Virtual school gives SCV student freedom to pursue passions


In California, 17,967 students were enrolled in an online charter school during the 2014-15 school year, according to a 2015 report from the Evergreen Education Group.

One of those students was Alexandria Grable from Santa Clarita.

A junior at California Connections Academy, Grable first enrolled in the virtual school when she was a freshman in Oklahoma because it gave her the flexibility and freedom to pursue a career in acting and attend auditions throughout Los Angeles.

“My mom, my brother and I were coming out to California for months at a time for busy audition seasons so I couldn’t enroll in traditional school,” she said.  “I have more flexibility to take time off to go to an audition or respond to emails.”

Opened in 2004 and authorized under state law by the Capistrano Unified School District, California Connections Academy @ Capistrano offers a tuition-free, virtual public school to students in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.

The flexible class schedule at Connections also allowed Grable to co-found an online boutique, Pamela June, where she is in charge on managing the boutique’s website, email marketing and online orders.

“I don’t really have to worry about being in school and something happening where I am not there to take time off if I get an order or have to respond to an email for my business,” Grable said.

However, she does try to follow a schedule each day and attend school for about six hours from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“The great thing about Connections is I could do school anywhere,” Grable said.  “It was different because I was having to really budget my own time. I do have teachers at school, but I don’t have teachers in real life so it was a bit of a transition.”

Grable has also had the opportunity to meet some other Connections Academy students during a science lab.

“I haven’t gone to any school events like field trips… but I met people through my chemistry classes,” she said.  “Per semester you go in four Saturdays to a lab location… Last year it was in Santa Clarita which was great for me.”

Grable noted, however, that there are benefits as well as drawbacks to attending a virtual school instead of a traditional school because her teachers conduct classes through an interactive online classroom.

“There are no sports in virtual school and no people [physically] in my classes… that’s what I miss about traditional school, but I like that I can go at my own pace,” she said.  “That’s what I didn’t like about traditional school, you don’t have to wait on other people and I can go at my own pace.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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