Student Voices: 2015 Graduate Speaker Taylor Hunt

Oregon Connections Academy

Teen girl standing at podium

Hello and welcome! Here we are at the end of a four year long journey we thought would never end. All those nights staying up late to finish before the deadline or, for some, staying up all break trying to get ahead have finally paid off. Whatever student you may have been it is being rewarded because we are all here today celebrating such a momentous occasion; and we owe thanks to all who contributed to this achievement: our school, our teachers, and our families. I know for me without Oregon Connections Academy it would have been a struggle to get where I am now, and I believe most can relate. Luckily for us, we have a large network of people looking out for our best interests. If it weren’t for these people, we might not have had the courage to take up the challenge of attending an online school.

Through ORCA, we as students have access to numerous clubs and activities, communication to teachers, and many courses that helped us to explore more about ourselves. We all had the opportunity and encouragement to take on new challenges in our adventure through high school that may have not been available in brick in mortar school. I know for me I would have never thought of becoming a peer tutor, NHS member, or leader within my community without the help of ORCA. Reflecting back on our high school life I know there are things we never thought we could possibly do, but were able to accomplish because we were pushed beyond our comprehension of ourselves and told yes we can!

The classes that were a struggle before were possible in ORCA. We had a great variety of teachers we could rely on for support throughout those classes. We have much to thank them for, especially those first few weeks of school. For me, I would like to personally thank Mr. James for helping me get acquainted to the ORCA curriculum and atmosphere. I believe this is the best part about ORCA, the teachers are always there for you and willing to help you at every turn. They even encourage you to accept new challenges and are there to help you accomplish them. Thanks to Mrs. Imig, I took the challenge of advancing to a higher English class, one of my worst subjects. Mrs. Naylor helped broaden my involvement in my community and in my school by encouraging me to join the National Honor Society. Mr. Bundy expanded my love of science by combining math and science in a fun way, two of my favorite subjects! But the greatest of these challenges I took was being a Peer Mentor, and I want to thank Mrs. Holzworth and Mrs. D’Ettore for helping me make that a reality. These are some of the many teachers who helped me on my journey throughout high school, challenging and encouraging me to go the extra mile. I am sure that each of you have numerous teachers who did the same for you. Of course there are many other teachers that we all would love to mention and thank personally. I can say with certainty that without their help and support we would not be where we are now and would not be taking on new challenges in life: the challenge of college or a career.

And it wasn’t just our school and our teachers encouraging us, but our families too. They saw the potential even before our teachers could. I know after I told my family of my willingness to expand my horizons they all said, “See, I told you, you could do it!” If it weren’t for these people in our lives we might not have challenged ourselves in ways we never thought possible. I have many thanks to my mother for encouraging me to take a leap of faith and attempt online schooling. After I took the initial step, both my parents took on larger than life responsibilities to help give my brother and I a chance with ORCA, and for that I am sincerely grateful and do not know how to repay them.

As our high school adventure comes to a close, let us always remember to thank our school, teachers, and families for the opportunities and experiences we have shared as ORCA online students. Thanks for molding this graduating class into who we are today and helping us to strive to be the best people we can be. My only hope is that all of us can honor the ones that helped and encouraged us the most by doing the best we can in both school and life wherever it may take us.