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On Monday, August 28, Queen Creek Blended Learning Center hosted an extraordinary birthday party for one lucky Insight Academy of Arizona (ISAZ) student.

At age 10, Jacob Priestley was diagnosed with a terminal mitochondrial disease, which leaves him easily exhausted and with a diminished immune system.

Jacob originally enrolled in an online program so that he could have one-on-one schooling to help with his autism. Prior to joining ISAZ, he attended a local charter school that was not the ideal match for Jacob or his family.

“Switching to ISAZ was probably one of the best things we’ve ever done for him,” said his mother, Britney Priestley.

Jacob has certainly learned a great deal from the safety of his own home, and Britney says that ISAZ has been very accommodating.

“We really love how loving and caring they are to us and how they try to make things easier for Jake, but it’s still challenging,” she said.

In addition to the academic rigor, new technology tools have significantly helped Jacob learn, including a device that coverts his speech to text to for writing lengthy essays. Also, being able to use a laptop at home greatly improves Jacob’s health, as his illness results in a weakened immune system, which makes him susceptible to attacks from germs found in public facilities.

Jacob, who turned 15 on August 28, had one birthday wish – to receive 100,000 birthday cards in hopes of raising awareness for his condition. Leading up to his birthday, he received cards from strangers and celebrities, and his ISAZ classmates spent their lunch hours making birthday cards for him, as well – and were able to hand deliver them to him at his special birthday celebration on his birthday!

The afternoon birthday party at the Queen Creek Blended Learning Center included Jacob’s favorite flavor of cake, and ISAZ’s mascot, Blazin’ Blue Fire, made an appearance as well. But best of all, Jacob was able to meet his ISAZ classmates for the first time – while he is very social in his online classes, he had never had an opportunity to meet any of his classmates in person.

Banji Judge, the blended learning community and marketing administrator, planned the birthday party, which she deemed a success.

“Memories were made that will last a lifetime,” she said. “Both Jacob and his mom’s smiles made that clear!”

Jacob’s birthday may have been last month, but it’s never too late for birthday cards! Send them to:

Jacob Priestley PO Box 855 Queen Creek, Az 85142 And be sure to follow the Adventures of Mighty Jake on Facebook!

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