Student Voices: 2016 Graduate Speaker Noah Langenfeld

Wisconsin Connections Academy

Students, teachers, family members, and relatives; it is a true honor to speak to you tonight. Although we students may recognize each other’s names from virtual classes, few of us have had the pleasure of meeting classmates in person. Our school is very different from the traditional brick and mortar public school that forms a stereotype of modern America. Unlike a classical high school, we don’t see or even talk to our classmates and teachers on a daily basis. This would be unheard of at a traditional high school. Tonight, many of us may be seeing each other for the first time. Despite our geographic separation, I have had the privilege of working with you each and every day during my time at this school. I would not trade the experience of interacting with students across the state for anything. Whether it be virtual classes or study groups, I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with you at this school. By sharing my personal Connections Academy story, I hope that by the end of the night you will see me not as just another name, but as another student.

Although Wisconsin Connections Academy may seem up and coming, our institution will turn fourteen years old in the fall. Back in 2002, Wisconsin Connections Academy became the first virtual kindergarten through eighth grade school in the state of Wisconsin. This was likely before most of us graduates even started our educational journeys. Although this was only 14 years ago, the world was much different than it is now. The internet was still in its infancy and the very thought of virtual schooling seemed futuristic. Many now common words, such as YouTube, iPhone, Tablet, and Twitter, had not yet entered our everyday dictionary. Despite these seemingly historical situations, WCA pioneered virtual school in Wisconsin that has benefited all of our lives in more ways than one.

While some of you may have been in WCA since kindergarten, I was a late comer, relatively speaking, at 7th grade. While I was nervous about transferring schools and learning new software, I was also excited at the same time. From the moment I had my first interaction with a teacher, I felt welcomed. Over the past six years, that feeling has never left. No matter what teacher I consult, or what virtual class I choose to attend, I never sense the feeling that I am just a number. The close relationship I have built with many teachers over the years is something I don’t feel would have been successfully accomplished in traditional public school. One on one interaction with my teachers throughout the day has really helped my educational goals prosper and advance. Only WCA has been able to form a family like circle to support my education and personal visions and goals.

While I may have not seen many faces on a daily basis, I have had the pleasure of working with many teachers and students throughout my time at WCA. The experience has been beneficial not only to my educational realm, but to my self-confidence as well. I have constantly been encouraged to do my best and ask for help whenever I feel stuck on a subject. I have taken this opportunity many times and my teachers have always been more than willing to provide their assistance. I am sure this trait of self-confidence and their encouragement will become very helpful as I progress in life. After completing six years at WCA, I feel as if I am ready to take another step in my life and continue learning new material.

A few years ago, I came across a quote from the Farrelly Brothers that really helped me see life in a new light. Oddly, it concerns those long moving walkways at many large airports. “Life is like going the wrong way on a moving sidewalk. Walk, and you go nowhere. Stand still, and you go backwards. To get ahead, you have to hustle.” The takeaway? If you have a goal or dream in life, you have to work hard to achieve it. Sitting back and watching the world go by will get you nowhere. Go out, be involved, and achieve your dreams. Walt Disney said “All our dreams can come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.” Don’t be afraid to go out and fight for what you believe in. Whether you’re continuing on to college, joining the military, or entering the workforce, I hope you are as excited as I am to start another chapter in your life. Your book is just beginning and you have many more pages left to write. I implore you to live in the moment tonight, while still looking toward the future. While this day may bring bouts of euphoria, which it should, I hope that you never lose sight of one thing; your dreams. Work hard. Reflect on your achievements. But NEVER forget to keep on moving. Thank you.