Expanding Opportunities

Savannah WaszczukAccess Launch, District Profiles

Administrators in the Republic School District aim to give their students as many opportunities as possible—that’s why they made Launch courses available to all high school students. 

At Republic High School, College and Career Counselor Brittany Bowser shares the story of Madi Booth. “Madi was going through a lot of health issues and missing a lot of school—they weren’t really sure what was going on,” Bowser says. “She had a lot of appointments with specialists.” Madi was in her junior year at Republic High School, and when she was able to be in the building, she did very well. “She’s a great kid,” Bowser says. “She’s a smart student.”
     Eventually, the doctors figured out Madi’s complications. “About a year ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and mixed connective tissue disease—primarily Lupus,” Madi says. “I’m constantly just tired, all of the time.” Knowing Madi’s particular situation, Bowser thought she may benefit from taking some courses virtually with Launch. “I visited with her, and I visited with her mother,” Boser says. “I said that maybe she would be a good candidate to try out some online courses, because I know that the mornings are really tough for anyone who struggles with that condition. If she did Launch, she would free up some time. She wouldn’t have to be at school quite as early.”
     During the second semester of her junior year, Madi took Launch’s Personal FInance and ACT Prep courses. “Using two online classes helped in freeing up my first two hours of school so I could sleep in a lot longer than normal,” Madi says. “It helped a lot with my fatigue.” Madi also found the Launch courses beneficial in other parts of her life. “I liked how I could work on online classes when I was out of school, too,” Madi says. “I could work at my own pace and turn my homework in on time, or if I needed to work ahead I could do that.”
     After Madi completed her Launch courses successfully, Republic High School decided to offer Launch classes to more students. “She gave me a lot of good feedback,” Bowser says. “She enjoyed it. She liked having some flexibility and the convenience of being able to work at her own pace from home.” Republic High School added select Launch courses to their course planner and allows seniors to enroll, and they also allow any high school student to take Driver Education with Launch. “Our Driver’s Education instructor retired last year,” Bowser says.
     Tyler Overstreet, Republic High School principal, likes how Launch provides opportunities for all students. “The biggest draw for us was the options that it gives kids in regards to their learning,” Overstreet says. “Some of our most at-risk students are in online Launch classes. Then we have our general, every day students and some of our high flyers.” The high school has 1,444 students, and 77 are enrolled in Launch courses. “It really meets the needs of all sorts of different groups that we have in our school,” Overstreet says.
     There’s also an advantage to how Launch is preparing students for their future after high school. “A lot of learning in college takes place in either a blended setting or a fully online setting,” Overstreet says. “We want to give students those options here as high schoolers, where they can learn how to manage their time, prioritize tasks—those soft skills that come with being part of an online class—so that they can be prepared for that when they go to college or even into the workforce or another career fields.”
     While Madi is still in high school, she’s already using the skills she’s learned in Launch to help attain college credit—but not for herself. “My mom is actually taking online classes for college right now, so I’ve been able to help her,” says Madi, who helped her mom learn how to navigate her college course online. She’s grateful, as she feels this is preparing for her post-secondary education path—she’s planning to attend Missouri Southern next fall. “I know that some of the classes I’ll be taking will use the same type of format,” Madi says. “I’m really glad it helped me in that way, too.”

SIDEBAR:              
Republic at a Glance
K-12 Enrollment: 4,864
High School Population: 1,444
MASA District: Southwest
School Colors: Orange and Black
Mascot: Tigers
Fun Fact: While many schools have tigers as mascots, Republic prides itself in the fact—there’s a sign in the school that reads “Real Tigers are Orange and Black.”