As most kids across the state enjoy their break away from class, winter is bringing one group of students together.
Oklahoma’s online schools hosted a holiday party at Blazers Ice Centre, with more than 100 virtual school students strapping on their skates for one of their largest meetings of the year.
“It’s kind of like when you have a family reunion,” says Sheryl Tatum, head of school for Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy. “You get to see each other occasionally and reunite, so they enjoy those events for sure.”
Interacting on and off the rink provides important socialization time for kids who do most of their work in the comfort of their own home.
“It’s really nice because you also get to meet maybe your best friends at these outings,” says OVCA graduate Bria Cornforth.
Cornforth found her perfect fit at the OVCA as she trained to be a professional kayaker. The Olympic hopeful recently graduated with honors and now attends the University of Oklahoma as she competes on the US National Kayaking team.
She says, “I think it really prepared me for college because now at OU it’s not really different at all.”
Tatum says most of the children who leave brick and mortar schools, though, faced bullies and other concerns within that social setting.
“They had started to shut down and wouldn’t really engage,” says Tatum, “so feeling that safety of their own home, being surrounded by people that shower that appreciation on them, they just start to blossom again.”
Now, like-minded peers can seek success on their own schedule.
As this trend in education grows, OVCA is among the schools hiring community family advisors statewide to coordinate local meet-ups multiple times a month to foster those friendships.
“We’ve expanded that,” Tatum says, “trying to help our families to feel connected with each other and be connected with the school, too.”
To learn more about OVCA, click here.