Since I was a pre-teen, I've attended Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA). Now, as I prepare to begin my college career at the University of Montana, I can confidently say IDVA has given me the tools and relationships I need to succeed in college. The relationships I made with teachers and peers—both online and in-person—have spurred my personal and academic growth.
My teachers laid an unwavering foundation for my learning. They dedicated so much of their time to supporting me and my academic growth, always responding to my questions quickly and providing guidance. My AP® English teacher, Mrs. Hutton, was one of my biggest mentors. She took my writing very seriously and always gave constructive feedback to help me continuously improve my work. Because of her, I’ve become a better version of myself.
Collaborating with my peers also pushed me to grow as a person. My passion for writing led me to join Virtual Reality, an online student-run newspaper. As I submitted drafts online, my classmates would provide feedback and comment on the progress of my articles. Once the editors reviewed and finalized each piece, they would post them online for everyone to see. Not only did this process allow me to improve my writing and work closely with a team, it also gave me the space to learn so much about my friends just by helping each other through the writing process.
But, my engagements with my friends from IDVA did not exclusively happen online—instead, they occurred through in-person meetups with friends across the state. Being a student at IDVA gave me the flexibility to get involved in different groups throughout my community outside of school. There, I encountered some of my closest friends from IDVA. For example, I joined a program at the Christian Youth Theatre in Northern Idaho where I found several friends. IDVA also held events during the school year that gave students the chance to meet in person such as ice cream socials and even a prom.
IDVA taught me to be a self-starter and gave me the confidence to pursue my passions. I explored my interest in music through opportunities where I could use my voice such as in my theatre group. I also taught myself how to play the acoustic guitar, electric guitar, ukulele, and even some piano. Every week, I lead music as the acoustic guitarist for my student youth band.
This fall, I'll begin my college career at the University of Montana, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. I hope I can continue to pursue my passion for journalism, copy editing, and publishing during my time there.
Though my classes and coursework at IDVA were online, the connections and experiences the school provided me with gave me the ability to strengthen the skillsets I built in the classroom. These are skills I’ll proudly bring with me to my new college campus and wherever else life takes me.
KEYWORDS: Collaboration, College Readiness, Extracurriculars, Student Stories, Teacher Engagement, Unlocking Potential, School Options