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Peters Township native is no easy rider

February 10, 2017 12:00 AM

By Joe Bendel / Tri-State Sports & News Service

As he perched his motorcycle along a trail in Howard, Colo., Andrew Putt made the mistake of looking to his right.

What the teen from Peters Township saw was harrowing. A cliff, 40 feet above ground, was a foot from him.

“It was a long way down,” Putt said, with necessary emphasis. “I was mortified. I rode it cleanly, but it was hard not to think about that huge drop.”

Such is life for a professional MotoTrials rider of Putt’s pedigree.

A senior at George Washington University Online High School, Putt is ranked No. 3 nationally, despite being at least five years younger than anyone in the top 10.

No. 1 Marc Freixa of Spain is 37 and No. 2 Patrick Smage of Elkhorn, Wis., is 26.

“The guys like to pick on me because of my age, but it’s all in fun,” said Putt, 17, who was schooled in the Peters Township district until the eighth grade.

In MotoTrials, competitors ride specialized, seat-less cycles while navigating seemingly impossible 12-section courses. The terrain includes everything from boulders to slopes to logs to streambeds. The goal is to avoid crashing, stalling or touching the ground with one’s foot during the five- to eight-hour competitions.

Judges determine how well a rider navigates each section. A score of zero represents an error-free ride. As in golf, the lowest score wins. A champion is crowned at the end of the season, which runs from April to September.

This story was first published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the full article can be read HERE


Sam Faulkner is a George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) senior who caught the “acting bug” at a young age and was recently in NBC’s television broadcast of Hairspray Live!

He acted alongside a star-studded cast including Harvey Fierstein, Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande.

“I was itching to get on stage at a very young age, but I started specifically pursuing musical theatre at age nine,” Sam said. “By the time I was 10, I had signed with my agent in New York and began to pursue professional opportunities.”

“If it weren’t for online school, I would have had to choose whether I wanted to sacrifice my passion for performing or my studies,” Sam said. “Online school gives me the flexibility I need to be able to wholeheartedly pursue my artistic aspirations while still being challenged academically.”

He has starred in over 25 regional productions in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some of these productions include his roles as “Billy” in Billy Elliot the musical, “Ralphie” in A Christmas Story the musical, and most recently as “IQ” in Hairspray Live!

Read the entire post on our K12's BloggEd Here!

Benjamin Esposito, a graduate of the George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS), was accepted to college—and not just one.  As his parents recently shared with us, Benjamin was accepted at nine colleges.  And, they reported, because of his high academic achievement, these colleges granted him a total of $426,000 in scholarships and awards.

GWUOHS student Sarah Hesterman at UN Youth Assembly in February 

2016 George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) graduate Sarah Hesterman is eager to make an impact. She will attend her second United Nations’ Youth Assembly this week at the UN Headquarters in New York. 

Girl Up 

As a child of two military parents, Sarah is used to moving around. In 2013, Sarah and her family moved to Qatar. There, Sarah attended school and traveled to different countries including Jordan, Tanzania, and India during her breaks.

“I met girls my age that were in such terrible situations,” Sarah said. “No matter where you are, you can see girls being marginalized and ostracized.”
This story was first featured in K12's BloggEd HERE.

Sarah speaks to Ms. Magazine:   It's Time For Girl-Powered Solutions To Inequality

You can read about Sarah's interview with Girl Talk HQ Here!



When I first learned about Acro Gymnast and K12 Student Sophia Handel, I looked her up online and watched some of her performance videos. I’m not sure my jaw has ever dropped that low. The athleticism, strength, and endurance exhibited by this student athlete is truly remarkable.

Click HERE to play VIDEO

What further astounded me, though, is what I learned about her dedication and commitment during my interview with her. Sophia is a student at The George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS), a premier online college preparatory school for students in grades 6–12. She had been attending a traditional brick-and-mortar private school, but as her training and competition demands became more intrusive to her schedule, she was finding it difficult to balance the hour drive to her gym, the hours of practice, and the hour drive back, which left her beginning her homework at 10 PM.

