Fort Ann Central School has joined the Virtual High School (VHS) this year enabling the district to offer a wide selection of courses including six Advanced Placement (AP) courses and 18 electives that the school wouldn’t ordinarily be able to provide.
Fort Ann School Superintendent Maureen VanBuren explained that 25 seats per semester are available to students for asynchronous learning, meaning the students can take the course at their convenience either during the regular school day or at home.
“We’re excited to be able to open up the range of courses now available to our students taught by New York State certified teachers through the use of VHS,” said VanBuren. “It’s another example of using technology and shared educational services to expand our educational programs to prepare students for the 21st century,” she added.
School counselor Ashley LaVine said 18 of the 25 seats have been filled for the fall semester and 16 for the spring semester. “We’re able to offer full year AP courses from European History to Statistics, and course electives in the fall and spring from Creative Writing to Philosophy.”
Fort Ann High School seniors who have enrolled in the VHS offered the following insights.
Emily Esperti is taking personal finance through the VHS. She explained, “My schedule is so full and personal finance is a required course, so this is the only way I could squeeze it in. I like it! It’s new to not have a teacher with me. It’s really nice to be able to work on it at home.”
Taking an elective course, Brittney Callahan said, “I’m taking creative writing. I was bored and looking for something else. It’s really fun. I absolutely love it. It gives me more freedom and an option to meet others and get ideas.”
Through group discussions the students can email other students enrolled in the course. Fort Ann students reported that mainly they’ve emailed students from China and Massachusetts.
Avery Crandall is taking two VHS courses: one required and one elective. He said, “In addition to the personal finance course that’s required, I’m taking engineering principles because I was curious about engineering and Fort Ann doesn’t offer it.”
Taking an Advanced Placement Statistic course as an elective, Michael Gusek found it to be a great opportunity to take an AP course that’s not offered at Fort Ann. “It’s a lot more challenging,” he said. Meeting the weekly deadlines wasn’t a problem for Micheal. He added, “I’m able to get most of the work done at school. I go at my own pace.”
VHS is offered through the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES Distance Learning service. Online student courses are another way that school districts can increase the number of high-interest electives available to students.
Fort Ann's Virtual High School effort was featured on YNN. Click here to watch the video.
The Post-Star also covered the story. Click here to read the article.