Desert Sands's College Kickoff in DSUSD

College Kickoff in DSUSD

College Kickoff Week Held at DSUSD
Posted on 12/13/2019
District staff members in their college gear

In 2014 Riverside County Education Collaborative began elevating the topic of college and career readiness to new heights. The Commit to the Kickoff campaign encourages high schools in the county to participate in college and career activities for one day or a week in October/November.

Desert Sands Unified School District continues to implement district-wide AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) with college readiness as the goal, the AVID school site coordinators embraced the county’s kickoff campaign again this year. Consistent with Desert Sand’s vision, AVID prepares students, especially the first in the family to attend an institution of higher learning, for college, career, and life skills by exposing students to opportunities such as college field trips and participation in enrichment and motivational activities to make their life dreams a reality.


Jacob R, Ashley J, and Xiomara G with AVID bags.

AVID is thriving in all four of our comprehensive high schools: La Quinta, Shadow Hills, Indio, and Palm Desert. It has been implemented schoolwide in all seven middle schools:  Colonel Mitchell Paige, Indio, La Quinta, Thomas Jefferson, Desert Ridge, Palm Desert Charter, and John Glenn. Currently seven TK-5 level elementary schools are using the AVID program: Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Reynaldo J. Carreon Jr., James Carter, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Desert Sands College Kickoff began with providing all 8th and 9th graders the opportunity to take the PSAT Exam—also known as the Practice SAT Test—and 11th graders taking the official SAT Exam. All 6th and 7th graders experienced a mock PSAT. Research shows that students who experience practice exams multiple times receive higher scores on the official college entrance SAT Exam.


AVID Team: Back: Shane McComb (PDHS), Tony Vargas (CMPMS), Stephen Valenzuela (TJMS), Todd Biggert (JGMS), Dave Sexson and Kim Heston (IMS), Beckie Poirer (Lincoln), Veronica Amezcua (Dr. Carreon), Christina Endres (LQHS), Jennifer Costello (Reagan), Julie Warner (IHS), Leticia Hernandez and Krissy Krabs (Roosevelt) Front: Miceal Kelly (RIMS AVID), Kirsten Hill (Monroe), Robert Rojo (DRA), Farah Meadows (LQMS), Tracie Dorham (Carter), Suzanne Thomas (DRA), Kari Lynn Penny (District Leader), Luna Valentic (Van Buren). Missing Toni Frazer (SHHS), Irene Taylor (PDCMS) and Eileen Flanary Jones (CMPMS)

The district AVID Site Team, made up of designated site coordinators from participating schools, planned a week-long celebration of activities for both district and principals.  College Kickoff found teachers and students wearing college colors or tee shirts. At the district office, staff members also promoted the college-going culture by wearing their favorite college gear, many from their alma maters. Schools held a myriad of activities like college pumpkin decorating, college bingo, and college door scavenger hunts. Each of the seven AVID elementary schools planned lessons to encourage students to begin thinking about college and career-related choices in their future. Community members were invited to speak about their career experiences and middle schools hosted college and career pep rallies. High schools held sessions to discuss the college application process, reviewed the importance of A-G completion, and held workshops on college applications for both students and parents that included assistance with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

There were many fun activities but the one that garnered the most attention was the district College Door Decorating contest!  All schools were encouraged to enter student designed and decorated doors depicting a college-going theme. Judges had an extremely difficult time with the many outstanding entries. Prizes were awarded for the best College Decorated Doors with most sites receiving at least one recognition. Dr. Carreon Elementary had 24 doors decorated and submitted but it wasn’t quite enough to beat Lincoln Elementary’s 89% for the Overall Participation Award.

Some photos of the decorated doors are below.

Desert Sands has and is creating a college and career minded culture on our campuses that support increasing rigor in every classroom and improving student achievement for ALL students. AVID continues to open college doors and keeps them open. The future is here in Desert Sands and we strive to be the district of choice to successfully prepare every student for college, career, and life.  We will continue to provide experiences and stand by our mission: To inspire and nurture every student…one opportunity at a time.


Dr. Carreon Elementary


Dr. Carreon Elementary


Dr. Carreon Elementary


James Monroe



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