Angelina Arriola

From Failing to Thriving: Meet Angelina, soon to be first-generation college student

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When we started Elite, one of the things we wanted to be was a safety net for students who fall behind. Sometimes, a school just isn't "for them," and we wanted those students to have options so they can excel and have a great start to their future.

And it's always such a wholesome thing to see students actually accomplish excellence. Because while our (amazing!) teachers can provide support and reach out, it's up to the student to work hard.

Angelina Arriola, an Elite Virtual Academy student, has done just that! She came to us from a previous school where she was struggling and lacked motivation. Since March--right through the thick of this crazy year that we call 2020--Angelina has gotten straight A's!

About Angelina Arriola, future first-generation college student

Angelina ArriolaAngelina is from a big family with six siblings. Her mom just had a baby, so Angelina is busy being a helpful big sister. Between that and other family commitments, it's time consuming to say the least. She's a driven student with dreams who didn't stop when she hit a bump in school.

"Well, the last school I was with was …the support wasn’t really good  there, at least to me. I just didn’t feel very welcomed to ask questions. So, I never really asked for help, which lead me to feeling overwhelmed and then I just started slacking off a lot and I wound up getting to a point where I had all F’s. That’s what lead me to have to change schools, so I came to Elite," said Angelina.

As we've said before (but we'll say it again), Angelina went from failing to mostly A's in six months. Even with a brand new baby sister to help out with!

"I think the difference is the teachers at Elite are definitely just nicer for sure. I feel real welcome to ask for help or a retake, or just ask for anything that I need for school. It’s almost as if I’m in an in-person school, I just feel welcome to text them real quick and get the question out of the way," said Angelina.

"Ms. Lively is the best teacher I’ve ever had for sure. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn't have the motivation from the start to have good grades. I was defeated. But she's really rewarding and she makes you feel good for actually working so it’s always a pleasure with Ms. Lively."

Another small goal Angelina is working on: improving her graffiti art.

"I like drawing graffiti art, it runs on my dad’s side of the family," said Angelina. "He taught me a lot, so it’s kind of fun and special to me."

She didn't want to show us her work yet because she wants to be proud of it, but we're sure she's her own worst critic, considering most things she does is amazing!

After graduating Elite, Angelina wants to become the first person in her family to go to college. Where, she's not sure just yet, but she's leaning toward San Francisco to be far enough to have her own adventure but still be somewhat close to her family.

"I definitely want to go to a four-year college, I want to be the first one in my family," said Angelina. "And I have the support from my family to do that, and not only my family, but Elite too. So, it’s making it seem pretty possible, like I think I’m really going to do it."

Congrats, Angelina. We are so proud of you!

To learn more about the Virtual Academy Angelina's attending, head here.

Noah Reyes

Elite Student News: Noah Reyes earns a perfect AP Calculus Score!

Noah Reyes

Congratulations go out to an Elite student, Noah Reyes, an 11th grade high school student in  the Elite Academic Academy Homeschool program.

Noah attempted the Advanced Placement exam in Calculus BC this past Spring and earned a 5, indicating a perfect score. Noah is self taught in mathematics and has utilized resources such as ThinkWell Homeschool courses for online video instruction and practice.  In addition, he has been taking a series of college courses in chemistry and biology since 2018 at Palomar College, as well as English 100 this past summer, and has maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average. Noah is also fluent in speaking and writing German and participated in competitive tennis before the pandemic.

Nowadays, he concentrates on mastering his ping pong skills at home for recreational purposes. Noah is just another example of one of our Elite students who is dual enrolled in college and continues to excel academically. 

When he was in Middle School he was honored as one of the "brightest middle school students in the world" at an international Johns Hopkins University ‘Center for Talented Youth’ (CTY) awards ceremony last May, and qualified for CTY’s Julian C. Stanley ‘Study of Exceptional Talent’ (SET).

Congratulations, Noah. We are all proud of you!

How steer, pigs and Elite brought these sisters together and ready to graduate

If you think about your siblings--whether you're grown or are a student--you probably love them, but they get on your nerves sometimes. During our current pandemic, probably more like a lot of times.

Sometimes, it takes time to grow close with your siblings. Other times, it takes some livestock and the right school!

