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Meet the PW AVID Class of 2023

Meet the PW AVID Class of 2023

Adam Balasko

“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you” - Zig Ziglar

My name is Adam Balasko, and I am a senior with almost 4 years of AVID under my belt. If it wasn’t for my sister’s convincing of me to take AVID, I don’t know what type of person I would be. It was AVID that encouraged me to fulfill and complete all steps required to be as successful as I can be.  Between outside activities, school, college applications, and scholarships, my senior year was by far the most stressful year for me, but its importance is reflected. With scholarships still awaiting to be completed, it is AVID that is there to guide me through the process. I recall a time in High School, which highlights where a little motivation could take a person. I run track as of now, but in the past, I once participated in a meet in New York. The meet was highly anticipated, and I wanted to succeed. The meet was very nerving, but I can’t help but reminisce the friends that made it all the more valuable. I ended up earning a medal, however, I left the medal on the bus ride home and my friend had lost it after I asked him to save it for me. High school is a moment in a person’s life. I hope no one takes for granted; it is to be cherished and its opportunities are to be taken advantage of.

Allison Bennett

" I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become." - Carl Gustav Jung

My name is Allison Bennett and I am a 12th grade AVID student. I’ve been in AVID for the last 5 years, ever since 8th grade. The day I had first met with my counselor to talk about AVID, she explained to me that it was a class where I would learn better study tools and just overall boost my grades. My grades have never been the best, so I decided to give it a chance. And I’m so happy I did. I met my best friends in this class, and my whole life changed because of this class. In AVID, I learned how to better organize my notes and what’s important to remember. I learned how to trust people around me and to not bottle my problems up. AVID has helped me blossom into the person I am today. AVID has helped me learn that it’s okay not to be okay, and not to have everything under control all the time. AVID has brought me to my best friends. The people in my AVID class have done more for me than anyone else in my whole life. Whether I need a hug, a snack or English notes, someone will always be there for me. I have participated in almost all homecoming week events since freshman year. It has helped to push me out of my comfort zone. One of my favorite memories is from our junior year AVID trip. We accidentally burned a bag of popcorn and we spent hours laughing about it. Over these last couple years, I’ve had a lot of different job opportunities. But the one that has stuck with me the most would have to be the time I’ve spent at Pats Pizzeria. I have met so many amazing people there, and they have truly taught me a lot. My job has helped me to socially open up and to not be afraid to be a leader. My end goal would include me being an ultrasound technician in Houston, Texas.

Patrick Fitzgerald

 "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." - A.A. Milne

My name is Patrick Fitzgerald. I am a senior who was fortunate enough to be apart of the AVID program for my sophomore, junior, and senior year. My brother was a part of the program and he told me to join, as soon as I heard what the class is all about I was eager to be involved. AVID has assisted me greatly in staying on top of my school work, preparing for college, and providing me with a unique social atmosphere in school. Each person in the class cares for one another and wants to see each other succeed. Throughout my time at PW I have played two sports absolutely bussin. I also joined the ski and snowboard club. Mr. Blizzard did a wonderful job organizing the event and I was so lucky to find a spot. I would like to give thanks to Ms. Genovese, Ms. Lynch, and Ms. Hannold for accepting me into the program and guiding me into becoming a college applicant and successful student. I plan to attend college for 4 years until I'm satisfied with my degree and profession, thank you.

Jude Gravinese

“Out of difficulties, grow miracles.” - Jean de la Bruyere

I am Jude Gravinese, I’ve been enrolled in the AVID course for 5 years now. What caused me to join AVID was in 8th grade I got interviewed for the class by my guidance counselor. They said that I would be a great fit for the class and I ended up joining the class and immediately loving it. I have stuck with the course throughout my high school years due to all the positive impacts this class has had on me. AVID taught me ways to manage my time to get my homework done. I have also learned many different types of note taking strategies and how to study more effectively. Throughout the time I have spent in the AVID program I have been able to connect with Miss Hannold and Mrs. Genovese really well. I have made good relationships with them both these past 4 years and they’ve helped me out so much academically and just in life. The past 5 years I have made very long lasting relationships with my peers. I have grown closer with all of them and became very good friends with everyone who has made it through. What I’m looking forward to is Senior week to hangout with my high school friends before we all leave for college. I have taken advantage of working at PlyMar which is run by some of our high school teachers. I have worked at PlyMar since 8th grade. I have also worked at Weis during my Junior year and now I am working at Wegmans. Some goals I have after graduation is to become either a park ranger or a meteorologist.

