“I was looking at the local school in my town, and then looking at the online schools available to me. The online schools just seemed like they had more tools available to help me, as far as getting a higher education.” ~ Paige Edwards
(Transcript available below)
START OF TRANSCRIPT
Heidi Higgins: Hi there. I'm Heidi Higgins and you are listening to K12 On Learning. I just love a good education milestone moment. Along with all of the correlating ceremonies and the celebratory parties, I love those. Many of these events are underway right now, and will continue in the next few weeks reverberating across the nation. Thankfully, most of us can gather together again in person to see our graduates walk across the stage and celebrate with them face to face. Interestingly, a technology gift from the pandemic though, is that many schools offer both the online and in-person options, which is just a plus for some who may not be able to travel.
These special milestone moments are an opportunity to say thank you to parents, family members, teachers, school staff, friends, coaches, and mentors had along the way. Today, you'll hear from two high school graduates, Perina Stockard, a graduating senior from Indiana Digital Learning School. And then we have Paige Edwards, a graduating senior from Destination's Career Academy in Oregon, and a member of the Stride Student Advisory Council, both are speaking and sharing their talents at their own school's graduation ceremony. And both of them have a lot to say about their online education. Perrena, will you please introduce yourself?
Perrena Stockard: I'm Perrena Stockard. I'm currently attending and graduating from Indiana Digital Learning School. I started online school in the seventh grade, so I've been online school for about five years now. And I think I started online school at first, because of social anxiety and things like that. But I think later in the interview, I can tell you how I overcame those things, because of being in online school.
Heidi Higgins: That is great news. Thank you. Who is someone you look up to and how have they helped you thus far in your education journey?
Perrena Stockard: It's kind of hard for me to just pick one person. I'll have to give you a quick three, because these are staples in my educational career. I met these people in the 11th grade, and they have helped me tremendously. And those people are Mrs. Freshhour, Mrs. Hartman, and Mrs. Rakes. So, the first two are actually my teachers and Mrs. Rakes is a counselor. At the time I met them, I was very unmotivated to get up or participate in class per se. I think I was going through quite a bad depression at the time. Having those three individuals... because I had them all in the same semester and I had them my whole 11th grade year, and they were absolutely awesome.
I met them, and I went to class every day happy and they were supportive of me expressing myself in class and helped me learn to the best of my ability. And they were more than just teachers and counselors. They were a lot more to me, which may sound weird for an online school, because you don't necessarily think people are going to be that supportive or that attentive to an online student, but they were, and I'm so glad to have met them. They just have fantastic personalities and they provided me with emotional support during a time, that I really needed it. And they welcomed me into an awesome community. So, those are people I really look up to.
Heidi Higgins: I appreciate that and I'm certain that they will love to hear that as well. What is something along the way that you've discovered in yourself that surprised you?
Perrena Stockard: I think a year ago, me would be so surprised just by doing this interview. I would've said no. But something that has surprised me that I discovered about myself, is that I like to be social. I like to lead. I like people, which if you asked me just I think, last year, this month, I would've not believed you at all. K12 gave me the opportunity to become the NHS president, which was pretty awesome. And we had our last meeting, I think May 11th of this month. And I had a great time doing that and I had so much fun and I got to express my values in a way that I never thought I could. I actually used my voice, which was really awesome. When I started online school, I was very socially anxious.
And even when I did get opportunities to speak up, like shake over the microphone, even though it was online, I didn't have people looking at me. I was so anxious, but now I think I've been giving so many opportunities to grow in that section. And I'm so surprised that I just like to be social and I like to participate and I like to speak and be in groups and all of that. Because I never would've believed that, so that's something I definitely did discover. And then one quick thing, is that I like writing. I also never grew up thinking that I would be a writer or in terms of poetry or an artist. So, those two things definitely surprised me. So, overcoming those and discovering myself, has surprised me throughout my high school journey.
Heidi Higgins: That's really beautiful, Perrena. It's fun to understand a little bit more about ourself as we grow. And it's nice to find surprises along the way. So, congratulations for that. What is the best advice you could offer your peers?
Perrena Stockard: The best advice I could offer my peers is to track your progress. Just yesterday was my last day of my senior year, and I was looking through my phone and looking through my journal where I was just, like I said, so anxious before. So, eager to express myself in a way that my body physically couldn't let me do it, because I was just so anxious and seeing that now, is just so awesome and rewarding because in terms of growth, I guess you don't really physically see it that often. So, looking back in terms of even school assignments or just writing or little notes that I left myself, that's been awesome, because it looks... to me it was stagnant for quite some time until I looked back on those things and they motivate me so much more. Because I know I've accomplished so much, within just the four years of high school I've gone through. So, I think definitely tracking your progress, even if it's just once in a while is awesome to reflect on, no matter what stage of life you're in or what you're doing. I think that's fantastic.
