Calaveras Enterprise

New style of schooling for a new age

Delaney Eadneschi, 11, enjoys learning virtually through the California Connections Academy.Enterprise photo by Sean P. Thomas

Delaney Eadneschi, 11, enjoys learning virtually through the California Connections Academy.Enterprise photo by Sean P. Thomas

In a technology-centric society, many families are seeking alternative education options to help prepare their young ones for a lifetime of technologically integrated living and employment.

Now entering its fifth year as a virtual school, California Connections Academy at Ripon continues to fill that need.

“Today marks our fifth year serving students seeking a high-quality, highly effective alternative to traditional school options,” said Amy Hunt, site administrator at California Connections Academy at Ripon. “We pride ourselves on providing our students with an education that will prepare them for life after kindergarten through 12th-grade school, and we’re honored to welcome new and returning students for the new school year.”

California Connections Academy at Ripon is an online public school serving kindergarten through 12th-grade students in Amador, Calaveras and six other California counties. The virtual campus offers a nontraditional learning environment for children who seek more flexible education schedules or who learn at different paces than their classmates. State-credentialed teachers work with the students to help customize learning programs that help address each student’s personal education needs while maintaining a curriculum that meets state education standards. Tuition is paid by the state.

The virtual school offers innovative and diverse courses including foreign languages, digital technology and web design, as well as a variety of advanced-placement courses for students interested in trying their hands at college curriculum.

However, the campus isn’t completely digital. Throughout the year, CCA offers school-sponsored events, including field trips across California and university visits for its high school students. It also offers a variety of clubs and activities for students.

Alexandria Yao, Connections Academy senior and professional figure skater, competed in the junior pairs division at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championship held in January in Missouri. She said that she appreciates how the virtual campus allows her to balance her time on the ice with her studies.

“I like that California Connections Academy at Ripon gives me the flexibility I need when I travel to competitions and the opportunity to take rigorous classes,” said Yao. “I love that I can participate in LiveLessons, so it’ still a classroom experience even if I’m on the road.”

Delaney Eadneschi is an 11-year-old from Valley Springs who attends the online school through its gifted program. As a fifth-grader, she said she is already learning sixth-grade topics.

“I was glad that it was harder work,” said Eadneschi. “It would give more of a challenge.”

She said that the virtual campus allows her to challenge herself and learn more advanced topics as well as pick up the tools needed to achieve her goal to become an exotic animal veterinarian.

“There are a lot more veterinarians for household animals like dogs and cats,” said Eadneschi. “But not enough for birds and goats, cows, horses and snakes.”

If any student is worried about trying their hand at a different style of classroom, Eadneschi tries to put minds at ease.

“I would tell them that my school is very fun and they find classes that will challenge you,” said Eadneschi. “I think the other students will like it.”

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