Maya James

“Do the best you can until you know better Then when you know better, do better.”- Maya Angelou

My name is Maya James and I have been an AVID student since freshman year of high school. I decided to be part of this program to help me stay on top of all the new work I was receiving. It also helped hold me accountable for every assignment I got.  I stayed in this program because it offered a structure that I enjoyed and helped me have the effort to complete everything I might need to be successful in the future. Something that I have found very beneficial in this program is the many resources we received that help make our jobs as students easier. I also have gained a lot of knowledge on how to be successful as a student like organization skills and how to hold myself accountable for the work I must complete. My teachers have helped me over my time in this program by teaching me life skills that help me stay in control of the work I should be completing. They also have inspired me to succeed in school by teaching me that anyone can do better in school if they put their mind to it. The people around me also helped because we all help each other accountable for completing work. Something that I look forward to most senior year is starting a new beginning by graduating. I have been involved in multiple clubs in my time at PW. Some of these clubs I was in were Art club, Animal awareness, and cooking club. I have learned a lot and enjoyed my time in every one of the clubs I participated in. My favorite part of my time in these clubs was having a pasta potluck lunch in a cooking club where everyone brought their own food and shared recipes. While in high school I participated in multiple service activities. I have helped in the food kitchen and community events throughout my years here. I also have served outside of school at a food kitchen in Kensington, making and giving food to the people in need. I have had many jobs in my high school career including a pizza shop (Uncle Oogies), The Great American Pub, Nudys cafe, and Maryannes Pastry Shoppe. All of these helped me get more knowledge on the workforce and outside world, getting me connected to resources that can help me in the future. In the future I plan to go to community college for two years and use this time to set my goals into place. I would love to become a baker to cater to specific people in my future.  For this I would like to gain more experience in the world before setting my plan in stone.

Vanesa Jaramillo

My name is Vanesa Jaramillo. I’ve been in AVID since my sophomore year which makes that 3 years I’ve been in this program. To start off I found out about AVID through my amazing guidance counselor Mrs. Genovese. The reason I joined was because of how much it would help me with school work in the present, and then in the future with college. The reason I stayed was because I really enjoyed the people in my class and also my teacher. Continuing on I noticed that when I finally got comfortable I spread out my wings which made me really happy for myself.What I found very helpful and beneficial were the college tours I took junior year. For example it helped me get to know my peers a little bit more and it helped me figure out what type of school I wanted to go to whether it be big, medium or small. Another beneficial time was when my teacher would check in on me about my grades and what I would do to get them up if they were low.


Jeffrey Jiang

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” - Confucius

I am Jeffrey Jiang and have been a part of AVID for 2 years. I first heard of AVID from a few friends that were already a part of the program and thought it would be perfect for my needs. Being busy outside of school, AVID has allowed me to finish assignments, study, and get help during class. Coming into senior year, I knew that planning for higher education was going to be stressful. Being a first generation American and college student, having guidance through college applications has made my life so much easier. I plan on receiving higher education to be able to develop poverty ridden communities so I can help families in need.


Isabelle Jones

“Just because you took longer than others, doesn't mean you failed. You are right on time.”- Daniel Friday Danzor

