Summer Tips: Prepare to Get Involved This School Year

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Education plays an integral role in teaching social skills and cues, introducing students to different social situations. Because of this, many believe that students who enroll in online schools miss out on the socialization component—but this is a myth. Online school is just as fun and social, especially when students find the right opportunities for interaction and connection. Join us as we explore how to make the most of your student’s online learning journey with tips for getting involved this upcoming school year.

Create Learning Pods with Friends

One of the most significant advantages of virtual schools is the opportunity to interact and learn from diverse people from all over. However, socializing with online students can be enhanced through planned face-to-face interaction. That’s where learning pods come in. A learning pod is a small group of students who regularly meet to study and socialize. In today’s digital age, learning pods could meet in-person or even in video chats, providing a virtual way to further build relationships and enhance learning with students who have similar interests. Creating a learning pod with friends who share common interests can be a great way for your family to get involved.

Turn Camera On During Class Time

Imagine entering a virtual class, and everyone has their camera turned off. That’s not an ideal scenario for encouraging interaction or discussion. When students use their camera during class time, it offers a visual representation of who they are, their personality, and helps make a better connection with other students in the class. It’s important to remember that building that connection early-on helps ease social interactions after class, as well. Turning on your camera can help students prepare to get involved in online school in a social manner.

Participate in Sports and Activities You Enjoy

Online learning provides an unmatchable level of flexibility, including time management when it comes to balancing school and extracurricular activities like sports. Students have more options when it comes to adjusting their schedule to take part in sports or activities they love. This is a great way for them to keep up with hobbies while meeting new coaches, friends, and even mentors outside of school.

Seek Out Clubs and Extracurricular Activities

Online learning isn’t limited to academics only. Many quality virtual schools, including ASU Prep Digital, host active clubs and extracurricular activities for their students. Check with your online school to see what clubs and extracurriculars are offered and encourage students to actively seek out clubs that interest them. Make a point to attend their meetings and events, staying invested in regular communication with club members throughout the year. If there’s not a club that interests your student, see if you can start one! Reach out to the school’s administration to inquire about creating a group or starting an organization independently.

Take Advantage of School-Sponsored Face-to-Face Activities

Many virtual schools, including ASU Prep Digital, provide school-sponsored activities such as prom, hybrid learning options, and meet-ups, which enable students to meet others in person and further build on their online connections. These activities can be especially beneficial to those who are eager to connect with others during their at-home learning experience.

Online learning has brought with it an incredible variety of opportunities and benefits. For those who are familiar or newly transitioning to an online learning environment, take advantage of various socializing opportunities to enhance the experience while also preparing to get involved and engaged. By following the tips outlined here, you can create long-lasting friendships and memories that will last well beyond the school year.

Own Your Learning with ASU Prep Digital and an Empowerment Scholarship Account

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For families looking to customize educational opportunities, ASU Prep Digital and an Empowerment Scholarship Account make the perfect team to meet your family’s needs.

Could I use Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Account program to attend ASU Prep?

Yes. ASU Prep Digital is an accredited K–12 online school and an approved Class Wallet vendor, the financial management platform used for scholarships deposits. 

What is an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) and how do I use it?

Every K–12 student in Arizona is eligible to participate in the ESA program, regardless of family income or the student’s past academic abilities or performance. 

The program, administered by the Arizona Department of Education, puts funds in the hands of guardians to make choices for what education option works best for their children. The annual scholarship of approximately $6000-$9000 (more when eligible due to disability) is deposited quarterly to each family’s account with Class Wallet.

Parents sign a contract confirming that their selected schooling route will include reading, grammar, mathematics, social studies and science. Then funds can be spent on any education-related expenses, like school tuition, home education curriculum, tutoring, technology and materials, therapies and enrichment experiences. You can find more information on the ESA website.

What are the benefits of using an ESA to attend ASU Prep Digital?