Kacey (19) and her younger twin sisters, Cheyenne and Cerenitee (17), have only gotten closer as they've grown. A lot of that, they say is thanks to finding a passion they all share, and having Elite there to help them pursue that passion!

Here are the Vivirito Sisters below. They raise livestock and are changing their community around them with their passion and positive energy!


Kacey, Cheyenne and Cerenitee have been raising livestock and entering competitions/selling for the past four years now. They've also recently had a steer win first place in his class; his name was Chuck.


"So how we found showing livestock—the group we’re in is Alpine Range. I feel like the reason we are so attracted to showing animals because it’s such an experience and responsibility to have and it’s worth the experience because it’s such a strong bond you form with your animals, and it's so rewarding to showcase and have your hard work displayed for everyone to see."

"I just love the memories you make with your animals," Cerenitee added, in a Zoom meeting we had with the Vivirito Sisters.

"Yeah, it’s crazy to think that we’ve learned so much from those around us and now we’re the ones teaching the younger generation. It’s just crazy that we’re now the ones teaching the younger generation and the little kids are looking up to us," said Cheyenne.

"So, you've become sort of experts in your field," we thought. "Why do you keep going? What inspires or motivates you to continue the hard work you've done?"

"I just want to make an impact on the world that there are good things out there and you just got to get into them," said Cheyenne. "I think that’s why I keep showing, it’s very rewarding in the end because little kids will come up to you with your animals and they’ll pet them, ask their names and say, ‘Wow! You’re so cool!’ and really  I’m really not, I’m just doing what I love!"

These sisters are going out of their way to empower the next generation in showing livestock by selling their quality animals at a much cheaper price than they could. Usually a sheep of good quality, for example, can cost up to $1500. Just for one. Needless to say, it's very expensive and the Vivirito Sisters don't want to see kids miss out because of money.

So they sell their sheep to kids starting out for just about $100.

"When we first started, we had very poor quality animals and we know we weren't going in to win, but we still went to play, but we did go in for the experience and learned so much in those few years. So, we want to help the next younger generation that is just starting have better quality animals for a low price. I’m really excited to see how that business takes off."

How cool is that? To not only love what you do, but take the time to pass it on and teach it to the next generation? That's just one reason why we love the Vivirito Sisters.

They don't just work hard in their passions. These sisters have all managed to catch up a school grade in the past semester alone! To them, Elite works better because they aren't so tied to superfluous work and having to attend so many meetings. It gives them the opportunity to balance their livestock work and school work.

"Our old school we were at, they wanted us on meetings all the time. They wanted us from the time we woke up to almost 8 or 9 at night, which is around the time we work with our animals, so it was very hard trying to balance it all. Our grades were slipping, even though we were trying to do all our work," said Cheyenne.

" Now, we can wake up, do our school and go do our animal work," Cerenitee added.

"Yeah, and the teachers make the meeting so much fun. It’s not just all about the school, it’s also about what’s going on in our lives. They care about our animals and it’s good to know that someone’s willing to talk about that versus it just being an hour meeting of just school. So I very much appreciate that," said Cheyenne.

It’s also very easy, well, the work is not easy, but not overbearing. It’s not bunches and bunches of homework onto school work…I think this is the best my grades have been in a long time," said Cheyenne.

"Without Elite, I don’t know where I’d be...probably be grades behind," said Kacey.

So, with all this hard work and passion, where do the Vivirito Sisters plan to be after graduation? It's actually somewhat surprising. But we couldn't be more proud. 

"For me, I aged out of showing, so I want to finish here and go to college to become a vet and work with animals and help in the equine industry," said Kacey.

"For me, I would like to follow in my mom’s footsteps in becoming a certified nurse assistant (CNA). I’ve always been fascinated with the medical field. Whenever my sisters gets hurt, I’m always like, “Oh, cool, I wanna help, can I help?”

"Yeah, you do that!" Cerenitee laughed.

"I guess I’m attracted to making people feel better. So, I feel like a CNA would suit me the best," Cheyenne said.

"Mine is so different from you guys!" laughed Cerenitee. "After I graduate, I want to go to college to become a makeup artist and work on the movies. Mostly in special effects makeup."

"She’s so good. It’s scary how real it looks," her sisters added.