My name is Isabelle Jones and I have been in the AVID program for four years. At first I did not know much about the program. My 8th grade english teacher recommended me to be put into it. Once I learned a little more about it I knew it would be very beneficial for me. I am so happy that I have stayed in it the whole four years of school. The program has helped me academically and emotionally all throughout high school. I wouldn’t be striving as a student if it wasn't for AVID. AVID has helped me become more confidant and work harder in my classes. I also have made great connections with my peers, teacher, and counselor that they are now a family to me. AVID has helped me in so many ways. It is really a well rounded program to be able to be in. AVID has pushed me out of my comfort zone when it comes to my academic accomplishments. Ms. Hannold along with Mrs. Genovese have helped me realize how strong I am as a student and person. I wouldn’t have taken the honors classes if it wasn't for the both of them believing in me and pushing me to do them. AVID has also helped me with the whole college process too. I am so grateful that I was able to have the help from my teacher, counselor, and college counselor Mrs. Lynch. Another thing that I really enjoyed about AVID is the college trips and visits. The visits have showed me what I want in a college and what type of school I want to attend. Lastly, what I am most happy about AVID is the connections I have made with my peers. We are like a little family and I love it so much. AVID has put us together and helped as grow together for the past four years. I know what ever I may be going through Ms. Hannold, Mrs. Genovese, and my classmates will be there for me. I have also been involved in the Make A Wish club for the past four years of school. My best friend is the president and I have really enjoyed helping her with the club and fundraising. I have had a lot of memories the past four years but I would say going to all the homecoming activities with my friends was my favorite. There is so many exciting things happening this year that I don’t know what to say. Some things that I am excited for is the class trip because it’s going to be exciting and something to remember. Most of all I am excited to see where the rest of this year takes me and my classmates. My future plan is to attend Arcadia University in the fall of 2023. I plan to major in forensic science so I can become a Forensic Pathologist. The ultimate goal is to go a whole twelve more years and receive my doctorate. 

Mollee McCann

“We’re almost there and nowhere near it. All that matters is we’re going.” - Gilmore Girls

My name is Mollee McCann and I've been in Avid for 4 years. I chose to join the Avid program because I was transferring from IEP classes to honors classes, so I wanted a place where I could be supported and helped. I have stayed in avid all 4 years because the community of people has become family and I always have support from Ms. Hannold and Ms.Genovese. Avid has taught me to advocate for myself and push me to do my best which has been the most helpful. I knew there was always someone there to help me with assignments or connection with teachers. Through the 4 fours, Ms.Hannold always pushed me to get into those more challenging classes, do my homework, and study. She taught me to advocate for myself more with teachers to get the best help possible. If I needed help she always knew how to help me academically or personally. Having this support has helped me throughout high school so far. I'm most looking forward to the senior trip to Disney with all my friends for a week before we graduate. Throughout high school I have been involved with best buddies, NHS, Interact, ADL, and track and field. My favorite memory from these past years is going to SOL meets for track and being there all day with my team. We are always cheering each other on and watching other schools. These days we all become a close family cheering for everyone. I have worked at Toyosu and now am transitioning to working at Whitemarsh Valley Country Club. NHS has given me the opportunity to help out the community with a load of different services like Township Day, Heroes for Nick, health series running, ice cream socials, and senior lunch-ins. I also Pole Vault at a club called Philadelphia Jump Club. My plan for after this year is to go to a four-year college for chemical engineering at a big campus. My goal is to attend the University of Delaware or Northeastern University.

Farris Obaid

"Everybody comes to a point when they want to quit. But it's what you do at that moment that determines who you are."- David Goggins

My name is Farris Obaid, and I've been a part of the Avid program for the past year. Many different tips and advice were provided to better our college future. If I had known about the program earlier in my high school career, I would have joined the program the first chance I got. The help and assistance provided by the program are very beneficial to my future college career ahead of me. The benefit is developing skills needed in my everyday college life. And assistance filling out the college counselling forms and completing my Senior essays. Ms. Hannold, Mrs. Genovese, and Mrs. Lynch have helped impact my student application positively and provided me with feedback throughout the process. I was also heavily motivated by my peers in my Avid class to complete my application and information as soon as possible. The program has overall impacted my life in a highly positive manner. I look forward to planning for my future and getting a good head-start on my life as an Adult. I also look forward to the end-of-the-year Disney trip and the Ski trip. This is my last year at PW, so I want to make the most of it. I have participated in the snowboarding club, debate club, and school swimming. I was a part of the swim team for three years and will also participate in this year's ski trip. I have worked part-time at Jaspers Backyard as a Busser and Food Runner. I plan to volunteer and do an internship by next semester as well. And am currently applying for a job at Mercedes and CVS. I plan to study at an excellent college either here in Pennsylvania or the state of California. I plan to follow the Major of Psychology with my undergrad as a Pre-Med. I would like to specialize in a specific field of Psychiatry.

