Published June 10. 2014 4:00AM
High school students who didn't pass critical classes required to advance to the next grade or even to graduate might be lamenting the coming summer, faced with attending summer school in hot steamy classrooms instead of getting summer jobs, going to the beach or hanging out with friends.
For some, LEARN, the regional educational agency, offers an alternative solution. LEARN offers the only online summer school classes for both "recovery" required classes and fun electives to give students a boost when school resumes in late August.
The Virtual Learning Academy Summer School runs from July 10 through Aug. 12. Registrations are accepted up to July 10. Classes offered this summer include English, health, algebra, geometry, world history, U.S. history, civics, sociology, economics, physical science, biology, environmental science, short stories, Greek mythology, and poetry.
While LEARN generally provides services to southeastern Connecticut school districts, the Virtual Learning Academy is open to any Connecticut high school or middle school student.
Paula Cymbala, LEARN Virtual Learning Academy coordinator, said school districts must approve the student's application, because although academy teachers do the grading, the district would provide the credit for the course.
Cymbala said students from at least a dozen school districts have attended in recent years, including students from private schools such as St. Bernard High School. Enrollment has varied over the years since the program started in 2007, Cymbala said. During the first summer, 52 students enrolled. In 2012, 37 students took classes, including one eighth-grader and no seniors. Last year, 75 students took online courses, again, including one eighth-grader and seven seniors.
Cymbala said the program has been well received by parents who might face difficulties in transporting their teens to summer classes in the limited places offered. If those classes are full, parents and students have few options.
The program is far from an easy way out of summer school, Cymbala said. Students find the courses more difficult than they expected. The online program is open 24 hours a day, so students can schedule their own class time. Virtual Academy staff monitor the number of times a student logs into the program and track their progress.
As with regular school, there tends to be a lot of late cramming, Cymbala said.
"There's a lot of work done in the last week," she said.