By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While some high school athletes have dreams of playing in the pros some day, other students just want to have the opportunity to go to college.

This week’s Community Spotlight winner is making that dream come true.

In a classroom at Armstrong High School, there is more at stake than a math test or a science exam. In there, students are paying attention with the hope that it will pay-off for what comes after high school.

“It’s definitely a labor of love. There are ups and downs to the journey,” said AVID coordinator, Katie Fuller. “I think the biggest part of it though is the sense of community that the students start to build with each other.”

Armstrong’s AVID program stands for “Advancement Via Individual Determination.” The goal of AVID is take students of color, students who come from low-income families, and students who may be first-generation college bound, and prepare them for a four-year college or university.

“Plainly put, I don’t think I would be going to college without AVID,” said senior Dani Ellis.

“I always knew I wanted to be going to college but never knew exactly how I was going to get into college,” said senior Nirvana Yang.

Ellis and Yang began the program as students whose grades were in the middle. But AVID taught them everything from proper note-taking to how to apply for college.

Because of the program, Ellis is on her way to NDSU next fall and Yang is going to Minnesota State-Mankato. Both will be the first in their families to take that next step.

“I always dreamed of going to college. I never exactly knew how I was going to get there, but with AVID, it helped me,” said Ellis.

Like all students who get accepted, their college acceptance letters now hang on the AVID wall of fame and pennants from the colleges they choose hang from the ceiling.

“I love the AVID program. I love the kids. It’s the best part of the job and it makes me love working here and makes me love my job,” said Fuller.

Armstrong High School is one of the first schools in Minnesota to adopt the AVID program. Last year, all but one of the Armstrong AVID students who graduated went on to college.

They will use the $500 Community Spotlight money to pay for field trips to visit colleges.

Community Spotlight is sponsored by Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum, and Carey.

John Lauritsen