Local students among Ohio Connections Academy’s Class of 2021

Staff report

COLUMBUS — Nearly 400 graduating seniors from more than 70 counties across the state recently received their high school diplomas as members of Ohio Connections Academy’s Class of 2021. Typically, the online public charter school hosts a traditional, in-person commencement ceremony, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the graduation ceremony was held virtually.

“We couldn’t be prouder of the Class of 2021 and all they have achieved not only in the last year, but throughout their entire K-12 educations,” said Ohio Connections Academy Superintendent Marie Hanna. “Our graduates have shown perseverance and dedication to reaching this momentous milestone and we are thrilled to honor each and every one of them. Our graduation ceremony is not only a celebration of their academic achievement, but also their determination to find the learning environment that enabled them to thrive.”

During the ceremony, 2020 Ohio Connections Academy graduate and published author Hannah Boggs addressed the graduates and shared a little about her experience and how the online school benefitted her.

“Graduating from an online school gives you an automatic advantage for the rest of your life,” Hannah said. “You’ve learned accountability – keeping yourself on top of your schoolwork and staying in contact with teachers.”

The following students from Scioto County are among Ohio Connections Academy’s Class of 2021*:

· Taylor Dyer, Lucasville

· Greggory Gleason, Portsmouth

· Shaylia Rowland, Lucasville

· Alexis Tackett, Wheelersburg

Among the Ohio Connections Academy 2021 graduates honored during the ceremony were Valedictorian Leah Runkle of Bellevue and Salutatorian Connor Kuntz of Bellbrook.

Leah has been attending Ohio Connections Academy since her eighth-grade year. She decided online schooling would be the best option for her, and she appreciated the flexibility it provided. That flexibility enabled Leah to participate in the College Credit Plus program at Terra State Community college for three years. Through hard work, she was placed on the Dean’s list every semester and graduated summa cum laude with two Associates degrees in December 2020. She also finished high school one semester early.

Connor has been attending Ohio Connections Academy since 2015. He said the online school provided him the opportunity to thrive academically and grow more confident as an individual.

“Ohio Connections Academy taught me a lot and helped me find a place where I could truly understand school,” he said. “The online format allowed me to take my time and comprehend the material in a way that I couldn’t in brick-and-mortar school.”

The Class of 2021 is the school’s 13th graduating class for the high-quality, tuition-free virtual school for students in grades K–12. More than a one-third of the 2021 graduates indicated they plan to attend a two or four-year college or university including Miami of Ohio University of Findlay, Bowling Green State University, Cincinnati State and the University of Toledo. Other graduates plan to enter the workforce, pursue vocational training or join the military.

Thirty of this year’s graduates are members of the National Honor Society while more than 100 graduated with honors (3.5 GPA or better). One graduate is a 2021 National Merit Finalist. Three others, Runkle, Zachary Schantz of New Carlisle and Emma Wheeler of Columbus, have already earned post-secondary degrees. Alexxa Caruso of Coshocton, Grace Dodd of Cincinnati, Charliece Ousley of McArthur and Kuntz, each earned full tuition academic scholarships to college. Makenna Baker of Waynesville, Alexandra Bradford of Fairfield, Hannah Ford of Cincinnati, Grace Gorham of Sardinia, and Abigail Hardy of London, each received full tuition NCAA Division I athletic scholarships.

Twenty-three of the graduates received an Academic Honors Diploma from the State of Ohio in recognition of high-level coursework completion, college and career readiness tests and real-world experiences. Overall, the Class of 2021 has received more than one million dollars in college scholarships and awards.

Enrollment for Ohio Connections Academy for the 2021-2022 school year is currently open and the school is hosting online information sessions for families interested in learning more about virtual education. A complete schedule of events is available. More information about Ohio Connections Academy is available at www.OhioConnectionsAcademy.com or by calling 1-(800) 382-6010

Staff report