As a student who attends an online school, Carson Online, I often am asked if I miss socializing with other high school students, or participating in the extracurricular activities provided by a brick-and-mortar school. My reply is always a firm “no” to both.
With an online school, I can still participate in sports, volunteerism, and clubs, just like a student at a traditional school. In fact, the flexibility the online program offers enables me to engage in even more extracurricular activities, as I’m not restricted by a standard seven-hour continuous school day! Further, all of my activities give me an opportunity to socialize with a variety of people, not just peers, which better prepares me for the “real world.”
Just to show you what you can do as an online student, I’ve listed some of the activities I participate in.
I adore science, and I’ve always wanted a career in a scientific field. I’m constantly on the lookout for any program that are going to give me the opportunity to work hands-on while learning something new related to my favorite subject.
This past summer, I attended the Molecular Biology Summer Science Camp at Hillsdale College in Michigan. As one of 20 students in the nation to be accepted into the molecular biology camp, I was ecstatic to have this amazing opportunity! I spent the entire camp week performing college-level labs. We completed a variety of experiments including taking E. coli bacteria and inserting plasmids with a resistance gene to an antibacterial. We then took these bacteria and tested them to see if they would grow in the presence of the antibacterial, and then tested their DNA to see if we had successfully inserted the plasmid gene. I learned quite a bit about molecular biology and the different processes used by scientists in the lab. Earning free college credit and making friends with students who share the same interests were huge pluses!
I’m also a volunteer at the Kids and Horses Therapeutic Riding Center in Minden. The center offers special needs children access to equine therapy, and are the only premiere PATH certified therapeutic riding center in Northern Nevada. I typically come in on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and volunteer as a side-walker and a horse-handler. As a side-walker, I stay on the side of the child while they are on the horse to make sure they are securely positioned, and reinforce directions given by the instructor. As a horse-handler, I’m responsible for tacking up the horse, and leading the horse during the lessons. Each of the lessons are 30 minutes, and we work on a variety of skills, from basic riding like steering, to more advanced skills like memorizing and then maneuvering through an obstacle course. The horses are sweet and well-tempered to ensure the safety and success of the children. It’s really incredible to witness a child’s growth during their weeks of therapy.
Another interest of mine is fencing. I started fencing back in 2012, and after moving to Nevada from Maryland, I had hoped to be able to continue my sport. Just this past summer, an instructor started offering fencing classes at the local Community Center. Every Tuesday, I attend Classical Fencing, which is similar to the fencing you see in the Olympics. On Wednesdays, I participate in historical fencing, specifically Spanish style, which is exciting! Thursday evenings are just for fencing bouts to hone your skills with other students and the coach.
The local branch of the Douglas County Public Library has a Teen Advisory Board I’m a part of for my second school year, and now serve as the vice president. We gather on Mondays to discuss upcoming programs at the library, talk about our favorite books, and organize different events for teens. For example, last year we planned a Halloween Murder Mystery Zombie Party, where we dressed up as our assigned character, and hosted an interactive murder mystery for community teens. Over the summer, we outfitted as superheroes at the library’s summer reading program kickoff to inspire the younger children about the adventures of reading.
I also participate in 4-H. I have participated in both the Teen Leadership and Speaking with Confidence projects. In Teen Leadership, we planned various events such as Awards Night and the Fall Family Costume Ball. Speaking with Confidence was a fantastic project that has really helped me with public speaking, and learning how to control my nerves in front of an audience.
On top of all this, I’m afforded time to travel beyond off school days. Last November and December, I went to Maui and Hawaii for 10 days. While my parents did give me time to relax at the beaches and snorkel with sea turtles, I spent time at Haleakalāand Hawai’i Volcanoes National Parks, Ala Kahakai National Historical Trail, Pu`ukoholāHeiau National Historic Site, and Kaloko-Honokōhau and Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Parks. A highlight was learning to basket weave with lau hala leaves by a native at Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau.
As you can see, there are plenty of activities available to nontraditional school students. All of these activities allow me to meet and interact with a wide variety of people, in both peer and multi-generational groups. The numbers of opportunities I have as an online school student at Carson Online are simply amazing!
Regan Hammond is a Carson Online and Pioneer High School student.