Students from John Tyler High School spread Valentine's Day cheer to residents in nursing home

Published on Friday, 10 February 2017 18:50 - Written by MELISSA MCTEE,

For several John Tyler High School students, preparing for college meant returning to an activity from their primary school days - making valentines.

On Friday, students in John Tyler’s AVID program spent the afternoon cutting out, pasting and decorating hearts that on Valentine’s Day will be delivered to residents at Atria Willow Park, a senior living community in Tyler.

Instructor April Caldwell said the simple activity reinforced many of the lessons emphasized in the AVID program, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. The program helps students who need an extra push to get ready for college by developing skills such as writing, inquiry, critical reading, collaboration and organization.

“These students are first-generation college students or start the program due to special circumstances. They are mostly underrepresented in colleges, but as you can see in my class, many do get scholarships to colleges,” Ms. Caldwell said, as she pointed to multiple college banners, indicating schools attended by former students.

Ms. Caldwell said the program helps an average student push toward the top of their class academically.

“The program is to get these students ready not only to get into a college, but to complete college,” she said. “We don’t want them just to go there; we want them to get their degree,” Ms. Caldwell said.

The program also has a community service component, requiring participants to contribute 20 hours of volunteer work.

Ms. Caldwell said making valentines to deliver to seniors was the perfect fit for the program.

“We wanted our students to have the opportunity to spread a little bit of Valentine’s Day spirit to our community and decided to target our nursing homes,” Ms. Caldwell said. “I think it’s really important to understand that it is fun to get, but I think as they go and give these cards to the residents and witness someone else’s happiness, it will be inspiring.”