One word sums it up for Sultana High School AVID Coordinator Wayne Elliott and two students turned tutors, Sandra Bahena and Leonard Lamp, and their 10-year involvement in the Advancement Via Individual Determination elective: dedication.


Bahena and Lamp, both 22, joined AVID at Ranchero Middle School in 2003 and continued on with the program at Sultana High School as students until their graduation in 2009 when they were hired on as tutors.


On June 16, they graduated with bachelor of arts degrees in math from California State University, San Bernardino.


Before they went to the ceremony there was an important stop they had to make — a trip to Elliott's house for a photograph together.


"He's a father figure —we wanted him to be proud of us," Bahena said.


"He told us we're his biggest success story," Lamp said. "He's a good teacher and a good mentor."


Bahena and Lamp are two out of a group of students who've participated in AVID and who'll be out in the world making a difference, Sultana English teacher and cheer coach Wanda Lambdin said.


Bahena joined AVID because her parents, originally from Mexico, didn't speak English.


"Nobody in my family went to college," Bahena said. "I didn't know who to look up to."


"Neither one of my parents went to college, both barely graduated high school," Lamp said. Without AVID, he said he wouldn't have known how to apply to college because his parents didn't have that knowledge.


"Both Sandra and Leonard were dedicated to their studies already," Elliot said of their beginning with AVID. The main objective of the elective is getting "first generation kids to college," clearly a class the two could benefit from.


"Mr. Elliott was our biggest support," Bahena said, noting Elliott guided her on which classes she needed, SAT waivers and how to find financial aid for low income families.


"Through AVID she was able to be more organized, manage her time with home chores and school work and her sisters have even benefited as well," Dolores Bahena, Sandra's mother, said.


"AVID inspired him to be able to further his career and his goals in life," Lamp's mother, Juanita Lamp, said.


Elliott said he believes the two stayed on to tutor after high school because he asked them to help him teach students how to break free from the family pattern of not attending college.


"A lot of them don't have the support at home as well — they come to us because we went through the same thing," Sandra Bahena said.


Leonard Lamp said they were able to mentor the students by sharing stories, struggles and mistakes from their own lives so they could learn from them.


Their 10-year journey with AVID will end this year. Elliott said he'll be at Topaz Preparatory Academy as a physical education teacher, while Lamp and Bahena said they would put their focus on obtaining their master's degrees at CSUSB.