by Rose Fernandez
For some kids, an online school is their school of choice. That was true for Emily Boucher, the 2012 valedictorian of the Wisconsin Virtual Academy. Her hometown newspaper recently called her, “Burlington’s ‘Other’ Valedictorian.”
Emily was in traditional high school, a very good high school, with her twin brother when she went to her parents with an unusual request. She wanted to learn at home in a full-time, online public school. She thought she could learn more and learn it more quickly if she could work in her own way at her own pace.
Emily’s parents agreed, but due to enrollment restrictions, they could not transfer their daughter to the public school of their choice for more than a full school year. Emily’s resolve, despite roadblocks, and her success should inform decision-makers, like state legislators, who can change out-dated laws that keep children from the school that can make learning happen for them.
Emily is a young woman who chose to walk an unusual path and in doing so she widens that path for others who are following her. Her reason was simple. It was the best thing for her. That should always be enough.
Emily earned much more than excellent grades and a shot at her dreams. Emily earned the respect of those who advocate for public school options, like online schools, and for removal of arbitrary limits on access. We must hope that her simple choice and her fortitude in making it happen will make school choice easier for others.
Godspeed, Emily, at University of Wisconsin- Madison and beyond.