Why we Chose PA Virtual for Kindergarten

PA Virtual Kindergarten ProgramSusan Wilson enrolled her son at PA Virtual Charter School almost seven years ago. Johnny, now in 6th grade, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as a toddler. Children who suffer from this type of colitis, find it difficult to keep a regular schedule – a huge concern when looking into traditional brick and mortar schools in the area. The family began to research other options and on the recommendation of a friend, began to look into PA Virtual.

Susan, a stay at home mom at the time, found PA Virtual to be the perfect fit. Enrolling as an asynchronous student allowed her son to complete work on his own terms – and not have to worry if his disease flared up midday. She was amazed at how simple the K12 curriculum was to comprehend and the supplies that were sent at the beginning of each school year. In addition to a laptop computer, kindergarten students at PA Virtual receive additional story books, blocks, phonics sets and counting toys.

She noted it is also important for kindergarten children to receive plenty of interaction with other students in the virtual classroom, and at local outings, which are organized across the state.

Currently, Johnny’s UC is in remission and he is able to adhere to a more synchronous schedule – meaning he attends live online classes with his peers each day. The Wilson family would never think of a traditional public school because of the bonds they have built at PA Virtual.

Susan’s advice for new parents:  “Don’t stress out! Reach out to and connect with other PA Virtual families. When we first started, I wasn’t stressed, but I had lots of questions about adjusting to the cyber model. I met a few parents at a local outing who were always there to help when I had a new question!”

Could cyber education be right for your child? Join us for our Kindergarten Online Open House on Wednesday, March 1st at 6:00 P.M. RSVP here!

Why we Chose PA Virtual – The Darkey Family

Why I Chose PA Virtual- The Darkey FamilyAfter deciding she wanted to focus on a competitive tennis career beyond the high school level, Julia Darkey, a former student in the Manheim Township School District, has found a great balance by enrolling at PA Virtual.

“In Lancaster County the idea of homeschooling is very common, but not so much cyber school,” said Renee Darkey, Julia’s mother. “We knew another local family through tennis who had a great experience with PA Virtual and knew it was the right place for Julia.”

Each year the media reports stories of cyber students who face challenges when trying to attend their local proms, homecoming or take part in district activities- a practice that is illegal per charter law – because they are not considered “district students.” The Darkey family, however, has never experienced this with MTHS.

Coaches and the administration have since gone above and beyond to make sure that Julia is always included in school team activities, despite the fact that she isn’t present in the same classrooms as her teammates during the day.

Not only does she still play as a member of the MTHS tennis team, Julia was selected as a Lancaster-Lebanon League All-Star this year and the team was a semi-finalist in the PIAA State Championship. She also frequently attends dances or other social functions at MTHS, just by showing her PA Virtual ID card.

Outside of MTHS, she frequently travels to Philadelphia to train at local tennis clubs and spends anywhere from 2-5 hours practicing each day. PA Virtual gives Julia the ability to complete her school work on the go and never get behind or worry about missing days due to tournaments or travel!

“As a parent, I feel very connected to other families in our area,” said Renee. “Our local Family Support Coordinator (FSC), Heidi Lightner welcomed us when we were new to PA Virtual and is always encouraging the students to get together socially and through community service-based outings.”

As a junior going through the college application process, the Darkey family loves how easily accessible all of Julia’s grades and transcripts are through PA Virtual’s online learning system. The school uses Naviance, a college and career readiness software, where transcripts can be sent directly to colleges at any time. After graduating as a member of the Class of 2018, Julia hopes to secure a tennis scholarship and is setting her sights on smaller Division 1 schools. Going back to her mother’s southern roots, she is currently looking at schools specifically in the North or South Carolina.

Do you have a student who excels in athletics or the arts and could benefit from PA Virtual’s flexible scheduling? Request more information here.

D’Alessandro Sisters Pursue their Passion

PA Virtual D'Alessandro Sisters

Parents – what do you do when you start to realize that your child is not only incredibly talented, but is one of the best?

That thought crossed the mind of Vera D’Alessandro from time to time as she watched her daughters Rayna and Gionna rack up the wins in local and national dance competitions through elementary school. While both of the D’Alessandro sisters compete nationally, Rayna, 10 is the current Miss Extreme Talent of the United States and Petite Miss VIP Dance national title holder.

Two years ago, Vera made the choice to enroll both of her daughters, at PA Virtual Charter School, an online public charter school. This decision allows the girls to dedicate hours a day to not only take high level ballet, contemporary and lyrical classes at Ultimate Dance Complex in McMurray, but also receive individual instruction from UDC’s coaches.

Check out one of Rayna’s dance performances here.

Both girls practice dance approximately 15-22 hours per week, thanks to the flexible scheduling of PA Virtual. Rayna has been dancing since she was 18 months old, and dreams of one day competing on the hit Fox TV show So You Think You Can Dance or landing a Broadway lead.

“Rayna has always been naturally talented, but when she was given the time to dedicate to practice the amount of hours she wanted to, she began to soar,” said Vera. “Enrolling both girls balanced our hectic schedule – they can complete school work early in the morning or late at night, and take their laptops when traveling so they never fall behind.”

