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ORVA and ISOR Prom: A Night of Enchantment

FAST Administrator Amanda Sinnott, peer mentor Elizabeth Ives, and DJ Lyons

What happens when an online students attend a prom? A night of enchantment, of course! The Insight School of Oregon (ISOR) and Oregon Virtual Academy (ORVA) partnered up to create a night to remember for their students which involved a free “Enchanted Forest Masquerade” themed prom.

Debunking the myth that virtual students miss out on socialization, Amanda Sinnott, who is part of ISOR’s Family Academic Support Team said, “This seemed different from a regular prom because there were no kids sitting on the sidelines. Students made sure everyone was dancing and having a good time.  It was a very inclusive event. It made me cry happy tears when I got home!”

The prom featured a DJ, pictures, beautiful clothes, and of course, dancing. Over 80 students showed up to this- the first prom they were able to attend for ISOR and ORVA. A peer mentor from one of the schools had “ice-breaker’ events planned in case students were shy, but they ended up not having to do any because everyone was dancing together and talking to each other all night!

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K12 CEO Stuart Udell: GCA Commencement Remarks

Ebony Arnold, Andre Arnold, Head of School Matt Arkin, and K12 CEO Stuart Udell

Thank you, Ryan.

I’d also like to thank Head of School, Matt Arkin, and Deputy Head of School, Veronica Clemons, for their outstanding leadership.

It is an honor to be with you today. Congratulations, Class of 2016! (Applause) 

I also want to congratulate all of you -- the families- -who supported these students in so many ways. Graduates, how about a big round of applause for your families. (Applause.)

And Graduates, since this very well may be the last time you will ever hear these words, “If you can hear me, send me a smiley face!” (Laughter)

Class of 2016, you’ve arrived. You’ve done the hard work to get here and formed friendships that will last a lifetime.

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OHVA Olympic Hopeful Prepares for a Busy Summer


The time commitment and drive it takes to train with former Olympic figure skaters would intimidate most people, but Cienna Baka takes on the challenge with ease.  She is able to do this because of the flexible schedule that online education provides.  Cienna is a 10th grade student at Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) who has dedicated her life to ice skating competitively. 

Since she was six years old, Cienna has always been training on the ice or traveling constantly for competitions. Her schedule is so busy that her entire family operates around it. With such a huge time commitment to her ice skating, this would prove to make going to a brick-and-mortar school a difficult task. This is what led her family to distance education.

Ohio Virtual Academy provided such an accommodating schedule for Cienna that she can do her work or communicate with her teachers easily at the ice skating rink or even on the road. Cienna now balances her year-round ice skating, traveling, and school work effortlessly since she enrolled in the virtual school. 

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Why the Head of School and Principal at ISOR Have Pink Beards


The Head of School and Principal at The Insight School of Oregon (ISOR-ALT and ISOR-PH) really go the extra mile to support their 600 students! During their two-week winter break, ISOR attempted a new program to help students raise their grades. In a show of solidarity, Head of School, J.D. McMahan, and Principal, Jim Sinnott, promised to dye their beards pink if enough students participated in the program! The result was an incredible 37% of the student body raising their grades a full letter, leading to sparkly pink beards for Mr. McMahan and Mr. Sinnott!

“I am so proud of our Insight kids. We need our students to know that they are not alone over the school breaks. We are still there for them and rooting for their success. I am so impressed by their willingness to raise their grades, especially over a break!” Said Amanda Sinnott, who is part of the ISOR’s Family Academic Support Team, when asked about the success of the Insight School of Oregon’s students.

Building off of their success on winter break, the school tried the same program again for spring break, which is one week long. The result was 28% of students raised their grade by a full letter- - in half the time it took during winter break! This time, as their reward, students had the opportunity to participate in the “onesie unicorn 2.0 dance extravaganza!” This cool social event took place in a class connect session where students were entered into raffles to win onesies, t-shirts, and other prizes.

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Praise & Appreciation

Earlier this month, the Nation marked Teacher Appreciation Week.  This special week every year couldn’t come at a more perfect time- the final month of the school year when we’re wrapping things up, starting to grow a little weary, and when the students’ excitement about summer break is starting to become noticeable!

In fact, during this week, I began inwardly questioning whether students were enjoying my classes anymore- - when all-of-a-sudden I received a “day-changing” email. Our amazing middle school advisor worked alongside students to produce a touching video for teachers. With her help, students posted some of the things they appreciated about a specific teacher on the whiteboard during homeroom to later be shared. Our advisor put together a video with each teacher’s slide.  After watching this heartfelt video, I was moved to tears. 

Throughout the week, there were other great emails, videos, and even prizes from various teams in our organization.  It all meant so much and I really appreciate not only the thoughts behind this touching tribute, but the time taken during busy schedules just to let me know students care and notice my hard work. Then it occurred to me… Am I doing that enough with my students? Receiving praise all week made me wonder if I was giving enough myself. The answer was probably not. I, like the students, was ready for a break.  I felt like I was saying “good job”, but nothing deeper.