This article was first featured in LEARNING LIFTOFF to read the rest of this post click HERE

Mic check 1, 2, 1, 2! Calling all musicians to step up to the microphone and enter K12‘s fourth annual Music Showcase!

Do your children get excited about singing? Do they spend their free time practicing an instrument? Play in a band? All of these? Then this is the contest for them!

Have your student create a video showing off his or her musical talent for a chance to be a grade level winner, or be the overall Best in Show!

Your child’s excitement for rhythm, beats, and harmony will serve as the inspiration to compose a masterpiece. Their stage presence, musicianship, and style will be their guide to creating a solo piece, duet, orchestration, fugue, glee, quartet, or any format they choose.

Please submit your entries through our “What’s Your Story?” page, along with a video of their performance. All entries must be received no later than 5 PM (ET) on Friday, July 29, 2016. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be eligible for prizes.

For more information about the contest click HERE


Online college preparatory academy students garner over $2.6 million dollars in scholarships --

ASHBURN, Va., June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --The George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) will recognize the Class of 2016 on Saturday, June 25, in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom at the GWU Foggy Bottom Campus. This year, 28 students will receive their high school diploma from the online preparatory school, which serves students in grades 6-12.

GWUOHS is an online college preparatory academy for motivated students who are willing to be challenged to become the best students and persons they can be. Students receive a flexible, individualized education attuned to their own needs and goals with small class sizes and intensive college counseling. GWUOHS provides courses in language arts/English, math, science, history, world languages, art and music, as well as elective and Advanced Placement® courses, and the innovative Journeys Symposium, a seven year sequence of courses that promotes self-awareness, leadership, service, and personal success.

The GWUOHS Class of 2016 earned a combined total of more than $2.6 million in college scholarships, far eclipsing the 2015 total of a million dollars. Graduates are expected to pursue higher education at institutions including Johns Hopkins University, Virginia Tech, the University of California, George Washington University and the American University of Paris, among others.

The commencement speaker for the ceremony on Saturday will be Dr. Michael Feuer, former executive director of the Division of Behavioral Social Sciences and Education, Presidential appointee to the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Science and author of numerous works including the forthcoming book "The Rising Price of Objectivity: Philanthropy, Government, and the Future of Education Research".

"To instruct is to deliver material within the confines of a time period," said Staci Kimmons, Head of School at The George Washington University Online High School. "To teach is to impart a message with depth, inspiring a lifetime of learning. We are dedicated to teaching our students and the class of 2016 exemplifies what a dedicated teaching staff and a motivated student can accomplish."

GWUOHS counselors work with each student to develop his or her own Individualized Academic Plan (IAP), with personalized learning strategies that take full advantage of the range of course offerings and reflect assessments of skills, aptitude, and future goals. Upon matriculation The George Washington University (GW) provides GWUOHS students with unique benefits, including a dedicated admissions director to assist GWUOHS students with the university admissions process.

For more information and to read the entire Press Release click HERE

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Robertson Leads Frontenacs Over Greyhounds

GWUOHS Student Jason Roberston was recently featured in the Kingston Whig-Standard. This article originally appeared in the Kingston Whig-Standard on December 11, 2015. 

By Doug Graham, Kingston Whig-Standard

The Kingston Frontenacs were without four of their best players but not their hottest goal scorer.

Rookie Jason Robertson continued a torrid stretch, with three goals and an assist, to lead the Frontenacs to a 4-1 win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds before 3,519 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre on Friday night.

The Frontenacs, on the hot stick of Robertson, roared back from a 1-0 first-period deficit with four unanswered goals.

Robertson finished off his hat-track with an empty-net goal for his 14th of the season.

“Our top guys are out. It was asked for all of the other guys to step up and do our best. I got rewarded with three goals,” Robertson said.

