Written by Jenna Needham
At first, Mary-Kate Billings needed alternative school options because her pre-professional dance conservatory program demanded a lot of her time. She enrolled in Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) in the 5th grade. Now seven years later, she didn’t realize how much the school would affect her in other ways.
Through GCA, Mary-Kate has been able to meet more diverse and likeminded students, participate in and lead countless school groups and organizations, give back to her community, and accept internship opportunities with K12 Inc. She also volunteers at her local library’s various children’s programs.
“Georgia Cyber Academy has benefitted Mary-Kate academically as well as socially, and watching her flourish in such a contemporary and unique setting has been wonderful,” said her mother, Ann, adding that her daughter’s success has been made possible by GCA’s teachers and administration.
Mary-Kate credits GCA with helping her develop strong leadership and teamwork skills as well as giving her the opportunity to strengthen her self-motivation and independence. She even founded the Meliora Society, a group of GCA’s highest-achieving students who seek to improve the school community. The society hosts a Gown Donation Program, collecting graduation gowns from seniors to give to future graduates who cannot afford them.
Mary-Kate also participates in the dual enrollment program as well as the Move on When Ready program at a local college, allowing her to take a full-time course load of 12 or more credits. Now, when Mary-Kate graduates from GCA this spring, she will also graduate from Georgia Highlands College with an Associate’s Degree in Communications.
In the future, Mary-Kate wants to continue to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and work her way up to a Ph.D. with dreams of one day working for the Walt Disney Company as a public relations officer. With the pace she’s going at now, there’s nothing she can’t do.
“Thanks to her wonderful start with GCA, her future is bright,” Ann said. “GCA has truly helped shape Mary-Kate into a capable young adult.“