A long time ago, and in a land far, far away...
...a member of the BCS Press Team uttered a sentence that would send her on a journey of inquiry, discussion, and self-discovery...
“Quick idea, everyone… I think it would be cool to interview BWA students/staff in the newspaper and have them say a few words of advice or talk about their experiences at BWA/BEC….”
She knew not where this idea would take her, but she soon realized where she must go: far beyond the reaches of her own imagination, into the land of Q&A documents, of the realm Inter-view, in the midst of words she would find herself, and in the midst of words she would stay until she finished her quest...
...and thus her trek to discover the truth behind the BCS Press Team began...
Chapter 1: In the Realm of Schooling and Study
A Sophomore at BEC, Ruqaiyah Damrah’s efforts initiated the creation of the BWA Student Voice. When asked why she started the newspaper team, she responded, “I’ve always loved the idea of students with common interests coming together… it can be hard being in an online school because there’s often not enough interaction with other students, but this is a… chance to meet others!” A self-described dreamer and book lover, Ruqaiyah is passionate about using her writing “to bring attention to today’s issues,” and she hopes to “bring people to action” through her words. She also enjoys competing in science fairs and dreams of starting a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) organization for girls. After going to college at Portland State University to study biochemistry and neuroscience, Ruqaiyah wants to work as a medical researcher. “I can see myself working on a research team developing a cure for a wide-spread disease,” she says, “one of my dreams is to develop a vaccine for malaria.” When questioned what she likes about BCS, she answers, “I love that I can pursue my interests and advance as far as I want to...I’m discovering that I can do so much more than I ever thought I could.” Her advice for students? “Dare to dream big. Never think that you can’t do something, because you can! Even if something seems hard, go for it! Set small goals and work to achieve them!”
A Junior at BWA, Gabrielle Lussier is a self-declared bookworm, writer, and fangirl. She joined the BWA Press Team because her advisory teacher encouraged her to. “I haven’t really done anything like this before… it’s fun, and I’m glad I chose to sign up.” Because of her love for reading and movie-watching, she found a passion for stories. “Everybody...has a story. I love learning those stories- from the rationale behind a decision, to what makes a person who they are today.” When asked where she sees herself in the future, she answers “I have absolutely no idea. That’s the fun part, though, isn’t it?” After BWA, she’s keeping her options for a career open in the hopes to find something that includes everything she loves to do. “It has to exist somewhere, right?” When asked what her dream is, she replies, “There are so many amazing storytellers who have inspired me throughout the years...If I could just give back… a fraction of the encouragement, perspective, and the inspiration they’ve given me, there’s nothing I could ask for beyond that.” Having been in several different schools and online programs throughout the years, Gabrielle appreciates BWA because of “the fact that I can work on my schooling when I choose to.” Finally, her advice for other BCS and online students? “Always be yourself, don’t stress, laugh as much as possible, and keep moving, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time.”
A Junior at BWA, Savannah Moore describes herself as “independent, daring, enthusiastic, caring, creative”. Working in the photography/image editing and design section of the Student Press, Savannah loves the challenge “as well as the company of fellow students, bonding over common topics.” She originally joined the BWA Press Team because of her “love for literature and art,” but she sees other benefits as well, describing the newsletter as “an opportunity for BWA to branch out.” She enjoys old-fashioned archery, constructing impossible buildings on Minecraft, watching TV shows, and is passionate about writing, reading, and learning French. “I love French culture as well as learning the language,” she says, then continues on to her love of literature, “I deeply believe that reading is necessary… and that the imagination is the most important part of a human’s development.” Having experienced several different schooling styles, Savannah says of BWA, “I love the support structure, how involved they are… as well as how broad their program extends.” As for her advice for BCS students? “Stick with the program, heed your advisory teachers council and let them work with you; you will be introduced to many opportunities.”
Afnaan Damrah, a seventh grader from Tigard, joined the BWA Press Team as a Lifestyle writer because she has never worked for a school newspaper before, and the opportunity interested her. Describing herself as crafty and independent, Afnaan loves “going outside, making stuff, drawing, and writing.” When asked what her dream was, she responded that she wants “to become a vet for a fancy big zoo.” She is very passionate about wildlife, and “the way...animals go endangered because of deforestation, hunting, and other problems.” She likes BWA because she can pick her own curriculum, and her favorite subject is math, because she loves learning to solve equations. Having gone to private school before, she appreciates BWA’s flexibility; “you can [work on schoolwork] at any part of the day”.
A BWA student from Springfield, Caden Wheeler joined the BWA Press team in the Creative Works section because he “thought it would be fun writing, illustrating, and much more.” Passionate about Star Wars, Caden dreams to be a film director. After finishing his schooling, he’d like to go to New York and work at Midtown Comics. He started at BCS in sixth grade, and he appreciates the “fun assignments”, along with the ability to “have your own pace rather than waiting for the others to be on track with you.” The only downside to online schooling for him, he says, is “when my brother gets a day off from school because of weather, I still have to do school.” His favorite class is Language Arts, because he loves to write, and his least favorite is math, “because it’s math”.
Sixth grader India Rodriguez, a BWA student from Eugene, describes herself as a bookworm and an artist. She is passionate about animals, dancing, and art, and she dreams to visit Mexico someday. When asked why she joined the newspaper team, she responded, “I want to branch out and I love writing along with my other hobbies!” Having experienced several different education systems, she likes BWA because of the time she has to do the things she loves. Her favorite subjects are language arts and math. Her advice for students is learning to love the subjects that are the easiest to dislike makes school a lot easier.
