New to BHS: Buzz Academy

Students provided with new virtual school option for 2021/2022

In+Kathy+Stevens%27+6th+period+Pre-AP%2F+Pre-Cal%2FTrig+class%2C+juniors+Shelby+Bratton%2C+Lily+Studdard+and+Kennedy+McGuire+sit+at+their+desks+working+on+their+classwork.+Students+who+choose+Buzz+Academy+will+complete+assignments+at+home+instead+of+working+in+a+classroom+on+campus.

Jessica Roberts

In Kathy Stevens’ 6th period Pre-AP/ Pre-Cal/Trig class, juniors Shelby Bratton, Lily Studdard and Kennedy McGuire sit at their desks working on their classwork. Students who choose Buzz Academy will complete assignments at home instead of working in a classroom on campus.

Julia Trantham, Staff Writer

A new virtual-only option is coming to Bryant Schools beginning next year.  The program, “Buzz Academy,” promises to give students a quality education from the comfort of their homes. The program is available to secondary students grades 6-12 and offers a school experience that is different from a traditional classroom setting while still keeping Bryant teachers dedicated to their students. 

There are two options for this new program–synchronous and asynchronous. The synchronous option is for students who will have a daily class schedule and have required Zoom sessions with their teachers for class instruction. The asynchronous option allows students to have a more self-paced learning option through curriculum like Edgenuity, which is a program where students listen to teachers from all around the country. Bryant teachers would act as  moderators of the learning rather than actually providing their own direct instruction.

Counselor Jenny Watkins has been sending out informational emails to parents and students regarding the program and believes that Buzz Academy will be a successful program for the students who enroll in it.  

“We had already been in the works of planning Buzz Academy before the pandemic, but COVID gave it a little bit more of a shove,” Watkins said. “We were able to implement a virtual option for our students that will be different from what it was this year, and next year it’ll hit the ground running.”

Because of the limited spots in this program, there will be expectations regarding grades and school participation for those who apply.

“The qualifications to get into Buzz Academy will be a little different than what we currently have in place,” Watkins said. “We at Bryant want to make sure that our students are educated and have the knowledge and skills and are not only successful here, but later in life. There may be a few more or different expectations from our virtual students this year.”

Watkins claims that this program will fit students who might not feel that high school is as important to them as it may be to others.

“This option allows students to still have the seven-period class days, but going from class to class may not be as relevant to them in their life,”  Watkins said. “This option will give them the opportunity to work in a space that they feel is more conducive to them. Some may be able to work at their own pace, and some just want a high school without the drama. So, it allows the opportunity to be able to work in their home, work on the go or do whatever they need to do in order to get the same high level of Bryant education, but just in a different method.”

Watkins says that this program will be better suited for students who are usually on top of their work.

“Students who are good at working with little direction, that are self motivated and that are super responsible, good decision makers, with good time management skills will be a good fit for this program,” Watkins said. “If students are not successful at Buzz Academy, we will probably ask them to come back to campus and join the regular students.”

Watkins also expressed that this program is not limited to a specific set of students. Students who are AP students, athletes or students involved in extracurricular activities such as band or choir are still allowed to apply, but they may have to come on campus for those activities.

“This model of education is open for most of our students–we wanted to pull from most of our student population,” Watkins said.

There are still a lot of questions and parts of the program that need to be worked out and will soon be determined, such as device and internet access for students enrolled in the program, as well as activities that go on in the school, such as senior week.

“We highly recommend that students have a reliable internet connection and their own device, but we’re waiting to see about providing their own devices for them,” Watkins said. “I think things like [school activities] are to be determined. I think that things like prom and graduation should [have] no reason for [students] not to be able to participate in that, and I’m sure that they would probably be able to participate in senior week, but it’s all to be determined at a later time, most likely by administrators.” 

Watkins says that although the pandemic has left behind several negative things, Buzz Academy isn’t one of them. 

“One of the silver linings that happened from COVID-19 is that it changed the way the world operates and sees things, so I’m hoping that some of the changes that we’ve made in education stick around for good,” Watkins said. “One of them is Buzz Academy,” Watkins said. “We’ve always had homeschooled students, students that have always wanted to be virtual, so this is just allowing our students to take the chance in our world of education to be a Bryant Hornet, and graduate from Bryant, but do it remotely.”

Watkins says that she has high hopes for the program.

“We’re excited to give our students this opportunity, because we know that a seven-period class day is not for everybody, so, we just like we try to make the content relevant to everybody, we need to make the learning relevant as well, so we’re trying to do that and help our students.”