyday. Also, it can be very emotional and stressful." (Peter S.)

"She gets a sense of fulfillment in being a nurse and she couldn't really see herself as anything else." (Shay W.)

"Ms. Rettie said that when you go to college you need to keep focused and to study and then there can be time for fun." (Denice P.)

"She said your mission is to complete college in four years and also have fun along the way." (Ryan L.)

"When she was in college, she had times when she wanted to drop her classes, but she kept in mind that dropping classes led to more years in college and summer school." (Gabi M.)

"She's had many experiences: everything from watching miraculous recoveries to watching a life slip away." (Adam B.)

"She witnessed the good and bad, but her best experience was vision and hearing screening for children because she said, 'They treat you like a god.'" (Joem B.)

"While attending school, Ms. Rettie had a couple of good and bad experiences which opens your eyes to help you realize that when going into the medical field, you will experience some difficult times." (Elexa M.)

". . . caring for others takes a person with patience and a big heart to work with patients." (Lakara S.)

"After she retires, she would like to go into missionary work, because she wants to make a change and be a difference in the world. I believe that she has already accomplished that by little things she's done just at our school!" (Krystal G.)

"To her, helping people brings joy to her hear. If you look at Ms. Rettie, you know her as a school nurse. After learning about her, she is more than a nurse. She is a kind, helpful lady who will take care of you not because its her job, but because you're someone in need." (Ryan L.)

Friday, March 06, 2009

***AVID Family Workshop--March 24***

March 24, 2009
Above (former) Applebee's
Building Your College Binder
Phantom of the Opera (Ms. Sibayan's MS AVID)
How to Pay for College (thanks to Suze Orman)
Green refreshments will be served!
Ms. Pienta
Ms. Novak
Ms. Sibayan
AVID Site Team

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Design Competition Winner

Congratulations to AVID junior Denice P. for having her design chosen at the winner at the Future Educators Association conference in Garmisch, Germany. Denice did not know she had won until she walked into the conference center and saw her design everywhere! "It was on posters, programs, and everything at the conference," she said. Her design is shown below.

Denice and another AVID student, Chynnah T., were the Sigonella representatives at the FEA week-long conference. They both gave high marks to the conference for all they learned and experienced. FEA is the student organization for future teachers sponsored by Phi Delta Kappa, the international organization for educators. Ms. Pisingan is the Sigonella sponsor.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Difficulty of the FAFSA

Today's New York Times published an article entitled "The Big Test Before College? The Financial Aid Form."

The FAFSA is the one and only federal form that must be completed in order for students to even qualify for federal grants, loans, work-study, and many state and university forms of aid. The article describes the "unfriendliness" of the form, but it is absolutely necessary to getting your hat in the ring for any kind of aid.

"The form becomes available each year on Jan. 1, and counselors urge families to file early because some aid is first come first served."

The article talks about President Obama's campaign promise to simplify the process and/or the form, but obviously it's not going to happen this year. So, parents have to slog though the old form, with more than one hundred questions, once more. Your most recent federal tax filing form is needed for this.

The Fafsa, and instructions for filling it out, are online at
The Education Department’s Federal Student Aid Information Center is at 1-800-4-FED-AID ( 800-433-3243) or 319-337-5665 .
. also offers information, at no charge, about the Fafsa and financial aid.


Congratulations to Markus J. on his first college acceptance--The University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa!

Markus has been active in varsity football and wrestling as well as AVID and JROTC at Sigonella. Additionally, he is an active volunteer at the Catholic chapel.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our First College Acceptance of the Year!

Congratulations to AVID Senior Jen P. on her acceptance to Sacramento State University in California! Jen is our first senior to reel in an acceptance for the Class of '09. Her dedication to her applications has been an inspiration for all the AVID students, and this is one of the many rewards she will reap.

Jen is a leading cross-country runner for Sigonella, a varsity soccer player, and has attended a European Leadership Conference representing our school.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Parents, Pupils, Planning, PSAT, and Pizza

Student PSAT Takers and Parents are invited to an informaton gathering in the school cafeteria on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, from 17:00-18:30.  There you will enjoy pizza, look at and review test results, discuss how your child did on the exam, and what is next in their future.  Please write down any questions you will have to discuss during the gathering.
Please let Mr. Riviezzo, the counselor, know that you are attending by sending an email to him with your name and your student's.  His address is

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