“The coach said it was one of our best games (where) all the players worked hard, did their job and did their role.”

Up 3-1 going into the third the Frontenacs locked it down in the game's final 20 minutes.

The Greyhounds only had two shots on Lucas Peressini, who faced 20 for the game.

Kingston's effort -- in the absence of Roland McKeown, Lawson Crouse, Spencer Watson and Juho Lammikko, all away at world junior selection camps -- nailed down its 20th win of the Ontario Hockey League season.

They will go after win No. 21 Saturday night against the best junior team in the Canadian Hockey League, the Erie Otters.

“It's a huge challenge for our group, a huge test. We've got to come with a mindset that we are going to have to work as hard as possible to have a chance,” head coach Paul McFarland said.

He said it would take a repeat of the effort the Frontenacs used against the Greyhounds.

“Before the game we talked about everyone raising their level of play. We definitely saw that from everyone,” McFarland said.

Along with Robertson's three goals, Ted Nichol scored the first Kingston goal. Defenceman Stephen Desrocher and Warren Foegele each picked up two assists.

The Greyhounds led 1-0 after the first on Hayden Verbeek's goal.

Robertson continued one of the hottest runs by a Kingston rookie since the rookie years of Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson.

He broke the game open late in the second period with goals No. 12 and No. 13, coming just 55 seconds apart.

The first one was on a dash up the left side when he outraced the Sault chasers.

“The puck bounced over their defenceman and it was a race for it. Just beat the defenceman out and just slid it on the ice five hole," Robertson said.

The second one was on a tip on a waist-high shot from the point by new defenceman Liam Murray.

Robertson, who was on a new line with Conor McGlynn and Warren Foegele, upped his point-scoring streak to nine games with his four-point game.

He also has at least one goal in six straight games.

It's remarkable stuff for the 16-year-old from Northville, Mich., via California, where he first played hockey.

Robertson, in the early going of the season when coach Paul McFarland was rotating young forwards into the lineup, took his turn. He missed five games that way.

The last game Robertson sat out was Nov. 19 in North Bay.

Since then he has simply been too good not to be in the lineup.

“He's played great. His biggest compliment is he doesn't get full of himself,” McFarland said.

“He's not happy with one or two games of success. He just keeps pushing to get better. For us he has to keep working, keep continuing to get better away from the puck. Continue to grow his confidence.”

McFarland was impressed the way Murray, a Orleans native, came in without the benefit of a practice and had a stellar game.

“He did a great job giving us some huge minutes and defending well,” McFarland said.

“From our conversations we've had with him already he is an impressive kid. He is really excited to be in Kingston,” McFarland said.

“We talk about it all the time we want to add character people to our culture here and he definitely fits that mold.”

Game notes: Erie defeated Ottawa 2-1 Friday night. The Otters have only lost four times one of which was to the Frontenacs, 3-2 in overtime...The Frontenacs lead all teams with 17 points earned (out of 20) in overtime... Robertson, with his four points Friday, has piled up 18 points (12 goals, six assists) in the last nine games and that output has in the top ten for OHL rookie scoring with 14 goals and 22 points. Kingston's Gabe Vilardi, the second overall pick in the draft who went to Windsor, is 16th in rookie scoring with eight goals and 13


GWUOHS is proud to announce that one of the school's recent graduates received an AP Scholar Award. The AP Program recognizes high school students who have demonstrated outstanding college-level achievement through AP courses and exams with the AP Scholar Awards. Although there is no monetary award, each award-winning student receives a certificate, and the award is acknowledged on any AP score report that is sent to colleges after the award has been conferred. To read more about the AP Scholar Award, click here. 

