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Fall was in the site as students arrived for their first day back at Crosslake Community School Tuesday, Aug. 26. -photo by Kate Perkins

Crosslake Community School starts first year of high school classes

Web posted September 2, 2014
By Kate Perkins, Northland Press Correspondent

School is back in session at Crosslake Community School (CCS), and this year, for the first time in its history, the school will be offering high school classes.

Currently 16 students are enrolled in the classes, which are online-based. Two of those students work off-site. The other 14 work in a new classroom alongside their “learning coach,” a certified teacher.

John Richards is the new learning coach at CCS, with a history in social studies and science teaching. He’s there to mentor students and keep them on track with their work.

CCS also hired a dean of students, Stacy Bender, who works off-site. She handles department of education reporting and any students who are enrolled in online high school classes but don’t work on-site, and is available to students via Skype when they need assistance.

CCS is using Odysseyware for its curriculum, which is aligned with Minnesota graduation standards. Students have a list of classes they’re enrolled in, but not a set-in-stone schedule. If two CCS students have the same class, they can work on that day’s lesson at the same time, together.

CCS Director Todd Lyscio said that in that sense, the curriculum is individualized to the student. Students are required to finish a certain amount of work each day, and attendance is based on completing that day’s courses.

Lyscio explained that this setup allows for flexibility on the part of the students and their families. It’s easier to work around doctor’s appointments and family trips-- students can work on their courses almost anytime, anywhere.

There’s also a high-level of accountability, Lyscio said. The dean of students, learning coach and parents can all see everything the students are doing.

“Online learning is very different,” Lyscio said. “Students become really responsible for their learning.” They set their own pace. Each student is provided with a laptop they can take home , just like they would take home a textbook.

The entire program is tuition-free, as CCS is a public school.

While the current, initial focus for the high school students is getting their core classes underway, the school hopes to expand onsite students’ opportunities for service learning in the school and the community, helping out in classrooms, at recess, in the lunchroom and even at local businesses, where they might be able to learn more about potential career paths.

Each on-site student takes the “Crosslake Experience” class, which is devoted to those sorts of activities.

Students are also able to take online classes through Central Lakes College or nearly any other school across the country offering online classes, opening a host of options. Students have the opportunity to earn their twoyear degree at the same time as they graduate high school.

Online learning isn’t for everyone, Lyscio said. “It’s a different way to educate kids.” Some students may not be as successful because of the level of personal discipline required.

“There’s a tremendous amount of ownership on the kid,” Lyscio said. Nonetheless, he sees online learning becoming more and more prevalent. Having both the learning coach and the  dean of students at their disposal, Lyscio said, will help students to be successful right away.

Offering the online courses onsite and with a learning coach provides students in the area with another option for education; one that’s self-driven and self-paced.

“For those that are looking for that that type of learning,” Lyscio said, “this is going to be really good for them.”

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