"We grew pretty close once we started showing livestock together. There’s sometimes when we butt heads for a little bit...but we’ve grown pretty close, we do everything together. Elite has helped like crazy. I don’t know where I’d be without elite, that’s all I’m saying," said Cheyenne.

Keep working, Vivirito Sisters! You all are going to accomplish amazing things!

  • Students and readers: What is your passion? We want to hear about it! Drop us a comment below!

Interested in Elite and how it can help you balance your life? Learn more here!

Elite LifeSail Program

Outdoor Wilderness - Education You Can't Duplicate on the Computer Screen

Two new sailors stand on the pier, ready with life jackets buckled, as their instructor makes the final preparations to a Cal 25 for departure. The pair is about to set out on a weekend voyage to the Channel Islands, accompanied by their parents and a skilled crew from LifeSail.  The whole family loads the vessel, excited for the experience of open-ocean sailing. 

The two Bakersfield siblings, Cooper and Lillian Mills, are both enrolled at Elite Academic Academy and recently attended a summer of sailing lessons with LifeSail, a non-profit sailing organization out of Marina Del Rey. The class they took was a part of the Adventure Academy, a CTE enrichment program at Elite that is focused on outdoor education and natural awareness. Like the Mills siblings, numerous students across the United States spent their summers enrolled in nature connection and outdoor based learning programs. 

A recent article from NPR writes, “Demand has surged for outdoor and wilderness programs, driven by parents desperate to get their kids off-screen and out of the house. Numerous New England wilderness schools report they could double or triple their already increased programming and still have waiting lists.” And it doesn’t stop there. Outdoor programs are gaining popularity and recognition throughout the nation. 

"I think we're entering the golden age of outdoor education," says Sam Stegeman, executive director of the Vermont Wilderness School. "Because of COVID, one of the silver linings is we're finally getting huge numbers of American children outdoors during the school day."The importance of engaging with our natural surroundings is increasingly valuable in an ever-digitizing age. Many students are taking classes virtually this school year, influencing parents to look towards outdoor education as an avenue to supplement their student’s learning. 

Robert, the father of the two young sailors writes, “As a parent, I feel truly blessed that my two children were able to experience sailing on the open ocean. This was an incredibly enriching program for them, during a time when most learning is happening over video conferences and emails.” Sailing truly is a remarkable learning tool; topics of physics, navigation and natural sciences are all easily woven into a fun day on the bay. Young sailors are particularly precocious when it comes to learning the ropes. 

The Life Sail program made me see things in a different perspective, making me realize how hard things may be in the beginning, but if you put your mind to it, you can do it,” says Lillian, age 13, after her summer sailing experience, “I would definitely recommend it to others.” Her little brother, Cooper had good things to say too. “The coaches weren't just my teachers but my friends. They showed me why we work for what we love and why we do it. During the life sail camp I made many friendships that will last my whole life.” Both students ended the summer with a family trip to Catalina Island, allowing them to feel the solitude of big water as the coast fades into the horizon. 

The program they attended was created to facilitate long-remembered experiences with nature. The Adventure Academy is offered through Elite, a non-profit, which serves students in 8 counties throughout Southern California. “Our school is truly blazing a new trail,” says Tom Olson, the Adventure Academy Lead, “we are building a virtual outdoor education program with hands-on, real-life experiences that capstone concepts. It is inclusive and anyone is allowed to participate, regardless of skill level or background.” The course that the Mills family completed was the first section of a progression of classes that aims to give students insight into the industry of Tourism & Recreation, a facet of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at Elite.“CTE is a really awesome program; it gives students the opportunity to develop life skills like working towards hard to achieve goals, particularly certifications. Just the nature of outdoor education fosters team building and camaraderie. It shows kids how to work together to solve problems in a living, changing environment. I think it helps build adaptability and interpersonal skills,”  Tom explains. The school aims to expand their offerings into topics beyond the marina, such as wilderness medicine, backcountry preparedness and life skills such as fire safety and trip planning. 

“We are empowering youth to think critically, take responsibility, and engage with their surroundings.” Tom says, “The natural world serves as a tool to build leaders and instills a lifelong respect for the environment. The utility of these experiences is invaluable & long-lasting.”

Elite LifeSail Program

Here is a testimonial from an Elite Family that thrived with the LifeSail Program and credits our Community Partner for enriching their educational experience during this uncertain time. 