A BWA student from Eugene, Austin McGinnis, joined the BWA Press Team several weeks ago. A “funny, artistic, and hardworking” student, he joined the team because he liked “the idea of kids being a part of something like this, and [he] thought it would be fun.” A Lifestyle writer, with a health website from the time he was six, Austin is very passionate about health, making a difference in this world, and spending time with his family. When asked why he likes BWA, he answered, “I love that I learn more, they have different curricula, the homeroom teachers come and visit you, attendances every week, and field trips”. As for dislikes? The visits only occur once every two weeks, but he understands how busy the teachers are. After graduating, he plans on going to an engineering school, but he also likes the idea of being a work-at-home designer, like his dad, who helped him design his health website.
Evin Wells, the newest recruit to the BWA Press Team, lives in Albany, and joined BWA because he has some ideas that he’d like to add to the newsletter. A fan of athletics, writing, and drawing, Evin dreams of being a police officer, and would like to join law enforcement college in the future. “I love being homeschooled,” he says of BWA, but “I don’t like the fact that I don’t meet most of my friends on here in person.” Having been in BWA for three years, he advises online students, “don’t let Hangouts distract you too much. Shut it down if you have to and focus on school!”
Chapter 2: In the Land of Teaching and Technology
Dr. Daniel Huld
Director and sponsor to the Student Voice Newsletter, Dr. Huld has worked for 14 years in the education field, 9 for virtual charter schools, and 5 as the Director. Based out of the Portland office of BCS, Dr. Huld lives in Camas, WA. with his wife and twin daughters. One of his favorite things to do is to spend time with his family outside. “I truly cherish any time I can get outside,” he says, “It… reminds me what a beautiful world we live in and how small, yet incredibly important we are.” When asked what the most rewarding part of being BCS’s Director is, he answered, “Seeing the impossible become possible. Watching students and staff grow and overcome.” He looks forward to working for BCS until he retires from Oregon. “Plans can change,” he admits, “but I love the work and this school system.” As for his thoughts on the BWA Press Crew? “I am so thrilled,” he writes, “since we started this school, having a student press was on the back of my mind. Seeing it come to fruition with such an energetic group of students is a dream come true!” When asked if he had any advice for current BCS students, he replied, “I believe goals power us to do the impossible… stay motivated to meet those goals. I do believe if students have those two pieces in place that the sky is the limit in this school system. I have seen students achieve incredible amounts of work, beyond what most would think possible.”
Alayna Grady, BWA Advisor, Oklahoma native, and traveller extraordinaire, currently lives in Corvallis. Passionate about technology and education, she describes teaching as a unique opportunity. “There’s no other job like it in the world,” she writes, “and I was born for this career.” The most rewarding thing for her, as an advisor, is “the constant interaction with students and parents.” When not teaching or traveling to students for home visits, she enjoys hiking with her English Mastiff, camping, and troubleshooting technology. Asked about her dream, she replies, “I dream to be the teacher that students look to for encouragement to be whoever they choose to be. My parents taught me that I could be anyone and do anything I ever wanted to and now it’s my job to give that same encouragement to my students.” If she could give any advice to current BCS students, she’d encourage them to “become socially active in the online environment. Find ways to interact with other kids online...get to know the students in your school and make new friends with people all over Oregon.
Angela Schwartz, a BWA Advisor from Vancouver, Washington is passionate about "people, ethics, freedom, and art." She loves to "laugh, adventure, create, and dream", and, in the future, she sees herself "older... and more focused." Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, Angela attended several schools. The hardest part of school for her was "enduring the very boring schoolwork." She wanted to study more art, deeper psychology, and philosophy. Today, as a teacher and advisor, she appreciates the "individualized curriculum and schedule" for all students, but when asked if she would've attended BWA, she answered that she would've missed the social setting and the ability of being around her teammates in athletics. The most rewarding part of teaching at BWA, Angela says, is "having the relationship with people", and the most difficult is "how much sitting we do!" Her advice for current BCS students? "Learn to love and be willing to serve. Destroy your ego. Develop imagination, healthy curiosity, observation, and work ethic. Do not fool yourself into anything that is not factual. Facts are observed, and things are not always what they seem. Push yourself beyond what is apparent to the senses."
BWA Advisor Lynsey Martin currently lives in Springfield, Oregon. Passionate about her family and her students, she finds that the most rewarding part of being a BWA teacher is “working with kids individually and seeing their growth first-hand.” Describing herself as caring and creative, Lynsey Martin enjoys watching movies, hiking, baking, and dancing. When she went to school, she “took pride in good grades...and was also involved in dance and choir as well.” The hardest part of her schooling was, along with keeping close relationships with her family and friends, she kept a part-time job as well, explaining “It was a lot to manage and sometimes I felt overwhelmed. I had to learn how to stay organized and manage my time, and to not be too hard on myself.” Her advice for current BCS students? “Set small goals and meet them consistently. Before you know it, you will have learned a lot, and met all your expectations. Advocate for yourself, and get excited about your learning. You are so lucky to get to spend this time focusing on yourself and your education.”
Interviews Conducted by: Ruqaiyah Damrah
Interview Write-ups Written by: Gabrielle Lussier
Thank you for reading :)