It’s June, which means the weather is warmer, school is ending and, most important, graduation season is upon us. Across Pennsylvania, high school students are putting on caps and gowns and thinking about beginning a new chapter of their lives. For these students, the next step in their path could be attending college, diving into the workforce or something in between. Whatever the next phase might bring, the nostalgic and sentimental feeling of saying goodbye to high school life is something graduating students everywhere experience.
However, are those feelings different for students graduating from a cyber charter school? Are the emotional, nostalgic feelings the same? These are some of the questions that came to mind when I learned I would be attending one of four graduation ceremonies for Commonwealth Charter Academy, a leading cyber charter school in Pennsylvania.
At Bravo Group, we work closely with Commonwealth Charter Academy. CCA is different from other schools, not only for being an online institution invested in family service but for its flexible learning strategy. Respected for its encouragement to get parents involved in their children’s learning process, CCA focuses on the importance of learning instead of merely studying. Because of this way of thinking, children enrolled in CCA are called learners rather than students.
As I’ve began to learn about CCA, one thing that has stood out is how beneficial a virtual education can be. Each learner at CCA is unique. For some, CCA is the right school because they are involved in activities outside of the classroom and need an education that is flexible enough to fit their schedules. For others, the parents involvement that CCA encourages gives the learner the extra support they need to flourish. Regardless of what the learner’s specific scenario is, CCA has a way to make education work best.
When I learned I would be attending CCA graduation for the Philadelphia region, I was excited to see how things would play out in comparison to my own experiences with high school graduations. Here is some of what I learned:
- There is no “typical CCA learner.” The more I met with and talked to the graduates, the more I realized that no two learners are the same. I was impressed by the diverse group of people that CCA attracts. Whether they are enrolled in CCA because they were inspired by a friend, because they were being bullied at their previous school, because they had a special activity they could do while attending a cyber school or because they wanted to spend more time with their family before enrolling in the Navy, it was impossible to predict what each CCA learner’s story might be.
- CCA learners are truly satisfied with their educational experience. I remember at my own high school graduation there was a common feeling of “I can’t wait to get out of this place” or “I’m so done with this school.” However, the feeling at the CCA graduation was different. Instead of being eager to be done with CCA, graduates demonstrated an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. The learners were proud of their accomplishments but cognizant of the fact that CCA gave them opportunities that other schools might not have been able to provide.
- The relationship between students and teachers at CCA is special. It became evident to me fairly quickly that the relationship that CCA teachers have with their students is atypical from other high school experiences I have seen. You could see the pride on their faces when the teachers watched their students walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. One teacher even went through the line of students, shook each of their hands and congratulated them on their accomplishments.
- CCA throws a great party. Half an hour after the graduation ceremony ended, the venue had been transformed. Lines of chairs had been replaced by tables and a dance floor, while a DJ got the celebration started. There was food, ice cream, music and dancing, and an overall feeling of joy and celebration for the CCA graduates.
Kate Foley | Philadelphia Office