AVID students

AVID seniors this year include (back row) Joelene Ward, Lance Hammel, Zoe Roberson, (middle row) Haden Marquardt, Lizbeth Pena-Rangel, Ryann WIlson, Cassie Janz, (front row) Alicia Ambriz-Espino and Caleb Nelson.


Some AVID students at Anacortes High School will be the first in their families to go to college.

For others, they discovered college isn’t for them, but they are keeping their options open.

AVID is about connecting with resources, Ryann Wilson said. She applied to colleges this year and then deferred her admission, choosing to work instead while taking time to figure out what’s next.

She’s not sure if she’s going to go to college, but she likes having that choice. If she hadn’t taken part in AVID, she wouldn’t have even applied, because her family members didn’t attend college and didn’t know how to go through the application process.

Lizbeth Pena-Rangel and Zoe Roberson both found opportunities due to AVID.

Roberson’s AVID teacher gave her a list of available scholarships, which led to her being awarded the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship. Pena-Rangel, the first in her family to go to 

college, said she have made scholarship deadlines without the pushing of her teacher. She did make them and she won an Anacortes Schools Foundation Scholarship.

Now, Pena-Rangel plans to attend Skagit Valley College to study health science, with a minor in hospitality. Roberson is planning on going to Western Washington University to study speech pathology.

There are 11 AVID seniors this year. Graduation for Anacortes High School is at 6 p.m. today at Seahawk Stadium.

This has been a high school career like no other, many of the AVID students said this week.

They had a pretty normal freshman year and first half of sophomore year. Then, COVID-19 hit. That meant virtual learning and then hybrid learning. Some, like Wilson, stayed in virtual learning at home for the entirety of their junior year.

This year as seniors they tried to get as much of the high school experience as they could.

“I didn’t come in freshman year thinking it would be my only chance to get involved,” Wilson said. “Then two years were pretty much ripped away. So, this year, I’m trying to do as much as possible.”

Still, there isn’t enough time to do everything.

“It feels like we skipped two years,” Pena-Rangel said.

This year has been full of activities again, the students said.

They got to participate in things such as senior sunrise and lip dub. Lip dub challenges students to participate in a film shoot that looks like a music video.

Someone with a camera moves through the school, recording students singing along to popular music. The AVID students were in the AHS library for their portion, though some appeared more than once.

Through the difficult times, they found they could lean on their fellow AVID students, who they say are more like a family or a support network than any other class.

The students in AVID learned about the opportunity to participate in the program at the end of elementary school. There is an application and then an interview process for the program, which is aimed in large part at students who would be the first in their families to attend college.

Then, the same group sticks together from the beginning of middle school to the end of high school, though there are those who come in and out along the way.

“It helps you learn what resources you have,” Roberson said.

Haden Marquadt said he learned study tips from AVID, ones that have helped him in high school and will continue to help him next year when he attends Western Washington University.

“I learned how to ask for help, not just from my teachers but from my peers,” Joelene Ward said. 

She will be taking a gap year or two, then hopes to work with some professional artists and learn about game design, perhaps at a school such as DigiPen in Seattle.

Those connections built through AVID means more chances to ask for help, she said.

“It’s not the biggest class ever, but you make lifelong friends,” she said. “You also get good insight and a good view on college, whether you want to go or not.”

The group of seniors currently has Edmundo Corrales as its teacher. Normally, a class will have the same teacher for years, but the teacher of this group has changed several times, the students said. Corrales is their favorite, though, several of them said.

The group also hosts events, such as a recent senior awards night. A trip throughout the state to look at colleges was canceled for these students because of the pandemic, Roberson said.

It’s more than just lists of scholarships or events, though, Lance Hammel said.

AVID helps students figure out what they want to do with their lives.

“AVID introduces you to yourself,” he said. “It allows you to figure out who you are and what you want to do.”

Now that high school is ending, the students are looking forward to what’s next.

Cassie Janz, who is going to Utah State University to study criminal justice, said she is most looking forward to the snow of Utah.

Marquadt said he is excited about heading to a new city and experience new things.

Hammel said he is looking forward to the freedom that being out of high school brings.

“You can make your own choices, take risks,” he said.

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