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Ripon connects with San Jose students

Virtual school now associated with Julliard Academy

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Ripon connects with San Jose students

A California Connections student learns online at home.

Photo contributed/

POSTED April 12, 2013 1:47 a.m.

California Connections Academy Principal Don Ogden told Ripon Unified trustees Monday night that his school has nearly 300 students enrolled from as far away as San Jose along with a new professional association with the legendary Julliard Academy in New York.

The virtual online operation currently offers supplemental programs to some 30 Ripon High School students that are otherwise not offered in Ripon – free of charge, Ogden told board members.

The makeup of the total student body has eight percent coming from charter schools, seven percent from virtual sources, and 25 percent who otherwise were homeschooled, five from private schools, 56 percent from traditional facilities and seven from Ripon.

Ogden said his virtual online school is serving students from gifted to those in special education.  The principal added that he has 10 fulltime teachers and four part-time along with two counselors all certificated in California.

The Ripon operation on North Wilma Avenue has been lauded as having the highest parent and employee satisfaction across America.

Ogden said one of the greatest concerns with virtual classes was how the students would socialize with each other being separated by miles.

“We made a commitment as a staff that every Thursday we would have a field trip with over 1,000 participants to date,” he said.

The field trips have taken students to museums, colleges, farms, the Monterey Aquarium, factories, caves, recycling centers, and the San Jose Tech Museum with 150 students sparking their imaginations.

“Our goal is to reach over 800 on the state tests,” Ogden said. 

In reference to Julliard courses, the principal explained that his students have the opportunity online to work with teachers, composers, musicians and maestros from the New York school.

“What a great way to explore or develop an interest in music,” he said.  “One reason students opt out of music is the quality of a school program that does not match the quality of music produced by the entertainment industry.  With our virtual school’s ability to tap into the best talent in the country, this is no longer the case.”

Ogden said his virtual academy is also offering an avenue that explores aviation.  He noted that many students dream of flight or in taking on the challenge of creating a flying object.

“Our newly launched Aeronautics Club gives students the opportunity to build free flight gliders and learn to soar them under the guidance of members from the national Academy of Model Aeronautics,” he added.

Twenty students built and test launched free flight gliders just last month from glider kits that were donated by the Free Flight Society.

Ogden quoted one student’s reaction:  “This is the second best thing I have done in my life!”

“Future virtuosos and aviators are our students and children of today.  Let’s all encourage them to explore by attending one of our weekly field trips, taking an elective or joining a club,” the principal offered.

The Ripon Unified School District sponsors the charter school and is responsible for oversight reports.

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