San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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December 4th, 2008
Sun, sand and…school?

No matter how enjoyable the traditional classroom setting, most students -if given the opportunity-would bolt at the chance to experience a pristine Texas beach. San Marcos High School AVID sponsor Rick Hardy and 18 members of the college readiness program recently had just such an opportunity when they traveled to North Padre Island for the Island Day College Fair hosted at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The students are part of the program called Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) that focuses on “students in the academic middle” who typically are the first members of their families to graduate from college. According to Hardy, the program takes students and molds them into college-ready candidates by allowing them to participate in a four-year readiness initiative.

Hardy says, “AVID combines proven strategies and methodologies for academic success with the excitement and enthusiasm of college tutors from Texas State University to formulate the perfect combination, enabling San Marcos High School students to not only be highly successful while in high school, but-more importantly-to be confident college students.”

Excitement and enthusiasm were the buzz words of the day when Hardy, the AVID students, and the chaperones arrived in Corpus Christi on Friday, November 7. After a brief stop at their hotel to change clothes, the group was soon back on the bus driven by San Marcos CISD bus driver Rey Cortez, who is a native of Corpus and who knew the best spots. The evening on the beach had been anticipated and planned for weeks, and no one was disappointed. Although it was windy and a bit cool, that did not deter students who wanted to hit the surf. Those who did not want to swim busied themselves playing in the sand, unloading food and supplies, and building a bonfire.

“It was great seeing this group of kids enjoying themselves,” Hardy said. “No video games, no cell phones (well maybe a little texting), just young people having fun with one another on the open beach.”

As the sun set behind the sand dunes, the bonfire beckoned and hot dog roasting began. Some students fed the curious sea gulls. But filtered in with all the food and fun was some serious conversations about how wonderful it would be to attend college in an area where one could spend hours at the beach “between studies.”

Saturday, November 8, began early with the visit to the nearby campus of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the nation’s only university located on its own island. The school’s Island Day College Fair is a showcase designed to inform students about different degree plans and options provided by A&M. The students were allowed to pick and choose from different degree plans and to actually attend classes conducted by college professors. Hardy observed, “Our high school group mingled with other students from all over Texas while thinking about the reality of college in less than a year away.”

Several of the SMHS seniors who are considering “The Island University” after graduation came away with a new perspective of college life, the possibilities that come with the university lifestyle, and ultimately the college degree. In addition to the campus tours, students found ways that they could be involved in university student-life, spoke with admissions counselors, and met with financial assistance representatives. The university prides itself on a personalized approach to teaching with a student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1.

Hardy said that the 2 pm departure time for San Marcos came too quickly for most. Back on the bus, the memories of beach bonfires at night mixed with the exciting challenges and opportunities offered that day at the beautiful and prestigious institute of higher learning. Suddenly “school” seemed as exciting as the sand and the sun.

The San Marcos High School AVID program will soon be taking applications for next year’s class enrollment. Anyone who is interested in more information about AVID, please contact Hardy at

by Iris Campbell
San Marcos CISD

Amanda McClellan and seagulls

Barbara Ruggieri with campfire

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