DANVILLE — The e-Learning Cyber Academy moved from the former Danville Elementary School, which is for sale, to the Danville Middle School this fall. This is the sixth year for the cyber school, which started out at the middle school and was housed in the elementary school for four years.
"We had about 55 students last year with 25 graduating last year," teacher Brent Sample said. The academy has an enrollment of 35 this year.
Director of student affairs Chris Johns said students can enroll as early as sixth grade and most of the students are in ninth through 12th grades. "We see everything online and track their performance," said Johns, who oversees the academy.
The school has its own entrance to the academy, which is free to students in the Danville district. The academy uses Pearson GradPoint software and the district works with the National Education Foundation to offset software costs, Johns said.
He said the maintenance department did a great job in renovating the area for the academy in a former health classroom and storage area.
This year, Danville teachers are working online with students. In past years, the teachers were in Pittsburgh. "The kids feel more connected," Johns said.
"The kids have a rapport with the teachers they didn't have before," Sample said.
Assisting students are guidance counselor Jo'ell Brouse and paraprofessional Deb Alpaugh.
"The teachers answer questions, grade essays and tests and supervise the classes," Johns said. "I spend a couple of days a week here and have an office in the high school. If there is a problem or a concern with a kid or a course, I can find the teacher at the high school and make the connection."
Junior Gavin McNaughton, 16, has been enrolled since he was a freshman. "It's better academics and less drama," he said.
Ryan Jensen, a 15-year-old sophomore, was failing classes because "they were too stressful."
Sample said Ryan is doing well and sits next to Sample in case he needs some help.
"I like it here. It's quiet. I have been coming here since last year," Ryan said.
He likes to go to the academy although he could stay at home and do the work. "I don't trust myself," he said of the possibility of becoming distracted.
Courses students take are the same as other students take with the same credits.
Dakota Stetler, a 17-year-old senior, enrolled in the academy because he thought the high school pace was "too fast for me." Dakota, a cyber student since ninth grade, likes being able to work at his own speed and said he is doing well. He plans to study welding or carpentry at a Sunbury area trade school after graduation.
A new system began this year and Dakota said students have to take the time to read a lesson since they have to answer questions about it.
Academy students are part of commencement exercises and can participate in extracurricular activities, including sports. "We have some students who work online and then go to the high school for band at the end of the day," Johns said.
Senior Zachary Sellers switched to the Danville's district academy the third week of September.
The 18-year-old moved from the high school so he could earn credits "easier and quicker."
"I'm almost done with English for the whole year," he said on Wednesday.
Zachary plans to join the Marines following graduation and is among the nominees for king for the high school's homecoming court. The king and queen will be crowned this Friday night.