- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Several school systems and charter schools are offering virtual learning options as a way to attract home-schooled students, prevent dropouts and give students an easier way to balance lives that often involve working to help their families.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/1JhCTnL) a St. Landry Parish charter school, J.S. Clark Leadership Academy, is the latest school in the Acadiana area to take its classroom experience online, offering the courses in grades four through 12.

This school year, the Lafayette Parish School System launched its own K-12 virtual school, in addition to its existing eCampus online course options for students who need to make up course credit or want to take courses not offered at their home schools.

J.S. Clark, which had previously offered online courses, opted to expand those offerings based on the number of overage students who had applied to attend the school and also on interest from home-school families, said Tiffanie Lewis, the school’s founder and CEO.

“This year, we had about six 15-year-olds in fifth grade apply,” Lewis said. “What it said to us was . they want an opportunity to do something different. We don’t want to deny those students who want to be able to push themselves ahead.”

Catching up is often difficult in a traditional classroom, Lewis said. The school’s online program enables students to learn at their own pace. They also have access to additional help on Saturdays at the school, she said.

J.S. Clark opened its doors in 2012 and now enrolls about 240 students in grades five through eight, and 90 ninth- and 10th-graders who, as of Monday, attend class at South Louisiana Community College.

As part of a partnership similar to Lafayette Parish School System’s Early College Academy, J.S. Clark students now have the option to earn associate degrees in tandem with their high school diplomas. The students have the option to pursue a degree and training in business; commercial/industrial electrical technician; general studies; heating, air conditioning and refrigeration; and welding.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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