Finley GEAR UP
On Wednesday, April 17th, Finley GEAR UP AVID students took a trip to Mabton Middle/High School to take part in the 1st Annual AVID Convention. This convention was able to take place because of the collaborative efforts of WSU GEAR UP, UW GEAR UP, Mabton School District, and the AVID program. Upon arriving at Mabton Jr/Sr School, Finley was kindly greeted by students and staff and were treated to a breakfast snack. As soon as all the schools filed in, Mabton AVID Elective teacher, Scott Sexton introduced himself and welcomed all the schools to Mabton. From the cheers coming from the Mabton students, Mr. Sexton has a large fan base! He then introduced the first activity of the day, the poster presentations. Each AVID class from the represented schools worked on a poster in the week leading up to the convention. The posters were a representation of what AVID means to them. Many of the posters included pictures, descriptive words, sayings, quotes, and drawings. The Finley AVID posters were presented by student volunteers standouts including Ruvim Tyutyunnik (10th grade), Kleymer Pineda (9th grade), Jose Cisneros (8th grade), and Naydelynn Gudino (7th grade).
After the poster presentations Mr. Sexton introduced the first guest speaker of the day, Dr. Bassett, President of Heritage University. Dr. Bassett spoke of the importance of education and also about his friendship with the founder of the AVID program, Mary Catherine Swanson.
The second guest speaker was the Keynote speaker for the convention, Lt. Colonel Consuelo Kickbusch (Ret). Lt. Kickbuschs’ speech left an impression on many in the audience. She spoke of her childhood, growing up in poverty and having to overcome discrimination and illiteracy. She gave insight into her parents, her mom, raising 10 kids and battling depression and her father trying to be a provider with what little work he could find. She encouraged the kids to take charge of their lives and become leaders in their communities. This included making sure the students knew the importance of respect (for their parents, teachers, each other) and gratitude (especially for their parents). In a “building community” exercise, students were encouraged to volunteer and go down to the floor to speak of how they had been impacted by Lt. Kickbuschs’ speech. Finley Middle School 8th grader, Riley Roney, almost immediately stood up to volunteer and spoke to an almost filled gymnasium, a welcome surprise from a student who often has trouble speaking in his AVID tutorial groups. For many Finley GEAR UP students and volunteers, Lt. Kickbusch’s story was the best part of the convention. In a survey, a Finley Middle School 7th grader said “Lt. Kickbusch’s speech impacted me by the way I respect my parents.” when asked what they took away from the guest speaker’s message.
The next part of the agenda was lunch. Finley GEAR UP was the first group to get in line for fresh Subway sandwiches, after being the loudest cheering school. After lunch, excitement began to fill the air as each school’s mascot got ready for the Mascot Dance Competition. The competition was judged by one adult representative from each school, so everyone had a fair advantage. After three rounds of some awesome dance moves, Finley GEAR UP’s own River View High School Panther, worn by 10th grader Raven Sallee, was crowned the winner! The Minute to Win it/ Mixed School Competition was the next activity. Each school sent three volunteers down to the floor to participate in three fun games. Finley Middle School 7th grader Darrin Roberts brought home a win for Finley GEAR UP in the hula hoop game.
The day ended with a reflection time. Student speakers were selected from each school to talk to the audience about what the experience of the day had been like for them. All of the students had really nice things to say about the convention and spoke of being impacted by the speakers and the AVID program in general. Finley Middle School 8th grader, Austin Smith, voluntarily stepped up as Finley GEAR UP’s representative, something he probably would not have had the courage to do prior to being in the AVID program. The day was culminated with a college fair. Schools in attendance included WSU campuses, EWU, Gonzaga, Heritage, and CWU. The First AVID Convention turned out great and Finley GEAR UP would like to thank the Mabton School District for being such generous hosts.