Following the lead of his older sisters, Brighton Yarbrough graduated in May from Arizona Connections Academy (ACA), an online, tuition-free, K–12 public school serving students across the state.

Yarbrough, 18, started with ACA after kindergarten and said he was happy with the choice to attend virtual school with all of the subjects of any brick and mortar institution, just without the set hours of learning.

“I chose to attend online because I think the curriculum is more specific and flexible,” he explained.

Yarbrough found he had more time to spend with family and friends since he could study at his own pace on each subject. He was able to get his work done, have some fun and still work 30 hours a week.

“I wouldn’t be able to do that in regular school,” he added.

ACA provides a personalized education to meet students’ needs. The courses are accessible anywhere, anytime. The school is a good fit for students who need a more personalized path to school success or need more time or flexible pacing. It also offers advanced courses and electives.

His parents, Evin and Erica Yarbrough, were very supportive, kept track of his school time and made sure he was getting the needed homework done.

“They looked out for me,” he said.

Yarbrough graduated with a 4.2 average and was in the top bracket for ACA. His grade garnered a Cochise College scholarship as well as one from his job and one from Raytheon where his dad works.

“I chose community college because I want to figure out what I’m going to do. I like biology and writing. So, I’d rather take courses here and figure it out before I sign up for four years,” he said.

His favorite courses were science, biology and history. And, yes, students get to dissect various creatures i online school, though in interactive simulations.

“You can pick from a number of things to dissect. I love science and biology. I’d like to go into marine biology and discover a new species. But, I like writing, too,” he continued.

He is also a history buff and said his favorite era was the 1920s. “It would have been fun to live then. The world gained so much in the way of technology. And the war caused many technical advances.”

As for other students who may think of taking online courses to get that high school diploma, “I would encourage them not to have a bias toward an online school. Believe me, the curriculum is appropriate and more challenging. And, you get to do it from home. I love being home with my family and having time to be with my friends.”

Arizona Connections Academy hosted its annual graduation ceremony in Scottsdale May 28 and had more than 100 graduating seniors from all over the state came to participate in a traditional commencement ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments.

After receiving their diplomas, the students are headed down various paths. Many students are enrolling in traditional four-year colleges, enlisting in the military and getting vocational training, while a number of graduates are entering the workforce, according to ACA.

More information about enrollment and offered subjects, visit:

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