The Pawhuska Board of Education last week approved a new Pawhuska Virtual Learning Academy, which will allow participating students an online alternative to the traditional classrooom experience.


Students entering grades 6-12, who live in the Pawhuska School District, may participate if they satisfy all requirements. Students in grades 7-12 can both enroll in the Pawhuska Virtual Learning Academy and also participate in extra-curricular activities such as athletics, band, choir and Future Farmers of America, the school district said.


The contact person for interested students and families is Lauri Lee, principal of Pawhuska High School. You can call her at 918-287-1265, which is the school district’s phone number. The voicemail system will direct you to press a “1” for the high school. There is no charge to students and families for the online schooling option.


Informational materials regarding the new program explain that participating students will be expected to spend enough time in their online classes to stay on pace with their courses. If a student fails to maintain the appropriate level of activity, he or she can lose their virtual privilege. Students will also be expected to perform at high levels and maintain academic integrity, the district said.


Parent communication with the school district and with students enrolled in the Virtual Learning Academy will be central to the success of the effort to offer online courses, the school district added.


“Really, this became possible years ago,” Pawhuska Superintendent David Cash said. He explained that the state of Oklahoma changed from a “seat time” requirement for students to a “competency” requirement. He said the use of virtual school options is growing quickly throughout the state. Three main private-company providers of the service in Oklahoma are expecting to be providing services to a total of some 30,000 enrolled students, statewide, going into the new school year, Cash said.


“The reason for it is our world and our economy have changed,” Cash added. He related that he has a son who is a student at Oklahoma State University. Cash said his son has five classes to take this semester, three of which will be online.


“We’ve been looking at it for the last year,” Cash said regarding the decision to offer virtual learning. He is entering his second school year as Pawhuska’s superintendent. “This is one way where people can still do the work and graduate from Pawhuska High School.”