Student grabs online diploma in a time of pandemic
A Dundee student saw his hard work pay off in mid-June with his graduation from an unusual high school.
Jon Schenk Jr. graduated from Willamette Connections Academy on June 12 at a ceremony at the tuition-free online school's headquarters in Scio.
Schenk, 18, transitioned from a local private school to WCA because his future plans were to pursue a technical college degree and he needed a curriculum heavy in STEM (science technology, engineering and math) classes.
Schenk originally planned to become an electrical engineer, but then changed paths.
"Signing up for classes at Connections Academy, I decided to give computer science a try, since I had an interest in programming and software development," he said, adding that attending WCA allowed him to take calculus, physics and computer science.
"I feel more prepared for what the future holds," Schenk said. "I now have a clearer view on what exactly I want to do as a career, all because (WCA) gave me the experiences I needed."
The move paid off for Schenk. He applied to and was accepted at a number of colleges and universities.
"Each one has awarded him with various merit and academic scholarships, which is a nice testament to all the hard work he has put into his studies," Jon Schenk Sr. said. His son will major in computer science at George Fox University in the fall.
The onset of the pandemic made choosing an online school already versed in remote learning an easier task for the Schenks.
"Willamette Connections Academy already does that and are experts at it, with all the infrastructure already in place," Jon Schenk Sr. said. "There is no way a brick-and-mortar school can match Willamette Connections Academy's embedded expertise in digital learning on such a short timeframe."
Schenk wasn't alone in choosing to undertake his studies from home during the pandemic.
"Many students transitioned to Willamette Connections Academy because they were seeking an established online learning program to support their needs over the past year," Principal Chris Long said. "The pandemic has impacted so many things around us, but fortunately our students were able to continue their education uninterrupted in a safe, welcoming learning environment."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.