Student Spotlight – Mahayla Palachuk

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Many students turn to online learning in search of a new dynamic after spending years in a brick-and-mortar environment. But for ASU Prep Digital freshman Mahayla Palachuk, online learning is all she’s ever known.

“I’ve been doing online learning since kindergarten,” Palahchuk said. “I was with the same school up until the beginning of my freshman year, but after they made a lot of changes and took away the flexibility from the program, my mom and I went searching for a new online school.”

Luckily, Palachuk didn’t have to search for long before discovering the answer to her problem — ASU Prep Digital.

“My oldest friend actually attends ASU Prep Digital,” Palachuk said. “After her dad told my dad about all of the benefits, I reached out to her and she had nothing but good things to say.” 

The glowing review from her friend coupled with an informative phone call with Kathleen Bacon, one of the admissions advisors, solidified Malachuk’s decision to join the community of learners at ASU Prep Digital.

“The two main deciding factors for choosing ASU Prep Digital were the flexibility and the college courses,” Palachuk said. “Flexibility is a very big thing for me and my family, and the ability to take college courses will allow me to hopefully be able to do the required courses I would have taken while in college.”

Being able to work at her own pace and plan for her future has made it even easier for Palachuk to pursue her passions while earning her high school diploma. 

“I have the time to work on and write my books,” Palachuk said. “I have my first novel, The Rise of The Crimson Archer, in editing, and I have another book series that I’m currently developing.”

And because being part of a community is important to her, Palachuk also finds time to get involved with clubs at ASU Prep Digital.

“I am a blogger for the ASU Prep Digital Student Blog and the ASU Prep Digital Book Club vice president,” Palachuk said. “I have many different projects I am working on and researching and I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

While Palachuk has a passion for writing, her other interests include vlogging, reading, and weather!

“When I was six years old, I watched Twister for the first time with my mom,” Palachuk said. “Over the years, my love and interest for weather, severe storms, and natural disasters has grown. It eventually led to me deciding at 13 that I wanted to go to college and major in meteorology!”

Palachuk even plans on starting college classes next year to get ahead and save herself time when she gets to college.

“I may try to knock out required courses like math so when I do go to college, I can focus more on my major classes,” Palachuk said. 

Palachuk is a force to be reckoned with and wise beyond her years. As an advocate for online learning, she offers advice to those who are considering making the switch.

“If you are someone who needs the flexibility in their schedule or wants to be able to work at their own pace, online learning would be perfect for you,” Palachuk said. “It’s a lot of hard work, but in the end it’s extremely rewarding.”

And for those who want to join ASU Prep Digital, Palachuk is certain you’ll be pleased with how many benefits there are to being a Sun Devil.

“Everything is completely opposite of how my old school was before I decided to leave,” Palachuk said. “The schooling is flexible, the teachers are present and helpful, and it’s so much easier to catch up if you fall behind. I know I made the right choice to enroll at ASU Prep Digital!”

Interested in learning more about our students? Check out these spotlights:

Oliva Bolles

Hannah Stewart

Margaret Koukos

 

What is Socialization Like in an Online High School?

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The myths of socialization in online learning have long been debunked, but the question still remains: what does socialization in an online high school actually look like?

For ASU Prep Digital senior Hannah Stewart, it looks like joining clubs that align with her interest, taking on leadership roles, and becoming a role model for other students in the community.

Coming from a traditional school background, the transition to online learning actually allowed Stewart to explore different ways of socializing and set her own boundaries.

I’m an ambivert, so while I like being around people, school could be emotionally draining for me on the days I just wasn’t feeling the whole ‘being social’ thing,” Stewart said. “As an online student, I have clubs a few times a week and message with other students every few days, but I have the freedom to recharge when I need to, allowing me to be the best version of myself.”

As one of the first students to enroll at ASU Prep Digital, Stewart has made extracurricular activities a priority of her high school experience, immersing herself in the ASU Prep Digital community.

“My first year I joined the pen pal club and book club,” Stewart said. “I went on to become the president of the photography/yearbook club last year, and now I’m the president of student government and a writer for the student newspaper!”

