Graduation: Online School Style

It is June in Minnesota.  This means that weekends are filled predominately with fishing, graduations, and graduation parties.

For the past nine years, I have worked at Minnesota high schools which means that I have now been through nine graduation ceremonies – with seven of them being online school graduations.

It may shock readers to find out that graduation ceremonies are pretty traditional even in the non-traditional setting such as the online school setting.  Students have the option to physically attend a ceremony, and many choose to do so.   They wear black robes, they walk down an aisle as Pomp and Circumstance plays, and they endure speeches by adults.

On Saturday, I assisted in the execution of a special online school’s graduation.


Sixty-eight of the 200+ graduating class from MTS-Minnesota Virtual High School enjoyed their big day in the the Minneapolis Convention Center.  With their 600+ audience, they fulfilled their last high school obligation.

It was just like any other graduation in that there were diplomas and speeches and pictures – oh my!

But what was different was that this group of students had probably not met each other in person before that day. They had come from all over the state of Minnesota – some farther than others. In fact, as their names were read, tidbits of who these kids are was also shared.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because they wants a faster or slower pace than the traditional classroom.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because a health situation required an alternate schedule.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because it allowed them to parent their children.

Many of the students chose this type of learning because, for one reason or another, they needed to work – many of them at full-time jobs.

With each name that was read, a bit of their story was shared.  But…there was so much more about each of them that could have been shared, and I wish that we would have had time to do that.

Having school choice never seems more important than when a room full of graduates  share why they needed school choice and what that choice has allowed them accomplish.  I am thankful that I live in a state that has these opportunities for its students.

Both of the student speakers shared about having hopes and dreams for their futures; however, more than that, they emphasized the fact that they did not thing those dreams would be possible had they not found Minnesota Virtual High School.

I hope that all students can find the school that is the right fit for them, that they can flourish in that setting, and that they can make their dreams of a high school education a reality.

Happy Graduation to the Class of 2012!

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