Virtual high school will open in Kearsley


IMAGE / Elizabeth Ashley

Kearsley Community Schools will be welcoming a new online program for after school, Kearsley Virtual Academy.

In August 2019, there will be a new opportunity for students looking to further their high school education online.

Kearsley Community Schools will open an online high school, Kearsley Virtual Academy, for high school students 20 years old or younger who are behind in six or more credits and behind in two or more years of high school.

Students attending the virtual academy will attend the program inside Kearsley High School for at least one day a week from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. and will only be required to have 18 credits in order to graduate.

KVA will not offer sports or social activities, but students may attend Kearsley High School dances and events as guests if they are present with a student currently enrolled in KHS,

IMAGE / Elizabeth Ashley
Ms. Kristi Cummings has become program coordinator of Kearsley Virtual Academy, which will open its doors in August 2019.

Since KVA will be a separate high school with its own distinct curriculum, KVA students will attend a separate graduation ceremony from KHS. In addition, KVA students will not be eligible to play on KHS sports teams.

Superintendent Kevin Walworth feels this program will help students who are struggling in the normal high school curriculum graduate.

“I believe this program will offer students who may otherwise drop out another chance to earn a high school diploma,” Walworth said.  “Students in this school will only be required to meet the state mandated 18 Michigan Merit Curriculum credits.

“Thus, a student that has been attending school for four years and still needs eight credits to earn a KHS diploma may be interested in coming back for a final year if graduation and a high school diploma is within reach.”

Four years ago, KHS brought in Edgenuity, an online program to help high school students who are struggling academically, to help students make up lost credits during the school day.

Although both programs will have similarities, Walworth said KVA students will not have to physically attend class like traditional high school students and will receive a computer.

“What makes this program different is that there is not a requirement for seat time,” Walworth said. “Students can work from home and are required to attend lab time in the late afternoons. As long as students are keeping pace with their courses, the lab time requirement will be minimal and the students will be issued a free laptop or Chromebook.”

Mr. Matt Moore, assistant principal of KHS, has been named principal of KVA, while Ms. Kristi Cummings has been named the program coordinator.

IMAGE / Elizabeth Ashley
Mr. Matt Moore, assistant principal, was named principal of Kearsley Virtual Academy.

Moore, who will continue his KHS duties while leading KVA, is enthusiastic about the program and believes it will help students who are looking for an online route to finish their high school education.

“I think it’s going to be a great program for students that want to complete their high school diploma via the virtual process,” Moore said. “I’m excited to be the principal of the program and for the opportunity it presents for students.”

Cummings also has high hopes for the new school and believes KVA will be a success for Kearsley.

“I am feeling very positive about KVA,”  Cummings said. “I think there is a population of students that KVA will appeal to, and, ultimately, it is about helping students earn a diploma.

“I hope that it is 100 percent successful for those who enroll.  More and more students are learning online during high school and college, so I think KVA is a great addition to Kearsley Community Schools.” 

Mr. Brian Wiskur, KHS principal, believes the program will help those who have a hard time with with school during the day and those who struggle to graduate.

“I think it will help students who cannot make it to school on a regular basis,” Wiskur said. “It will also offer an alternative way to receive a high school diploma for those that have fallen behind. I feel it gives students an alternative path to a diploma.” 

Although the program has not yet been formally announced to the public, some students, both former and current, who are aware of the program, are already looking into attending.

IMAGE / Elizabeth Ashley
Junior Austin Burrows has looked into the Kearsley Virtual Academy program to help make up lost credits.

Junior Austin Burrows is one of the many students who has been deciding whether or not to attend the program for the benefits it holds.

“I have been looking into the program a lot,” Burrows said. “I lost credits I should have earned at previous schools due to moving around a lot.

“I tried Edgenuity at the high school, but it has become difficult for me to attend school during the day while also trying to make money. Hopefully, this program will help me make up needed credits while also letting me work during the day to support myself.”

Former KHS student Elizabeth Goodman who switched to The Insight School of Michigan, sponsored by K-12, to help her catch-up lost credits, has also looked into the program and the benefits it holds.

“I haven’t quite made up my mind on switching programs yet,” Goodman said. “But I like the idea of Kearsley virtual better because there I will be able to have a teacher helping me in person while also having an online instructor, and I won’t have to log into live instruction at random parts of the day. Plus, I can meet other students and have more social interaction.”