Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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City school honored for helping students to improve studies

By Mary Vorsino


After six years of work and lots of training, Washington Middle School has been named one of 118 national demonstration sites for AVID, an internationally recognized program that helps C-average kids do better and set their sights on college.

Washington is the first middle school in the state to receive the honor. It received the designation for three years, the longest possible period. The only other AVID demonstration site in Hawaii is Campbell High School.

The surprise announcement was made at the school Thursday afternoon, following a final review earlier in the day by AVID officials.

A total of 105 Hawaii schools this year offer AVID, which stands for Advancement via Individual Determination. The program helps students improve study habits and organization, removes barriers to higher-level classes and helps put kids on a path toward college.

The distinction in being named a demonstration site is that “we have become a school that can now host other schools from around the world as they seek to become better at the AVID program,” Principal Mike Harano said.

“It means for us that the hard work that was done by our teachers and students has been validated,” he said.

Schools Superintendent Kathryn Mata­yo­shi said Washington Middle “is now a national role model for excellence in learning.”

AVID has seen substantial growth in Hawaii in recent years, as schools seek to provide more support to middle-of-the-road students who have been falling behind. In 2004 Campbell High became the first Hawaii school to adopt AVID.

Harano said AVID is about helping the “forgotten middle.”

“Schools have lots of programs for high achievers and disadvantaged kids but nothing for the middle kids,” he said. “The AVID program inspires them to do better, inspires them to want to go to college and become successful in their lives.”

About 4,500 schools — most in the United States — have adopted AVID. Of the 516 AVID schools in the western division, which includes Hawaii, 22 are national demonstration sites. And of those, nine are middle schools, said Karen Lewis, AVID western division director.

She said Washington Middle is a “real beacon of AVID,” adding, “They have taken the time … to really hone the program, to implement the model of what we use for college readiness for all.”

Harano said Washington Middle adopted AVID in 2006, sending a cadre of teachers to San Diego for training. Altogether the school has spent about $100,000 on its AVID program, mostly on training.

Today 42 percent of its teachers are AVID-trained.

“We’re working on 100 percent,” Harano said.

He added that he hopes the honor will help the community recognize the big strides Washington Middle has made in recent years. “We know that the perception of Washington … is that it’s a rough school,” he said. “But so much has changed for the better.”

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