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Pitt County high schools begin Virtual Academy for students

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - A new academy at Pitt County Schools gives students another way to take the classes they need to graduate.

The Pitt County Schools Virtual Academy (PCSVA) started this week and more than 80 kids are enrolled.

The virtual academy is geared for all students who have a lot going on, like sports, extracurricular activities or other personal obligations.

In the place of one of their four classes each semester, students can take a class online facilitated by a Pitt County teacher.

High school students can do the work on their own time and at their own pace, before, during or after school.

"With the flexibility work on my own time, get more time in at the hospital and work on this at home,” said J.H. Rose senior, Emily Downs.

Downs has a lot on her plate. She's a full-time students, interns at Vidant Medical Center through the county's Health Science Academy and is in an honors medical research program. She has to take an English class but had trouble scheduling it with everything else she wants to do.

“AP English IV wouldn't fit into my schedule anywhere so this flexibility and what this online class offers is really what did it for me,” said Downs.

"I'm a big techie advocate so I think this is where it's all going with the digital age and computers and being able to take your classes online,” said Nicholas Hyman.

Hyman is a senior at J.H. Rose. He says this is a great step for Pitt County Schools.

“There haven't always been the most opportunities so having this online opportunity opens up many doors for lots of people,” said Hyman.

"It's a new experience for me,” said J.H. Rose senior, Jorge Hernandez. “I'm not used to online classes at all."

Yet it's an experience teachers say is worth it.

“It is a good opportunity to transition into the style of classes they might encounter in college. Most colleges are going to offer some classes online,” said high school English teacher, Ashley Hutchinson.

"It does involve a lot more with the student actually seeking out the information," said high school math teacher, Tim Dameron.

There are 8 courses offered this fall. Honors English III, Honors English IV, Honors pre-Calculus, Advanced Functions in Math, Honors American History I and II, Honors Chemistry and Honors Earth and Environmental Science.

Teachers are using things like self-recorded videos, online chats, worksheets and discussions to facilitate the class. Since it's all through Pitt County, teachers are also available if students need extra help or have questions.

“I think this is a great way to transition into online classes because the support system is there,” said Downs.

There are 16 teachers, each teaching one course this year, with 8 courses this fall and 8 others this spring.

The teachers are paid an additional $2,000 and can get extra money depending on how many students are in their class.

Contact a Pitt County High School to learn more about enrollment and what classes are still available.
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