Stewart likes keeping busy, but socialization is more than that for her—it’s a way to connect with like-minded peers and be a part of something bigger than herself.

“I like having a sense of community within a club,” Stewart said. “You see the same people every week, and you’re all invested in the same thing. You start to develop inside jokes and learn more about each other, so by the time you meet physically, you already know each other well.”

Stewart lives in South Korea, making it difficult to attend in-person events. But with senior year coming to a close, they’ll be a few opportunities worth making the trip to Arizona. 

“I am so excited to meet everyone at the end of the year when I go to Arizona for my graduation,” Stewart said. “And student government may be planning another event that will be a lot of fun to attend!” 

For those who are on the fence about online learning because of the socialization component, Stewart makes it clear that just like in a traditional school, it’s up to each individual to make the effort to be social and active in their school community.

A lot of people are turned off of online school because they think it just involves holing up with your computer all day,” Stewart said. “By making an effort, joining clubs, and actively participating, I’ve been able to make some great friends and keep myself from getting lonely. I’ve never felt like I was at a disadvantage because of my desire to receive the right kind of education for me.”

 

Interested in learning more about how socialization works at ASU Prep Digital? Be sure to check out our next blog post where we’ll talk about ASU Prep Digital community events, student clubs, and more! In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on all things ASU Prep Digital. 

What’s It Like to Take a Concurrent Course?

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Alexis Stratman, a senior at ASU Prep Digital, has always been a hard-working, independent learner.

“I like guidance and direction for some things,” Stratman said. “But I strive when I’m in charge of my own things and can work at my own pace.”

When she discovered she could apply her work ethic to an online learning environment where she could also kick start her college career, the choice was a no-brainer.

“I chose to enroll at ASU Prep Digital my junior year mainly because of the college credit component,” Stratman said. “They offer college courses and credit that don’t require taking AP tests.”

Since she enrolled, Stratman has successfully completed four college classes through ASU: college algebra, sociology, first-year composition, and economics. 

“I think my favorite course was college algebra because math is my best subject,” Stratman said. “Actually, I finished the course several weeks early, which gave me more time to focus on my first-year composition class.”

That’s the great thing about online learning: you get to work on your own time. The flexibility component makes it easy to work ahead, spend more time on classes you need a little help in, or free up time to do things you love.

“I am very active in competitive cheerleading and my team travels a lot throughout the year,” Stratman said. “I can work ahead and plan ‘off days’ so my travel schedule doesn’t interfere with my studies and I get a little break.”

Concurrent enrollment has not only given Stratman the opportunity to get comfortable taking college level courses, but it has also helped her get ahead of the competition.

“At the rate I’m completing my college classes, I’ll be in a position to enroll at ASU as a sophomore next fall,” Stratman said. 

 

“I think switching to online school was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

 

Stratman has paved a successful path for herself and for those who want to follow in her footsteps, she offers this advice:

“I would definitely recommend taking a concurrent course,” Stratman said. “Some classes are harder than others, but they have prepared me for my future college courses. I know what it’s like to be responsible and I have been able to get an idea of how different professors teach and what their expectations are.”

And with graduation less than a year away, Stratman has her sights set on continuing her journey as a Sun Devil. 

“I’d like to major in business entrepreneurship at the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU,” Stratman said. “I can’t wait to see where I end up next fall with the help of ASU Prep Digital!”

 

Interested in learning more about taking a concurrent course at ASU Prep Digital? We’ll be outlining the benefits of concurrent enrollment here at ASU Prep Digital in our next blog post. In the meantime, sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on everything from events to enrollment deadlines.

ASU Prep Digital Student Spotlight – Olivia Bolles

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When you dig deep to figure out how online high school students are successful, you’ll discover they are organized, goal-oriented, and self-motivated.

Olivia Bolles embodies all of these traits—and she’s a force to be reckoned with.

Bolles began online school in junior high, making her a veteran online learner. After trying out public school her freshman year of high school, she enrolled in a private online high school in 10th grade before finding her way to our community of learners.

“When we found out we were moving to Arizona, we switched to ASU Prep Digital,” Bolles said. “ASU Prep Digital’s connection to ASU, and the ability to take online college classes, was very appealing to me.”

