Alyssa Six has been running the two-wheel motocross circuit for years and said she’s found the Barren Academy of Virtual and Expanded Learning, or BAVEL, fits her lifestyle and career goals.
“You can do it whenever you want. The teachers are always available,” Six said. “There hasn’t been a class that I haven’t liked. My teachers are so cool. It’s so much easier. You don’t get bullied or picked on,” the 19-year-old from Verona said.
BAVEL is an online high school for students in sixth through 12th grade that began in 2004 and is accredited by Kentucky Department of Education and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Many courses come from Florida Virtual Schools or are dual credit offerings from Southcentral Community and Technical College or Western Kentucky University.
Six has a 3-year-old son, Ian, and plans to graduate in May from BAVEL. The online education option based in Barren County celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Six’s little sister, Kiera, also is enrolled in BAVEL. Six said the motocross competition circuit stretches from Indiana, Tennessee and Ohio, and by taking high school classes through BAVEL, she’s able to have the flexibility to compete.
Ian’s father, Austin Rankin, and Six both participate in motocross, she said. Six plans to attend the University of Kentucky after her May graduation from BAVEL and to eventually become an obstetrician-gynecologist. She admits there will be a transition from online education to the actual college experience once she hits Lexington but she said, “Sometimes, you got to dig deep” within to succeed.
Another BAVEL student has found he likes the format.
“I’ve been able to have interaction with other students and teachers in collaboration on projects,” said Judah Cashon, 13, of Boaz in Graves County.
The program is one of three online course providers endorsed by the state, said Phillip Napier, a co-director of BAVEL. It is based at Barren County Schools. The other online course providers are the Jefferson County E-School and the Kentucky Educational Television Distance Learning Program, Napier said.
There are 400 students from 62 different school districts enrolled with BAVEL. Napier said it is the ability to provide online instruction to each student that is the key to program.
“We have students who cover myriad situations,” Napier said.
Napier said BAVEL students may be on the tennis circuit, equestrian riders or traveling with a women’s softball team or have small children and work commitments.
“As a parent, I like to be involved in (Judah’s) education,” Cheryl Cashon said. “I could be involved in his projects.”
She said Judah attended local schools in Graves County through sixth grade and another online school his seventh-grade year before enrolling in BAVEL this school year for eighth grade. Judah said his favorite subject is science but his “best” subjects are language arts and history.
Judah takes his classes online from BAVEL from 7 a.m. to noon on weekdays and usually takes the weekends off.
“I would highly recommend it,” CherylCashon said of BAVEL. “This has been the best” online school experience for Judah thus far.
“I really like that the teachers are certified and the research-based curriculum is just like a bricks and mortar school,” said Bobbi Mayes of Glasgow, whose daughter, Laurel Mayes, has attended BAVEL the past two years. Mayes said Laurel was originally home-schooled and enrolled in BAVEL as a transition back to the regular classroom. However, the child embraced the online option and Mayes said the online schooling is working out.
“So many times the people make the program,” said Mayes, who runs the regional migrant program for Barren County Schools. “The teachers are so good with Laurel.”
Laurel Mayes likes the reading assignments. The 12-year-old was able to serve as the reporter for the Student Technology Leadership Program through BAVEL.
“It’s not really that hard,” she said of the schoolwork. “It does give you challenges.”
Fifty-four BAVEL students are scheduled to graduate at the Plaza Theatre in Glasgow on May 31. Napier said the graduation will mark the third ceremony in Glasgow for the BAVEL students.
The schools offers the only “comprehensive curriculum where students can earn the credits necessary for high school graduation,” Napier said.
Registrations for BAVEL come from as far north as Boone County, as far west as Graves County and as far east as Pike County in Kentucky.
There are students who attend BAVEL while their families work overseas in the mission field.
Many times, commitments or medical conditions keep students from being able to attend high school, said Melinda Owens, also a program co-director.
Napier said one student, whom he couldn’t identify, had three open-heart surgeries and wasn’t able attend regular high school because of medical reasons.
About 70 percent of BAVEL’s students go on to attend college or a technical school.
“We also have students going right into the workplace,” he said.
For Kentucky students to enroll, a parent just needs to contact the school district in which the child lives for approval. Arrangements are made to send the state Support Education Excellence in Kentucky money from a student’s home county to Barren County.
BAVEL requires, as does the state of Kentucky, a minimum of 22 credits for graduation: four English, three math, three science, three social studies, one history, one physical education and health and seven electives. Students planning to pursue post-secondary education also must complete two credits in a foreign language.
Napier and Owens said the 32 teachers and the students are required to get together for a verbal discussion assessment to make sure it is the student who is doing the online classwork.