For five Grand Haven Area Public School students, this school year involves sitting at their computers and completing course work through the district's new Cyber School.
Online classes for the seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade students will begin Sept. 10 and end June 7.
Central High School and Cyber School Principal Paul Kunde said he’s excited about offering the unique form of education.
“I see this as cutting-edge stuff and something that’s not going to go away," he said. "Instead of fearing it, I’m jumping in with both feet."
The Central High School staff will also work with Cyber School students. Should Cyber School enrollment grow quickly, that might change — but Kunde said he’s confident the existing staff can do both well.
“We’re intentionally starting small because it is new, and we want to make sure we get this thing right,” he explained.
Although students won’t be in a traditional school setting, they will have requirements such as contacting staff at least once a week and logging into the system a set number of times.
The Central staff will be available for students by e-mail, phone or in person. Students can also play sports or be involved in extra-curricular activities because they are still Grand Haven Area Public School students, Kunde said.
Students still have to go into the school building for state-mandated assessments and tests.
Teachers will check on students on a consistent basis to make sure they are accomplishing tasks and not running into problems, Kunde said.
Mary Jane Evink, the school district’s curriculum specialist, said the Cyber School offers an opportunity to students who desire a different educational environment.
“Kids can learn any place, any time and anywhere," she said, "while still being connected to a highly qualified teacher in Grand Haven.”
As students contemplate whether a traditional classroom setting is for them, Kunde said they should be cautious because it takes a lot of self-management.
“One thing to keep in mind — the type of student that’s going to do well is the type that does have some self-motivation, self-discipline to get things done on their own,” he said.
Scott Grimes, the district’s assistant superintendent of human services, said they are excited about offering this opportunity.
“We hope to see it grow as time goes on,” he said.