Along with being able to take university courses through ASU, being an ASU Prep Digital student affords Bolles the opportunity to make more time for her biggest passion—music.

“I’ve been playing violin for 12 years and the piano for 9,” Bolles said. “Every week, I go to ASU for a private violin lesson with an ASU professor. Additionally, I’m the assistant concertmaster of the Phoenix Youth Symphony Orchestra!”

Because she can set her own schedule, and work from anywhere, Bolles is able to do schoolwork and make time to practice music, ensuring she never misses a ‘beat.’

“My musical endeavors keep me very busy,” Bolles said. “I know I wouldn’t be able to practice music as much if it weren’t for the flexibility of my ASU Prep Digital schedule.”

As an experienced online learner, Bolles has come to find that online school has many benefits. The most unexpected benefit, in her opinion, has been growing into an independent learner.

“By the time you’re in college, your professors will expect you to be mature and responsible enough to know when assignments are due,” Bolles said. “Unfortunately, many students are so used to having teachers in a brick-and-mortar constantly reminding them when assignments are due and tests are happening. Online school prepares you for college in a way that a brick-and-mortar may not.” 

While Bolles learns skills that will benefit her in college, she’s already thinking about what path she might take—and how she can get a head start while she’s still in high school.

“I would like to double major in violin performance and journalism,” Bolles said. “At the beginning of next semester, I’ll take college English and sociology. I’m even considering adding on a college level Spanish course as well.”

Bolles is on a successful path and shows no signs of slowing down. And for those who are new to ASU Prep Digital, and online learning in general, she offers advice that will prove useful as you navigate this new experience.

“Be sure to utilize your pace charts!” Bolles said. “Make lots of checklists and keep a detailed schedule. And don’t be afraid to contact teachers. Our teachers are extremely willing to help and will go above and beyond to make sure we are succeeding, both in and out of school.”

 

Interested in learning more about our students? Check out these spotlights:

And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on all things ASU Prep Digital. 

ASU Prep Digital Student Spotlight: Michael Scavuzzo

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Discover how Michael became an ASU Prep Digital student

Michael Scavuzzo was destined for a life on the go since before he turned one.

“He literally started to kick the soccer ball around when he learned how to walk,” Diane Scavuzzo, Michael’s mom, said. “He must’ve been around 11 months old.”

As soon as he was old enough to join a team, Michael started playing soccer. He immediately fell in love with the game and possessed a natural talent on the field.

The San Diego native has played in various leagues, traveling the world to train with professional soccer teams, including Manchester City, West Ham United, and BVB.

At the age of 15, Michael moved to Arizona to attend Barca Academy, the only U.S. Soccer Development Academy program in the country that offers a full-time residential program as part of their partnership with a top international professional team. The program also includes access to an on-site high school—ASU Preparatory Academy at Casa Grande.

“I really enjoyed the focus on learning with ASU Prep,” Michael said. “I enjoyed being in the classroom as much as I enjoyed being on the field.”

At the beginning of the year, Michael was scouted and invited to play for Sporting KC Academy, one of the top U.S. Soccer Development academies in the country. Knowing he couldn’t pass up this opportunity, Michael and his family began to explore academic options since leaving Barca Academy meant no longer being able to attend ASU Prep at Casa Grande.

Michael loved the personalized learning he had grown accustomed to at ASU. When he discovered he could enroll in ASU Prep Academy’s online high school and become an ASU Prep Digital student, the decision was a no-brainer.

“I feel the teachers want to know me and help me achieve my goals,” Michael said. “I’ve been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA while juggling a rigorous training and traveling schedule. I know this wouldn’t be possible without the support and guidance from my amazing teachers at ASU Prep Digital and I can’t thank them enough.”

And his mom couldn’t agree more.

“The teachers are very involved and the discussion based assessments provide a real opportunity for the teachers to get to know their students,” Diane said. “We feel very lucky to be part of the ASU Prep Digital family.”

Michael has his sights set on becoming a professional soccer player and leading his country to victory in the World Cup someday. Until then, he’s looking forward to playing collegiate soccer while studying either marine biology or sports science.

We couldn’t be happier to have Michael as an ASU Prep Digital student and we’re excited to see where this next year takes him!