Zane Seiders 

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” - Mahatma Ghandi

I'm Zane and I have been in the AVID program since 2020. When I joined the program I felt like I had potential but was unsure of how to apply myself. With the help that I received from AVID in my sophomore year I completely transformed myself as a student. I built better studying habits and learned how to manage my time efficiently, boosting my gpa. A favorite memory of mine from high school was this year’s color wars. Both teams coming together at the end was really cool to see, it was a great time for everyone. Currently I am working at CVS providing quality customer service to the public. This year I am looking forward to the ski trip in January and Disney trip in June. Post high-school I plan to attend university, majoring in Business. I've come a long way and have accomplished a lot, but I look forward to the future and what it holds for me.

Margaret Tomassetti 

“There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.” - Jennifer Aniston

I’m Margaret Tomassetti and I've been in avid for the past 4 years. While in middle school I watched my brother go through the Avid program. I saw the bonds he made and the benefits he got from having a class to help him prep for college. Seeing this made my mom and me realize that this would be a smart decision to have me try to go through the program too. Avid has helped me in many ways. Having a place to go to in school and feel comfortable being myself was one of the best things that happened to me throughout high school. My peers have not only become my friends but they have become basically my brothers and sisters. Our avid class is like one big family. Ms. Hannold and Ms. Genovese have helped us not only bond as a group but also still made sure we stayed on top of our work. They made sure we had good time management and would be well prepared as we stepped out into the world. Avid has helped me so much throughout the college process, even though there were still some tears shed from stress, a lot of them were from laughter. It was so helpful to have everything done so I could get the applications out of the way and focus on the rest of my senior year. In senior year, I am looking forward to celebrating my classmates and I’s accomplishments after growing up together for the past 13 years. I am a 4 year varsity cheerleader. I am also involved in the photo club National Art Honors Society and started a new club this year Comforts Craft Club. My favorite memory was going to nationals in disney with my cheer team. During my sophomore year I started a baking business and called it scratch. I did everything from finding recipes, marketing my business, and fulfilling orders. My plans after high school are to go to a 4 year college or university and study communications or information science.


Kate Yocom

“I'd rather regret the things I've done than regret the things I haven't done.”- Lucille Ball

My name is Kate Yocom, I've been in the AVID program for 4 years. I joined the program because I heard from my peers and parents that it is so beneficial and will help me in the long run. I have stayed for all four years because I have learned so much throughout every year I've been a part of the program. I also knew that without it in my senior year I would be very lost with the whole college process. Some ways it has been beneficial for me is having access to extra time to do work and study for tests was definitely a big thing for me but I would say that the help that I have gotten during the college application process is extremely beneficial and also made the process less stressful than it would be without avid. The access to the counselors and help from my peers is so helpful. Also during my first few years of Avid, the lessons helped me be more organized and just a better student overall. Not to mention, it has also allowed me to enjoy my senior year more because of the amount of stress it takes off of my shoulders and keeps me more organized for future events like the Senior Class trip, Senior week, and Prom which I'm very excited about!! Senior year so far has been great considering all of the activities that I am involved in. I have played on the varsity girls soccer team for all four years of my high school career, I also played basketball for my freshman and sophomore years. I have recently joined the cancer awareness club which is also a very cool and heartwarming experience. I would say my favorite memories would be the soccer team pasta dinners and the bus rides to the games and back from the games. Some other things that I have done outside of school are club soccer, I worked for the Great American Pub, Ply-Mar swim club in the summers and I babysit on and off. I volunteer for Meals on Wheels and I also participated in packing meals for the foundation Feed our Starving Children. Throughout my whole high school career, I have accomplished so much and worked so hard but also had so much fun. I am planning on going to a 4-year college and studying Marketing. I am not sure what I want to do with that but I love the opportunities that it brings to the table.