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Online degree just as sweet for teen

• Canyon Country teen graduates from cybercharter school

Posted: June 14, 2008 2:03 a.m.
Updated: August 15, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Valedictorian Harini Kompella holds up her high school diploma. She is a member of the first graduating class of the online Insight School of California/ Los Angeles County.

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When Harini Kompella wants to visit her high school alma mater, all she has to do is walk over to her computer and point and click.

The 17-year-old Canyon Country resident recently graduated from Insight School of California-Los Angeles, a public cybercharter high school that just opened last fall.

A commencement ceremony was held for the first graduating class June 7, and Harini served as valedictorian of the small class of 2008. Her grade point average is 4.3.

"It was basically like regular school - we had assignments and projects and tests, except we just did everything online," Harini said.

"It required a lot more time management, because we didn't have anyone standing over us telling us what to do, and no bell rang to tell us to go to class."

Harini opted for cyber-school after health issues sidelined her from Golden Valley High School. A bout with mononucleosis damaged her inner ear, causing frequent fainting episodes.

"I would faint all the time, especially at school," she said. "I was going to Golden Valley, but I kept missing school and I was getting behind."

Harini heard about Insight, which has online high schools across the country, and since it offers honors and advanced-placement courses, she decided it was just the challenge she was looking for. She signed up the summer after her junior year.

"They have a live classroom once a week with a teacher, and we could talk to the teacher through a microphone," she said. "It was like a regular classroom, because you could talk to other students, too."

Insight also offers clubs and extracurricular activities for its students.

"Even though it was an online school, I was able to form really strong bonds with the teachers and the other students," Harini said. "I never felt alone in that school."

The time-management skills she learned better prepared her for college than a traditional school might have, she said.

"It's not for everyone - you have to be highly motivated and willing to put in the work, but I would recommend it for students who have tried a traditional school and it didn't work for them," Harini said.

The graduation ceremony took place at Embassy Suites in Valencia after the graduates spent the day together at Six Flags Magic Mountain. About 75 people attended the ceremony, which included dinner and a speech by Harini about the obstacles she overcame to graduate.

"It was really nice to be with everyone for the last time," she said. "It was something I'll never forget."





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