Since ESA funds can be used on allowable educational expenses at each family’s discretion, students may enroll in one class or a full course load at ASU Prep Digital. This includes concurrent courses that earn both high school and university credit. Earning tuition-free college credit while in high school not only saves money but also accelerates the path to a degree. 

There are some unique school models available to families, including microschools and the Khan World School at ASU Prep

ASU Prep Digital has teamed up with Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, for a unique and flexible online school model that rewards curiosity and self-advocacy. Students are engaged in discussion, collaboration and real-world problem-solving. Throughout the advanced college-prep curriculum, students are supported by peers and learning success coaches. 

The ASU Prep microschool and hybrid programs combine the flexibility of online learning with in-person, hands-on collaboration and career exploration. 

Where do I go to learn more?

Learn more about the Empowerment Scholarship Account at Arizona Department of Education

ASU Prep’s Class of 2023: Celebrating our Stand-out Graduates

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ASU Prep’s May 25th graduation celebrated more than 550 students from across the five ASU Prep Academy campuses as well as the ASU Prep Digital program. Among these impressive graduates were gifted scholars, competitive athletes, flourishing artists, and students with inspiring stories of success. ASU Prep is proud to have played a role supporting these dynamic students and their journeys.

Paris Cepkauskas: Creative Artist

Paris Cepkauskas is well-prepared for her future, thanks in big part to the concurrent classes she took while still enrolled at ASU Prep Digital. With an impressive 47 college credits already applied to her major (graphic design with a minor in fashion design), Paris will be able to graduate in just three years. What’s more, those courses gave her a sneak peek of what to expect when she becomes a full-time Sun Devil; she’s headed to ASU’s Barrett Honors College this fall.

Paris says, “ASUPD was the best decision I could have made for my education, and I wouldn’t change a single thing.” She adds, “Having the flexibility gave me so many more opportunities to follow my passions and spend time with the people I love.” For Paris, this means more time to dedicate to art, family, and friends.

Paris’ creative interests include theater, art, and design. The artistic design she created on her graduation cap earned her second place. It’s no surprise her future plans include working as a graphic designer. 

Paris advises incoming freshmen to really work with their teachers, asking questions and building relationships.

Vivek Habbu: Badminton Player

As a professional badminton player, Vivek Habbu knows a thing or two about staying fast on his feet and keeping his eye on the prize. An international student from Pune, India, Vivek has taken advantage of the flexibility ASU Prep Digital offers so he can balance academics with his badminton career. 

ASU Prep Digital’s approach, including academic rigors, interactive learning tools, and one-on-one time with faculty have been an ideal fit with Vivek’s practice schedule and learning style. 

Vivek says ASU Prep Digital has given him an “important overview of college life” and he has enjoyed the experience so much that he plans to study physics as an undergrad through ASU Online. He looks forward to continuing his education as well as his badminton career. 

Mahkaylah Hopkins: The Importance of Relationships 

During her time at ASU Prep Academy South Phoenix, Mahkaylah has learned the importance of relationships – with staff and peers, family, and most importantly, herself. 

One of Mahkaylah’s favorite aspects of ASU Prep is the connections she made with supportive staff members. She gives special shout-outs to Mr. Gibbs for being “so consistent, reliable, and caring,” Mrs. Avise for being “an outlet” for Mahkaylah to express her feelings, and Miss Tahj and Miss Tendai  for being “beautiful people,” providing strong African American female influence. Also important to Mahkaylah are her classmate connections and “learning what it meant to be a friend.” As student body president of the Class of 2023, Mahkaylah was able to really immerse herself in school spirit and culture. 

After experiencing her parents’ tumultuous divorce and her mother’s passing in 2015, Mahkaylah values the profound effect her family has on her. She recognizes her dad for “unconditional love and support,” her stepmom for being “a breath of fresh air for our family,” and her Chicago family for support from afar. 

Mahkaylah has grown through navigating life experiences, including her personal journey to overcome depression. The most important relationship she’s fostered along the way is the one with herself. She proudly attests, “Discovering how to love yourself is definitely one of the best experiences in the world. I did the work, I adapted, I learned, and I loved.”

