Connections Academy Schools in Washington Celebrate First-Ever Class of Graduating Seniors

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Statewide online public schools host virtual commencement for Class of 2020 on June 16; graduates plan to pursue careers in professional ballet, U.S. Coast Guard, and more

Star person in a circle with orange and yellow background. To the right it says Washington Connections Academy. Beneath is a star person in a circle with orange and yellow background. To the right it says Pacific Northwest Connections Academy

Connections Academy Schools in Washington Celebrate Class of 2020

Despite a challenging end to their senior year, the Class of 2020 has carried themselves with integrity and strength and I couldn’t be prouder...I know our students will continue to be self-motivated and will work hard to leave positive, lasting impacts on their communities.

Today, Washington Connections Academy and Pacific Northwest Connections Academy, a network of tuition-free online public schools serving students in grades K-12 statewide, celebrated 75 graduating seniors. School administrators and teachers honored this year’s graduates with proper pomp and circumstance during the virtual graduation ceremony, despite students being unable to walk across the stage to receive their diploma as tradition holds.

Students were able to celebrate their many accomplishments with family members, friends, teachers and administrators tuning into Zoom to commemorate this milestone. Fortunately, due to the school’s full-time virtual program and curriculum, seniors at Washington Connections Academy and Pacific Northwest Connections Academy were able to finish their semester and complete all courses despite the public health crisis.

“Despite a challenging end to their senior year, the Class of 2020 has carried themselves with integrity and strength and I couldn’t be prouder,” said Jenn Francis, Executive Director of Connections Academy schools in Washington. “No matter what they do next, I know our students will continue to be self-motivated and will work hard to leave positive, lasting impacts on their communities.”

Nearly half of this year’s class plan to attend a two- or four-year colleges or universities, while other graduates will enter the workforce, military or take a gap year. Graduating seniors include nationally ranked mountain biker Morgan Kainoa “Kai” Branum, who plans to continue his mountain biking career and work towards his long-term goal of becoming a U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer; Savannah Sherman of Bremerton who will study ballet and linguistics at the University of Utah; Mara Neary of Olympia who will major in dance and human physiology at Gonzaga University. Additional 2020 graduates are headed to schools including George Fox University, Gonzaga Washington State University and the University of Wisconsin, among others.

Carol Odom, Pacific Northwest Connections Academy valedictorian, will pursue a professional career in ballet and has deferred enrollment to Auburn University. She started her journey at Connections Academy last year after moving from Alabama to train at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle. Carol was able flourish thanks to the student-teacher relationship online school helps facilitate.

“Although classes were online, I was able to develop a personal relationship with my teachers and peers,” she said. “Teachers will go above and beyond because they want you to succeed. Pacific Northwest Connections Academy allowed me to receive a quality education while pursuing my passion for ballet.”

This marks Pacific Northwest Connections Academy’s inaugural school year serving students in grades 7-12, with Washington Connections Academy wrapping its fourth school year and first year serving through 12th grade. Connections Academy schools in Washington serve more than 2,300 students, providing them with a complete school experience through opportunities to develop social and emotional skills in addition to critical thinking, problem-solving and collaboration abilities so they’re prepared to succeed now and as they progress through college, career and life.

Washington Connections Academy, Pacific Northwest Connections Academy and it’s the newest school, Washington Connections Academy Goldendale, are all currently enrolling for the 2020-21 school year. For more information, please visit the school's website.

About Connections Academy Schools in Washington State
Washington Connections Academy, Pacific Northwest Connections Academy and Washington Connections Academy Goldendale are tuition-free, high-quality, highly accountable online public schools serving K-12 students across Washington. Operating in partnership with the Mary M. Knight School District, the South Kitsap School District and Goldendale School District respectively, the schools provide students with the flexibility to learn from anywhere with a high-quality proven school curriculum that meets rigorous state education standards. The combination of state-credentialed, quality teachers, unique electives, technology tools and community experiences create a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families who want an individualized approach to education. Pacific Northwest Connections Academy will serve students in grades 6-12 throughout Washington in the 2020-2021 school year and will add a grade level each subsequent year until it serves the full range of grades K-12. Washington Connections Academy will serve students in grades K-8, while Washington Connections Academy Goldendale will serve students in grades K-12 beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. For more information, call 1-844-227-0920 or visit the website.

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