By Andy Ross

Killeen Daily Herald

It was all eyes on Killeen High School Thursday as more than 40 program leaders from the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) system made an appearance to observe the college readiness program up close and personal.

The visit came in response to KHS being named a national demonstration campus for AVID, a designation earned when at least 10 percent of a campus' students take AVID courses.

Christina Harris, program director at KHS, said the visit was not only a chance to show off what's being done, but also to receive feedback on potential improvements.

"It's an opportunity to show off what our teachers as well as our kids do," Harris said. "It's also a chance for me and others here to learn. We want to maintain what we are doing but always keep trying to push it to the next level. We're always looking to improve."

An academic system used in thousands of schools across America, AVID targets fourth- through 12th- grade students. The system's overriding goal is to bridge achievement gaps and prep students performing in the academic middle to succeed in four-year colleges.

"It's really about building a college-going culture," said Betty Krohn, one of the program managers walking the hallways at KHS on Thursday. "These students become the catalyst, and it sets the tone for the whole school."

In 2009, more than 1,500 students in the KISD were enrolled in AVID courses. This year at KHS, 292, or 13 percent, of the total student body is enrolled in AVID classes.

Senior Danielle Brown is one of those students. Brown served as a tour guide this week for the program leaders. According to Brown, she has become more organized and driven as a result of her courses and hopes to attend law school, at either Howard University or Harvard, upon graduation.

"The main thing is to get a scholarship and go to a four-year college and achieve your goals and accomplish what it is you really want to do," Brown said.

Another student putting on their best face Thursday was Ryan Jones. The senior said participating in AVID has also improved his organization, a skill that has come in handy as he applies to the University of Southern Mississippi and Sam Houston State University.

"If it wasn't for AVID, I would be running around trying to figure out what to do," Jones said. "Just getting the letters of recommendation and doing some of the other stuff I didn't even know I had to do. It would have been hard."

Contact Andy Ross at at (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHeducation.

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