Archive for the ‘In the Community’ Category

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around PA


Across the state, Pennsylvania sure knows how to celebrate the luck of the Irish each March. Here is a quick look at parades and activities families in each city can enjoy:

Right in our capital, the Capital Region Association of Irish and Celts host a handful of events between March 11 – 19 to celebrate the Irish in everyone! Proceeds from their events and fundraisers go towards a scholarship fund for local students, but you don’t have to be Irish to apply.

In the north eastern part of the state, Scranton claims it holds the second largest parade in the country (for cities with a population of over 50,000) which will take place this year on March 12. Prior to the parade, the city also hosts the Brian. P Kelly Memorial Footrace, in honor of the late St. Patrick’s Parade Association President who passed away in 2004 of cancer.

Sponsored by the Church of St. Patrick, Erie families can enjoy their parade on Saturday, March 12 at 2 pm. This year marks the only 39th anniversary of the parade, but the church is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in the city. The parade route runs through downtown Erie and ends right in front of the historic church!

In Pittsburgh, the city is embracing the 100th Anniversary of The Easter Rising, which led to the Irish Revolution and ultimately to the establishment of the Republic of Ireland as we know it today, and using that as their theme! On Tuesday, March 8 members of the city council will make an official proclamation announcing “St. Patrick’s Week in Pittsburgh” with their parade and family friendly parade fest in Market Square kicking off at 10 am on Saturday, March 12.

For the first time this year, the Philadelphia the 246th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be broadcast LIVE on Fox29 in the southeastern part of the state from noon – 3 pm on Sunday, March 13. It will also re-air on March 17 during the same timeframe. The Philadelphia parade features several of the cities unique string bands, more commonly known as mummers. Also in Philadelphia, WHYY will host a family friendly party from 4 pm – 7 pm with plenty of live music, Irish dancing, and no adult beverages.

May the Luck of the Irish be with you and your family!


Avoid the “Groundhog Day” Winter Blues

With These Tips and Tricks!


The classic 90’s movie Groundhog Day follows a Pennsylvania reporter sent to cover Punxsutawney Phil and his Groundhog Day traditions – only to find out that he repeats the same day over and over again! During a time of year when students are sometimes promised six more weeks of winter, how can students break out of their own endless loop and avoid the winter blues?

  1. Get out of the house – One easy way to break cabin fever is to get out of the house! Cyber students have the flexibility to work from almost anywhere – take your laptop to your local library or coffee shop and put yourself in a different environment for a part of your day. Many cyber schools have resource centers strategically placed around the state where students can visit for extra help, school events or just to meet other students. If you live close enough to a PA Virtual resource center, take a visit!
  2. Shake up your daily routine – In a traditional school, students are tethered to their desks between bells and stick to the same schedule every day. If you are enrolled in asynchronous courses, you have the ability to try something new. Or, if you always tackle homework in the same order, switch up the subjects. If you are quiet in classes, do your best to interact more with your peers and your teachers.
  3. Give Back – Even though the holidays have passed, there are still tons of ways to give back to your local community. February is a very popular month for communities host local blood drives for the American Red Cross. If you are healthy and meet the appropriate requirements, you and your family can locate a blood drive near you.
  4. Break out a good book!– When stuck in the winter months, nothing can help you escape better than a great story. Selecting something you can enjoy outside of class is key, take a look at the 50 most anticipated books of 2016 – some of which are already out!

Feel free to share your thoughts, plans, and ideas here or on social media.

PA Virtual EOY Wrap-Up

It’s been a great year at PA Virtual! Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from the class of 2014 – 15 school year and see how our students gave back, and stood out:

Ugly Quilts

smith_jacob-quiltsIn November, students throughout Pennsylvania simultaneously created Ugly Quilts and donated them to local homeless shelters. Students were able to go to their local resource center to take part in this service learning project. Heather Schaffer, the school’s Family Support Coordinator, who spearheaded the projected, described the quilts as an emergency sleeping bag. Made from recycled fabrics, the Quilt’s sole purpose is to provide warmth to those who need it most. Read the entire story on CBS Philly.

Read 100,000 Scholastic Competition

Starting in January, PA Virtual decided to take part in a National Challenge sponsored by Scholastic! Currently, we are ranked 2nd in the entire country, reading over 1,764,684 minutes so far. The competition doesn’t end until June 26, so if you are still reading for PA Virtual, log your minutes here!

Special Olympics

SpecialOlympics_PAVirtualOn May 18th, under sunny skies, 11 PA Virtual athletes participated in the Montgomery County Special Olympics Track and Field event at Souderton High School. They gathered the night before at a local hotel and enjoyed a pizza and dance party. The students had practiced their events with their PA Virtual teachers, including their gym and music teachers to learn some popular songs and dances to perform at the party. For many, this was their first time to meet their classmates in a face to face manner. Special Olympics is a life changing event for these families and athletes!

