Richland School District's fully online and teacher-directed K-12 school has a new name and will have enhanced offerings and be open to all students across Washington state beginning in the 2021-22 school year.
The Richland School Board approved the new name of Pacific Crest Online Academy after students, families and staff weighed in with their top choices in mid-May. Shortly before that, state education officials accepted the academy’s application to be a multi-district online academy for grades 6-12, which removes enrollment caps on students in those grades enrolling from outside the district. State education officials approved opening the school to all students in grades K-5 across the state in early June.
“Our students, families and staff have worked hard during this inaugural school year to build an engaging, collaborative and welcoming learning environment,” says Principal Andre Hargunani. “We’re excited to start this next chapter of our school’s adventure and have more to join us for the ride.”
The academy launched at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. While initially aimed at providing a fully online learning option for families who did not want their children to attend school in-person for the full school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, district leaders had long looked for an opportunity to launch a dedicated online learning experience.
Pacific Crest’s first year required a lot of trailblazing and partnerships with families as well as school staff working in other schools across the district to meet the needs of students. Despite those challenges, enrollment has steadily stayed above 500 students through the 2020-21 school year and many families have already signed up to return for the next school year. Many families have told academy staff that the flexibility and focus that online learning provides not only kept their student learning over the past year but helped them make more progress than ever before.
Going forward, the academy will be increasingly self-contained and offer more to students and families, including:
- Multiple secondary class offerings, including AP and Honors courses
- Clubs, activities and other social activities
- Monthly progress reports
- Streamlined online learning platforms
“We want every student be successful, and that includes providing multiple pathways for success, whether that’s attending brick-and-mortar classroom or a digital one,” says Dr. Jesse Buchholz, Director of Instructional Technology.