Saturday, December 22, 2007

Recent Grad Is Guest Speaker

Sigonella '07 graduate Kay Almonte shared her experiences as a college freshman with all AVID high school classes before the holiday break.

Kay is attending the University of Washington in Seattle on a Navy ROTC scholarship while pursuing a major in physiology. She hopes to someday become a physician's assistant. UW was Kay's "dream school" ever since she was young girl, and she worked hard throughout high school to graduate with honors and earn her scholarship, which is very competitive. She described her adjustment to college life including living in a dorm, the demands of ROTC and college-level classes, and even homesickness. She did say that her college life was atypical because of the many demands of ROTC.

Kay talked to students about declaring a major, prerequisites, general ed requirements, and time and money management. Kay's advice to the students was to begin early for the transition, especially when looking for scholarships. She also told them not to bring a car to college unless it was absolutely necessary because of the cost of keeping one there.

Kay answered students' questions that ranged from the cost of books to what she does on the weekends. It was a very informative and interesting presentation which was greatly appreciated by AVID!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

An AVID Christmas Story

An AVID Christmas Story
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the school,
AVID students were working, not one was a fool,
Cornell notes in notebooks were written with care,
‘Cause soon semester exams would be there.

Teachers scurried around in the halls,
Classroom to office and making phone calls,
With field trips, speakers, and meetings and such,
They didn’t have time for Christmas too much.

The tutors arrived, each one was a whiz
In leading their own groups, just like show biz.
The site team was settled in classrooms nearby,
Each one had a smile, vacation was nigh.

A knock on the door and who should appear,
But Mary Catherine Swanson and eight reindeer.
She carried a bag all stuffed full of toys
For students of AVID, those good girls and boys.

New binders with subject dividers and paper,
Assignment sheets, learning logs, even a stapler,
Markers, highlighters, erasable pens,
Calendars, tutor sheets, more odds and ends.

“I have more for you,” she shouted with glee,
“You can be anything you want to be!
Just follow the program, work hard as you can,
You’ll be a successful woman or man.”

“For AVID, it works, we know that it’s true,
AVID’s a gift from your teacher to you.
The future is rosy; your goal is in sight.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.”

(Maryellen Pienta, Gloria Ollhoff, and Ron Lundy, 1996)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Annual Earnings Today

"Leave aside the intrinsic value of being an educated citizen; there are practical effects as well. In 2005, the mean annual earnings were about $20,000 for a high school dropout but $54,000 for someone with a bachelor's degree. And those differences are growing wider, not lessening, as our economy becomes more knowledge and skills based. In 1975, a high school dropout earned about half as much as a college graduate, compared with about one third today."

From US News & World Report, "America's Best High Schools" issue, December 2007.

Happy Trails to Joelle and Miguel!

We said goodbye this week to two of our favorite AVID students, Joelle N. and Miguel D.

Joelle has been in Sigonella for three years. She came to us from AVID in Japan in her 7th grade year and is now returning there in her 10th grade year. Joelle has been very successful in AVID and in her college prep classes. She always has kept a great binder and is a wonderful addition to any tutorial group. We know she will be a success at her new school, in college, and in life! Joelle aims to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing, perhaps through ROTC in college.

Miguel joined AVID in his 10th grade year, just 18 months ago. He has also improved his grades while taking honors and AP classes. Miguel has been a good friend and classmate to many AVID students, and they, along with his teachers and tutors, are sad to see him leave us for his new home in Virginia. Miguel is very artistic, also, and may well pursue a degree in the arts. Here, his AVID classmates give him a round of applause at his farewell party.

Both students gave stirring farewell speeches at the Family Workshop in November.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

AVID Students Accepted into NJHS

Congratulations to these AVID students who have been accepted to the National Junior Honor Society:
8th grade AVID students Heidy I., Yoshie B., and Sedric F., 7th grade AVID students Harriet H. and Kassandra G, and 9th grade AVID student Marco M.

Spirit Week for Middle School Students!

Student Council Info for Middle School Students!
Next Week is Spirit Week (Dec. 17-21)
Monday- Holiday Twin Day
Tuesday- Holiday PJ Day
Wednesday- Holiday Hat Day
Thursday - Santa's Helpers Day
Friday- Red and Green Day

Two Scholarships for Military Children




Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation

Accepting Applications

Wings over America Scholarship Foundation established in 1987, provides college scholarships to dependent children and spouses of all Naval Aviation Commands, with at least eight years of active duty service in a Naval Air Forces Command, or a subordinate command- officer and enlisted - active duty, retired or deceased,

Prequalification forms for the 2008 Wings Over America Scholarship Foundation have been posted online:

Recipients are selected on the basis of scholastic merit and community service.

DECA Scholarships:  Commissaries now accepting applications for 2008 Scholarships for Military Children

Applications for the Defense Commissary Agency’s 2008 Scholarships for Military Children Program are available now in commissaries worldwide or online at

The $1,500 scholarships are available to unmarried children under the age of 21 (or 23, if enrolled in school) of military active-duty, retired, and Guard and Reserve service members. Most of the funds are donated by manufacturers, brokers and suppliers that sell groceries in commissaries, and every dollar donated to the program by industry or the general public goes to fund the scholarships. The program is administered by the Fisher House Foundation.

