Antioch student graduates from virtual California Connections Academy @ Ripon

Photos by Matt Lorenz courtesy of California Connections Academy.

More than 100 online public school students celebrate academic accomplishments, head to distinguished universities

California Connections Academy @ Ripon, a tuition-free online public school serving students in transitional kindergarten through 12th grade, graduated 108 high school seniors at a commencement ceremony held at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton on Monday, June 18. Remarks honoring the graduates were delivered by Couper Condit, district director, Dr. Richard Savage, the school’s executive director, Kara Mannix, high school principal, and Alexandria Yao, valedictorian and professional figure skater on Team USA. Hundreds of family members, friends, teachers and administrators gathered to honor the students’ accomplishments.

The graduates include Antioch’s Gadai Bulgac who utilized the flexibility of his education to pursue Debate Club and take challenging college courses while in high school. Other graduates from Contra Costa County include Jasmyn Barkley, Kylie Diaz, Amilkar Lopez and Anastasiya Klimko.

The graduating class also included Tatum Osborne, an activist from Los Gatos who produced and directed a PSA on sexual assault and will attend Saint Lawrence University on scholarship. She was also the recipient of the Student of the Year award presented by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. Tatum views her advocacy as a long-term commitment and hopes to one day be a creative director for a magazine.

“The biggest advantage of attending Connections Academy is being able to customize your education to fit your learning needs,” said Osborne. “I was able to take classes my junior year that I would have taken during my senior year at traditional public school. I also had 24/7 access to my teachers which gave me the confidence to reach out to them whenever I had questions.”

Other graduates include valedictorian and professional figure skater Alexandria Yao who skates for Team USA. She enrolled in Connections Academy several years ago, seeking an education option that provided a high-quality curriculum and the flexibility to pursue her dreams on the ice. Additionally, aspiring actress Reagan Harwood from Palo Alto is headed to Foothill College this fall and the plans to transfer to a four-year university. She was able to balance her academics and her passion for acting through online school. Last year her hard work earned her a spot in a Disney on Ice commercial and she’ll be starring in a short film this July.

“We are so proud of what our 2018 graduating class has accomplished, and we are confident the skills and knowledge they acquired at Connections Academy has provided them with a foundation for success,” said Amy Hunt, site administrator at California Connections Academy @ Ripon. “Today we celebrate the culmination of their hard work and determination, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavors.”

Additional students from the 2018 graduating class will go on to pursue higher education at institutions including University of California: Berkeley, University of California: Santa Cruz, Columbia University, Gonzaga University and San Francisco State University.

California Connections Academy @ Ripon provides an innovative and flexible learning environment for more than 1,200 students in transitional kindergarten through 12th grade in Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties. Through a combination of state-credentialed teachers and high-quality curriculum which meets stringent state education standards, the school provides an individualized and top-tier learning program for its students.

Throughout the school year, students have many opportunities to interact with their classmates in person and prepare for the next stage in their lives. Recently, California Connections Academy organized visits to various academic institutions, including the Academy of Art University and the University of the Pacific. The school also hosted several field trips, including visits to the Hilmar Cheese Factory, Sutters Fort, the Nimbus Fish Hatchery and the Jelly Belly Factory. California Connections Academy offers a variety of clubs and activities for students, including National Honor Society, sports club, music club, and robotics club, among others.

Juniors and seniors planning to attend college may adapt their schedules to accommodate exam preparation and applications, as well as take advantage of the school’s diverse course catalog, including expanded AP classes and career technical education offerings. Unique electives include accounting, psychology and computer science.

To learn more about California Connections Academy @ Ripon and begin enrollment for the 2018-19 school year, please visit

About California Connections Academy @ Ripon

California Connections Academy @ Ripon is a tuition-free, high-quality, highly accountable virtual public school serving students in grades K-12, including transitional kindergarten, in Alameda, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara and Stanislaus counties. California Connections Academy is fully accredited (grades K-12) by the Schools Commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school opened in 2012 and is authorized under state law by the Ripon Unified School District. California Connections Academy provides students who meet state residency requirements with the flexibility to learn from anywhere with an internet connection with an innovative curriculum which meets rigorous state education standards. The combination of state-credentialed teachers, a proven curriculum, unique electives, technology tools and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit the school’s website.

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