After enrolling at PA Virtual, it was discovered that Rayna was dyslexic. Dyslexia is one of the most common reading disorders and can have a negative ripple effect in a child’s educational journey when left undiagnosed. Through the support of teachers and staff at PA Virtual, she has been given the tools to successfully navigate the virtual classroom, like one-on-one assistance or extra time to process and understand class materials.

“We are in the Pittsburgh area, so our Family Support Coordinator is Amy Markle,” said Vera. “During our first year with the school, Amy was tremendous with helping our family transition to the school and really made us feel like part of the PA Virtual community.”

Could PA Virtual be what your child needs to take the next step in their athletic or arts career? Request more information and see if a cyber education is a good fit for your family!

Interested in reading more about these talented sisters? Check out this recent feature in The Almanac.

Are You #PAVirtualProud?

PA Virtual Pride Art Contest

Join us in our 2nd Annual PA Virtual Pride Art Contest!

School Choice Week is January 22-28. One of the ways PA Virtual celebrates is through our annual art contest! All PA Virtual students are invited to submit a photo of one original (new) artwork that shows off their PA Virtual Pride.

We want to see your creative side! Students can use any medium – paint, charcoal or even digital graphic design to create a new and original work of art. Make sure to include the name of the school somewhere in your piece. The top three submissions from both Grades K-6 and Grades 7-12 will be put to a school wide vote during National School Choice Week which runs from January 22-28. One winner from each group will be featured in PA Virtual Weekly and on our school Facebook page.

National School Choice Week 2017 will be America’s largest-ever celebration of high quality education options for children. The goal of (NSCW) is to raise public awareness of all types of education options for children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling. At PA Virtual, we are continually engaging our families to create a safe and successful online community across Pennsylvania.

So show your PA Virtual Pride and share your support for school choice! Students have until Sunday, January 22 to complete the entry form – submit your photos today!


Day in the Life of a High School Cyber Student

Cyber_High_SchoolWhat does a “typical day” look like for a high school cyber student? We asked to hear from our students, in their own words. Here is ninth grader, Javier Pitre’s honest and comedic narrative of what a “typical” day in school looks like for him.

Javier has won many awards in martial arts and is a member of the Boy Scouts, volunteering regularly in his community. He is a member of the PA Virtual Scholars’ Academy- an application-based program that allows students in excellent academic standing to begin high school early.

“People often ask me what it is like attending cyber school. Most of the days everything is simple, just the way I like it, but then there are other days where there is a ton of work to do and a lot of stress to handle, just like if I went to a traditional school. 

I start every day by waking up and getting ready for school. At 8:00 a.m., my family goes to our work area and turns on our computers. Funny thing is, our work area is actually down in the basement, and the entire basement was repainted and refurnished to look like a normal school. We have school desks, bookshelves, new flooring, and bins where we keep supplies. After we turn the computers on, the school setting transforms, making us no longer feel at home! First, we check all the work we have to do for the day – it’s called our daily plan and we find it on the PA Virtual website. I’m not the only one down there working though; my brother, sister, and uncle all have work to be done, and classes to attend. I know what you’re thinking: “did he just say his uncle goes to school with him?” Well he does, but he’s only about a year older than me so it makes a little more sense. I attend two synchronous classes: one for math, and one for language arts. I do every other subject asynchronously, although there are tons of options for students to personalize their learning experience with more synchronous classes.

When we are working, I will usually joke around and make everyone laugh. One of my favorite parts of the school day is watching the time countdown to lunch. Why do I watch the time, you ask? Because lunch is awesome, that’s why! We get to watch TV, and eat delicious home-cooked food. Most of the time the lunch lady, which is also my mom, will make us something good to eat like burgers or macaroni. Lunch lasts 1 hour; after that, I have to head back to school to complete my work. For my family, this is what going to cyber school is usually like.

One of the things I worried about before I joined PA Virtual was that I was going to be anti-social. I’m sure that I was not the first to think cyber school students are anti-social. Turns out going to school online gives me plenty of opportunities to be social. In fact, I think it’s better than traditional public schools. In an online setting, I was able to develop leadership skills in virtual classrooms, and outside of what most people think counts as “school.” I learned to communicate with kids who are my age, but also ones who are younger and older than me.

The school organizes outings for us where we can go to a place like the Pennsylvania National Fire Museum to learn about how firefighters used to dress, drive, and fight fires. Another great outing we went to was in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday! My family, along with many other kids and parents, came together to play games, do arts and crafts, and just have fun socializing with each other. At our outings, PA Virtual usually ties in some kind of service learning component to help the local communities across the state. At the Dr. Seuss outing, we got to help spread awareness and collect donations for people with blood cancer.

PA Virtual also has extracurricular opportunities. For instance, I am part of the National Junior Honor Society, also known as NJHS. In this organization, we think about fun projects to do that will help those in need. I have been in this school for five years, and I still love it here!”