White River taking steps to help students get into college

“It’s a radical shift we’re seeing at the high school,” White River High School teacher Leeann Alfano told the White River School Board at its March 25 workshop. Students, she said, are asking what classes they need to take to help them get into college.

Alfano and WRHS Assistant Principal Greg Borgerding were talking about the district’s Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. The two were asked to update the board on the program’s progress.

Currently, 88 students in middle and high school, who will stay with the program through high school, are participating. The district hopes to expand the program each year to include more students.

The program is designed to provide rigor, relevance and relationships for students with the hope of getting them excited about going on to college and helping them to be prepared when they get there. In addition to the regular class day, the program offers students skills in note-taking and studying, as well as providing information about colleges and bringing in guest speakers. Students will tour University of Puget Sound, University of Washington, Pacific Lutheran University, Green River Community College and Clover Park Technical College this spring with more campuses added each year.

Borgerding produced statistics that indicate approximately 22 percent of White River’s graduates between 2000 and 2006 have gone on to college and of those, an even smaller percentage graduated from college.

AVID is helping to change those statistics, he said.

Students are selected from teacher and counselor recommendations. They are looking for students who are in the academic middle whose parents have probably not attended college and who have the desire and determination to work hard.

Invitation letters were distributed recently with an invitation to learn more at a 6 p.m. parent meeting Thursday. Those who are interested will have to apply to the program and receive a letter of acceptance.

The program costs about $60,000 a year for tutors, the library that accompanies the program and training. It’s a three-year committment, then the district is on its own to continue.

In other business, the board:

• accepted White River elementary music teacher Cherie Murchie’s retirement and custodian Dana LeMaster’s resignation.

• approved a resolution to reduce an eliminate positions due to program reductions in accordance with the White River Education Association’s bargained agreement.

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