 

Be sure to check out some other student spotlights here.

How These Parents Catered to Three Learning Styles With Online Education

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The greatest misconception about online high school is what it means. Like an abstract painting, online education takes on a new definition and purpose depending on the needs or learning styles of the individual student.

There’s no better embodiment of that than the Lisciarelli family.

Parents Randy and Heather have deep roots with Arizona State University (ASU). Randy’s father is an ASU alumnus.

“My dad was one of the first to get a personalized [ASU Sparky] license plate,” he says. Randy and Heather followed suit when it came time to pursue their own higher education. They met in community college 29 years ago, and soon thereafter enrolled at ASU — Randy at ASU West and Heather at ASU Tempe.

In high school and college, Randy and Heather had just one choice for their schooling: traditional, brick-and-mortar institutions. They were expected to take the usual courses in high school before shipping off to college to explore and ultimately settle on a career choice.

Twenty-five years of marriage and three kids later, Randy and Heather are facing a vastly transformed education system. And they haven’t hesitated to make full use of those advancements in education with their children: Joshua, 18, Matthew, 15, and Amber, 12.

Lisciarelli Family - ASU Prep Digital Student Spotlight

Joshua was the first to enroll in online high school after experiencing severe bullying in middle school.

“He has Asperger’s and ADHD, and the middle school environment was very traumatic for him. He went through a tremendous amount of bullying and teasing. It was just a really bad situation,” recalls Heather.

Joshua enrolled in online high school courses in ninth grade and eventually took a few college courses from Grand Canyon University. The change was transformative. Instead of experiencing the drain of mental and emotional energy that came with the brick-and-mortar environment, Joshua could fully dedicate himself to his schoolwork. He was able to engage in extracurricular activities that aligned with his interests and personality, which resulted in positive and uplifting social interactions — in stark contrast with his experiences in traditional schooling.

As co-owners of VeraPax, a digital marketing, and promotional printing company, Randy and Heather have a unique perspective on their surroundings — namely, they see everything within the context of the global economy. That globalized vision influenced their decision to enroll their kids in online education full time. “That was the driving force for me, wanting them to be more prepared for the global workplace they’ll be involved in,” says the father of three.

Part of operating successfully in a bustling global economy is the ability not only to find your path but also to motivate yourself to advance along that path. An online high school education allows students to learn real-life skills that allow them “to do things on their own, show their own initiative, learn it, study it, do it at their own pace, as well as participate in extracurricular activities,” which Randy says, he ranks as a high priority for his kids’ education.

The Lisciarellis soon found themselves facing a completely different challenge with their middle child, Matthew. “Growing up, he had quite a bit of asthma and allergies. In the beginning of fifth grade, he was out of school for like two weeks. He was having a horrible time. So at that point, he was asking, ‘Can I try this also?’,” explains Heather.

By then, Heather and Randy had seen Joshua blossom in the digital classroom. As small business owners, finding space in their Scottsdale Airpark offices to give Joshua and Matthew a comfortable and quiet learning environment was a simple task. During the school day, the boys focus on their schoolwork. When they are done with school each day, they are able to help in the business with bookkeeping, graphic design, running machines, and even working with employees on projects. Away from the germ-ridden environment that once caused such severe health flare-ups, Matthew soon found his digital stride. In ninth grade, he transferred to ASU Prep Digital, where he has discovered a passion for Criminology.

Matthew especially thrives in an environment that allows him to take charge of his education.

“It’s really up to me to succeed,” says the high school sophomore. “If I don’t push myself and realize that this is my education that I’m living, and if I don’t succeed, then this is not going to get me anywhere. That gives me the perseverance to succeed.”

But, as many parents come to realize, every child has their own distinct learning style.

“[Online education] almost has a culling effect. Those students who understand a big picture, who are self-motivated, goal-oriented and can be disciplined enough to do it, the online environment provides that for them. Some aren’t ready and then some are just not interested in the classes,” says Randy.

Such was the case with their youngest, Amber, who didn’t connect with the online learning environment in the same ways that her brothers had.

“It was just not working,” says Heather.

