Thousands of High School Seniors Find Success with Online School, Graduate with Connections Academy’s Class of 2018

Virtual School Students Switch Their Tassels, Prepared for Higher Education, Careers


Columbia, Md. (June 26, 2018) – More than 5,300 virtual school students graduated across 23 states as Connections Academy celebrated its 10th annual graduating class. The graduates represent schools from California to Maine and received their diplomas in the presence of family, peers and staff at in-person ceremonies. Student scholarships totaled more than $38 million and this year’s Class is headed around the world to careers and higher education opportunities ranging from neurology, to professional racecar driving, to political science at Princeton.

“We applaud and admire this graduating class for their commitment to academic excellence,” said Tom ap Simon, Managing Director of Pearson Online & Blended Learning. “Whether they attended virtual school since kindergarten or joined Connections Academy looking for a change in education option, each graduate has demonstrated the ability to tackle challenges and obtained a real-world skillset that prepares them for opportunities in a digital world.”

VIDEO: US Olympian Vincent Zhou congratulates online school graduates

Among the outstanding graduates is aspiring NASCAR driver Cole Glasson, graduating from Texas Connections Academy @ Houston as Valedictorian. Cole began racing when he was five years old, and recently completed his 11th season as a national-level racecar driver. He’s garnered three national championships, three runner-up placements, and two Youth American Achievement Awards. Off the track, he founded the Cole Glasson Foundation. The online school model offered Cole the flexibility to pursue his passion on the track and obtain a high-quality education around his frequent practices and competitions. Cole heads to Liberty University on a full-tuition scholarship.

Grace Garcia, a Colorado Connections Academy @ Mapleton senior living with epilepsy, also found success through online school. A board member and advocate for the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado, Grace recently raised more than $2,500 to support the organization’s summer camp. With several scholarships under her belt, Grace plans to attend the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs and major in criminal justice.

Accelerated students also excel in a virtual school setting. At just 13 years old, Chance Simpson is likely one of the youngest graduates in the 2018 class countrywide. The Georgia Connections Academy student is graduating four years early. Chance started outpacing his classmates in kindergarten, and the academic momentum never stopped. In fourth grade, he was declared an “Einstein Jr.” by Emory University professors. This revelation inspired his mother to find a school where Chance could excel with his rapid learning pace. This fall, he will attend Point University to major in public health, before seeking pre-med in neurology.

“The school and their staff have been lifesavers,” said Martha Simpson, Chance’s mother. “Georgia Connections Academy is our rock. Their flexibility and Chance’s ability to learn so quickly gave him the opportunity to pursue many other interests.”

South Carolina Connections Academy student Harshini Abbaraju is one of two students from South Carolina selected as a U.S. Senate Youth Scholarship Delegate to the 56th Annual United States Senate Youth Program. Harshini was able to balance her responsibilities as class representative with her schooling, develop her leadership skills, and join students from across the nation in Washington D.C. for a week-long study of the federal government. Harshini’s prestigious resume earned her an acceptance to several distinguished universities, and she plans to attend Princeton University to study political science.

Connections Academy graduates have diverse backgrounds, passions and goals, and each student reaped the rewards of a high-quality, virtual education. To learn more about Connections Academy-supported online public schools, visit

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading provider of high-quality virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12. Connections Academy delivers personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience the online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, an award-winning curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. Connections Academy-supported schools offer grades K through 12, though some public school programs do not offer all grades. For more information, call 1-800-382-6010 or visit Connections Academy is part of the global learning company Pearson.