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Oregon Connections Academy First Grader Trick-or-Treating to Help Cancer Patient

-- Virtual Schooling Gives Coos Bay Student Flexibility to do Community Activities --

ORCA Student and Friend Posing for a Picture

ORCA student Nathan Mullanix
(left) and 16-year-old Natalie Hill,
of Coos Bay (right)

SCIO, OR (October 25, 2012) – This Halloween 7-year old Nathan Mullanix of Coos Bay is going the extra mile to help a local teenager in her battle with cancer. Nathan will collect as much candy as possible when he goes trick-or-treating so he can win a contest put on by a North Bend dentist and receive a $50 charitable contribution to help 16-year old Natalie Hill of Coos Bay. 

Nathan is a first grader this year at Oregon Connections Academy, the state’s leading tuition-free virtual public charter school. His parents say the online learning environment gives Nathan the ability to help others in the community. “He is able to work on fundraising and not miss any school work thanks to the flexibility of Oregon Connections Academy,” said Claire Mullanix, Nathan’s mother and learning coach. “Nathan can work on his lessons on evenings, weekends or anytime that works for us.” 

“I wanted to help Natalie because I like her and she’s my friend,” said Nathan. “It makes me happy when she does things on her bucket list. I hope she gets to do everything.” Natalie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancerous bone tumor, in the summer of 2010. She has undergone a partial leg amputation and had tumors removed from her lungs over the past two years. She posted a bucket list online and has received an outpouring of support from people all over the world ever since. 

So far Natalie has been able to check off several things on her bucket list thanks to donations from people like Nathan. The completed items include being an extra on the TV show Grimm which is filmed in Portland, shooting hoops with the Portland Trailblazers, and have a boy sneak through her bedroom window. 

When Nathan learned about Natalie’s situation a year ago he entered the Halloween candy buyback program sponsored by Apple Dental and won, giving Natalie the $50 charitable contribution. The dentist sends the candy to soldiers serving in the armed forces overseas. 

Then Nathan participated in one of Oregon Connections Academy’s many instructional tools called “Lemonade Stand” and set up one of his own at a local video store called Video and More in North Bend as a way to raise money for Natalie. That fund raiser generated $1,000 and Nathan plans to do a similar event at the store in December. 

ORCA Student Nathan Mullanix

Nathan’s mom believes his involvement in these fundraising activities has enhanced his learning skills. “Because Oregon Connections Academy allows him to work at his individual pace he was able to advance a full grade ahead in math,” explained Claire Mullanix. “I love being a part of his education and seeing him applying those things he's learning in everyday life.”

Last spring, Nathan also put together a Relay for Life Team in Coos Bay. “I wanted to raise money for Relay because they help people who have cancer,” said Nathan. “I want them to find a cure, they do important things.” His mom Claire added, “Nathan wanted to raise money to help work toward finding a cure for cancer so that no other young person would have to create a bucket list because of cancer.” Nathan’s Relay Team collected $1,700 this year. 

“I have come across some amazing students at Oregon Connections Academy,” said Jason Webber, Nathan’s first grade teacher. “One amazing thing we can offer is allowing students to work at the level they are at academically. I have even had first graders in my class who completed the 3rd grade curriculum! I am always impressed when I see my students at various field trips. They are extremely polite and always have great stories about what is going on in their lives. I know that even as a kindergarten and first grade teacher, I am already helping mold them into the successful adults they will become.”

“Nathan loves school and is excited to learn, especially with his two favorite subjects: science and art,” noted Claire Mullanix. “It is so important to me that he is able to get a quality public school education at home with quality books and materials.”

Oregon Connections Academy started in 2005 under a charter with the Scio School District. It combines state certified teachers, a standards-aligned curriculum, unique technology tools, an extensive selection of electives and clubs, to create an individualized alternative to the bricks-and-mortar classroom. 

About Connections Academy 

Connections Academy is a leading provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12. Through tuition-free public schools, and full-time and part-time private school programs, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. In the 2012–13 school year, Connections Academy will serve students in 22 states via 24 virtual public schools. It serves students worldwide through the online private school, National Connections Academy. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some public school programs do not offer all grades. For more information, call 800–382–6010 or visit Connections Academy and its parent company, Connections Education, are part of the global learning company Pearson (NYSE:PSO).