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The Class of 2020 has experienced a difficult senior year with COVID-19 changing graduation plans and moving most celebrations online. Despite the whirlwind of events, this Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA) student had a surprise in store.

On the last day of classes, Rhyan Anderson stepped outside to take a picture in her cap and gown. To her surprise, a parade of cars began to drive past cheering her name, waving signs, and throwing presents out the window.

With a drive-by celebration, students were applauded for their achievements from a social distance. The parade was organized, in secret, by two OHVA teachers, Ms. Rounds and Mr. Franco. The two organized the parade as a way to recognize Rhyan and other students for their accomplishments even though they were unable to walk across the stage.

“I had absolutely no clue about the parade beforehand,” said Rhyan. “I thought I was just taking some cap and gown photos with the signs my family had gotten. I was so overwhelmed by the love and support of everyone who came to the parade. I was almost in tears to be honest.”

This 2020 graduate has been with OHVA for more than seven years, and shares that online learning was the best solution for her.

“At my old school, I was not receiving near the education I wanted for myself,” said Rhyan. Assignments at her local brick-and-mortar school started to become monotonous, draining and stressful. She no longer felt challenged but instead was becoming discouraged by school.

When she joined OHVA, the curriculum brought back a spark in her. “Coming to OHVA I found the curriculum I had always wanted for myself,” she said. “I was enthralled by the work and had regained my love for learning. It was like I could breathe again!”

Rhyan believes that online school is a great option for many students and would recommend it to any student who needs a safe place to learn. “You are given so many opportunities to discover who you are,” said Rhyan. “OHVA has given me the chance to find who I am and be the young woman I was born to be, and I will be forever grateful.”

Now that she has graduated, Rhyan feels well prepared for life after high school. “Not once have I ever felt like I was being taught for a standardized test,” she said when reflecting on her experience. “Since day one, I have felt like I have been prepared for life and given the tools I will need to succeed in the ‘real world.’”

This fall, Rhyan plans to attend Point Park University in downtown Pittsburgh where she will study sports, arts, and entertainment management.

To learn more about Ohio Virtual Academy, visit https://ohva.k12.com/