Friday, January 25, 2008

Guest Speaker Entertains in Russian

Recently the high school AVID classes had the opportunity to hear Russian spoken and sung, as well as to see it written, when Russian major Gwen Grewe visited.

Gwen, a former AVID student herself at Heidelberg Middle School a few years ago, majored in Russian at American University in Washington, DC. She became interested in the language when she traveled to Russia with the Model United Nations program in Heidelberg. She then took four years of it in high school before going to American U. While in college, she spent a year abroad in St. Petersburg to perfect her skills. She lived with a Russian host family and took classes in the language as well as immersed herself in the culture.

Now, Gwen is able to utilize her Russian skills as a project analyst with a government contracting company. She travels several times a year back to Russia on her job.

Since one of Gwen's interests is the study of voice, an AVID student asked her to sing something in Russian, which she did, earning her a big round of applause from the class.

When asked to explain her motto, "Eat dessert first," Gwen explained that she was always fed a lot of filling food in Russia and didn't have room for dessert unless she ate it first!

Thanks for taking time from your vacation to share your experiences with AVID!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

LinguaFest is coming!!

On 31 March-4 April, 2008, one hundred students will come together at the Oberwesel Youth Hostel, located on the Rhein River in Oberwesel, Germany, and have fun while participating in a variety of languages and cultural activities. All students will first learn things throughout the week, and then many will have the chance to present what they learned in a final show. For example, those who follow a dance lesson will present that dance in the performance evening. Curious, open-minded students, unafraid of taking risks, and who have at least a 2.0 GPA, will be highly considered for selection.

There will be a variety of daytime courses offered during the week. For example, there might be courses such as one on French drama and one on a Spanish TV show. Students will be placed in one of these courses for three days. In the application forms, students will read the list of courses offered and indicate their top three preferences. Along with these daytime courses, there will be more relaxing and entertaining activities in the evening. Students are expected to attend one of these, as well. In addition to these required courses, students will have a chance to watch FL movies or play games and thus learn about languages other than those they study at school.

Please see Mr. Iozzia or Mrs. Pisingan to request an application packet. Deadline 30 January.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Everyone Involved at AVID Family Workshop #3

Approximately 60-70 participants attended the Family Workshop on Tuesday, January 15. AVID senior Patrick Felia served as master of ceremonies while Steven Kennedy hosted the game show, "Are You Smarter Than an AVID Middle-Schooler?" Both young men did a great job!

Ms. Dorothy King, Assistant Principal at Sigonella, and Mr. Carl Albrecht, Assistant Superintendent for the Mediterranean District, both spoke to the crowd, welcoming them, thanking them for their participation in the AVID program, and describing the benefits. Principal Sonny Bertschinger was also in attendance.

AVID parents Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Frost, and Mr. Patron (LEFT) were excellent contestants and good sports as they competed against 7th graders Zach B., Kassandra G., Rachel B., Sara J., and Richard C. (BELOW) in the game show. Everyone had a good time with it. Thanks to Ms. Sibayan for directing the show!

Ms. Pienta briefed the audience on the use and importance of writing in AVID. In conjunction, Ms. Novak read excerpts from the mosaic metaphor essays that the high school students are writing.

College portfolios were updated with information about calendars for college preparation and acceptance and the latest FAFSA worksheet.

Markus J. won the doorprize.

Mia S. designed the program.

Thanks to all who helped make this workshop a great success, especially AVID tutors Ms. Vary, Ms. Hall, and Ms. Rhodes, as well as site team members, Mr. Brown, and students who helped by setting up, cleaning up, presenting, bringing and serving refreshments, and welcoming people.

The next workshop will be in April when Sigonella hosts "Meet the Founder." Stay tuned for the exact date, place, and time for this exciting event!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How To Get Organized-Finally!

When it comes to getting organized, we're our own worst enemies. We keep things because we persuade ourselves we'll need them—even if we haven't used them in five years and don't quite know where we've put them. There seems to be a security factor in just knowing they're around... somewhere.
But that turns out to be misplaced; it's our inner-hoarder talking. What most of us really need is a personal push to get organized, an experienced personal organizer to separate us emotionally from the possessions we no longer need and that clutter our minds as well as our space.

To get some tips on overcoming our worst string-saving instincts, I turned to a top professional organizer, Mia Lotringer, who runs C'est Fini! in Los Angeles ( What follows are her suggestions.

Highlights are below. To see all the details, go to this link:

New Year's Resolutions--Get Organized?

Organization is a skill that can be learned. The most difficult part is breaking your lifelong bad habits (like letting your paperwork pile up). The key to getting better organized is to start with one small step and then take others one at a time. You may find that what you've put off for years takes only an hour to do. And once you see the benefits in one part of your life, you'll be motivated to go on.

If you implement the ideas given here, you'll be free from chaos and feel in charge of your life. Once you've started, stick with it. Getting organized is the first step; persistence and follow-through will keep you that way. Now, go get started.

This is a pretty good article. I'm not saying anyone needs to organize his/her desk, but . . .

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Writing to Learn in AVID (notes from Family Workshop)

How do you know what you think till you see what you write?

Writing promotes
  • Clear thinking
  • Effective and long-term learning
  • Individuals and groups with voice and record
Those who attain mastery of high school level writing quality themselves for college entry, college success, and post-college academic and career opportunities.
AVID teaches writing in these ways:
  • Cornell notetaking
  • Essays (writing process)
  • Reflections
  • Quickwrites
  • Summaries
  • Essay test responses
  • SAT/ACT Essay
  • AP Exams
  • College application essays

Former Sigonella Student Donavan B.

Some of you will remember Donavan B., who was in AVID at Sigonella during 8th grade and the beginning of 9th grade. He is now a junior at Nile C. Kinnick High School in Yokouska, Japan.
He writes: "I'm going to stay in AVID until I graduate and plan on going to a 4 year college, perferably in Michigan, my home state, or even down south. We are about to start researching colleges and writting up resumes for our transcripts. I can't wait. When I finally choose my college and get accepted. I will mail make sure you are one of the first people I tell. "

Friday, January 11, 2008

My Life is Like a Mosaic . . .

Ms. Novak and Ms. Pienta's high school AVID students are writing a metaphor essay based on their recent field trip to Piazza Armerina's Roman villa of mosaic floors (a UNESCO site). They are comparing their lives as military children to a mosaic in the manner of the famous "Accepted to Princeton" essay. So far, their beginnings are fabulous, and many will be useful as a future college applicatin essays for them.

Here are some of the beginning sentences:

"Standing on the causeway observing the ancient Roman mosaics, I could see the millions of pieces that created them, and, in them, I could see the pieces that make up my life as a military child."

"As I stood looking down at the mosaics at Piazza Armerina, I realized that my life was not very different than the mosaics before my eyes."

"As I look down on the all the colorful little tesserae and see the spectacular pictures they create, I think of my own life and how it is, in a way, like a mosaic."

Stay tuned for more writing . . . .

Free SAT and ACT Software Available:

With college application deadlines around the corner, Military families planning to take the SAT or ACT tests can receive free software through Military Homefront, The Department of Defense (DoD) website. Thanks to donations from players within the National Football League (NFL), the $199 SAT or ACT Standard Power Prep CD/DVD Programs are available for the cost of shipping and handling. All Active Duty and Reserve personnel and their families are eligible to participate. The Victory Sports Group (VSG), which represents the NFL players, introduced this program in 2005 and will continue its sponsorship through July 1, 2009. Families may use the program for an entire year even if it is requested on the last day of the sponsorship. For further information or to request the software, go to

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