ANSON — We all had classmates who got a note on their report card that read “not living up to potential.”

Maybe you were one of them. In all likelihood you could have received A’s, but just didn’t put in enough effort.

It’s those “students in the middle” who have historically received the least amount of attention and assistance in school and have slipped by with C’s and D’s — until now.

Carrabec High School will be the first school in Maine to use a program called Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, to target students who have the smarts but haven’t yet demonstrated the drive to do well academically.

“This is the first program that I have seen that provides support for our middle students,” Principal Regina Campbell said. “We’re encouraging them to challenge themselves and push themselves. Ultimately once a student is through the AVID program they will be very successful at a four-year college, a two-year college, a vocational school, a career.”

Faculty training and the program are paid for by part of a $727,000 federal school improvement grant aimed at revamping the high school’s curriculum, activities and schedules.

The AVID program will be rolled out over the next three years and will ultimately reach all grades at the high school. This fall it will start with up to 25 sophomores.

These students have shown their ability through testing but still earn average grades, Campbell said. They are “very capable students but aren’t working up to their potential,” she said. They were invited by faculty to apply for the program and must make their own decision to join.

“This is kind of an honor. This is saying, ‘We have faith in you guys, and it’s time for you to grab your potential instead of just letting life happen to you,'” said Maurice Langlois, the school’s AVID elective teacher.

When the selected students arrive in the fall, they will have Langlois’ class every day, and they will be encouraged to take the most rigorous course offerings they can, such as honors or advanced placement classes, said Lisa Savage, the site coordinator and district director for the program.

Langlois’ elective class will teach college-readiness skills, such as how to be a critical reader and complete various forms of writing, Savage said. Students will be graded on their organizational skills. They will learn the Cornell notetaking system, which requires students to formulate questions about their notes to clarify meanings and strengthen memory.

They will also attend tutorials where they will bring in questions they have on their other school work. A group of students will then brainstorm ways the student can answer the question — without answering it themselves, Savage said. Once a week there will be guest speakers, field trips to colleges and team-building exercises.

Eight of the district’s staff recently attended program training in California. Even though only one teacher will instruct the elective class, others will be able to support the AVID students and incorporate aspects of the program into their classrooms.

“This isn’t just a program designed for a handful of kids,” Langlois said. “We’re hoping that AVID ideas kind of branch out from this one class and have an influence over the entire curriculum.”

As of the 2009-2010 school year, AVID was targeting more than 400,000 students in more than 4,500 sites in 898 districts across the U.S.

Of the 2010 AVID graduates, 99.6 percent graduated from high school, with 91 percent planning to attend college — 58 percent to a four-year college and 33 percent to a two-year college, according to Jim Nelson, executive director of the AVID Center. The program typically takes three to five years to make a difference in college acceptance and success rates.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

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