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Lansdowne High to hold 2nd annual 5k Saturday to benefit AVID

Lansdowne High School sophomore Corine White solved an algebra problem with the help of her classmates last week during her Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class.

She's also doing her part this weekend to help the AVID program, which is aimed at closing the achievement gap by preparing students for college.

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Corine is also one of 90 runners signed up to participate in the school's second annual AVID 5k on Saturday, March 28, at 8 a.m. at the school located at 3800 Hollins Ferry Road.

Proceeds from the race will help pay for field trips, supplies, project materials for college resumes and other materials needed to help students reach their goal of attending college, said Stacy Swann, the school's AVID teacher.

"We get a small field trip budget. But everything else has to come from fundraisers," said Swann, who organized the run for the first time last year.

Kelly Rayner, 17, a senior at the school is volunteering to help organize the race.

Rayner said organizing the event is a collective effort. "We all come together and work together to make it happen," Rayner said.

Last year, the event raised $2,000 for the program. "This year, we hope to double, even triple, that amount," Swann said.

The AVID program helps students at the school attend college , Swann said.

There are currently 70 students enrolled in the program in grades 9-12. They take an AVID class, which teaches them to be organized, improve their grades and stay focused on their goal of attending and graduating from college.

"Most of them are going to be the first in their family [to attend college]," Swann said. "That's who we try to target when we do recruiting."

Those students, whose parents may not be familiar with the college application process, often have a difficult time preparing for college and navigating the system, which is complicated, Swann said.

The program exposes students to different colleges and programs and helps them determine which school is right for them.

"A lot of kids will just see what is publicized about a school," Swann said.

Swann guides them through the process of choosing a school. She also helps with choosing a major — an important decision which can determine whether they will continue through school or drop out, she said.

"We help them get organized, get their grades up and get into college," Swann said.

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Many seniors at the school are currently applying for scholarships and financial aid, including Kira Meyers, 17, a senior who was accepted to Kent State University's marketing program.

"I'd completely lost if it wasn't for AVID — keeping up with the deadlines and everything," said Meyers, who will be the first in her family to attend college. "They really know when to turn things in and when to get things done."

Thinking about college is something kids should do earlier than high school, which is why the AVID program is offered in middle schools, Swann said.

Swann does presentations at Lansdowne and Arbutus middle schools, which feed into the high school, to recruit students for the program. Students must apply to get in and can start the program as early as middle school at Lansdowne Middle, which has its own AVID program.

Those entering high school who took AVID classes in middle school are directed toward career programs offered at Lansdowne High rather than AVID if they lose interest in the program, Swann said.

"AVID is a choice. No one is forcing them to stay — they have to choose to stay," Swann said.

The program was launched in Baltimore County public schools by former Superintendent Joe Hairston as a pilot in six high schools: Dundalk, Kenwood, Milford Mill Academy, Owings Mills, Parkville, and Woodlawn, the BCPS website says. It's now offered in 16 high schools and seven middle schools, according to the website.

It was created in 1980 by a San Diego public school teacher, Mary Catherine Swanson, as an elective course to help underachieving students develop academic rigor and recognize college opportunities, and is now offered in 46 states.

Registration for Saturday's race is $30 for the 5k at the race and $20 for a 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk.

Those who want to support the program but can't attend can sign up as a "virtual runner" for $20, which comes with a race shirt that can be picked up once the race is complete, according to race information.

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