A small group of seniors at Rowland High are avid about going to college.

Of course, they all belong to AVID, a special program designed to support students in the academic middle so that they can attend college and achieve their fullest potential. The acronym stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination,

"All 16 seniors have been accepted to college. This is the first year that our AVID program has a 100 percent success rate," said AVID teacher Jake Magnant. "Last year, all but one of our seniors got into a four-year college and he went to a community college where his mother works."

California colleges are well represented, including Cal Poly Pomona and Cal States in Fullerton, Long Beach and L.A., as well as the University of California in Irvine, Santa Barbara, Davis and San Diego. Other universities include George Washington, Humboldt State, Northern Arizona, St. John's, Hofstra and Drexel.

"I was barely passing when I joined the program in the seventh grade at Alvarado," said Justine Rosarda. "AVID turned my grades around in a semester by tutoring me and motivating me to work harder. College became my goal."

The 18-year-old is now finishing honors classes at Rowland High. She has been accepted to Grand Canyon University and wants to become a physical therapist.

"It's a little scary; my mother went to college but never graduated," Justine said. "But now I have the study skills and discipline I need to


Magnant notes that college graduates earn $1 million more than a high school graduate over their lifetimes. They get better jobs with more benefits.

Rowland's AVID program has more than 60 students. Magnant teaches the juniors and seniors, while Jessica Petersen handles the freshmen and sophomores.

The program teaches students new study and organizational skills to help them excel academically. Skills can be as simple as note-taking or as challenging as managing a full class schedule and extra curricular activities.

The instructors also encourage their students to take more challenging classes. That will help them get into better colleges.

Tutors help AVID students with difficult subjects. And the teens are taken to local colleges and universities to let them see what college life is like.

"We want them to see what the `real world' is like after high school," Magnant explained. "I also go to colleges in the summer to ask them what they're looking for in a student."

Students are also given many resources to help them apply for scholarships and grants to universities of their choice.

"Mr. Magnant was always there to help us fill out scholarship applications," Justine agreed.

"Our AVID seniors have gotten more that $200,000 in scholarships this year," Magnant pointed out. "A couple also got athletic scholarships."

Senior Travis Pasillas plays on the Raiders varsity baseball team. The 18-year-old has been accepted to Grand Canyon and Concordia Universities.

"I struggled in the seventh grade with Cs and a couple Bs," Pasillas said. "AVID has taught me many academic skills. Now, I'm used to writing research papers longer than 10 pages."

Pasillas would like to become an athletic trainer, hopefully with an NHL team because he loves hockey.

Both seniors say the program has also given them important moral support. They knew they could count on each other as well as their instructors to help them get into college.

And they succeeded.