Freshman year orientation

Who told our daughter she could grow up?

We had a surprise (and slightly panic-inducing) email from Namine’s school: eighth grade students with Rural Virtual Academy (RVA) — that’s her virtual school — who planned on continuing with the school in high school had a freshman year orientation video meeting. As was the case with all meetings in the RVA, attendance was optional. The meeting would be recorded, so we were free to watch it later, at our convenience. The advantage of attending live, of course, was the ability to ask questions. Administration has always been excellent at addressing concerns, even from early on, so of course there was no question about us attending.

Even though Namine attends a virtual school, most of the preparation for high school remains the same (or similar) as what I remember from my own time, registering for freshman year, 28 years ago. (Has it really been that long? Existential crisis mode engage.) Actually, it also remains the same from this year, too. We had to register Namine for her class schedules and deal with whatever scheduling complications and overlaps occurred.

Much the same will be true for next year: registration should happen earlier rather than later, for two reasons. First: so that Namine can get in the classes she wants to for the time slot she desires. Second: school being virtual doesn’t mean there isn’t a limit to class sizes; early registration will mean beating the rush, so to speak. Third: the first two years of high school are about “building block” classes; getting the prerequisites out of the way will make room for the classes she’s really looking forward to.

One thing more bears discussing, since Namine’s enrollment in the RVA at all can be traced back to us pulling her out of a brick and mortar school. There were two issues leading to this decision: classmate bullying and teachers refusing to adhere to her IEP, the latter of which was discussed during Namine’s initial enrollment in the RVA.

Because Namine’s disabilities are physical in nature, an IEP was necessary for a brick and mortar school. Enrollment in a virtual school did not require it; in fact, having one would have unnecessarily complicated matters. The one possible exception to that was in regard to physical education class, but that brings me back to what I said about the RVA’s history with concerns on a student-by-student basis.

A physical education class was part of the eighth grade curriculum. The teacher was more than willing to adjust her expectations on Namine’s behalf, given her use of a wheelchair. We do have the option to create an IEP — and involve Namine’s doctors and physical therapist in that process. However, given the RVA’s (and its teachers’) flexibility, we feel that that will be, as it has been in the past, unnecessary.

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