“That was really as a result of her personality,” explains Randy. “She just wasn’t motivated enough and didn’t quite understand how to do that and learn those skills; whereas both of the boys picked it up and excelled in it. So we’ve had a unique blend.”

Instead, Amber is flourishing at an arts academy charter school. Her parents hope to try online education with her again in the future but are perfectly happy seeing her learn and succeed in her current environment.

Aside from making full use of online education to suit each of their kids’ personal needs and learning styles, the Lisciarellis are seeing just how much more efficient and cost-effective online education can be long term.

Randy explains that the traditional institutional model encourages students to explore possible majors after they enroll in college, which can feel like a misuse of precious time and tuition costs.

“Because [Matthew] has the ability to take those college-level classes earlier rather than later, he’s able to explore what interests him [before] being graduated. That is one of the things that I identified as a huge upside right away.”

The Lisciarellis have found a modern, connected and entrepreneurial learning solution that flows with their family’s changing tides. As their kids continue to grow and evolve on their individual paths, Randy and Heather hope to show how a customized and creative approach to education can transform a student’s formative experiences.

Online high schools can help families like the Lisciarellis cater to the unique needs of their children’s learning styles. To learn more about what it’s like to take an online high school course, read this blog post. To learn more about the most common fears of online education, check out this blog post

ASU Prep Digital Student Spotlight: Krystina Ellaine Eaton

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How Krystina became an ASU Prep Digital student

On the surface, Krystina Ellaine Eaton is your average teenage girl. She hangs out with her friends, lounges out by the pool (especially since she lives in one of the hottest cities in the country), and spends time with her latest obsession, an 8-month old bichon poodle named Jasper. But beneath her seemingly normal exterior, Eaton deals with issues that leave her feeling less like herself.

“It took me two years to get out of a difficult situation I was dealing with at my previous school,” Eaton said. “I don’t know how long it will take me to overcome everything I’ve been through, but I work through it every single day.”

Eaton and her mother, who is a teacher at Mohave Community College, decided that she needed a change of scenery that would help put her in a positive mindset both emotionally and academically.

“We thought ASU Prep Digital would be a great way to get my schooling on track and boost my education level as well,” Eaton said. “I didn’t want to be in a toxic environment anymore and this felt like a great way to start over.”

Eaton decided to ease herself into the online education world by enrolling part-time, taking just one course to begin with as an ASU Prep Digital student. Like many students who decide to give online learning a try, she had a few reservations.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t finish the program or that I’d fail my class,” Eaton said. “Ultimately, I was afraid I wouldn’t succeed.”

With a strong work ethic and an abundance of support from her mom, teacher, and Learning Success Coach, Eaton went on to pass her English class as an ASU Prep Digital student—and she’s already looking forward to the coming fall semester.

“Now that I’m settled and feeling more confident, I can’t wait to become more involved,” Eaton said. “My plan is to enroll full time this year, so I’m excited to take more classes, especially since the course catalog is expanding. I’m also hoping to join some extracurricular activities, like journalism club.”

But Eaton isn’t just looking forward to her 10th-grade year—she already has her sights set on college and beyond.

“My plan is to graduate high school with my associate’s degree by taking concurrent courses over my next few years,” Eaton said. “I really want to go into engineering. Specifically, I’m interested in robotics. I love figuring out how everything works and seeing how everything is put together.”

Lucky for Eaton, ASU has an excellent engineering program—and ASU Prep Digital offers courses that can give her a head start on earning college credits and prepare her for her chosen career path.

“I’ve been looking into the engineering program at ASU and even though I’m still a few years away, I can’t wait to get started,” Eaton said. “There are a few concurrent courses that I want to take to earn college credit, starting with Introduction to Engineering.”

Eaton is on the path to success and shows no signs of slowing down. Now that she has some experience under her belt, she offers advice to students who are thinking about enrolling in online courses.

“Use your time wisely, stay on task, and don’t blow through your assignments,” Eaton said. “Above all, listen to your teachers. They provide great feedback and great advice that will not only help you as a student, but also as a person as well.”

We couldn’t be happier to have Eaton as an ASU Prep Digital student and part of our family and we can’t wait to see where this next year takes her!