Connections Academy, Leading Virtual School Provider, Graduates Record Number of High School Seniors

--10 Scholarships Awarded to Outstanding Graduates in Celebration of Connections Academy’s 10th Anniversary--

BALTIMORE, MD (July 17, 2012) – Connections Academy, a leading provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12, is celebrating the graduation of its largest ever senior class at the end of this 2011–12 academic year. A total of 1,366 twelfth graders from 18 Connections Academy virtual public schools across 17 states—and the online private school Pearson Online Academy—celebrated their achievements during traditional commencement ceremonies in their local communities. Graduates won a remarkable $4.5 million in college scholarship awards, testimony to their academic prowess and accomplishments.

Connections Academy’s 2012 graduating class is 18% bigger than its class of 2011 graduates, reflecting the rapid growth of the virtual school program. Roughly 58% of Connections Academy graduates will continue their education and immediately enter four-year colleges and universities or community colleges. 10.1% will pursue vocational training; 8.1% plan to take a gap year, enter the military or ministry, or pursue other plans; 24% will enter the work force.

Ten 2012 Connections Academy graduates will have additional financial resources to further their educations as recipients of the Connections Education Scholarship, a one-time scholarship program created to recognize outstanding graduating CA students and to mark the 10–year anniversary of Connections Academy. The following scholarship winners will each receive $4,000 for their post-secondary school studies:  Brendyn Bell, Nevada Connections Academy; Halla Hilborn, Michigan Connections Academy; Christian Kubik, Colorado Connections Academy; Brandon Miller, Louisiana Connections Academy; Michelle Nahorniak, Commonwealth Connections Academy (PA); Evan Quinn, Indiana Connections Academy; Jonah Rutgers, MTS Minnesota Connections Academy; Andrea Sanders, Capistrano Connections Academy (CA); Michelle Swiger, Commonwealth Connections Academy; and Mikaela Wegscheid, MTS Minnesota Connections Academy.

The Connections Education Scholarship provided an opportunity for Connections Academy full-time virtual school students to apply for, and potentially be awarded, up to $4,000 over four years. A total of 91 scholarship applications were received across our schools and those applications were first judged at the school level by selected administration, staff and principals. Each school could submit up to five applications to the corporate level for final judging—a total of 57 applications were reviewed and judged by a 13–member CE Scholarship Committee, chaired by Ms. Dreyer.

Connections Academy graduates have been accepted at almost 300 different colleges and universities, including some of the nation's leading institutions of higher education, such as Williams College, Vassar College, Notre Dame University, Duke University, The College of William and Mary, Boston University, New York University, and more.

“We congratulate every member of the Connections Academy class of 2012,” said Barbara Dreyer, president and CEO of Connections Academy. “We are so proud of them, and all they have achieved, and know they will continue to find success in college and in life. We’re so pleased that our rigorous, personalized educational model helped them achieve their personal bests. It’s especially gratifying to see that so many colleges and universities are recognizing the high caliber of Connections Academy students.”  

The Connections Academy graduating class of 2012 represents a highly diverse and accomplished group of students. They have won scholarships honoring their academic excellence, like Taylor Hartman of Indiana Connections Academy, who won Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis’ Chancellor’s Scholarship, an $8,000 annual, four-year merit scholarship. They are Olympic hopeful equestriennes, like Arizona Connections Academy’s Catherine Chamberlain, a National Dressage Champion. Future film directors, like Brendyn Bell of Henderson, NV, who is heading off to California Institute of the Arts to study drama and acting. Accomplished musicians, like Halla Hilborn of Michigan, who won both academic and violin scholarships to Oakland University (MI) to pursue her musical dreams. Graduates come from large families, single-parent households, major cities and small towns, from coast to coast.

Connections Academy schools deliver top quality, personalized education for students that combines certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences to create a supportive and successful environment for children who want an individualized approach to education. In Connections Academy's Personalized Performance Learning® approach, students use daily lesson plans and curriculum materials provided by Connections Academy. Teachers develop a learning plan for each student, whose progress is tracked through a proprietary, web-based Learning Management System. Nationwide, 22 Connections Academy public virtual schools in 21 states and the private National Connections Academy served approximately 40,000 students in grades K–12 in the 2011–12 school year.

A decade ago, Connections Academy opened its first two schools, serving 400 K–8 students. Strong parental demand for this innovative alternative has led Connections Academy to grow its school network and student body by double-digits annually since then. In 2005, in response to strong parental demand, the school introduced its high school program, a challenging, standards-based alternative to a brick-and-mortar school. The high school program includes a wide variety of rigorous courses which provide a solid foundation for whatever path its graduates choose—attending college or starting a career. The Connections Academy high school program also offers honors and AP courses, and the support of professional school counselors who provide students with college and career-planning services.  

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading, fully accredited 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)