Program will begin in January, giving students in grades 9 through 12 an option to take courses online that they would traditionally take in the classroom.

The flexibility of the schedule is appealing to many of the students who are hoping to take part in a new learning opportunity for Onslow County high school students beginning next semester.

Onslow Virtual Academy will begin in January, giving students in grades 9 through 12 an option to take courses online that they would traditionally take in the classroom.

Gracen Hughes, a sophomore at White Oak High School, is an honor student and likes the idea of being able to work on her courses according to her schedule and pace rather than always following the traditional classroom setting.

“I like learning, but I don’t like that you have to get up and go to school and sit in a class for an hour and a half,” Hughes said.

Leann Hughes said she believes the new virtual academy will help better prepare her daughter for college and online education opportunities she’ll experience in the future.

Gracen said she’s self-motivated and likes that she can move through course work at her pace, moving ahead on subject matter as she masters it.

The Hughes were among the students and parents who attended a Monday night informational meeting on the virtual academy.

Dorothy Robinson and her daughter Daisy Robinson, a junior at Southwest High School, said they came to hear the presentation before finalizing an application to the program.

“With anything new you have some concerns, but I feel pretty assured that this will be a benefit. We’re pretty excited,” Mrs. Robinson said.

Dorothy Robinson said her daughter is a very focused and self-motivated student and she is confident she’ll do well working on online courses.

Daisy Robinson said she has done one online course in the past so has some experience with it but said she doesn’t want to lose the personal connection.

“I’m fine with it as long as I can communicate to my teacher any questions that I have,” Daisy said.

Vikki Childress, director of Innovative Schools for Onslow County Schools, and Andrew Lobdell, virtual education consultant for EdOptions Academy, which is working with Onslow County Schools to bring the virtual academy to students, said there will be communication between the teacher and individual students and between teacher and the class as a unit. Teachers will have office hours and be accessible by text and phone.

“Students don’t just want to get on a computer and work, they want help,” Lobdell said.

The difference is that students taking a virtual academy course have access to that course any time and anywhere.

Childress said the flexibility can be a benefit to students for many reasons, such as fitting work schedules or family obligations. And for military-affiliated students it can help them to complete courses they start in Onslow County Schools even if they have to re-locate, helping to ensure they don’t lose credits.

The military connection is one of the priorities of the program.

Onslow County Schools received a five-year $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Partnership to enable the school district to implement the virtual academy.

Students will be chosen via a lottery system like the one used for New Bridge Middle School. While the lottery will be open to all students, military-connected students are first priority.

Childress said the program will initially be open to 200 high school students. As of the meeting, about 100 students had applied.

If fewer than 200 apply, a lottery won’t be needed, but the application remains open through Nov. 23.
Applications and information on Onslow Virtual Academy can be found by going to the Onslow County Schools home page and clicking on the application link under District News.