 The life sail program gave me a new perspective of the world. Mr. Matt and the life sail coaches showed me teamwork, how to face your fears, to pursue your passion, and to keep on dreaming. Mr. Matt was the organizer. But to me he is a mentor, someone who showed me what I love and who I want to be. However the life sail camp would not be if it wasn't for the coaches. The coaches weren't just my teachers but my friends. They showed me why we work for what we love and why we do it. During the life sail camp I made many friendships that will last my whole life. My experience at LifeSail was truly a time to remember. I will never forget my beautiful experience at LifeSail.

-Cooper Mills Age 11

The Life Sail program made me see things in a different perspective, making me realize how hard things may be in the beginning, if you put your mind to it, you can do it. Coach Steven is very helpful and made sure to tend to my needs, and help me with learning how to sail better. Coach Cynthia was very nice, and helped me learn how to control a jib sheet. Coach Fernando was funny, but when he needed something to get done, he made sure it got done. Coach Matt was a great coach to me. He meant business and he would always get everything done neatly and organized. Everyone at Life Sail was very influential and I would definitely recommend it to others.

-Lilly Mills Age 13

We are so grateful to Mr. Matt for creating this wonderful program. As a parent, I feel truly blessed that my two children were able to experience sailing on the open ocean. This was an incredibly enriching program for them, during a time when most learning is happening over video conferences and emails. I thank Mr. Matt and all of the coaches at Life Sail for giving my kids a life changing experience. I know they are better for it.

-Robert Mills, Father of Lilly and Cooper 

online school work desk

Back to "online" school shopping essentials, according to students

online school work desk

Let's get real:

Going back-to-school shopping is not so fun.

It might sound exciting at first, sure. You could get a few outfits, a new backpack, maybe even a new awesome Lisa Frank trapper keeper (No? Not cool?). But then you get to the store. There are only two scenarios:

  • You've started your shopping early. Congratulations! Now, you're struggling through the crowd that's nothing short of a Wal-Mart on a Saturday night. All while keeping the mask on and trying to keep your distance.
  • You wait to do your shopping, either to avoid crowds or because you're a procrastinator. Either way, you're stuck with the bottom of the barrel, meaning you probably really will be sporting a Lisa Frank trapper keeper. It's all that's left over.

It's a much nicer thought than reality.

And that's when online students breathe a sigh of relief. Because all that's needed for online school is a laptop, your curriculum and an internet connection. Heavy binders, note-taking tools, tissues, backpacks or whatever other random item on your school supply list won't be on ours.

For many people, however, this school shopping for virtual learning is a first this year. Which makes you wonder what your child actually needs?

But that's the beauty of it: It's up to what you decide.

While your student can study wherever they want, a designated workspace is always a good idea. It helps your brain know it's time to focus. But it doesn't have to be a boring place. In fact, adding a few personal touches will make the space more enjoyable as you study.

According to online students, these are the items you actually need for online school.

Aside from a computer with internet, of course.

  1. A comfortable seat. Whether it’s an office chair or a bean bag, make sure you can comfortably sit for hours.
  2. A desk (or a bed!). Something that has room for you to sit down with a notebook and some other items.
  3. A snack to avoid  getting ‘hangry.’
  4. Music to make studying enjoyable. Besides, it could improve your focus.
  5. Lighting in whatever form makes you happy. Lamp, lava lamp, Himalayan salt lamp, your choice.
  6. Something to stay cool or warm, because it’s Idaho.
  7. Artwork hanging on the walls. This could be your own drawings or a favorite movie poster.
  8. A friendly feature, like a plant or your cat, to brighten the atmosphere.
  9. A personal item. For our students, that meant something different. Some liked to have their camera nearby, others liked to have their favorite sports drink.

See how some online students described their personal workspaces:


“My space is unique because I always have my pup with me, I have my laptop, a notebook and my bed, I don’t have a desk. So I sit on my bed and do everything, I’ll sit outside, I have to have music going, and I have pictures on my walls.”

– Erica M.

“What makes my personal workspace unique is that I get to work at any time given. I feel comfortable and stress free. If I go out somewhere, I can take my work with me. I especially like it because I get to be home with family and grab a snack whenever I like. It can seriously be the couch, my bed, kitchen table and the patio except it really hot throughout the day. I’m also able to listen to music, helps motivate me more!”

