Oregon’s Leading Online Public School Celebrates Seniors with Traditional Graduation Ceremony June 8th in Salem

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Up to 450 Oregon Connections Academy graduates across the state will come together to receive diplomas, prepared for success in an evolving world

Graduates in line

Online public school celebrates seniors with traditional graduation ceremony

Each year, teachers and staff at Oregon Connections Academy enjoy celebrating the hard work and determination that each of these students demonstrated to reach this goal, and we’re confident that each student is ready to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.

As online learning continues to gain popularity among parents seeking education options to meet their children’s individual academic needs, hundreds of families will gather this weekend in Salem for their students’ graduation from Oregon Connections Academy (ORCA).

Up to 450 graduates will receive diplomas at an in-person commencement ceremony 4 pm Saturday June 8th at The Pavilion on the Oregon State Fairgrounds, 2330 17th Street NE in Salem.

“While our school offers a non-traditional approach to education, we are proud to offer our graduates a traditional commencement ceremony so they can celebrate this milestone with relatives and friends,” said Oregon Connections Academy Executive Director Allison Galvin. “Each year, teachers and staff at Oregon Connections Academy enjoy celebrating the hard work and determination that each of these students demonstrated to reach this goal, and we’re confident that each student is ready to take on whatever challenges lie ahead.”

During graduation season two outstanding seniors are selected to speak at the graduation ceremony. This year the speakers will be Student Body President Garret Kincaid from Lyons, and 12th Grade Senator, Madelena Bickley from Harrisburg.

“As a student, I would recommend Oregon Connections Academy for its flexibility, learning pace dictated by the students, and the challenge it presents you with,” said 18-year old Garrett Kincaid. “But I also would recommend it for the healthy and great school environment created by years of hard work by the students and staff; it has felt like a second home to me for many years.” Garrett plans to take classes at Chemeketa Community College but his larger goal is the US Naval Academy.

A majority of the graduates are moving on to college (52%) or entering the workforce (29%). Other students in the graduating class are choosing to pursue vocational training (8%), enter the military (4%), or have other plans such as volunteer missions after graduation (7%). Those who have higher education on their agenda have so far accumulated nearly $1.5 million in total scholarships, with additional awards still being calculated.

To help students explore career paths and establish goals after graduation, Oregon Connections Academy added a new Career and Technical Education program this school year called ASCEND.

“We’re so proud to see the program thriving in its first year by helping students explore various career opportunities and gain skills along the way,” noted Oregon Connections Academy High School Success Administrator John Meyer. “We look forward to adding more pathways to graduation and more amazing seniors ready to enter the workforce in their communities.” In addition to the current career pathways of Business and Management, Medical Science, and Computer Science, Childhood Education will be included on the list in the fall.

While the results for the Class of 2019 are still being calculated, so far 60 seniors have earned a collective total of 530 free transferable college credits through Oregon Connections Academy’s College Now dual credit program. The program is a partnership with Linn Benton Community College and Chemeketa Community College allowing students to earn college credits for completing certain high school courses.

Madelena Bickley, who’s graduating a year early, will take 25 dual credits with her to the Degree Partnership Program with Linn Benton Community College and Oregon State University where she will study Physics. “With Oregon Connections Academy I didn’t go into a physical classroom every day and have a teacher tell me exactly what to do with my time, so I had to figure it out myself,” noted 16-year old Madelena. “Consequently, I feel much more prepared for higher education and life on my own!”

Among Oregon Connections Academy’s Class of 2019 graduates are:

  • Rosa Oliver (from Keizer): A “Legacy Graduate” who completed her entire K-12 education enrolled at Oregon Connections Academy. Rosa is the student government Senator Representative, and is going to Chemeketa Community College to study graphic design in visual communications
  • Greg Leathrum (from Corvallis): Greg finished all the high school math offered through Oregon Connections Academy before he completed middle school, so he’s been taking math classes at Oregon State University. This National Honor Society Co-President is now graduating a year early and will soon be majoring in math at California Polytechnics State University in San Luis Obispo, California.
  • Cheyenne Harris (from Clatskanie): Looking for an adventure after high school, Cheyenne is enlisting in the US Air Force hoping to start with basic training in San Antonio, Texas and eventually become a photographer in the service.
  • Lawrence Winowiecki (from Newport): This outgoing young man volunteers at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, and is very active on the student government leadership team. Lawrence is enrolling in the Southwestern Oregon Community College welding program this fall.
  • Alia Gapay (from Cornelius): This athletic 16-year old is graduating a year ahead of schedule after using the flexibility of online school to compete on high school swimming, track and tennis teams. Alia is a 12th grade senator who plans to stay active in student government as she seeks a pre-medicine degree at Pacific University in Forest Grove.
  • Shannon Feinauer (from Klamath Falls): Shooting sports and agriculture education is a big part of Shannon’s life. She will probably continue both as she pursues a degree in rangeland management at Klamath Community College and Eastern Oregon University.

Oregon Connections Academy is the state’s longest running and largest statewide tuition-free online public charter school serving an estimated 4,300 students. The school’s highly-qualified teachers, personalized instruction, award-winning curriculum, and a wide variety of community experiences creates a supportive and successful academic environment for students.

Enrollment for the 2019-20 school year is currently open for Oregon Connections Academy.
The school hosts a variety of free sessions for prospective families and students who want to learn more about the engaging online education program. For more details about enrollment and sessions go to http://www.OregonConnectionsAcademy.com/Events or call (800) 382–6010.

About Oregon Connections Academy
Oregon Connections Academy is a tuition-free, high-quality, highly accountable online public charter school that serves students in grades K–12 across the state. The school is authorized by the Santiam Canyon School District. Oregon Connections Academy offers a flexible learning option to accommodate the needs of the modern student. The combination of highly-qualified teachers, personalized instruction, an award-winning curriculum, and a wide variety of community experiences creates a supportive and successful academic environment for families. Oregon Connections Academy is accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), an accrediting division of AdvancED. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit http://www.OregonConnectionsAcademy.com.

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Dawn Phillips
Oregon Connections Academy
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