Mary Bate is a high school student at South Carolina Connections Academy. Mary and her family chose the school because it allows for a more flexible schedule, offers gifted and advanced classes, and provides more variety in course choices. She shares her story below:
I love theater, and it is my biggest passion as far as extracurriculars go. In February of 2021, I was able to pursue my dream role of “Ike” in my dream musical Newsies. I never would have gotten this chance as a student in my previous school. I spend every Saturday and Friday night in rehearsals, and then I will spend almost every evening in rehearsals. This would have been completely impossible if I were not a student at South Carolina Connections Academy.
My Online High School Experience
I am a very creative person, and anyone can see that just by glancing at me. I love anything that involves writing (especially creative writing). I enjoy participating in virtual contests and showcases, including talent shows, photography contests, music contests, writing contests, and more. I also enjoy attending high school hangouts, where I get to chat with my fellow students and participate in activities like Star Wars or Harry Potter trivia.
At South Caroline Connections Academy I enjoy my art electives, such as Digital Art & Design. I'm looking into graphic design as a career, so not only are these activities fun to participate in, they're also beneficial to my career plans. I am also the Vice President in my school's National Honor Society (NHS). Before I was promoted to N.H.S., I held positions such as Advisor on the Advisory Board and Vice President for South Carolina Connections Academy 's National Junior Honor Society. I love helping my fellow NHS members bring awareness to issues affecting our world today to our local communities. I also designed the NHS t-shirt for this year, so I got a little bit of graphic design experience there as well.
I have amazing relationships with my teachers! I can talk to them about anything, and they actually care. I can joke with them during LiveLessons and engage in open conversations with them. I have never felt like they are just the people on the other side of the computer screen. Rather, they are some of the most real people I know. I can honestly say I put them on the same level of trust as I do my church youth leaders and my drama directors. If I ever have questions about a struggle I'm having with my schoolwork, they give me all the time and direction I need without rushing me or showing frustration.
During my time at South Carolina Connections Academy, I have made so many fun memories. I have gone on a ton of exciting field trips, such as seeing A Wrinkle In Time at the movie theater, seeing plays at the Peace Center, going to the ice skating rink, bowling, farms, and museums. I have marched at the Capitol for school choice. I have attended recording sessions for the school newsletter, writing workshops and EOC workshops, open houses, career fairs, and book fairs.
Even with it being an online school, some of my best and most fun memories comes from in-person events with South Carolina Connections Academy. After an in-person or virtual extracurricular event, I'm always left with this happy, satisfied feeling.
“I love South Carolina Connections Academy because I have gone and will go to levels that I never thought I would be able to go to at my previous school.”
Why I Chose South Carolina Connections Academy
The fact that I can be friends with everyone and still be my bubbly, nerdy self is something that I didn't get out of my previous education at a private brick-and-mortar school. With South Carolina Connections Academy, if I ever have issues of any kind, both personal and school-related, I can go to any teacher and confide in them. I have met a ton of amazing people along the way, and some of my best friends are students I have met through South Carolina Connections Academy. It amazes me that I have made some of my strongest bonds through an online school, and that the loneliness I felt during my in-person schooling years is gone.
My Online School Schedule
I used to spend all day Saturday doing homework and projects, but with South Carolina Connections Academy I don't have to do that. In fact, I spend every Monday working from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. at my job at Jamaica Relief Ministries Thrift Store. I always finish Monday's work the week before so that I can take a day off school. Very rarely do I have to work over the weekends, even though I technically have a four day school schedule. I typically work every week from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., with the exception of Fridays when I start school around 9:45 a.m. because I have a piano lessons from 8:15 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. At my previous school, school was all I did, and I wasn't even in any advanced learning programs. I never got to learn what my hobbies were or what types of things I enjoyed because I was doing school practically 24/7.
My Future Plans
After graduating, I plan to attend a four-year liberal arts college. I will get a degree in theater, and a specific focus media arts field that I haven't yet decided on. With my flexible schedule that leaves room for creative extracurriculars after school and my ability to participate in extracurriculars that focus on the arts, I will have a great foundation for college courses. I will also be doing dual enrollment at a local college next year that will help me get a great start to college. I've taken extra credit courses to further cultivate my learning and skill set to have a firm grip on my future (and the extra credit also makes for a higher GPA!). I hope to be an active member in the theater community to bring joy and awareness to issues in our world through drama. I also hope to live independently and in a big city. South Carolina Connections Academy is a great school for ambitious students who want to go far.