Pennies For Patients

Also during the month of May, students collected and donated $1,080.73 to the Leukemia & Lymphomas Society’s Pennies for Patients Program.  Hannah Regan, representative of the LLS School and Youth Programs was on hand for a check presentation. See the entire story on NBC10.

Outstanding Community Members

Many of our PA Virtual students are highly talented, and use the flexible scheduling to immerse themselves in outside talents and activities. We also love seeing our dedicated parents and teachers honored. Here are just a few who stood out!


On June 1, we said goodbye to the Class of 2015 at The Forum in Harrisburg . Our graduates came from counties and school districts across the state and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors. Congratulations to the Class of 2015!


Special Opportunity for Cyber School Athletes

special-olympics PA Virtual

specialolympicslogoSpecial Education & Life Skills teacher, Stacey McGowan spends all year working on social skills and training students in the online setting. Next week, for the 11th year in a row, PA Virtual Students will compete in the Montgomery County Special Olympics held at Souderton HS.

Cyber education in Pennsylvania tends to attract a high percentage of special needs students due to the opportunity and flexibility families can have with their education in their own homes. Oftentimes, cyber charter schools are also able to accommodate the needs of the student with added care and individualized learning curriculum.

At traditional brick and mortar schools, teams take special education classes together during the school year. However for the PA Virtual students, many of them will be meeting for the first time on Monday. The opportunity to bring students from a virtual setting together is truly unique to cyber learning. “It is really the highlight of the year for me as the coach and teacher and for the students as well,” McGowan says.

The mission of Special Olympics PA: Provide year-round sports training and competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community. Each region or county has a chapter that organizes events in the area.

In the area? Come out and cheer on your friends from PA Virtual and all of the participating athletes! Opening Ceremonies start at 9 AM and events will take place throughout the morning. Closing Ceremonies will take place after all of the events have ended, which is usually around 12:30 PM.

Event Details:

May 16, 2015

Montgomery County Area Special Olympics

Opening Ceremonies: 9 AM

OClosing Ceremonies: Upon the conclusion of all events, around 12:30 PM

Souderton Area High School – S.A.H.S. Stadium

625 Lower Rd, Souderton, PA 18964 Google Map

Overflow parking is available at Indian Valley Middle School


Cyber Students & Socialization Opportunities


A common misconception about cyber charter students is that they lack the opportunity to socialize with their peers. In reality, many students who chose online learning do so because flexible learning schedules enable them to become even more immersed in outside activities. These outside commitments to arts, athletics or entrepreneurship thrive on interaction and growth.

Many cyber charter students also participate in their home districts athletics and activities programs, and clubs within their home communities. There is no denying that today we are more connected than ever and cyber charter options allow students to become connected to hundreds of their peers across the state – not just the 20 or so in a classroom!

A great example of these connections on a nationwide level took place just recently. The Franklin County 4-H Team Biohazard 4050 participated in, and won the Robotics division at the FIRST Championship Chesapeake Regional. On Team Biohazard 4050? Eight cyber charter students.

Their success at this regional event allowed them to move forward, and spend four days in St. Louis for the FIRST finals, a national competition. Cyber charters are able to give students the ability to have these experiences without the stress and worry of missing out on any of their school work.

FIRST was founded to bring together young people from around the world who excel in STEM Programs and let their creativity flourish. Team Biohazard 4050 connected with thousands of other young people this past week, all of whom share the same common interests and academic strengths. The FRC is more than just a high school event – it is a true example of the real and professional world. Huffington Post blogger (and aspiring engineer) Natalie Kalin points out that these students have the opportunity to start professionally networking and attain scholarships, but her key takeaway is the “gracious professional” environment. To present and explain these complex projects, each member must have excellent communication and social skills.

PA Virtual plans three regional social outings per month, and there are plenty of staff is on hand to help plan those events. These outings can range from educational opportunities, community service days, sporting events, or visits to regional attractions in the area. Now, don’t think that all cyber charter students just travel the world nonstop (only sometimes!) – Cyber charters teach students balance between education and socialization.

Just as in traditional schools, cyber charters offer support staff that assist students and their families in all aspects of the education process. However, cyber charter teachers, counselors and administrative staff are in place to make sure that your child’s education is individualized to accommodate varying schedules, travel plans, and even various learning styles. Many times cyber students are immersed in music, the arts, or athletics – and have the ability to dedicate the time needed to master those skills as part of a team, or traveling group.

With these many options, how far could your child go?