This path has led Mahkaylah to be a nationally recognized scholar with numerous scholarship offers from various institutions. She plans to attend ASU in Tempe this fall, where she’ll be majoring in philosophy with an emphasis on morality, politics, and law.

Terra Jang: Multi-faceted Learner

A stand-out scholar, Terra is graduating from ASU Prep Digital with an unweighted 4.0 GPA, plus 31 college credits – all courses she earned dual credit and straight As for completing. Not to mention that she is a National Merit Finalist, scoring a perfect 36 on the ACT college admission exam. 

Terra also excels outside of the classroom, designing and crocheting amigurumi (Japanese-style little creatures made of yarn). In an International Amigurumi Design Contest, Terra won 21st place (out of 687 design entries) for an adorable sea otter. 

A well-rounded community member, Terra volunteers as an ASU Prep peer tutor, as well as within her own neighborhood as a “Big Sister.” She has been a part of various clubs, including the robotics club and the video game club.

Terra will be studying computer science at Vanderbilt in the fall. Impressively, she is one of just 10 students among the incoming class at Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering who have been selected as this year’s Clark Scholars and will receive, among other perks, a spot in the university-funded summer program and $15,000 per year.

Saraia Lolly: Career-Driven 

When asked about her experience at ASU Prep Academy Polytechnic, Saraia focuses on her career ambitions and the learning opportunities to pursue them.

As a sophomore, Saraia earned a spot in a highly competitive Running on Sun Internship that gave her a front-row seat to ASU’s chemistry program. Through the internship, Saraia gained hands-on experience with scientific projects that opened her eyes to the countless ways technology solves problems – in science and beyond.

That experience inspired her to pursue a career putting technology to practical use solving modern world problems. Saraia was accepted into the Building Leaders and Creating Knowledge (B.L.A.C.K.) Community, a residential program that incorporates Black/African American/African cultural knowledge and experiences with academic support in a living community. “I’m looking forward to being surrounded by people who look like me and have the same goals and values,” Saraia says, noting it’s an extension of the recipe for success she discovered at ASU Prep Poly. She plans to major in business management with a minor in cyber security at the University of Arizona this fall.

Saraia encourages future students to “focus on education because that is what will get you where you want in the long run.”

Paul Montoya: Ahead of the Curve

Paul Montoya, Jr. graduated from ASU Prep Digital with 26 Arizona State University classes under his belt (78 college credits in all), putting him well on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in computer systems engineering with a focus in cyber security.

Combined with credits earned through community college, Paul has enough hours stacked up to enter ASU’s College of Engineering as a college senior – at the age of 18. He plans to live on campus in the freshman dorms, but he’s also planning to celebrate his college graduation exactly one year after he receives his high school diploma.

Paul covered most of the requirements for his freshman and sophomore college courses during his sophomore year at ASU Prep Digital (and the summers before and after).

Starting his junior year, he began attending more advanced courses on the ASU campus, in addition to fulfilling his high school requirements. He earned credibility among his older peers by carrying his weight (and then some) on group projects, and he began competing in monthly tournaments with the ASU Chess Club, where he again held his own.

The only thing holding him back from entering the professional workforce just a year after finishing high school is a desire to experience the social aspect of college. So as any academically gifted student would, he’s considering a dual undergraduate degree – or maybe even attending grad school to pursue a PhD in nanotechnology, which he mentions with humble nonchalance.

This summer, he is spending twelve weeks in Houston as an intern at Honeywell.