Heidi Higgins: Tracking your progress. What great advice. You've received some great accolades about some of the things that you've been able to accomplish and the influence that you've had, wondered if now you'd be willing to share some of your poetry and/or some additional thoughts about your experience?
Perrena Stockard: This is the poem that I'm actually going to read for graduation, so that was really exciting. So this poem is called, As For You, So For I. May I be the ink that exudes from your pen. To be merely an object in your presence is an honor like those before a marbled face. So much so, that the jewels of your body embrace the delicacy of your skin as to not oust such grace. The praise or prayer of those to mention you, would only be meant with an enamored crowd crying, amen.
However, I must not give you all. My mirror reflects something of great importance and just like I for you, I will treat my hand with the same significance. So, do you understand that the song I sing to you, is the same song I sing to sant all. If so, on eclipse, we shall hold one another's strings. And the letters we write, will be lit with giddy familiarity, and nights will no longer be an escape, but a brave battle of sincerity. We can lead such reality, if we lend each other one wing. For under any moon or sun, we can construct a connection and one confession can lead to such direction.
Heidi Higgins: Wow. They will love it. Beautiful.
Perrena Stockard: Thank you.
Heidi Higgins: You mentioned that you discovered you could write, when did you start writing?
Perrena Stockard: I think a little bit in 10th grade and in 11th grade, because people were motivating me in a way that I could express my motion. So on my phone, I would just go in the Notes application, and type up some words. And I guess I didn't really realize it was poetry until I was able to share in my senior year. And I'm like, "Oh wow. That's pretty awesome. I write poetry." So, it was great to discover. So, I've been writing for quite a while now and I even posted online. So awesome to share it in a class. Because I have a teacher named Ms. Kaszahara, and she advocates for her students to share. And the feedback I get on that is amazing. So, I'm so glad that I started to write poetry, because I think it's such a beautiful art form.
Heidi Higgins: It is a beautiful art form and we don't hear it nearly enough. Well done.
Perrena Stockard: Thank you.
Heidi Higgins: Do you have some additional thoughts that you'd like to share?
Perrena Stockard: I wanted to say... or even for my future self, who's listening to this podcast, way later in the future. I really enjoyed my online high school experience. I think when I first started, I was thinking about doing maybe a couple years online and maybe a couple years in person, but I would not have changed my experience for the world, but the support and opportunities that I have had during my high school experiences online, have shaped me to be confident and able to communicate my thoughts and ideas and my creative self, which I never will give up. And I just think if anyone would like to try online school and they're thinking about it, definitely try it. Just maybe for one semester, one year. It's pretty awesome. And the community is incredibly supportive. I would never have thought that I would receive support that I get today. This is a fantastic opportunity.
Heidi Higgins: Do you have friends that you've met online through your school?
Perrena Stockard: Yes, that's actually something I wanted to talk about. I actually have my best friend that I met in 11th grade. And though we live in different parts of the state. I love her and she's like the best person I've ever met in terms of friendship and emotional support. And I have so many friends online. It would seem hard to do that through an online platform, but it is promoted within teamwork and participation that I have so many friends that I talk to outside of school that I will probably talk to for the rest of my life, through my college education, through my career and all of that because I met them on online school and just the community is so awesome. And the friends that I have made are life long.
Heidi Higgins: That's really good to hear. So, may I ask what's next for you?
Perrena Stockard: What's next for me? I am currently working at a library, which I love and would like to stay at throughout my college education. I will be attending college in downtown Indianapolis and I will be majoring in visual communication design.
Heidi Higgins: Welcome, Paige. Would you please introduce yourself?
Paige Edwards: My name is Paige Edwards and I am currently a graduating senior from Destination's Career Academy of Oregon.
Heidi Higgins: Well, congratulations. That is exciting. Can you tell me about how long you've schooled online and why you chose to learn online?
Paige Edwards: So, I've been in the online school system for three years, since the 10th grade. And I chose online school because I was transitioning out of homeschool and off of looking at the local school in my town. And then looking at the online schools available to me, the online schools just seemed like they'd have more tools available to help me as far as getting a higher education.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you for sharing that, Paige. Do you have plans for what you're going to do after graduation?
Paige Edwards: I will be attending Western Washington University this fall.
Heidi Higgins: Very good. Well congratulations.
Paige Edwards: Very much looking forward to that. Thank you.
Heidi Higgins: That's great. Is there someone that you look up to and if so, how have they helped you along your education journey?
Paige Edwards: Well, I'll say that pretty much all of my teachers would fit with that. I've had really great teachers over the last three years. They've all been incredibly helpful, but I think the person that has helped me the most, has been my mom. She's always been very encouraging. She's the one that's helped me get into online school and helped me figure out what college to go to. She won't help me pick my major because she says, I have to decide that for myself.
Heidi Higgins: That just means she's doing her job.
