Opinion: AVID Shouldn’t Combine Junior Classes

3 mins read

Next year, M-A plans to combine two AVID classes into one, which is detrimental to the long-term relationships that AVID students like me have with our AVID teacher. Students from both classes agree that we don’t want to be merged together, and we each want to stay with our teachers that we’ve had for the past years. Both classes deserve this. 

Why Junior AVID Classes Are Combining

To maintain the existence of an elective class, there needs to be a certain number of students signed up for the class. There are two junior AVID classes right now, but neither of them are meeting that required number. So, the two classes will be combined next year—one taught by Arminda King and one taught by Mark Helfenberger—into one senior AVID class taught by only King. 

Helfenberger, the head of the AVID program, said, “The overall number of AVID students is declining because there aren’t as many freshmen signing up. Since we’ll have fewer than 25 seniors in each class next year, Principal Losekoot can’t justify having two teachers for two AVID classes.”

One reason for declining AVID numbers is an overall decline in school enrollment. Additionally, some AVID students have been kicked out of the program for not maintaining the program’s 2.5 GPA requirement.

Another issue that the junior AVID classes are facing is that—since AVID is a four-year course—joining senior year isn’t allowed, so the class sizes can’t be increased for next year. 

What Junior AVID Students Have to Say

This topic has sparked a heated debate among students in both King and Helfenberger’s current AVID classes. A lot of students from King’s class agree that if they had to switch teachers for their senior year, they would choose to drop out of the AVID program.

Over the past year of being in Helfenberger’s AVID class, I have fostered connections with him as well as my small group of classmates. It would be best for us to stay in a tight group next year instead of having to join another group that we don’t know, especially in such a personal program.

Students from Helfenberger’s class, including myself, have not responded positively. We’ve already had to jump around between multiple AVID teachers during our time at M-A, having had Anton Gerth for two years and then transferring to Helfenberger for our junior year. Part of the point of the AVID program is to stay with the same teacher throughout your four years of high school to build trust and community, but our class hasn’t been able to experience this. 

Junior Joanna Ramirez, who is in my AVID class this year with Helfenberger, said, “King’s class has bonded with her—they know her really well and already have a connection. We don’t. Since it’s only one year, what’s the point of making a bond?”

Junior Julissa Madrigal, another of Helfenberger’s AVID students, added, “We just want to be with someone we’re comfortable with.” 

While King is a great teacher, Helfenberger’s class feels put at a disadvantage for being with someone we neither know nor feel comfortable with. 

Ramirez said, “Seeing our friends in the merged class could be another con of combining classes because it could get rowdy there. She’s not going to have control over us because we only have her for one year. That’s going to be a problem.” 

Junior Yandel Hernandez, a student in King’s class, echoed these feelings, saying, “The teacher will pay less attention to us, and being in a crowded room will be difficult for some people to cooperate and work in.”

“I think it’s a little unfair because they told us that Helfenberger would be our teacher for the rest of high school. We’ve had an unstable AVID life, we’re like foster kids.” 

Julissa Madrigal, junior

Junior Santiago Myers-Ascencio, another student in King’s class, said, “The con is that we get less attention from the teacher, and one-on-one time is really important.”

When I asked these same students if they thought there would be any benefits to this change, Ramirez said, “I guess it’s helping the budget, and people will have a lot of friends in the same class.”

Hernandez brought up that TRFs (Tutorial Request Forms)—group studying with peers with similar questions and answers—would be much easier. “It would also help us meet new people, be more social, create new bonds, and have a bigger network,” they added.

When considering these pros and cons, students have different opinions on whether or not the change will be overall more positive or more negative.

Ramirez said, “I’m pretty neutral about it. I understand why it’s happening, but I’m not happy about it. I don’t want to complain about it too much though.” 

Hernandez said, “Personally, I’m excited for the classes merging together because working together as a group and being connected as a big AVID family would be cool.” 

Madrigal said, “I think it’s a little unfair because they told us that Helfenberger would be our teacher for the rest of high school. We’ve had an unstable AVID life, we’re like foster kids.” 

It seems that there’s no changing the administration’s decision—there just isn’t enough in the current budget to keep two AVID teachers at M-A. However, I call the administration to allocate more funding—something we know they have the ability to do—to AVID, a beautiful program that deserves to keep its two amazing teachers.

Karen is a junior at M-A. This is her first year in journalism. She hopes to write narratives about her own life and connect them with other students from M-A. In her free time, she likes to write poetry, spend time with her cat, Joy, and family and friends.

Latest from Opinion