Where are they now?: AVID students of 2015 discuss college

By Caroline Diamond, Reporter

Cleveland’s hardworking AVID students continue striving to be their greatest selves in college, while others finish out their high school career and make brave plans for the future.

AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a global non-profit program that helps prepare all students for college and postsecondary schooling. Thirty years ago, AVID was established; since then, 800,000 students in 44 states and 16 different countries have been impacted. Cleveland’s AVID program consists of 70 students and is taught by David Hillis, Mark Warner and Julia Blattner.

Hillis has had 10 classes of AVID students over five years of teaching this program. AVID students travel throughout Cleveland in ‘cohorts’ designated by their grade. For example, the senior cohort has been in class together since freshman year of high school.

AVID is generally designated as a source for helping first generation college students and underrepresented populations in college. “Students in AVID develop skills for accessing the most challenging level of coursework at Cleveland in preparation for success in college,” Hillis explained.

AVID emphasizes writing, reading, inquiry, organization, and collaboration. These students are held to a higher standard to reflect and process their coursework and build strong relationships with their teachers.

Nationwide, 40 percent of instructional time in AVID classrooms is used for student led tutorials, also known as critical thinking workshops. Once a week, students participate in a tutorial where they identify a point of confusion or curiosity. Then, peers will use a socratic questioning method to help the student solve their classroom related issues.

Last year, many of AVID’s graduating cohort entered college. Angelica Flores and Ariel Shaw, two of Cleveland’s previous AVID students, are currently enrolled as freshmen at Lewis and Clark College. Norman Doumite is currently a senior at Cleveland and is preparing himself for college and beyond. These three students graciously shared their stories detailing how AVID influenced their schooling, as well as sharing their hopes for their future professions.


Angelica Flores

“AVID helped me succeed in high school because it put me in a group of students where everyone was motivated to graduate high school and go to college,” Flores said. With help from Julia Blattner, who is currently on maternity leave, Flores was recruited by the AVID program her freshman year and continued in her cohort through senior year.

Before high school, Flores was aware of the AVID program in middle schools, however she moved too much in those years to join. Flores was involved in Cleveland’s soccer team, but due to an injury senior year, she was unable to play and instead managed the junior varsity team, as well as mentoring Blattner’s sophomore class.

AVID taught Flores to use a planner efficiently and take Cornell notes, which she still does at Lewis and Clark College, along with studying techniques and overall organization. However, Flores explained, “The most important thing I learned in AVID was that there are people that care about my success and that I’m not alone, whether in college or in high school.”

Currently, Flores is undecided in her major, but is considering sociology and anthropology. It is a definite that she will minor in ethnic studies. After college, Flores wants to be a lawyer or social worker, and to her advantage she has the tools from AVID and all her other courses at Cleveland to be successful in either profession.


Ariel Shaw

Introduced by her counselor, Heidi Tolentino, Shaw began studying in the AVID program junior year and continued through her senior year of high school. Through AVID, Shaw was presented the tools she needed to be successful in high school. “AVID gave me the ability to conquer any academic environment that I may find myself in with confidence. I didn’t know what college was going to be like, but I know now that whatever challenge I am given I will be able to rise to the occasion and do my best work,” Shaw said.

The AVID program and Mr. Hillis showed Shaw the importance of organization and taught her essential questions that help to further her knowledge and understanding in the classroom.

Today, at Lewis and Clark College, Shaw is majoring in biochemistry and pre-medicine. After college, she plans to go to medical school and begin her training as a surgeon. Shaw explained, “While I learned a lot of practical tools in AVID, I also gained a lot of confidence in myself. Through AVID, I met people that believed in me and my dreams, and worked along side me to make those dreams reality. Without them and the program, I may not be where I am today–ready to conquer anything.”


Norman Doumite

Doumite is a hard worker; he strives daily to reach success in high school and prepare himself for college, as well as his professions beyond. His junior year, Doumite joined AVID. Since then, he has learned small things that make a big difference, like keeping a planner and an organized three ring binder for all school assignments. Most important, AVID gave Doumite an environment to ask questions about his future. “I ask questions about college particularly because this is my last year in high school. I think that if you ask more questions about college it will prepare you and help you stay on track,” Doumite explained.

Doumite is an advanced competitor of ping pong at Cleveland, while also participating in the ACE scholarship program. The ACE program, Architecture, Construction, and Engineering, teaches Doumite and many other students the importance of these fields and helps them to gain knowledge of ACE-like professions in hands-on activities and experiments. Doumite’s number one choice for college is Portland State University, then Reed College, and lastly Portland Community College. He wants to study engineering and someday be an environmental engineer.

“Stay on track, do your homework, don’t slack off, and most importantly stay organized,” Doumite said in conclusion, for those, he believes, are the keys to success.


AVID helps students reach their goals through questions, organization, and strong relationships with teachers. Angelica Flores, Ariel Shaw, and Norman Doumite are just some prime examples of motivated AVID students with a drive for success.