Originally published by the International Writing Centers Association

By Cassandra Brownlow 

Currently my high school writing center tutors are delivering asynchronous sessions, offering three hours a day of live face-to-face dialogue, and committed to the discussion that is writing. To admit that my tutors are high school students, grades nine through twelve, should not surprise you in that we’ve all seen a movement pushing for writing centers to appear at the secondary level, but what might surprise you is that my high school students are also online learners.There is much assumed about online learners. Many believe they are homeschooled and socially disengaged.

However, contrary to this belief, my students are just the opposite. They are involved, self-learners desiring to participate and engage in their school. As with many high school students who are volunteering hours around the country in high school brick-and-mortar writing center programs available, my online students are doing much the same.

I’ve been a high school English teacher for seven years: four brick-and-mortar, three online. In my former brick-and-mortar high school, the current department chair was establishing a writing center. Brilliance! At that point I did not anticipate that my conversations with her regarding this creation would lead me to adapt the current model of high school brick-and-mortar writing centers to the virtual learning environment. To be honest, at that time I never saw myself as an educator in the virtual education system at all. Now that I’m here, thrust into an incredibly innovative world of limitless possibilities for learning, I’ve found that adapting the model, using brick-and-mortar understandings and data, was quite simple – not messy at all – like many might assume of the online learning world.

My “ah ha” moment came one cold, winter night. Now I only mention the weather in order to set the tone, the mood . . . my mood. I was depressed, I was bummed, I was, for lack of a better term, fuming. It was the end of the semester, and draft after draft I sunk only lower into despair. Hadn’t these kids learned anything I taught them about writing?! Didn’t they hear the excitement and emphasis in my voice when I taught them that thesis statements, transitions, IDEAS, THINKING!! were important? Well, we all know this answer – it was the end of the semester, they were missing an essay, and they wanted a grade – not a good grade, just a grade. In anger I cursed out loud, “Someone should have to read this before I do!”

Ah ha.

All those conversations with my previous department chair regarding writing centers: the culture, the dialogue, the support, hit me square between the eyes. A writing center!!

And here we are.

Shortly after this ah ha moment, as if the stars aligned, my Head of School assigned each of the faculty a summer professional development. I expressed interest in spending my time researching high school writing centers. During this time, I found that the current model implemented and suggested in Richard Kent’s  A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers: Grades 6-12 was very adaptable to the online world in which my students found themselves. The possibility of utilizing brick-and-mortar methods and models, even the research and data, for my virtual learners was actually quite exciting. Even when faced with determining how this model might look virtually, I was ready to take it on. I was eager to adapt the traditional model to suit the needs of my virtual learners.

Let me quickly define my students for you – because maybe this is the point. They are your “normal” high school students. Some are great athletes, some are musicians, some are actors/actresses, some are profoundly battling a disability, and some love to read and love to write. This is why even considering the adaptation of the writing center model for my online learners seemed so doable. My colleagues around the nation who are involved in the creation of high school writing centers are faced with supporting a similar student population as I am. Maybe the difference between online learning and brick-and-mortar learning is all the more reason to consider why this dialogue of what good writing is or what good writing can be is so important. The only difference, as a virtual high school writing center, is the delivery in which my tutors provide support for our student body.

After researching some common models found in brick-and-mortar high schools around the country (Peggy Silva’s Launching a High School Writing Center and The Secondary School Writing Center: A Place to Build Confident, Competent Writers by Childers, Fels, and Jordan), I realized that I could take what was created, adapt. and continue to push a culture of writing even in my virtual, “wall-less” school. And this process, for the most part, was not as difficult as it might be perceived. The need was there, the model had been provided; why couldn’t this work in my school too?

So I ran with it.

I began thinking about recruiting students: any and all who possess the ability to connect with their peers and all who know what good writing looks like, whether or not they are strong writers themselves. I had learned in my research that these writing centers housed on brick-and-mortar campuses were also serving the students that ran them. In an attempt to engage my colleagues and push for a culture of writing at our high school, I asked for their recommendations for student tutors. I accumulated recommendations and sent out recruitment letters to twenty-three students, all potential student tutors.

