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Twins' Span donates to East Ridge AVID program

Minnesota Twins center fielder Denard Span purchased 20 T-shirts for the Advancement Via Individualized Determination (AVID) class at East Ridge High School. The shirts were designed by an East Ridge student.

East Ridge High School's Advancement Via Individualized Determination (AVID) program has the goal of helping students score with college preparedness, and Minnesota Twins center fielder Denard Span is doing his part to help them achieve their goals.

Span donated money to the school's AVID program to purchase 20 T-shirts promoting the AVID program.

Span was scheduled to visit the school Thursday, but scheduling conflicts forced him to reschedule.

"A day off is not a day off for (the Twins,)" AVID teacher Mary Seidel said. "I totally know how that is."

Seidel said it is uncertain when Span will be available since he has so few days off.

The AVID program targets students in the academic middle who have the desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard.

The program places academically average students in advanced classes and provides them with an elective class that prepares them to succeed in rigorous curricula, enter mainstream activities in school, and increase their opportunities to enroll in four-year colleges.

"It's for kids who want to go to college," Seidel said, "and they have the determination and they are willing to work hard in high school to get there."

AVID is divided into three main focus areas -- academics, college readiness and career explorations, and community involvement.

On the academics side, the AVID-enrolled students take at least one course in advanced placement, college in the schools or honors.

To help students with their advanced classes and college preparatory, AVID also has an elective class where students learn the various AVID techniques to help students cope with these more rigorous courses.

AVID requires students both participate in an extra-curricular activity as well as a community service component.

It was earlier this spring that Seidel's AVID class decided that they wanted to purchase T-shirts to better identify themselves as AVID students, much like a school club or activity.

"We want to be seen as AVID," Seidel said. "We want to be identified that this is who we are."

The T-shirt, which is black with gold lettering and reads "I am AVID," was designed by one of Seidel's AVID students.

The shirt also features a raptor - the school's mascot - on the back.

Seidel and her students began brainstorming ways to fundraise when East Ridge sophomore Taylor McNeil approached Seidel with a possible donor.

McNeil, who is a family friend of Span's, approached him about possibly donating the money for their T-shirts.

"I've known him since I was little," she said, "so when we were looking for a sponsor I thought of him.

"He doesn't mind giving back."

Seidel said she was shocked to hear about their donor.

"I was thrilled because we would get our shirts," she said, "plus the Twins are our team."

Seidel said she is excited to reschedule Span's visit and thank him in person.

"AVID is going to be a great opportunity for kids and this is just the icing on the cake," she said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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