– Salma U.


Photo submitted by Jennifer H.


“What makes my workspace unique? Everything, I have everything I need next to me, not only that but I usually have my artwork scattered all over the table or hung up on the wall. I also add motivational quotes to help me get through the day, oh and my dog who is always with me.” 

– Jennifer H.

“I have my laptop, binder with paper, an extra notebook, pens, pencils and such all in my laptop bag that I set up on the dining room table every day. I don’t ever work alone while having a daughter but I get good grades, learn to multitask and I get work done nicely and organized. I guess that’s all you can really ask for to get through school.”

 – Kayde P.


woman working in garden

COVID Friendly Summer Family Activities

woman working in garden

Summer break.

In a normal, non-pandemic year, it's the most anticipated time for students. It's that classic movie scene showing students finishing up their very last assignment before the metaphorical bell rings and they can celebrate the start of summer. They finally have all the time in the world to hang out with their friends, go to the movies, maybe take a long family vacation.

For 2020? The story's a little different. We've been diligently trying to stay at home and social distance for months now. Students have not been on their regular schedule with extracurricular activities. So that "summer slump" parents and students start to feel around August, where those glittery hopes turn into dealing with bored children is already here.

It's not that you don't love your children, it's that both you and your children can only enjoy so many unstructured, unproductive days. Because let's be honest, trying to entertain your kids for months is exhausting. Unless you have signed up for our Year Round Program, you may be desperately looking for things to do!

But there's a lot of great things about being at home more, primarily that you have the opportunity to reconnect with your family. So to keep your sanity, and help you make the most of the 2020 summer, we recommend trying out some of these simple, daily activities to keep your child's brain active and ready for school.

Explore somewhere other than the beach!

Of course, going to the beach is awesome. And if you can find one that's open and not too crowded, go for it! But there's a lot of beauty in the valley of Southern California to discover! Places far away from crowds and close to natural wonders.

Why not take a hike? It's easy to social distance, and it keeps you healthy physically and mentally--both extremely important this summer especially.

Check out Adventure Lead Tom Olson's Video to learn about hikes in your area.

If you have space for a garden - start one

First off, if you don't have space in your backyard (or don't have one), you're not excluded from this activity! Plants like succulents, tomatoes, herbs and spices will do just fine in a windowsill. You could even go all out and build your own plant terrarium from an old fish tank or even just a jar.

But, if you can get outdoors while staying at home, it will do so much for your mental health. You don't have to spend thousands on garden tools and supplies! Building a garden space is not as difficult as it sounds; check this tutorial out. And you don't even need a box if you don't want. Pots are very cheap and a great way to get started.

The amazing part of living in Southern California is that you can grow just about anything here! But here are a few good ones to plant in the summer for beginners:

  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Basil
  • Summer flowers like dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers or marigolds

Create an obstacle course with toys or items from your garage

This is a great one to get creative with. Find pool noodles, blankets, chairs, benches, laundry baskets or whatever you can think of and build your best obstacle course. Time each other and see who can get through the fastest.

When that's done, maybe turn the course into an indoor mini golf game?

Visit your local library

Grab your mask and head to the library! They aren't just for books; libraries these days have games, movies audiobooks and sometimes even discounted tickets to the zoo or other events.

If you don't feel comfortable going to the library in person, many of them have apps to access digital books for free! You will have to go in person to get your library card, but after that you can read from your digital devices at home. Reading is so good for keeping your brain active. Don't stress what your child takes interest in reading, it doesn't have to be a novel! Reading a comic book will still help your child retain vocabulary and comprehension skills they gained during the school year. As long as it's not SnapChat or texting lingo, it's progress. :)

Start a virtual book club with your friends

Now that you're equipped with your library membership card, why not make it a club? Try out Zoom for club meetings, or did you know Facebook and FaceTime allow you to do group face chats now? And those are free! Set a time with your friends and family. Assign the book and discuss chapters each week until you've finished the book together. It's a great way to bond and keep your brain sharp over the summer.

And, of course, no club is complete without snacks. So have each person bring a snack to the virtual meeting and showcase what they made!