Paige Edwards: But she's always been incredibly helpful with everything from school to life and everything else.
Heidi Higgins: That sounds like you've got a good mom, and one that says, "There're some things you got to figure out by yourself." That's pretty awesome. Is there something that you have discovered in yourself during this time that has surprised you?
Paige Edwards: I think the things that surprised me most during online school is one, learning that I actually really enjoyed writing both essays and fictional writing. I never really thought about that before, but it's actually something I've really enjoyed. And another thing that I surprisingly enjoyed is public speaking. I've had to do that through school organizations or through different things where I've talked with the principal or just any kind of clubs, that kind of thing. And I didn't realize I enjoyed that, but after you get past the initial anxiety, it's actually pretty fun.
Heidi Higgins: Well, congratulations, Paige. Those are great things to learn and discover about yourself. And I'm looking forward to sharing your speech with our listeners today as well. What's the best advice you could offer your peers?
Paige Edwards: This is very hypocritical advice coming from me, but getting more sleep before you worry about studying, is so much better. If you are over tired, you're going to be dizzy. You're not really going to be focusing. You're only going to remember maybe half the information. I am a stay up late studier, but just get more sleep before you have to take a test or before you have to study, it will make a world of difference.
Heidi Higgins: I think that's sound advice. It's sound going forward in your collegiate career as well. You are a Stride Student Advisor, where you have experienced leadership opportunities as part of the paid internship. What other opportunities did you have to develop leadership skills while schooling online?
Paige Edwards: Well, as far as leadership positions that have gotten me skills [inaudible 00:14:37] there, I have been president of my SkillsUSA chapter at my school for the past two years. So, I've had some experience managing my team, figuring out what to do when some people wouldn't show up or someone's sick and another member has to cover for them. Those kind of things. I've definitely had the public speaking skills, like I mentioned.
Heidi Higgins: Are there any other thoughts that you'd like us to know about you or about your experience in these long 12 plus years of school that you're about to complete?
Paige Edwards: I guess the one other thing where I guess it's just more of a bit of advice. If you do happen to get a bad grade on test, it's not the end of the world. That was mindset, I really had to get out of because I did just really blame myself if I got a lower grade. So, that's something where you're just going to give yourself a lot of unnecessary anxiety, getting all A's isn't everything, there were a couple of B's. It's important to make sure you're not giving yourself a whole bunch of anxiety because that's just going to make the school experience just really stressful. And it's just going to make things a lot harder.
Heidi Higgins: Paige shared a recording of the speech that she's going to present at her high school graduation.
Paige Edwards: To start, I would like to offer my congratulations to the graduating class of 2022. Despite all obstacles and there were many, we survived high school. Over the past four years, we studied for exams and learned new information only to forget it the second finals were over. We saw a split between those who embraced TikTok, and those who still refuse to use it. And we saw people could come together during difficult times. In terms of challenges, we have faced everything that every high schooler before us has. And while it is by no means a competition, we overcame all of these challenges while also experiencing an ongoing global pandemic. So, I think we've won. Whether or not you realize it, we are the generation of change, no pressure. And we've been given the most valuable tools throughout our experience in high school. Our voices, our ideas, and our desire to make a difference, is through these tools that we can truly bring about a positive change in the world we live in.
As the third most popular song by The Score goes, "We were born for this." We are also the generation of rainbow nerds. Slowly but surely we are coming to a place where we can be ourselves in all aspects of our lives. This includes our sexuality, gender identity, personality, and how we want to live. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, "To thine own self, be true." I realize this might bring up some horror movie esque flashbacks to when you all had to read the play in class, but even I will admit, Will had a point. As we move forward in this life, we can go confidently on knowing that we can be ourselves, and that our voices and ideas can create positive change for ourselves and others. And finally, we are a generation of conquerors.
Though the hurdles we faced in high school were certainly higher than most, we made it to the finish line. Whatever life brings us, wherever we go in the future, we can look back on this experience to guide us. We're all in this strange new world together. And just like in high school, we'll make it through. I'm sure we're all ready to get on with graduation. So, I'll end with one last quote. One of my favorite Marvel characters, Dr. Jemma Simmons said, "The steps you take don't need to be big. They just need to take you in the right direction." And while Dr. Simmons may be a fictional character, I believe we can all stand by her statement. Congratulations to the class of 2022. We did it.
Heidi Higgins: Thank you for listening to K12 On Learning, sponsored by Stride. To learn more about online public schools, powered by Stride K12, Stride Career Prep programs that foster lifelong learning, or any of the private school or individual course offerings. Please go to stridelearning.com or k12.com. Special thanks to 3K Studios for providing the music for us. Remember to subscribe to this podcast and feel free to leave us a good review. We hope you'll join us next time for K12 On Learning.
END OF TRANSCRIPT
Meet a Leader in online education.
See why over two million students have chosen Stride K12-powered schools.