I feel as though I should expand on who my students are. I’ve noted above that they are “typical” high school students – but for many, that might be hard to imagine in an online learning environment. My students are full time students with George Washington University Online High School. They take a full course load consisting of the classical core and elective components that support and emphasize mastery. If you can imagine a local brick and mortar high school and then place those common students, the norms, and even the stereotypes in a virtual setting, that is our school; that is our student population. Again, my students need writing support in the exact same ways that any brick-and-mortar high school student needs support.

Before reaching out personally to possible tutors, I had to establish a handbook. Much of what I accumulated I accrued from examples and models of brick-and-mortar writing centers I came upon in my research. I needed to outline expectations for tutors and for clients, and through this creation of the handbook, I felt I was ready to begin moving my tutors towards workshops and ultimately the opening of our virtual high school writing center.

Once I had a rulebook of tutor expectations and client expectations, all modeled after brick-and-mortar examples, I contacted potential student tutors. I can honestly say that when the letters went out, and yes, I did send them through email – let’s not forget we’re virtual – I did not think I would have one single student respond and return the acceptance contract. You can imagine, then, my elation at receiving nineteen total responses – all committed to the dream of this virtual writing center – all willing to dedicate at least one hour of their week to tutoring at the writing center.

After receiving confirmation from these nineteen students, I began brainstorming and imagining the online writing workshops I would promote and host in order to prepare these students for the writing center. Interestingly, the workshops themselves were modeled after brick-and-mortar concepts: I mean, writing is writing, virtual or not. Conversations about writing, engaging the writer, supporting the writer: None of this is different in the virtual world. The only difference is the mode in which we deliver our support: the virtual classroom, the virtual writing center.

The need is the same.
The purpose is the same.
The model is the same.
The dialogue is the same.
The delivery has been adapted.
GWUOHS Writing Center[1]

My tutors are now working for a minimum of one hour a week in our virtual writing center; they are prepared to support and discuss the writing of their peers. Our platform for virtual dialogue is through Blackboard/Elluminate. As part of my tutors’ final workshop, I taught them how to moderate, facilitate and navigate our virtual center. They were trained on tools that would not only aid them in their session and tutoring, but tools that would make the session as seamless as it can be in a virtual setting. Tutors have the ability to meet one-on-one in real time with their peers in order to provide the feedback similar to what is taking place in high school brick-and-mortar centers across this nation. Because my tutors and our clients are virtual learners, they are located around the world, and are engaging in this conversation on writing. Within the Blackbaord/Elluminate room, my tutors have the ability to instant message, post on a whiteboard, speak via microphone and webcam, file transfer and ultimately support. There are blocks of time when more than one tutor is working the center, and my tutors have the ability to create breakout rooms where that individualized face time can still happen for our student body. The session remains personal and supportive. The model remains the same; the classroom has changed.

What excites me about this online high school writing center is that I’m supporting the writing needs of my students and I’m seeing increased engagement in my English classrooms across the board, but more importantly, also that the model of brick-and-mortar high school writing centers is adaptable to an up and coming area of education: the virtual world. This is an example of marrying the best of the old with the possibility of the new. Possibly, and I say this as a former brick-and-mortar teacher, the differences between online learning and brick-and-mortar learning are not as vast and unattainable as we’ve perceived them to be.

In fact, this model, adapted for my students’ needs, further emphasizes what’s been proven about writing centers in general, both secondary and post-secondary – that writing is not only a private process between the writer and the writing, but a process entrenched in the discussion of ideas, the presentation of ideas, and the acknowledgement of real thinking exhibited through writing, all of which is possible even in a virtual learning environment.

About the Author

Cassandra Brownlow is an English teacher at the George Washington University Online High School, an “independent private school for academically talented students in grades 6 –12 who seek a rigorous yet flexible college preparatory program and are motivated to prepare for a life in which they can contribute significantly, responsibly, and respectfully in a global society.”