Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Red Ribbon Essay Winners

Summer G., a junior in AVID, won first place in the high school division of the Red Ribbon essay contest at Sigonella MS/HS. The Red Ribbon essay contest was conducted by ASACS counselor Kaarin Coe. The topics focused on prevention of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. Summer received a gift certificate for the Navy Exchange for her winning essay. Part of it will also be published in the base newspaper, The Signature. Sophomore Adam B.'s essay earned him second place. Good work, Summer and Adam!

AVID's Cross Country European Champion!

Congratulations to Jennifer P., 11th grade AVID student, for her #1 finish at the DoDDS-Europe Cross Country Championships in Heidelberg, Germany, last Saturday. Jen's time of 22:22 snagged her the number one girls's finish in Division D-IV. According to Stars and Stripes, "Shelby Whatley of Lakenheath finished behind Redmond to earn the girls Division I championship, while Sigonella’s Jennifer Patron chased Pedersen across the line to claim the D-IV crown."
Great job, Jen! We are proud of you!

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Middle School Parent's Guide to College Prep

From Great Schools, The Parents' Guide to K-12 Sucess

You and your child need to start planning for college no later than middle school. Here are seven steps your child and family should take.

By Linda Strean, GreatSchools Managing Editor

Most U.S. parents expect their kids to go to college, and most students have the same goal. But they are not necessarily taking the practical steps to get there.

A national survey released this year by Harris Interactive found that while 92% of seventh- and eighth-graders said they were likely to attend college, 68% said they had little or no information about which classes to take to prepare for it.

Counselors, colleges and organizations like the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the ACT emphasize that parents should start planning for college no later than middle school. Their reasoning is simple:

Your child needs strong preparation in middle school to take the high school classes that colleges require.

You need to do your homework to make college affordable for your family. There are lots of options to cut college costs — scholarships, low-interest loans, work-study, spending the first two years at a community college — but it takes time to research them and get the information you need to meet application deadlines.

College planning is important for all families, whether parents attended college or not. Rose Fabiszak, director of the College Board's program called College Ed, notes, "The college process has changed, even from four years ago — the forms have changed, there are Web sites where your child can take a virtual tour of a college."

Here are seven steps you can take to jumpstart your planning:

Talk About College

As a parent, your expectations have a huge influence on what your child expects of herself, even if she doesn't want you to know it. You can help her envision her future at a time when the social anxieties and opportunities of middle school loom larger than life after high school. This doesn't mean having an "I expect you to go to Harvard" conversation. Talk to your child about her interests, how they might translate into a college major and career.

That's what the College Ed program does, working in partnership with schools and districts. In a series of lessons, students assess their interests and talents, match them to college majors and develop plans to reach their goals. "This is really an exploration of self," says Fabiszak.

There are resources on the Web to help you start exploring careers together with your child and get the conversation going. Several of them are mentioned in the GreatSchools article Helping Your Child Connect School to Work.

It's not too early for you and your child to visit a college so she can begin to picture herself there. Fabiszak tells the story of her own daughter's early visits to an out-of-state college that sounded like a great match. It wasn't. The visit helped Fabiszak's daughter realize she wanted to stay closer to home, which she did, commuting to a college in her city.

"You have to find a place that's comfortable," Fabiszak said. "She changed her mind. Because we encouraged her early, she had a chance to see what fit."

Make the School Your Partner

Middle school is the time parents tend to be less involved, but it's the very time your child needs encouragement and guidance. Meet your child's teachers, if you haven't already done so, and make it clear that you want to be kept up to date about any changes in your child's work or behavior. Go over your child's standardized test results with the counselor to identify strengths and weaknesses. Talk to the counselor about your child's interests to see if there are electives and extracurricular activities that will help him develop his talents. If your child needs extra help or more challenging assignments in a subject, talk to the counselor about how to arrange it.

"Be vocal about what your school needs," Fabiszak advises. "You should feel comfortable calling up the school to say 'I think my son needs extra help because he's failing math,' or 'Do you have more rigorous coursework for my daughter who's doing well in English?'"

Get Very Involved in Your Child's Choice of Classes

The research is clear: Kids who take algebra by the eighth grade and geometry by ninth grade are much more likely to go to college than those who don't. These math classes are required to take more advanced math classes in high school and to take science classes like chemistry and physics. In addition to taking math every year in middle school, your child should take:

English: Every year
History (including geography) and science: As many classes as possible
Foreign language: Many colleges require at least two years of a language, which your child can begin in middle school.

Because college work and many jobs now require computer skills, your child should also try to take advantage of any computer science classes offered in middle and high school. He'll gain new skills and may discover a career path.

Bottom line: Your child will need to satisfy more than the basic high school graduation requirements to be prepared to succeed in college. And he won't be prepared for college prep classes in high school unless he starts now.