Make dinner as a family - try new recipes

Involve your child in cooking this summer. And if they're old enough, assign them nights to make dinner for the family. You can plan it out together, grab the ingredients at the store and see what masterpieces they come up with.

You can teach the family secret recipes, but also try something new! If you're looking for easy snack recipes to make with your child, check out this article we posted awhile back.

Family Game Night

At home is safest when needing to social distance. So, make it an opportunity to spend quality time together with a family game night.

There are the classics, like Charades, Taboo or Apples to Apples. Then, there are the more active games like Twister or indoor bowling. You can even get a little educational with something like Yahtzee, Skip-BO or 31.

Even just going on the Nintendo Switch or the Apple Arcade and playing together is a great activity.

Family Movie Night, with closet cosplay!

You've probably already watched more TV than you have in your life with this quarantine. But, hey, you're probably still going to for a little while longer. So, get the creative juices flowing with a closet cosplay, meaning you dress up to the character using only what's in your closet. You can also make a costume with materials in the home as well!

You pick the movie. Maybe it's a Marvel movie, for example. Then each member secretly picks a character from the movie to dress up as. When you all come out and try to guess who each person is. Maybe you both end up coming out dressed as "Fat Thor," and that makes it all the more entertaining!

You can also make desserts and snacks that go with the movie to really get you in to the spirit of the movie night.

Picnic in the park

A lot of restaurants aren't allowing dine in at the moment, and if they do allow it, the reduced occupancy makes for long wait times.

But thank goodness the weather is beautiful here in Southern California! Support your favorite local restaurant and order take out, then take it to a nearby park for a family picnic.

If you don't want to eat out, then make a traditional picnic. Put together some sandwiches and maybe even bake a pie and head out for a picnic.

At-home spa day

Self care is still so important. Whether you have boys or girls in the home, you can enjoy a spa day! Get some robes (or comfy clothes) on, slice those cucumbers and treat yourself! You can get cheap skin masks and foot baths on Amazon. Play some relaxing music and take care of yourselves for a day.

We will make it through this summer! Remember to take care of yourself and find gratitude where you can. We'll see you this fall!

Interested in Elite? Click here to get info.

Teacher Spotlight - Mrs. Catheryn Reardon, PhD

Catheryn, Reardon, PhD is an Elite educator with the Virtual Program who has been a teacher for 15 years. She loves helping students in meeting their goals to succeed! She works with students one on one, and their families, to ensure that they are progressing in their courses, and receive the support they need when challenges arise.

I am also their cheerleader when it comes to their academic progress and working towards their long term goals! I also love to support my student athletes, and those involved in the arts! I am also the content teacher for High School English in grades 11 and 12, and love to assist my content students by providing tutoring and live sessions that go over difficult concepts.

Mrs. Reardon, her husband and 2 daughters enjoying some sun!

Mrs. Reardon was inspired to get into teaching after her first of three daughters was born.

I spent my first career in journalism and publishing, but fell in love with teaching after the birth of my first daughter. I went back to school to earn my credentials to become a teacher, and then taught in the physical classroom for several years before switching to online teaching in 2008. I continued my learning so I could better serve my students in the online environment and went on to earn a Master's degree in Education, and then a Ph.D. in General Psychology in Technology and Learning. As a lifelong learner myself, I try to promote that love of learning for my students so they not only see the value of education, but how accessible it is for them too!

She really enjoys teaching at Elite and has found a home with the Virtual Program!

I love teaching in the remote environment and appreciate that this format of learning allows students to attend in a flexible setting that best meets their academic needs and busy schedules. This is a wonderful setting for many student athletes, and those who need a more flexible format of learning. It is also a wonderful option in light of current events!

We asked Mrs. Reardon what she would like to say to her current and future students:

I would tell them that I will be their biggest cheerleader, and I am on their team! I think often times it can be scary to be an online student because you are unsure of who is on the other side of the computer screen. However, I take joy in my student's successes, and in their failures too so that we can create a game plan to help them succeed. There is no one size fits all in education and it is my job to find that perfect fit for my students in their online learning so that they can gain confidence and grow as a student! :)

Mrs. Reardon definitely stays busy outside of the virtual classroom. She love to swim and take long walks, watch her daughter's Water Polo teams, and attend many athletic events. She is a huge Disneyland fan, or in her words, a "Disney Geek"! Our Elite Virtual students are very lucky to have such a caring, experienced and hands on teacher. Thank you Mrs. Reardon for everything that you bring to Elite Academic Academy!

