Despite being in only its second year within the La Crosse School District, the AVID program, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, is changing the lives of more than 100 students.
The program is being funded by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation for the first three years and the school district agreed to pay for it from there on out.
The class is offered as an elective at Logan High School and Central High School, for ninth through eleventh graders.
The curriculum focuses primarily on writing, critical thinking and collaboration. Skills teachers of the class hope students take with them well beyond the scope of high school.
Central sophomore Shaniece Riley is the first person in her family to go to college.
"I knew this class was going to help me reach my dreams because everyone in there is so supportive and if it gets hard, they tell you to push yourself," she said.
To secure a place in the class, prospective students must first fill out an application and go through an interview process.
"This is a program that's not geared for top level students or the kids struggling, it's for that middle group, many of whom never considered going to college," Margaret Dihlmann-Malzer,a board member of the La Crosse Public School Foundation, said. "This is a program that helps ensure that they can dream bigger, dream about college if they've never done that before and they can do that knowing they have the skills to succeed."
Eli Koperski, a sophomore at Central, said AVID has changed his attitude toward school work.
"My GPA has risen from 8th grade and in 9th grade I had an even higher GPA because of the study habits and it's helped me a lot and I'm doing much better," he said.
National AVID statistics show three out of every four AVID graduates who apply, are accepted to a four-year college or university. Neither Central or Logan High School have had an AVID graduating class, but the district said it is pushing its students to surpass those statistics.