Virtual Academy gives Onslow Co. students more flexibility

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT)–A nearly $2 million grant awarded to Onslow County Schools created a Virtual Academy aimed at making sure students graduate on time, even if they have to move.

The Virtual Academy is for all students but especially helpful for those with parents in the military.

Students like senior Kaleigh Rivera. Rivera is also an actress and travels for work. The program gives her flexibility she needs to graduate on time.

“The first seven years of my schooling was at seven different schools,” Rivera, a senior said. “I joined the academy to have the freedom to go to Atlanta whenever, and be in Atlanta and do homework.”

Onslow County Schools received a $1.5 million grant from DoDEA for the program. It’s now available at all eight high schools, for all students.

“They log in each day, they do their classwork each day and the teachers provide feedback,” Vikki Childress, director of virtual programs, said. “The teachers send weekly updates to the students and they send weekly updates to the parents. The communication is a big piece of the success of the program.”

When the AP Chemistry teacher at Northside High School relocated, her students were able to continue in the class online with her still teaching it.

“Instead of having to take it online with someone I don’t know, I’m actually able to keep the personal connection with that teacher,” Justin Bautista, a senior in the class, said.

The academy also has its own Student to Student program, which gives new and transitioning students peer support.

“We want to create a sense of family essentially because sitting there looking at a screen isn’t exactly the most heart-warming feeling,” Jaheim White, a sophomore responsible for getting it organized, said.

Students say the best part is the flexibility and robust class offerings in areas like criminology and anthropology.

“You don’t have to do the whole unit in one day,” Mary Beth Childress, a junior, said. “You can space it out and do one module one day, two modules the next day. You don’t have to cram it into one big day.”

The academy has an 88% pass rate, well above the average for online classes. More than 200 students are enrolled, with a waitlist.

The application period for next school year will open up in February. Students need at least a 2.0 GPA to apply, be in and remain in good academic standing and take at least 2 courses through the Onslow Virtual Academy each semester.

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