Get Savvy About College Costs

Experts emphasize that there are lots of ways to finance a college education, but you have to do your homework. Researching the way the system works,
saving options such as 529 plans, and creative financing ideas will keep you from the last-minute panic that leads families to take out high-interest loans.

"You can find money for college," says Fabiszak. "It takes work and you need to start early."

There are also other cost-cutting measures you'll uncover: Your child can get college credits by taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school or in summer classes at your local community college. That can save you a year's tuition — but your child must be academically prepared to take advantage of these options.

Encourage Your Child to Read, Read, Read

It's simply the best preparation for the SAT, ACT or college reading assignments that your child can have.

While you're at it, why not make vocabulary building a family game by learning a word a day? There are lots of free subscription services that will email a word of the day, like this one from . Your child can teach the daily word to the rest of the family at dinner and quiz you at the end of the week.

Look Ahead to High School

High school is the launch pad to college. How does yours measure up? Does the school offer AP or honors courses? These classes put students at an advantage when applying for college. Will your child have access to them? Can anyone take them or do the students have to have a certain grade-point average or be selected by their teachers? Are there electives and extracurricular activities that will motivate and engage your child? If not, do you have other school options? Or do you need to find community resources — music groups, sports clubs, tutors — to supplement what the school offers? Research your child's future high school now, contact the parent group and visit classes to help insure a successful high school experience for your child.

Don't Wait to Get Your Child Help With Study Skills

Your child will need time-management, organizational and study skills to succeed in high school and college. It's easier to address these issues now than it will be when the work gets more challenging. Make sure your child has a quiet place to do homework and the necessary paper, pens and other materials close by. Help him get into a regular routine and monitor the results. If you need to, talk to your child's counselor about how to get extra help — after school, at a community center or in a tutoring program. Take a look at
GreatSchools resources on study skills for more tips.

October 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kanto Plain students take part in AVID conference

Kanto Plain students take part in AVID conference

By Vince Little, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Friday, October 26, 2007

Many kids improve performance

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Middle school students who attended Tuesday’s AVID leadership conference say the program has sharpened their work habits and put them on a path toward loftier academic goals.

Lajoie Bradley, 13, an eighth-grader at Yokosuka Middle School, said she’s gone from being an “A to B” student to collecting almost all A’s on her report card. And now, the second-year AVID student is aiming for Yale.

“I did not want to go there before,” she said. “I knew it would help me prepare for college and the SAT, but it helped me choose a college to go to. And it’s boosted my grades a little..

Zama American Middle School seventh-grader Shaun Dettman said he attends AVID classes two to three days a week, depending on a rotating schedule.

“I chose AVID because I’m having a little bit of trouble in study skills and time management … and it’s really helping me a lot,” said Dettman, 12, adding that he’s become better at organization and listening. “I want to make sure I’m ready for college, so I’m not just blank in my head.”

Seventh-grader Devonte Jackson, 12, said he was recruited into the program at Yokota Middle School.

“It’s taught me organization skills and also helped me get better at working in a group,” Jackson said.

“And it’s helped with my auditory learning. I feel like it’s going to help me get into college … AVID is a good class to take.”

Branden Sharbutt, 13, an eighth-grader at Yokota, said friends encouraged him to join a year ago.

“It’s a really good program if you’re serious about going to college and getting organized,” he said.

— Vince Little

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Hoping to groom themselves for future academic success, Kanto Plain-area students gathered here Tuesday for the 3rd annual Middle School AVID Leadership Conference.

The Advancement Via Individual Determination program is designed to help students develop the academic skills and study habits needed to flourish at present and upcoming levels of education, including college.

The class is an elective offered in DODDS middle and high schools.

About 150 students from Yokota, Camp Zama and Yokosuka Naval Base took part in Tuesday’s session, the only one in Japan crafted specifically for middle schoolers.

“The focus is on collaboration,” said Melanie Bales, the Pacific AVID coordinator. “High school students have lots of Far East activities where they can meet other students. Our middle school kids don’t often get this.”

College preparation through rigorous coursework is a major part of AVID, she added.

The program is built on developing solid organizational skills, effective note taking and time management.

Students also must maintain a binder that contains all the work they do for class, including notes and homework.

Bales said students are selected based on grade-point averages and test scores.

“It’s all about preparing for college — starting in the sixth grade,” she said, adding that emphasis is placed on taking courses that will get students into college and keep them there.

According to Bales, 30 percent of students who enter the nation’s colleges wind up dropping out. However, there is a 95 percent retention rate among AVID students, she said.

Last month, 35 AVID teachers held a conference at Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific headquarters on Okinawa.

On Tuesday, students participated in critical-thinking, team-building and writing activities. They also engaged in a philosophical debate and heard college-prep tips from a University of Maryland representative.

Next year’s Kanto Plain conference will be hosted by Zama American Middle School.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Homecoming Court 2007

Congratulations to AVID students Aica D., grade 10 (above, far left), and Marco M., grade 9 (above third from left and below), who were recently named to the Sigonella High School Homecoming Court! By the way, the Jaguar is also an AVID student, Markus Jones!

