Longtime Online Student Offers Advice To Those At Home During Crisis

Originally aired on KCNC-TV – April 7, 2020

Students who chose an online experience for high school say they are better prepared for the adjustment many more students and employees are making during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working remotely is less of a challenge for them and they have advice to help others be successful in this new reality.

“Online school you do get a lot more one-on-one help, because the teacher can really focus and look directly at your grades and see what you need to improve on,” Kennedi Smith told CBS4.

Smith, 17, decided to leave her traditional high school in Aurora for Destinations Career Academy of Colorado her junior year after she was bullied during her sophomore year. She started the new approach to her education in the fall and says it is an adjustment. Staring at a computer screen the entire day can be tough, she also misses the social interaction she got in a “brick and mortar” school. But she has suggestions to help everyone making the same transition because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Mainly I kind of group things based on what I felt would probably be the hardest, or take the longest and I did most of that first,” she said Tuesday by video conference call.

Destinations is an online program in partnership with the Julesberg School District approved by the State Board for Community College and Occupational Education, according to its website. It offers a tuition-free public school option to students in Colorado with the help of the company K12, Inc. It is accredited by the Colorado Department of Education.

“So my home is kind of chaotic. We have a bunch of pets and children and everything,” Smith said. “The easiest thing or the thing I recommend is going somewhere peaceful.”

She says its important to have space at home to recreate the traditional school experience. Not just a place to focus but where you can sit-up straight like you’re in a classroom. Students should take advantage of the ability to eat regularly and exercise but also be careful not to let items at home create more distractions. Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, she says it’s important to get some fresh air.

“A lot of times I will go in my room just to get peace and quiet,” Smith said.

Her family includes a brother and cousin living with her mother and aunt. They also have pets so she says it’s essential she can get time to herself. Now she’s helping everyone under the same roof be successful working from home. Her love of animals has kept her entertained while at home and the online program is preparing her for career goals beyond school.

“I think that actually has helped really put me on track for college,” she said.

Smith may return to a traditional school for her senior year and says either way, she will be ready because Destinations gave her the curriculum she needed to stay competitive in high school and beyond. She even got to focus on her medical interests with a professional track that will help her become a veterinarian. She hopes the experience at home for students and adults helps everyone to reevaluate their priorities.

“It’s a way to focus on yourself as well because then you can make sure you’re doing what’s needed to keep yourself healthy and yourself on track for what you plan on doing later on in life,” she said.

To learn more about Destinations Career Academy of Colorado, visit https://codca.k12.com/

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