More Awesome Graduates 

ASU Prep is so proud of all of our graduates. We asked each graduate to tell us where they are headed for their post-secondary plans, their favorite memory from ASU Prep, and who they would like to thank. Read their responses here

Next-Level Twinning: Identical Twins Graduate as Co-Valedictorians

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Andrew and Nicholas De Lapp, 2023 ASU Prep Casa Grande graduates, excel in many areas, “twinning” included. The identical twins stuck together through high school, succeeding in academics and participating as student-athletes at Barça Residency Academy, the prestigious elite youth soccer program located within the Grande Sports World Campus that ASU Prep Casa Grande calls home. Most recently, the dynamic duo was recognized as co-valedictorians of their 2023 ASU Prep graduating class. 

As Andrew and Nick prepared to turn the tassels of their graduation caps and deliver their co-valedictorian speech, they reflected on their high school journey. 

The ASU Prep Experience

When recalling favorite moments, the De Lapp twins agree they enjoyed organizing and participating in school events, like a recycling contest and field day. For Andrew, a standout experience was volunteering for a nonprofit organization, explaining, “It cemented my love of helping others and volunteering to make an impact.” For Nick, participating in these events helped him “see how much I love helping people.”

Andrew and Nick also praise Barça Academy as crucial to their growth at ASU Prep. Because it’s a residency program, student-athletes live away from home in dorm-like accommodations, helping the brothers prepare for the independence of college life and beyond. 

On the path of balancing a schedule full of extracurriculars, soccer, and rigorous academics, the staff at ASU Prep was there to support at every step. Andrew acknowledges that everyone at ASU has been “massively helpful” but is especially grateful to Sean Mark, a chemistry teacher who “sparked my love of science.” Nick singles out principal Sylvia Mejia for promoting a great learning environment and countless opportunities. The brothers both credit academic advisor Denice Douglas for all her guidance and endless support. 

Nick, the older brother by two minutes, sums it up well. “When I look back at ASU Prep, I will most remember the people I met. The people you bring along on your journey make it that more special. Build a network of more inspiring, smarter, more successful friends, mentors and co-workers, and they will help you succeed in your own right.”

Lessons Learned along the Way

Success doesn’t come easy, and the brothers both acknowledge challenges along the way. Andrew felt the pressure of the college decision process, including researching and visiting schools, while still keeping up with his school work and extracurricular activities. Despite the hard work, Andrew says, “Life is all about enjoying the experience. It’s vital to take some time to enjoy the moment. If you’re always working, you’ll never be able to enjoy what you’ve worked for.”

Nick feels the most challenging experience has been balancing a busy schedule and maintaining the confidence to get it all done. He credits his strong support system for keeping him going and advises others, “Cherish every single moment. Do your best at anything you do and try everything. I believe the regret of having never done something feels much worse than the regret of failure or embarrassment. You can learn something from each experience you have.”

It’s a Family Thing

Along with ASU Prep Casa Grande and the Barça Residency soccer community, the De Lapp brothers credit their family for providing them with support and strong guidance. Their parents both work in the healthcare field, their father as an orthopedic surgeon and their mother as a physical therapist. Nick calls them “very hard workers who juggle a lot of responsibilities,” while Andrew says they’ve “always been there through thick and thin,” providing a strong example and inspiring the recent graduates to pursue their own futures in the medical field.  

Andrew plans to become a neurosurgeon, while Nick aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon like his father. Having already earned college credits while attending ASU Prep, they are well on their way to meeting these goals. 

The duo earned merit scholarships and this fall will head to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota to continue their education and play soccer for the Scots—Andrew as a winger and Nick as center back.

Best of luck to these two outstanding ASU Prep graduates. With a strong foundation and their performance record, Andrew and Nicholas De Lapp are sure to succeed in all their future endeavors.


Summer Tips: Making Financial Literacy a Healthy Habit

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We spend a lot of time encouraging children to maintain healthy habits, from eating their veggies and brushing their teeth to practicing internet safety and being kind to others. Let’s add another healthy habit to the list: financial literacy.

Financial literacy should be introduced when kids are young and should include understanding “money basics” like expenses, budgeting, and saving. Learning money management is a healthy habit that will help kids make better decisions long-term. Try the following tips this summer to practice financial literacy with all ages.  

