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Myrtle Beach Middle Students Sign AVID Commitment Contracts

Oct 3, 2022

On Thursday, Sept. 29, a small crowd of parents gathered at Myrtle Beach Middle School with roughly 90 students, their teachers, and school administration to celebrate the students signing contracts committing themselves to the AVID program

According to Pam Gravitte, AVID District Director for Horry County Schools, AVID is a college and career readiness program that supports students “on their journey through middle school into high school, and on to high school and college graduations.” It stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, and AVID provides a framework that “will help students thrive, grow, and succeed not just in middle school, but in high school and in life after high school,” Gravitte says. 

Gravitte says that the contract signing ceremony is “such a pivotal moment” in students’ lives because “they're making a commitment to prioritizing education and to prioritizing themselves within their educational journey.”

The contracts outline several goals the students agree to strive for and responsibilities they agree to take on. The goals include academic success in advanced college preparatory classes, completion of high school and college eligibility requirements, and college enrollment after high school graduation. In addition, the students agreed to responsibilities that include maintaining upstanding behavior, citizenship, and attendance at school; keeping their school materials organized and up-to-date; completing their homework and reviewing their notes; and maintaining a GPA of 2.0 or higher in all of their classes. 

The contract also has a statement where the student agrees to accept enrollment in the AVID elective class, which offers academic support, and acknowledges that they want to succeed and must take responsibility for their own success. Additionally, there is a line on the contract for the parents to sign later, agreeing to support their children in meeting and keeping up with those goals and responsibilities.

This year is Myrtle Beach Middle’s first year using the AVID program, making it the only middle school in the district—and the third school in the district overall—to implement the AVID program, joining Early College High and Conway High. Cathy Dalgleish, Myrtle Beach Middle’s AVID coach, says she hopes that Myrtle Beach High will soon join the ranks of AVID schools.

Dalgleish explains her position as AVID Coach, saying that she makes sure every classroom is “following the AVID way.” She clarifies that this means she coaches teachers on “focused note-taking, organizational skills, and how to help students become their own advocates.” 

Dalgleish says she worked in a school with the AVID program several decades ago, but she wasn’t a part of the program then. However, she is happy to be a part of it now at Myrtle Beach Middle, saying, “It’s so exciting to watch what happens when the whole school gets involved. This school has embraced it, we’ve owned it, and we’re doing great things.

The principal of Myrtle Beach Middle, Dr. Janice Christy, believes that the AVID program is a boon for students at her school: “In a district whose first and most important value is to put service to students above all else, when you provide students an opportunity like AVID, it is so meaningful and so empowering, and it 100% puts service to students above all else.” 

Dr. Christy tells the story of how the school started with the program, saying, “in the summer, we took two teams of professionals from the school to the Summer Institute for AVID. That was an energizer. We listened to so many students who were graduates of the AVID program talk about what AVID gave them and how AVID changed their lives. And when you hear that from the mouth of babes—when you hear from middle school students, high school students, college graduates, and young professionals—that ‘this is what AVID did for me,’ then you want to give that to your students to the fullest extent possible.” 

After returning to school, those teams worked with an AVID trainer to provide professional development to the rest of the teachers in the school. Dr. Christy says this training “helped the staff to see how the [AVID] strategies, when taught and given to students, empower students to learn, to navigate life, and to navigate decisions.” As a result, Dr. Christy says that the whole school has committed to AVID. Even though only around 90 students are taking the AVID elective class, Dr. Christy says, “every student in our school is learning strategies based on the AVID program to help them navigate school and navigate life.”

Naadira Moorbey is the mother of Myrtle Beach Middle student Amirah Johnson, who is part of the AVID program there. Moorbey says of her daughter, “She’s already a great student, but I feel like AVID will help prepare her for her future even more than I can.” Her daughter feels similarly, saying that AVID “helps me determine what I want to do and who I want to be in the future, and it helps me with a lot when I struggle.” She adds that the AVID program “makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.”

Brianna Perez Dominguez, a student at Myrtle Beach Middle, says that being in the AVID program so far “has helped me develop leadership and teamwork with my friends, and it has made me more confident in myself.” Additionally, she says that other students in the school are jealous that she gets to be part of the AVID program, and she thinks that everyone should be able to participate and gain the program's benefits.

Shadaya Burroughs knows all about AVID. Though she didn’t attend a middle school that offered the program, she graduated from Conway’s Early College High School, which integrates AVID strategies in all its classes. Burroughs was selected to speak about her experiences in the program at the AVID national conference in Tampa, Florida, in 2016, where she said, “I can honestly say AVID saved my life, and I can't wait to pay it forward!" 

Now, Burroughs has the chance to do just that. She has been serving as a substitute teacher at Myrtle Beach Middle. When Burroughs shared that she was an AVID program graduate, Dr. Christy said she knew it was meant to be. Dr. Christy invited Burroughs to be more involved with the school’s program. Since then, Burroughs has spoken with the AVID students and faculty at Myrtle Beach Middle about the program, and she also spoke at this Thursday’s event. She explained to those gathered, “AVID taught me I was never alone, that I was more than just a statistic.” 

Shannon Baglanis teaches the AVID elective class at Myrtle Beach Middle, and she agrees with Dominguez and Burroughs that everyone should be able to be a part of the program. She says AVID “gives you a community if you don’t have one, and organization skills.” In particular, Baglanis believes that AVID is vital for students who don’t have families with college experience. According to Baglanis, AVID “helped kids get into college from backgrounds that don’t normally support that,” and “AVID is a way to afford kids the opportunities that they wouldn’t normally get.” 

Myrtle Beach Middle serves an incredibly diverse population. Many door signs around the building are printed in several languages to assist students who may not be fully fluent in English. Because of this diversity, Baglanis is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of AVID at Myrtle Beach Middle. She says, “working here, I can see all the different backgrounds people come from, and I know that AVID will bring us together even more as a whole school and help everyone.”

At Thursday’s contract-signing ceremony, eight students at a time filed on stage to sign their AVID commitment contracts before filing off stage to have their picture taken in front of a collage of pennants from various colleges and universities.