  • Eligibility is determined using the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System database. Applicants should ensure that they, as well as their sponsor, are enrolled in the DEERS database and have a current ID card.
  • The applicant must be planning to attend, or already attending, an accredited college or university full-time in the fall of 2008, or enrolled in a program of studies designed to transfer directly into a four-year program.
  • Applicants must submit an essay arguing for or against the following statement: “Every able-bodied citizen should be required to serve a two-year period of time in the military. Why or why not?”
  • Applications must be turned in to a commissary by close of business on Feb. 20, 2008. At least one scholarship will be awarded at every commissary location with qualified applicants.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

PSAT Scores Are In!

The PSAT student score reports are in!  Next week on Tuesday, December 18th, we plan to have a P-To the Fifth Power (PSAT, Parent, Pupil, Pizza Party!) gathering in the cafeteria at 5:00 PM.  At that time, we will hand out test booklets and score reports to students and parents.  Please inform your students that all who participated in the exam and their parents are invited and encouraged to attend.  
Ms. Chisari, Counselor

Ms. Pienta's Awesome Binders--Check #3

Congratulations to these students on their recent AVID binder check.  The high school students are meeting the requirement of twenty pages of notes over five classes and the seventh-graders are meeting ten pages of notes!  Seniors do not undergo formal binder checks, as they all have averages over 100% last quarter.  Instead, they simply show their binders to the tutors for a "courtesy check."
A+ (100-105%)
7th grade--Richard C. and Sara J.
10th grade--Denice P. Aica D., and Joelle N.
11th grade-- Miguel D.
A (90-99%)
7th grade--Kassandra G.
*NOTE:  Quite a few high school students are gone on the ROTC trip and will have their binders checked upon return.
** The next binder check will be on January 9-10, 2008 (A and B day).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Study Trip to Roman Mosaic Site

The high school students from Ms. Pienta's and Ms. Novak's AVID classes combined with their teachers and tutors on a study trip to the ancient Roman villa at Piazza Armerina.

Once at the site, students were divided into five groups and assigned to a specific room within the site to study and learn about the floor mosaic. Next, each group chose a "docent," or "expert" to explain their room to the other groups. Students then rotated from room to room, listening to the explanations and asking questions. All the docents did a GREAT job!

The Roman villa is thought to have been the hunting lodge of an emperor of the Roman Empire in the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The villa floors cover 3500 square meters (42 colorful floors in 63 rooms) and are made up of an estimated 30 million little tiles. We had the opportunity on this trip to see the villa undergoing an Xtreme makeover! A grant from either UNESCO or perhaps Italy is paying for the cleaning, restoring, and preservation of this fabulously rich archaeological site. We could still move around and see most of the floors, but we also saw lots of workers, hoses, bags of grout, tiles, glue, air hoses, electrical cords, plastic, etc. It was archaeology at work!

Another high school AVID study trip is planned for late May or early June to attend an evening performance of an original ancient Greek play in the Greek theater at Siracusa.

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Portfolios Started for New Students at Family Workshop

Twenty-two new AVID students and their families were presented with their College Portfolios athe Family Workshop on Tuesday, November 20, 2007. About seventy people attended the workshop, which was held above Applebee's that evening.

AVID junior Brittany B. once again led the program as the mistress of ceremonies. She welcomed everyone and introduced each speaker.

The evening's program was kicked off with a welcome by Sigonella's new principal Sonny Bertschinger, who spoke about experiences with his own children in their post-secondary pursuits and encouraged parents to be involved every day in their children's education and preparation for life.

Next, AVID teachers Ms. Pienta and Ms. Novak recognized the large number of AVID middle and high school students who achieved honor roll status for the first quarter of the year.

Following that, our new AVID student Andei K and her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Hall, came forward and signed the AVID contract. Andei was welcomed into AVID by everyone present.

Ms. Pienta gave a presentation on the use of the College Portfolio as well as the Goals and Careers section. Participants received handouts for this section.

Two AVID students who will be leaving our school soon gave their farewell messages. Joelle N. is a 10th grader who has been in AVID for four years, both here and at her previous school. She will continue in AVID at her new DoDDS school in Japan. Miguel D. is an 11 grader who is in his second year of AVID. He highlighted the ways AVID has helped him and advised students on how to succeed in AVID. Miguel will be moving to Virginia.

Last, Ms. Sibayan awarded the door prize, a Catania soccer club mug donated by her and her husband, to the winner.

Refreshments, including cookies, juice, and water, were donated by AVID parents and students. THANK YOU especially to Mrs. Dugas, Mrs. Jones (Jarrett), Mrs. Gardner, and Mrs. Jones (Sarah and Marcus).

A special thanks to AVID tutors Kathy Vary, Stacey Hall, and Beverly Rhodes for organizing the materials and preparing the facility and students for the workshop. Thank you also to Chynnah T., who designed the program for the evening.

The next AVID Family Workshop will be January 15.

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