  1. Talk about money. When making money decisions, think aloud to model this behavior for kids. When shopping, let them know when you’re comparing costsconsidering sale prices or inspecting tags for the unit price, for example. Point out the use of coupons, weighing your needs versus wants and price markups in certain situations like entertainment venues. 
  2. Assign money-related tasks. Have children assist with bill-paying when dining out. Younger kids can simply hand a server credit card or cash (then deal with the change), while older children can help calculate the tip and total cost. When shopping, encourage kids to scan items at the self checkout so they can see the items add up and be more aware of the growing total, as well as the role of tax. 
  3. Create a budget. Include children in budgeting for summer plans. Whether it’s for summer camps or a family outing, define an allowance and have kids help determine how to spend it. For example, set aside $50 for family night and let them figure out if that’s enough for a movie plus snacks at the theater or if it would be better spent with dinner out and a movie at home. 
  4. Play games. Make learning about money fun through gameplay. Monopoly (or Monopoly Jr.) is a popular board game where players buy and trade properties and deal with rent. Other games that involve money are The Game of Life, Payday, Money Bags, or The Allowance Game. There are also apps focused on financial literacy, such as Peter Pig’s Money Counter or Cash Puzzler.
  5. Teach value through ownership. When children earn their own money, whether through chores or a part-time job, they will be more likely to value it. Have them track their hard-earned funds using an age-appropriate app like Rooster Money or Bankaroo. Older children might be interested in Greenlight, a debit card for kids that requires parent oversight. Discuss options for managing money responsibly, from a savings account to investing in stocks.

Being confident when it comes to interacting with money is a healthy habit that sets up kids for success well into their future. With the extra expenses of summer, like camps, vacations and meals, it is an ideal time to start a conversation and include children in money matters. 

Minority Mental Health Month: Tips for Prioritizing Wellness

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Observed in July, National Minority Mental Health Month brings awareness to the unique challenges faced by our nation’s diverse minority groups. Due in part to a history of cultural stigma and lack of access to health care services, these groups often struggle to receive diagnoses for behavioral health issues. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that health disparities faced by underrepresented communities “negatively affect the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health and consequently affecting the health of our nation.”

When it comes to managing mental health, this year’s theme centers around culture, community, and connection. Check out the following suggestions to get started prioritizing mental wellness for the whole family. 

  • Create Connections with Others. It is important to feel a sense of belonging and security within our neighborhoods. Activities like shopping, dining, exercise or worship bring an opportunity to build social connections. This can lead to an extended support network of people to assist with childcare or meals when needed, as well as shared family friendly gatherings. Meaningful interactions and having people to call upon are essential stress relievers.   
  • Be an Active Community Member. Community brings more than social connections; it’s also an opportunity to find purpose. Take pride in where you live and work to make it a better place through volunteering and advocacy work. Get involved in issues you care about (like education or health services) through rallies or town hall meetings. Be sure to enlist children’s help when appropriate, like charity walks or collecting donations.   
  • Take Time for Self-care. Be sure to care for both your body and mind. To reduce stress and anxiety, consider meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga — find helpful guides on YouTube or in the app store. Listening to music, keeping a gratitude journal, praying, or reading are also healthy calming practices. For physical health, aim for a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and limit simple sugars and saturated fats. A routine of regular exercise and sufficient sleep round out a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Talk Openly about Mental Health. Develop an environment of openness and trust that allows you and others to feel comfortable discussing mental health. Some pointers for these types of conversations include setting aside appropriate time and space, being honest, and validating emotions without downplaying or dismissing them. This can no doubt be difficult, but increasing visibility of mental health issues within minority communities breaks the stigma and encourages people to get support when needed. 
  • Seek Resources. In addition to commonly experienced life stressors, minority groups may also be impacted by additional trauma. Therapy provides tools so you can better handle the past, present and future in a healthier way. Seek a culturally competent therapist who is respectful of differences, appreciating that everyone has a unique identity and set of needs. To find a mental health program or resources that are a good fit, check out, search the directory at Mental Health America or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s extensive list of inclusive resources organized by community. For free, immediate, and confidential support at any time, call or text 988, the Suicude and Crisis Lifeline.

