Online high school offers alternative for some students

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Computers have changed the way we study, but now they are more than a learning aid. They've become the classroom.

Primavera Online High School

"I kind of dropped into the wrong circles of people and my grades were dropping and I wasn't happy with the place where I was at," Katie Burns said.

Katie was looking for an alternative when it came to getting her high school diploma.

This came after her freshman year at Buckeye Union High School didn't quite turn out the way she expected.

Katie went from a traditional classroom to a virtual one. She enrolled in Primavera Online High School two years ago.

"I liked how it was very relaxed and how it didn't shove all this information at you at once," she said. "It broke it down into small segments."

Damian Creamer founded the charter school back in 2001.

"We're fully accredited through the North Central Association and the Commission for International and Trans-Regional Accreditation, which means we're fully accredited and the diploma that a student would receive here at Primavera is going to be on par with a diploma that they would receive with any public school," Creamer said.

The school is free and open to Arizona students ages 14 to 21.

"It offers a lot of flexibility to the students in that they can access their courses at anytime, anywhere, but in a very structured environment," Creamer said.

Students take two courses every six weeks so everything from quizzes, to tests and even their textbooks are all online.

"We're getting a lot of students that maybe wouldn't graduate from high school and this way we can help them to graduate and build their self-esteem," teacher Robert Todd Crockett said.

Some think taking online classes might make it easier for students to cheat, but at Primavera they have several things in place to keep kids honest.

"A lot of the assessment is done through the student's interaction with the teachers and we see how the student is responding," Creamer said. "And if we get something in a paper that looks like it's not the student's work, then of course we put that up against plagiarism software."

As for Katie's mom, she says she had some concerns in the beginning when her daughter decided to leave a traditional classroom.

"I loved high school and I wanted her to have the same experience I did," Robin Burns said. "So initially my reaction was to say no, stick it out, but my husband said, 'No, she's not us, she can make her own choices."

In fact, Katie feels she's got more from her virtual degree than if she had struggled her way through a traditional high school.

"It gave me motivation," Katie said. "It gave me a drive to learn because I was suddenly thrown from a place where my teachers kind of babied me to where I was doing everything for myself and having to figure out things for myself, submit things for myself, and I think it helped me for college because that's how it is."

Katie says she was still able to enjoy the high school social experience. Thanks to the open enrollment policy in her district, she attended homecoming, prom and was even captain of the swim team.

For more information on Primavera, call 480-456-6678 or visit .

There will be a free informational meeting for students and parents interested in learning more about Primavera Online High School on Oct. 28, 5 p.m.-7 p.m., at Radisson Hotel, 3600 N. Second Ave., in Phoenix.