AVID conference prepares high school students for college success

March 1, 2017

Learn to advocate for yourself. That was the message to Arizona high school sophomores during this year’s AVID Conference held annually at Arizona State University. Access ASU welcomed students from across the Valley to interact with ASU students and staff while getting a feel for the campus.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a national program that aims to close the achievement gap by preparing high school students for college success through academic and social support. students sitting around table Local high school students attend ASU's AVID conference. Download Full Image

Through a series of interactive workshops, campus tours and motivational speakers, the conference provided the sophomores in attendance the opportunity to develop their skills as leaders and learn about resources available to them at ASU in order to foster a positive attitude toward higher education. 

Angelica Russo, a second-year AVID teacher at Hamilton High School, said this conference is instrumental in exposing her students to college.

“Many of our kids have never been on a college campus before. They are first-generation students that want to go to school, so we want to show them as much of college life as possible,” Russo said.

“I found AVID during my freshman intro to summer school,” said Ruben Lopez, a sophomore at Trevor Brown High School. “I knew if I wanted to be the first generation to go to college, I needed to be prepared.” 

The students began the day with a lifeboat exercise: they had to determine nine people who would join them on a lifeboat and three who would not. In this activity, they learned the importance of sharing their personal stories in order to self-advocate.

“I’ve been an AVID tutor and instructional assistant, so I’ve seen the perspective of a student. It’s helped me to support them and guide them to explore their own potentials,” said Nathali Rascon Alcantar, an AVID teacher at Trevor Brown High School.

How do you get to campus? How do you find internships? What’s it like having a roommate? What’s your schedule like? ASU SPARKS members fielded these questions, and others, during the conference. They shared their experiences with the AVID students, who hung on to every word. 

SPARKS (Students Providing Awareness Resources & Knowledge to Start College), is a student-led organization promoting access to higher educations throughout the community. It is dedicated to increasing college readiness and awareness. ASU students who volunteer with SPARKS serve as role models and engage with K–12 students at the AVID Conference and a range of other college readiness programs and events presented by Access ASU throughout the academic year.

students posing at photo booth

Future Sun Devils have fun at the AVID conference photo booth.

In the other workshops, the AVID sophomores learned GPA isn’t the only thing that matters during high school; they have to get involved in something outside the classroom while continuing to plan for higher education.

“That was the best part of the day,” Camelback High School student Daniel Mora said. “I was able to learn the requirements for admission to ASU. Now, I can focus on that.”

Mora was encouraged to join AVID in middle school, and said the support he’s received from his teachers and family has been wonderful.

“When you’re feeling down, or need help in a subject, they reach out to you. They really help,” he said.

“AVID students and their like-minded peers have the talent, will and determination to be the first in their families to earn their college degrees," said Sylvia Symonds. “With the support of AVID and ASU, they can learn to thrive.”

By Will Argeros, Educational Outreach and Student Services

World Meteorological Organization verifies highest temperatures for Antarctic region

ASU climate expert, WMO rapporteur talks about importance of such verification

March 1, 2017

The World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday new verified, record high temperatures in Antarctica, an area once described as “the last place on Earth.” The temperatures range from the high 60s (in Fahrenheit) to the high teens, depending on the location they were recorded in Antarctica. 

Knowledge and verification of such extremes are important in the study of weather patterns, naturally occurring climate variability and human-induced change at global and regional scales, said Randy Cerveny, an Arizona State University professor of geographical science and urban planning and the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO. Randy Cerveny, Arizona State University professor of geographical science and urban planning and the Rapporteur of Climate and Weather Extremes for the WMO Download Full Image

“The temperatures we announced today are the absolute limit to what we have measured in Antarctica,” Cerveny said. “Comparing them to other places around the world and seeing how other places have changed in relation to Antarctica gives us a much better understanding of how climate interacts, and how changes in one part of the world can impact other places.” 

Because Antarctica is so vast (it is roughly the size of the United States) and varied the WMO committee of experts, convened by Cerveny, provided three temperature measurements for the Antarctic.

The highest temperature for the “Antarctic region” (defined by the WMO and the United Nations as all land and ice south of 60-deg S) of 19.8 C (67.6 F), which was observed on Jan. 30, 1982, at Signy Research Station, Borge Bay on Signy Island.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Continent, defined as the main continental landmass and adjoining islands, is the temperature extreme of 17.5 C (63.5 F) recorded on Mar. 24, 2015 at the Argentine Research Base Esperanza located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

The highest temperature for the Antarctic Plateau (at or above 2,500 meters, or 8,200 feet) was -7 C (19.4 F) made on Dec. 28, 1980, at an automatic weather station site D-80 located inland of the Adelie Coast.

The Antarctic is cold, windy and dry. The average annual temperature ranges from -10 C on its coasts to -60 C (14 F to -76 F) at the highest points in the interior. Its immense ice sheet is about 4.8 km (3 miles) thick and contains 90 percent of the world’s fresh water, enough to raise sea levels by around 60 meters (200 feet) if it were all to melt.

Cerveny said that observing the extremes of what the Polar Regions are experiencing can provide a better picture of the planet’s interlinked weather system.

“The polar regions of our planet have been termed the ‘canary’ in our global environment,” Cerveny said. “Because of their sensitivity to climate changes, sometimes the first influences of changes in our global environment can be seen in the north and south polar regions. Knowledge of the weather extremes in these locations therefore becomes particularly important to the entire world. The more we know of this critically important area to our environment, the more we can understand how all of our global environments are interlinked.” 

Cerveny said an additional benefit is understanding how those extremes were achieved.

“In the case of the Antarctic extremes, two of them were the result of what are called ‘foehn’ winds — what we call Chinook winds — very warm downslope winds that can very rapidly heat up a place. These winds are found even here in the United States, particularly along the front range of the Rockies. The more we learn about how they vary around the world, the better we can understand them even here in the United States.

Full details of the Antarctic high temperatures and their assessment are given in the on-line issue of Eos Earth and Space Science News of the American Geophysical Union, published on March 1, 2017.

Director, Media Relations and Strategic Communications