When focusing on mental wellness, remember to keep in mind the importance of culture, community, and connection. When intertwined, you’ll find support and belonging to help you better navigate daily life.


Summer Tips: Making Time for a Tech Check!

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Ensuring your technology meets basic standards is an important task in getting ready for an awesome and successful virtual school year. As fall semester draws closer, it’s important to ensure your tech will help support your student’s needs. Not sure where to start? In this post, we’ll dive into the essential tech requirements and a few tips to help you and your student prep for a successful online school year.

Step 1: Conduct a computer check-up

Begin by ensuring your student’s laptop, computer, or Chromebook is in good working order with the latest updates installed. If you need help, consider scheduling a tune-up with a tech professional to optimize its performance. In addition, don’t forget to check the tech requirements at your digital school. For instance, many online schools do not recommend the use of tablets due to compatibility issues. At ASU Prep Digital, we recommend computers or laptops that are less than five years old running one of the following operating systems:

  • Windows 10 and newer
  • Mac OS X 10.6 and newer
  • Linux
  • ChromeOS
Step 2: Check your internet connection

For successful virtual learning, it’s crucial to have a stable, high-speed internet connection to seamlessly support your student’s coursework. So, put your internet speed to the test and ensure it meets the required standards for online classes. Aim for a recommended internet download speed of at least 25 Mbps to help ensure your student’s participation in engaging online live lessons won’t involve any frustrating lag or disruptions.

Follow these instruction to check your internet speed:

  1. Using your web browser, go to
  2. Search for “internet speed test”
  3. Select the button that says Run Speed Test

For the most reliable and stable internet connection, consider the benefits of hardwiring your device. By doing so, you’ll unlock a whole new level of online learning experience that’s steady, seamless, and satisfying.

Step 3: Find the ideal pair of headphones

Equipping your student with good quality headphones is an absolute necessity for online learning. Help your student immerse themselves in a focused learning environment by choosing noise-canceling, wired headphones, and say goodbye to pesky distractions that may hinder productivity. Why wired headphones? Because there’s no need to monitor battery levels or remember to recharge them. Wired headphones ensure students can experience uninterrupted and seamless participation in their online classes.

Step 4: Optimize assistive technology

If your student requires the use of assistive tools to aid in their learning, such as screen readers or speech-to-text software, it is important to contact your online school’s technology team. They can provide valuable assistance to ensure the required tools are compatible with the system and properly set up for the student’s needs. If you’re enrolled with ASU Prep Digital and need additional information or have any questions about your student’s assistive technology needs, please feel free to email

Step 5: Enable distraction-free technology

Does your online student struggle with staying on task? If so, consider checking out these focus-enhancing applications to help eliminate distractions.

Cold Turkey is a free software that helps students block distractions on their gadgets. It locks out websites added to the block list, making them impossible to unblock until the set time lapses.

Freedom is a powerful software designed to help students combat distractions. With Freedom, students have the ability to target specific websites or applications that distract them the most.

TimeCamp ensures your student’s study sessions stay on course. For example, students often commit to 2 hours of studying, but after just one hour, they may feel a sense of accomplishment and halt their efforts. With TimeCamp, students are encouraged to utilize time productively, encouraging the development of healthy time management skills.

These apps can help your student stay focused and eliminate any unwanted diversions. By blocking specific apps or websites to create a focused environment, students are free to concentrate on their school-related tasks and reach their full potential.

Use this summer to prepare for a successful school year

Setting your child up for a successful virtual school year starts with a thorough tech check. Take advantage of the summer break to evaluate and upgrade any necessary equipment, ensuring a seamless transition into online learning. Following these technology tips, best practices, and guidelines will help pave the way for your family’s digital schooling success.