Families, friends and staff gathered Thursday to cheer as the Edmonds eLearning Academy held its graduation commencement for 104 students at the Edmonds School District Stadium.
The school, which serves both full-time and part-time students, was founded by Sam Gladstein in 2007 and has since evolved into the Edmonds School District’s comprehensive online high school, with more than 300 full-time students and over 900 students total served each school year.
Academic classes are all accessed through its online learning platform and are asynchronous, meaning they can be done at any time of the day. It offers students individually paced, online coursework supported by Edmonds School District teachers in flexible, daily Zoom opportunities. Students follow a course calendar that requires completing daily tasks for each of their classes as well as maintaining regular communications with their teachers.
Students can take both new and/or credit recovery courses and they also have regular opportunities to meet with teachers in person at the student learning center located on the campus in Lynnwood.
Edmonds eLearning Academy features a mastery-based program in which students demonstrate their knowledge of the subject area in order to earn credit. Students can also work through their courses at a faster pace, possibly allowing them a chance to complete a second course in a semester if they are motivated to complete their credits quickly.
“Seniors of 2022: Let me be the first and not the last to say congratulations,” Principal Christy Frary said. “You’ve put forth an incredible amount of effort and today you can see that effort has paid off. For some of you, today is just one moment on your academic journey. For others, you will find a career that calls you today. For all, believe in the value that you bring.”
“We did it,” said Kisanet Gabreselassie who was one of two student speakers featured during the ceremony. She told her classmates, “We graduated high school in these turbulent and unexpected times. We navigated through a global pandemic, and ever-changing COVID protocols to keep ourselves and our families safe.”
Gabreselassie added that each student had diverse and unique experiences throughout high school. “I want to take a second to recognize the hard work, effort and incredible perseverance that all of us have put in in order to make this day a reality,” she said. “Throughout high school, we have grown, changed and developed into better human beings. Today we celebrate this journey. Instead of our graduation today being a goodbye to high school and off to further education or the workforce, I would like to think of this day as closing a chapter in our lives to begin a new, exciting one.”
Student speaker Alan Nazarov said, “Although a lot of what’s going on in today’s world has something to do with the pandemic, life wasn’t all fun and games before then. Growing up from a teenager into an adolescent brings in new opportunities and responsibilities, such as learning to manage stress, making new friends and social interactions, staying on pace and ingenuity and all the like.”
He noted that perseverance was an important part of the academic journey that led to graduation. “The universe has always had and will continue to have more or less problems, we can’t get rid of them,” Nazarov said. “But if you tell yourself, ‘I’m doomed,’ you’re only stopping the trail that you always wanted to be on and you don’t want that. Instead, remember every step you take to solve these problems will always leave a footprint.”
Staff speaker Terrence Thomas told the graduates, “Every one of you has shown the ability to overcome adversity and get to this point.” He encouraged them to “dare greatly” moving forward and when chasing their dreams, adding, “you are capable of more than you can even imagine and the only thing that will limit you is your ability to believe in yourself.”
School counselor Jamie Regis, whose family has pledged to financially support an outstanding graduate each year with a scholarship to pursue their post-high school interests, said she was honored to present Nazarov “with a $500 scholarship to support him and his ability to create his own legacy.” She noted that he attended the eLearning academy “for all four years of his high school journey,” and “was a student who worked ahead in his classes and attended all of our social events and was an ambassador for eLearning on many different occasions.”
Regis then presented the Foundation for Edmonds School District’s annual Hazel and Morris Miller Memorial Scholarship of $5,000 to Carter Wood. “Carter is an accomplished young person and we wish him the very best as he pursues post-secondary education in whatever field he chooses,” she said. “Carter your future is bright and we are very proud of your accomplishment.”
Afterward, the students lined up and were presented with the recognition of their achievement graduating from high school. That was followed by the newly graduated students’ traditional turning of their tassels to the left as the assembled crowd cheered for their accomplishments.
Following the ceremony, many of the graduates gathered around the stadium with family and friends to take pictures as they commemorated the joyous occasion.
— Story and photos by Nathan Blackwell