Online virtual school is an education alternative that is working quite well for one Edmond sophomore.
Alexandra Ashworth and her family including father and mother, Fred and Vonda, and two brothers moved to Edmond in June and Alexandra enrolled at North High School. Between classes, homework and practicing her passion, ballet, 15 hours a week, she didn’t seem to have enough time to fit in all of her other interests and activities.
“I began checking out other choices, and I came up with the virtual school through Oklahoma Connections Academy out of Bartlesville and decided this was an option I was interested in trying,” Alexandra said.
OKCA is a tuition-free online public school serving students throughout Oklahoma in grades K-12. OKCA gives the students the flexibility to learn at home with a curriculum that meets rigorous state education standards. Each student is able to maximize his or her potential and meet the highest performance standards through a uniquely individualized program.
“This has been a great option for Alexandra,” said her mother, Vonda Ashworth, “because it allows her to have more flexibility in her schedule.”
By her own admission, this insomniac studies best in the still of the night, goes to bed when everyone else is getting up, sleeps until noon and than begins practicing ballet for about five hours each day.
“I have a learning coach who along with my other teachers seems to be up all hours of the night so when I have a question I can go online and email or chat on Facebook and get the answers I need,” Alexandra said.
By the end of May, Alexandra will have finished all of her course work for graduation, but she plans on enrolling in AP courses for the next two years. With plans to major in Pre-Medicine/Emergency Medicine and Ballet, Alexandra said she knows she will have a hectic schedule but it is one she is already accustomed to doing.
Alexandra said dancers don’t make much money, but with a double major she plans on teaching ballet in the afternoons, working in the hospital emergency room all night and sleeping in the mornings.
“It is a schedule much like I am doing now,” Alexandra said. “I have a passion for dance and anatomy and physiology, and my goal is to be the best dancer I can possibly be so I can teach other dancers and to be the best doctor I can be.”
Alexandra said within both careers she will be able to help others.
“Besides,” Alexandra said, “ I need an adrenaline rush while I am doing something I love.”
“I am very disciplined,” Alexandra said, “and virtual school is all about me being able to push myself and study at my own speed. I can go ahead or hold back as I teach myself. I am an audio learner and I am able to get videos, tutorials and have recorded notes. All of the education is not online, but our textbook is online also.”
When Alexandra finishes her course work and takes all of the AP courses through the online virtual school she is interested in taking, she will take the End of Instruction test just like seniors graduating from public schools and will receive a State of Oklahoma diploma.
“What I love as a parent is the open curriculum provides opportunities to expand Alexandra’s learning,” her mother said. “Not only does she do problems but the online classes give her the opportunity to expand her creativity, and the live lessons let her have the opportunity to talk with other students.”
Alexandra said there are a bountiful number of clubs and organizations to belong to and contests to enter.
Her plans include attending Friends University, a nondenominational school founded by Quakers. Friends is one of three universities in the nation offering ballet and pre-med as a major.
“I plan on testing out of a number of college classes when I test for my AP courses,” Alexandra said. Always thinking ahead, Alexandra said it is important for her to help her parents as much as she can financially and this is one way she can do it.
Alexandra said she learns a lot from watching other ballet performers. She first started dancing at 14 years of age but has come a long way since then.
“I take every opportunity I can to observe and enjoy other dancers, and I saw the Russian National Ballet when they came to Oklahoma.”
She also plays classical guitars and takes lessons at A.R.T.S. on Second Street and Coltrane.
A.R.T.S. stands for Arts Revealing the Son, and it is a Christian music school. Her twin brother Cole and her brother Ryan also take music classes there under the direction of Katha Bardel.
“Alexandra is very driven and she knows her weaknesses,” her mother said. “She is open to adult correction and she has the internal drive to keep moving forward.”
Online virtual learning allows flexibility in schedule
Online virtual school is an education alternative that is working quite well for one Edmond sophomore.
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Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage
Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
“It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
“If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
“We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
“I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.
Firefighters sharpen forced entry skills
Of all burglaries, 60.5 percent involved forcible entry, according to recent FBI statistics.
As a result, many home and businesses are installing a greater number of complex mechanisms on their doors and windows. Edmond Fire Maj. Joe Elam said 10 local firefighters recently sharpened their skills during a forcible entry class offered by IRONS and LADDERS, LLC., of Lawrence, Kan.
Preparing for a fall home garden
Gardening can be a year-around activity for those that have an appreciation for fresh and nutritious vegetables. Some of the best vegetables in Oklahoma are produced and harvested during the cooler weather of fall. Successful fall gardens, however, require some work in the summer growing season. Factors to be considered are location, soil preparation, crops to be grown and how/when to plant.
The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure.
OBU dance team celebrates National Dance Day
In 2010, “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe created National Dance Day in an effort to help people embrace dance and combat obesity on the last Saturday in July.
This year, on July 26, Oklahoma Baptist University’s dance team will host a fundraiser that allows participants to dance all day for $30. The fundraiser will be in the Noble Complex on OBU’s campus.
Cami Gower, an OBU junior and co-captain/co-founder of the dance team, said the team’s officers have been planning for their upcoming season since April. Gower is a graduate of Deer Creek High School.
“Since then we have been coming up with better ways to reach the community with dance,” she said. “This day of dance was a great way to do it and help the team raise funds.”
Local cops arrest NFL player on marijuana complaint
The Edmond Police Department has released the incident report related to the arrest of ex-Oklahoma State star and current NFL player Justin Blackmon.
Blackmon, 24, a product of Plainview High School in Ardmore, is a 6-1, 210-pound wide receiver in his second year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. At Oklahoma State University, he was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as the country’s best collegiate wide receiver.
Women aided in Afghanistan, Rwanda through AT&T
AT&T renewed its support for the PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS program Wednesday by making a $125,000 contribution to the program at Lakeside Women’s Hospital in Oklahoma City.
AT&T has been a major supporter of Peace through Business since its inception in 2007, said Steve Hahn, the new president of AT&T Oklahoma.
Salvation Army pantry closes until September
Due to an increase of need, The Salvation Army in Oklahoma County has distributed all of its food supply. July 23 was the last day of the food pantry operations. In preparation for the move to the Center of Hope at 1001 N. Pennsylvania, The Salvation Army Client Choice Pantry will not resume operations until September.
Payne Co. crash sends Guthrie man to hospital
A two-vehicle crash in Payne County sent a Guthrie man to a local hospital, a trooper stated.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper James Ritze stated a 2005 Jeep SUV and a 2013 Ford pickup were about a mile east of Perkins headed west on State Highway 33. When the pickup slowed for a truck pulling out of a private drive, the SUV struck the rear of the pickup, Ritze stated.
Second Street to get new 7-Eleven
The amended site plan for a new 7-Eleven Convenience Store was approved by the Edmond Planning Commission this week by a vote of 4-0.
Guard adds jobs, revenue to Oklahoma
During a Wednesday morning press conference at Joint Force Headquarters, members of the Guard touted the findings of an in-depth study addressing impacts the organization has in areas including gross state product, employment and tax revenue.
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