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Whether it was performing the lead role in a play, singing the National Anthem at a sporting event, or serving as the school mascot during football games on Friday nights, Elijah Kelso has devoted his life to dance and performance. Even though he is most comfortable in front of an audience, Elijah has also faced an unwanted spotlight. In his brick-and-mortar school, Elijah’s bullies targeted him because of his interest in theater and singing. After he was physically assaulted three times, Elijah’s parents decided to enroll him in online school.

Since his first formal performance at the age of six, Elijah dedicates endless hours each week to further the career that his former classmates didn’t understand. To remove him from the negative environment, Elijah’s parents enrolled him at Indiana Digital Learning School (INDLS). And Elijah says he couldn’t be happier. “I didn’t fit in at my other school because while other kids were hanging out, I was at home focused on my career,” he said. “No one understood that I was driven.”

The online classroom encourages Elijah to focus on improving his performance skills without worrying about what other people think. “He isn’t stressed and in tears from the emotional and physical abuse in [traditional] school,” said his mom, Joey. Elijah’s teachers also support his interests and allow him to work around his practice schedule, auditions and performances. Elijah and Joey’s relationship is also closer now that he’s enrolled in public school at home. Joey can monitor his schedule more closely and can discuss problems or school work quickly.

As a survivor of bullying, Elijah understands how lonely the experience can be, but he believes that, “befriending those being bullied can break the cycle.” For parents, Joey says online school is the best alternative for a child who is facing bullying or in a negative situation at brick-and-mortar school.

Online school gives Elijah the freedom to be who he wants to be and focus on his strengths. He wants other students to do the same. “Always be true to yourself, ignore the opinions of others, and keep being you,” he said.

To learn more about Indiana Digital Learning School, visit https://indls.k12.com/

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