AVID Featured in Teachers' Union Magazine

Take a look at this article about AVID in the American Federation of Teachers publication - American Educator - Fall 2007 - "Focusing on the Forgotten." Here is a short excerpt from the article:

"The program’s hallmarks are exceedingly practical. AVID provides students with a teacher who regularly checks their work in all of their classes, works with them daily to improve their writing and study skills, and, so they don’t fall behind, stays in close contact with students’ content area teachers. Most importantly, AVID students must take responsibility for their own education. AVID requires them to challenge themselves, and not simply coast through easy classes; they must take at least one AP or honors class each year.

"AVID is not an intervention program for at-risk kids who may drop out of school or end up in jail. It’s for that often overlooked kid in the middle, who is bright and has great potential. It’s for students who would be the first in their family to attend college, but who never dreamed they could do so because they didn’t have the grades or the money. AVID is also for teachers striving to reach the Cesar Morans in their classrooms. It’s for teachers who want to expand access to higher level classes to more students, regardless of race or class."

This is a really good article about AVID in general. Read the whole article at the link above!


Friday, October 19, 2007

Top Ten Ways to Succeed in AVID

Here is a link to the "Top Ten Ways to Succeed in AVID" as presented at the last AVID Family Workshop.

Parents, please note that binders will be checked next week. You can help by looking at your child's binder and asking him/her to show you what they have and what they need. Thanks for your help!

PSAT Commendations from Ms. Chisari

Sigonella counselor Evelyn Chisari wrote a very nice message about some of our AVID students who assisted her at the PSAT testing earlier this week:
Included in this message is a note on behalf of the students who helped clear Knight's Hall of chairs and tables. Several students, among them . . . Marcus J . (AVID) . . . stacked tables and chairs and did not leave the facility until the job was done. However, my right hand mad was Carlo A . (AVID).. He volunteered to help me from start to finish. Quite truthfully, without his initiative I would have been running ragged this week. He is to be commended.

Again, thank you and have a nice afternoon.

Evelyn Chisari
Be Kind, Express Joy, Seek Peace...

Setting goals

When you set goals, something inside of you starts saying, 'Let's go, let's go,' and ceilings start to move up."
--Zig Ziglar,
self-help author

Friday, October 12, 2007

PSAT Coming Up Soon

The PSAT will be administered on October 17, 2007, from approximately 7:30 AM to 12:00 PM in Knight's Hall (new school multi-purpose room).

Students should have a good night's sleep, a decent breakfast, layers of clothing (we don't know the temps in the room), two sharpened #2 pencils (not mechanical), and a standard graphing calculator.

AVID students have been prepping for weeks for this test. All AVID students 8-11 will be taking the PSAT, which is an excellent preparation for the SAT. According to College Board, students who take the PSAT perform better on the SAT.

The high school AVID classes are especially grateful to Ms. Tina Lara, who briefed them on the math portion of the test with tips, examples, and practices. Many students felt it was extremely beneficial for them. Thank you!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Record Number Attend First Family Workshop

Over eighty parents, students, and staff attended the first AVID Family Workshop of the school year on October 2. The workshop, which was held above Applebee's, was a combination of information and celebration for attendees.

AVID juniors Brittany B. and Miguel D. were the masters of ceremony for the evening. AVID Coordinator Maryellen Pienta welcomed attendees and gave parents an overview of "The Top Ten Ways to Succeed in AVID," stressing the parents' role in the program.

Cristina and Nicole L. and Kevin and Kris R. gave presentations on their tours of college campuses in Georgia, Florida, and New York this past summer. All of them had different ideas of what was most important to them before and after visiting the various colleges.

Ms. Kaarin Coe, ASACS (Adolescent Substance Abuse Counseling Services) counselor for the school, presented families with an overviews of the program and how she assists students in various areas. One important area she helps students in is dealing with stress.

Ms. Lisa Balboni, English as a Second Language specialist K-12, described her role and her involvement with AVID. Ms. Balboni received special training in AVID as an ESL specialist this past summer in Atlanta, Georgia. The two programs are natural partners.

Senior AVID students Patrick F., Carlo A., and Mia S. took over for the next part of the evening, which was the AVID contract signing ceremony for twenty-five new AVID students in grades 7-11. Patrick, who is in his sixth year of AVID, reviewed the student's commitments in the AVID contract and commented from personal experience on the importance of each one. Carlo and Mia then called forward each new student with a parent to sign the individual contracts. AVID teacher Patricia Novak assisted with the signing.

Jan Sibayan, middle school AVID teacher, closed the evening with a message from a former Sigonella AVID student and the drawing for the door prize.
Everyone enjoyed cake and beverages before leaving.

The next AVID Family Workshop is slated for November 20.

Thanks to all who made the evening such a great success!

Labels: , ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?