Staying Sharp: North Marion Middle School offers August classes to prep students for fall, far future

COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - From left to right are Middle School students Rihanna Alfaro Calvillo, Allison Kirkbride, Yazmin Esquivel Alfonso, and Nancy Gomez Peña, who are working on an activity covering decimals, percentages, and fractions in Teacher Scott McGuyer's AVID Summer Bridge Math Program."We multiply the decimal by what to get a percentage?" North Marion Middle School Teacher Scott McGuyer called out to his math class on the morning of Aug. 2.

"100," a few students mumbled.

"Louder!" McGuyer coaxed.

"100!" more the students called out, their voices ringing off the walls.

What Are These Summer Classes?

The Math Program that McGuyer is teaching is one of two Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Summer Bridge classes offered for North Marion Middle School students this August. In its second year at the middle school, the AVID classes are popular, and they also have a great deal to offer students, both in academic and social terms, in the long term and later in life. COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Teacher John Young, Instructional Assistant Dani Perez Vargas, and their students take a break from teaching the English Language Development Program, one of two AVID Summer Bridge classes offered this August at North Marion Middle School.

McGuyer's class, running from Aug. 1 to 19, has 20 students, and teacher John Young has 15 students in the other AVID class, the English Language Development (ELD) Program. Young's class is scheduled from Aug. 1 to 26. Each of these already small summer classes also has an instructional assistant, so the students enjoy a great deal of one-on-one attention. Yet these classes offer so much more!

The benefits of the two classes, which are held for three hours in the morning, include: enrichment for some students, a review to help other students remember past lessons, a chance to connect, and lessons in organization and higher thinking. The classes are also part of a program at the Middle School called AVID, which is aimed at inspiring students to consider their future: going to college and having a career.

What Is AVID?

AVID is a nationwide program that focuses on career and college success. The Middle School opened its own AVID site this past year, a change that includes an elective class for seventh-graders and schoolwide resources that essentially sample that class's content. The elective class will expand to eighth-graders this coming school year and could extend into the High School in 2023-24.

Students in elective classes develop academic skills, such as becoming more organized, taking more in-depth notes, and discovering how to use "higher-order questioning," which means thinking more deeply about ideas instead of answering with a set of memorized facts. Those same skills are also taught in the Summer Bridge classes, a program that is available to North Marion as an AVID school.

North Marion Middle School started its AVID elective class in 2021-22 and unveiled its Summer Bridge program in 2021. The AVID Summer Bridge classes continue to afford students so many benefits, including preventing "summer slide." COURTESY PHOTO: JILLIAN DALEY - Joram Vazquez Renteria, left, and Giovanni Guerrero Alexander complete an assignment on fractions, decimals, and percentages in Teacher Scott McGuyers AVID Summer Bridge Math Program.

What Are the Benefits of AVID Summer Bridge?

Keeping Students Engaged in School Year Round: Naturally, summer classes offer enrichment for students who are new to the lessons and a review of the material for other students. Yet another benefit of Summer Bridge is that Young says the classes address what is commonly called "summer slide" or, in academic circles, "fadeout." Both terms basically mean forgetting what you learned during the school year.

"It's very real and applies to all learners," Young said. "... I might point out that it is no accident that highly successful sports programs have summer training, conditioning, and skill development."

Using Crucial Learning Skills: Speaking of skills, AVID classes are a little different.

"The AVID skills, such as note-taking, higher-order questioning, etc., will help them in every class going through high school and beyond," McGuyer noted.

Changing How Students See Their Future: Dani Perez Vargas — one of the two Summer Bridge instructional assistants and a future teacher — served as an AVID mentor in High School. Perez Vargas said that she's seen first hand how AVID can steer students, including her own mentees, toward a bright academic future.

"I still have people come up to me and say, 'I'm so glad you were my mentor,' and they went to the same college I did," said Perez Vargas, who is earning a degree in Spanish from the University of Portland and planning to study education in graduation school.

Students said that they had noticed, and they appreciated all of it: the support for their college and career growth and the knowledge that they gained. Yet many of them expressed a simple joy in being able to spend time with new people or old friends during their AVID Summer Bridge classes.

What Do Students Think of the AVID Summer Bridge Classes?

Connecting with People: More than a few students laughingly said that their parents had made them take an AVID class this summer, but they're glad they signed up because they are getting to see friends while prepping for the fall.

"It's a little fun, getting to meet new people; it's fun to work together and this class is more fun than other math classes," says seventh-grader Rihanna Alfaro-Calvillo of McGuyer's math class.

She adds that the environment is more relaxed than during the school year. Her classmates agreed.

"It's nice; we get to learn a lot of activities with new people, and it helps me get ready for school" in the fall, eighth-grader Allison McBride said.

Developing Career Skills: Students were thinking not only about the fall, but also beyond high school.

Eighth-grader Karim Perea Vega said that he wanted to take an AVID class to improve language skills such as public speaking and reading — a step he's taking because he wants a better future for himself.

"It's my own option; my parents didn't make me do it," Perea Vega said. "It's just in case I have to do [public speaking] one day for an interview."

Honing Academic Skills: Almost every student pointed out that learning for the sake of learning has its own value.

Seventh-grader Joram Vazquez Renteria chose to take McGuyer's AVID math class because he enjoys soaking up as much knowledge as possible about numbers.

"I love math — It's peaceful and fun," Vazquez Renteria said. "Math inspires me."

What Do Students Think of Their Teachers?

McGuyer and Young both also led the AVID Summer Bridge classes last year, and they teach at North Marion during the school year. What are students' impressions of these educators?

Young: Eighth-grader Jocelyn Rivera Rojas is in Young's AVID Summer Bridge class and also took a class with him this past school year. Rivera Rojas says that he's a caring, supportive teacher.

"He's strict, and when you need help, he helps you," she said.

McGuyer: One student notes that McGuyer's engaging — and not just because he takes steps such as encouraging students to chant "100" to remember how to change a decimal to a percentage.

"He's funny; he tells jokes," Eighth-grader Allison McBride said.

She admits that they're "dad jokes," but she enjoys them nonetheless.

Just another perk of AVID Summer Bridge, that is, besides learning, making friends, and building skills for the future.

To share stories on the North Marion School District, contact Communications Specialist Jillian Daley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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