Emily Rowley

Elite's 2020 Graduating Class Valedictorian - Emily Rowley

Emily Rowley

Our 2020 Graduating Class is nothing short of fantastic. They have all worked very hard and it has been a joy to see them grow and work towards their goals. Elite Academic Academy (EAA) has chosen Emily Rowley, a senior from our Homeschool Program, as our Valedictorian for the Class of 2020. Jenny Soulias, her teacher, explains why Emily exemplifies what it means to be "Elite" and is the perfect choice for Valedictorian:

Emily has a heart of gold. She is a kind, warm person who is simply a joy to be around. Academically, her eagerness to learn is exhibited in everything she does, and her work is impressive. She perseveres through challenging times and looks at everything as an opportunity to grow. It was wonderful having Emily as part of the Elite family! 

Emily will be attending UC Berkeley this fall and majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She was honored to accept the position as Valedictorian, just one more accomplishment before she heads off to college.

My favorite thing about Elite has been working with my teachers to create a class schedule and even custom classes that are specific to my interests. I've been able to take a lot of classes in computer science, deep learning and math that have helped me achieve my goals and prepared me for my major at Cal. My teachers have always been super supportive of my goals, and their encouragement has been invaluable in my high school journey.

We know this is just the beginning for you Emily, and we cannot wait to see everything that you accomplish in the future! Congratulations Emily and to the entire 2020 EAA graduating class.

Hannah Phan

The Virtual Academy Experience, Through the Eyes of 8th Grader Hannah Phan

Elite teacher Vanessa Vosburg is very proud of Hannah Phan, a hard working and dedicated 8th grade student in Elite's Virtual Academy. Hannah is a joy to meet with and her enthusiasm rubs off on the teachers who get to work with her. Hannah is very thoughtful and insightful, often turning meetings with Ms. Vosburg into literary analysis and various discussions. When she isn't conquering her classes, Hannah enjoys reading, playing board games and video games, or practicing skateboarding!

Recently, Hannah was asked to share her thoughts about her experiences with Elite. In response, Hannah penned the below essay, which she has graciously allowed us to share with everyone.


Lately, because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, many schools have been converting to online schools and students have had their first experience in the world of virtual school. Online school has earned a smudged reputation because of this. Students entered virtual school in a
harsh and swift manner and in an unprepared state of mind, and therefore some have negative feelings towards it. They were not able to be eased into the virtual school environment and instead were thrown into it without a choice. This essay is for students and parents alike to
inform them of why online school is actually the most favorable choice for them or their child.

The environment of a home virtual school is, well, home! Because of the ongoing virus, schools have needed to transform their educational environment into virtual studies to allow people to stay home and social distance. Students can work on their schoolwork in the comfort of
their own home or anywhere they have an internet connection. All of their supplies and materials are easily accessible. Students of official online schools and academies do not have a tight and early schedule to adjust to; instead they can craft their own daily work calendar to keep
themselves on task. Even while working at home, they can still easily separate their school and home life. Crafting a daily work schedule for school will help them to set times to work and times to chill, nap, eat, read, exercise, etc. Virtual students can also separate their school and
home lives by having a designated work area, such as a desk or table, that is separated from where they spend their free time. The comfort and accessibility of a home environment allows students to focus more easily on their schoolwork. At first, having your school life in the comfort of your own home can feel intrusive and it can be a challenge to separate work from play, but both lives combined in one place is more advantageous than you would think.

There are virtual school advantages for parents, too! Having your kids get ready to go to school in the mornings and picking them up when school is out can be a hassle and frustrating to your own work and home life. With online school, you also don’t have to worry too much about your gas tank. A survey by shows that commute costs can make up 12-18% of total school fees. Yet, students could get restless at home without any school events to attend; however, Elite Virtual Academy (EVA) offers many different exciting and engaging field trips for virtual students. Students can choose from local or long-distance field trips and can find activities that meet their needs; such as music or dance lessons, or even joining a sports academy if they are interested.

