COLUMBUS — More than 300 graduating seniors including Taylor Schmidt of Sidney, will received their high school diplomas as members of the Ohio Connections Academy Class of 2016. The graduating seniors took part in the online charter school’s commencement ceremony which was held at the Columbus Convention Center on Sunday, May 29.
“While our school offers a non-traditional approach to education, we take a lot of pride in offering our graduates a traditional commencement ceremony so they may celebrate with their families, friends and teachers,” OCA Superintendent Marie Hanna said. “Every year the faculty and staff at Ohio Connections Academy are impressed by the hard work, determination and focus that each of these students demonstrated to reach this academic milestone. We appreciate the opportunity that we had to work with all of them individually and we are confident that each student is ready to tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.”
The Class of 2016 marks the eighth graduating class for the state’s leading provider of high-quality virtual education for students in grades K–12. Of this year’s OCA graduates, more than half have indicated they plan to attend two or four-year colleges and universities including The Ohio State University, Akron University, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, Cleveland State University, Xavier University, Wright State University, Wilmington College, Marion Technical College, and Youngstown State University. More than 20 graduates achieved National Honor Society membership status and overall the Class of 2016 has received more than $3 million in college scholarships.
Among the OCA graduates to be honored during the ceremony will be 2016 Valedictorian Quinlan Mann of Lancaster, who plans to attend Denison University and pursue a double major in History and Communications.
“The courses offered by Ohio Connections Academy challenged me and effectively prepared me for college. I enjoyed interacting with my teachers and fellow students and appreciate how the virtual classroom platform helped to enhance the content,” Mann said. “The flexible schedule OCA offered enabled me to pursue many other interests so not only did I benefit as a student, I was able to grow as an individual.”
Ohio Connections Academy teachers and alumni, Anna Marie Ridenour (Class of 2011) and Dawnelle Corron (Class of 2012) will deliver this year’s commencement address to the graduates and offer a list of things they wish they would have known the day they graduated high school.
“During graduation, many students are feeling overwhelmed by the future because there’s so many unknowns before them. Others are thrilled and excited by what lies ahead,” Ridenour said. “Either way, our advice to the students is to trust in who they are, dream big, enjoy the simple things in life and embrace the fact that with every new experience, they will grow as individuals.”
Ohio Connections Academy is a free, fully-online public school that students in grades K-12 attend from home. OCA delivers high-quality, personalized education for students that combines Ohio-certified teachers , a proven curriculum, as well as technology tools, and community experiences—online and in person—to create a supportive environment for children who want an individualized approach to education.