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AVID/TOPS College Signing Day 2016

Boys and Girls Club of Dane County celebrate 121 Madison seniors


The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, in partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), celebrated over 100 graduating seniors from the AVID/TOPS Program on May 12 at the Gordon Dining and Event Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. For the first time ever in Dane County, the seniors signed pledges for their college career as well as representing the individual college or university they will be attending in the fall.

All 121 students attended either Madison La Follette, East, West or Memorial high schools and are a part of the AVID/TOPS program. AVID is a college readiness system that includes an elective course focused on organizational strategies, study skills, critical thinking, tutorial support, and career and college awareness. AVID is partnered with the TOPS program through the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. TOPS provides full-time student coordinators in each of the four high schools, summer internships, after-school mentors, funding for more than 40 tutors during the elective course, and a variety of college and career field trips. The program started in 2007 at East High School with 28 students. It is now in 11 of the district’s middle schools and the four traditional high schools, serving more than 1,200 students.

The 2016 AVID/TOPS graduating class collectively secured $1,107,950 in scholarships to support their college plans and will be attending 31 different colleges and universities.

“This is the first time Dane County has seen a College Signing Day like this where we are recognizing this many students attending college. We wanted an emphasis on academic achievement and wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate these young people like we celebrate athletes when they announce their college plans,” said Michael Johnson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County.
The senior celebration had a packed house of over 400 attendees. With guest speakers such as State Superintendent Tony Evers and Professor Gloria Ladson-Billings, the students heard advice and inspiration for their new future adventures in college. Four students from each high school spoke about their experience in AVID/TOPS and how their experiences shaped their last four years.

By emphasizing academic success and celebrating these seniors, the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County and MMSD hope to inspire younger students and the community. While the discourse in the community is usually surrounding the achievement gap and the work that needs to be done, this event showcased the positive outcome of investing in the education of young and talented students.