Virtual school comes with many more perks and advantages than just being at home. Elite Virtual Academy charges no fees of any kind for any applications, classes, tutoring, materials, etc. In fact, EVA givesHannah Phan students the opportunity to earn free mailed goodies and prizes
to them. They host art contests, video contests, name drawings, and more that earn students goodies and cool Elite merch. I have personally won art supplies for placing in an art contest (a sketchbook and fine tip gel pens along with Elite Academy sunglasses). Parents don’t have to worry about that extra burden on their wallets and bank accounts by not having to pay for books, tuition, tutors, stationary, uniforms, commute fees, lunch, and more.

With online school comes quite a few personal benefits. In Elite Virtual Academy you can work at your own pace and there are no mandatory due dates, only at the end of each semester. Students of EVA have periodic virtual meetings with the teachers that are both educational and enjoyable. They are especially helpful and productive because of the one-on-one help and tutoring that the students usually would not receive in the average school classroom. Virtual students also have the opportunity to spend more personal time going out and spending
time with family and friends. Students gain both academic and personal advantages when schooling at home.

Doing physical education (P.E.) in the comfort of your home is a much more enjoyable activity because of the ability of personalization. As an eighth grader, in P.E. class I am required to perform forty minutes of P.E. daily and to submit what I did and for how long at the end of each week. The best part is that any type of exercising is acceptable. You can walk your dog, swim, dance, skateboard, bike, do cardio, play sports, weightlift, do yoga... you get the idea.Having the choice of choosing what to do for P.E. class while still having to meet a certain criterion makes us students work and play hard while still having fun by doing our own undesignated physical activities. P.E. makes up for sitting at our screens a majority of the day, and, of course, it helps us stay in a healthy, happy condition.

Studying at Elite Virtual Academy is a blessing for students and parents alike. You or your child being able to stay in the safety of their homes during this pandemic is both reassuring and beneficial. The accommodations and compromises made to fit a student’s personal life are immensely useful to their individual lifestyles and academic well-being. The absence of fees and the companionship of their teachers also contribute greatly to their education. The capability of personalized and private physical activities motivate students to stay on task with their P.E. and contributes to a healthy mind and body. My experience as an eighth grader in Elite Academy has genuinely been exciting and influential. The material I learn on the daily inspires me to continue to learn more and I truly retain that information. One of my favorite perks of online school is the personal free time, which I can utilize to work on my mental health and physique. Virtual school allows me to use my time for self care and it puts no strain on my academic performance, unlike the pressuring workloads and schedules of traditional schools. Taking everything into account, online school is the most desirable option for both children and their parents because of the easygoing, financially beneficial, and low-pressure environment at home.

Building Resiliency through Adversity

Post by Sal Becerra, School Counselor

Graphic Source


While there is still much uncertainty concerning the impacts of the unprecedented COVID-19, this pandemic has forced us to adjust to a new normal. Many, like myself,  have been forced into confinement in our own homes. Only going out to purchase the essentials and even then using the “Drive-Up” option to minimize the need to walk into a public place. Aspects of our professional lives have had the same impact as we have ventured to work virtually. 

Whether it is as a student, parent, teacher, the administrator, many of us have to balance a life of working and being with family all at the same time. Our priorities for school, work, and personal responsibilities have been impacted by this pandemic. For that same reason, it is crucial that we work on self-care and focus on our mental health wellbeing.  Finding that balance within this chaos is key. Here are some steps to take to help build your resiliency. 

STEP 1: Focus On What You Can Control

When there is uncertainty or things that are beyond our control it causes us to feel stressed and/or anxious.  It is extremely important to focus on what we can do in the present moment, even if it's to pause and breath, or take a mindful walk to recenter ourselves. 

Take a moment and think about the things that are out of your control and the things that are within your direct influence.  It is crucial to focus on the things we can control in the present moment and take those small steps to feel better. What small steps can you take to minimize the impact of stress/anxiety today?

Take some time and fill out your own What’s In Your Control thinking map (What's In Our Control).

STEP 2: Practice Self-Compassion 

The second step in building resiliency is to practice SELF-COMPASSION. As human beings, we are sometimes our worst critic and something we criticize ourselves, even more, when things become overwhelming or don’t go as planned. Dr. Kristin Neff from the University of Texas at Austin has developed the three parts of Self-Compassion. Here are some ways you can implement it in your own lives: 

Steps In Practicing Self-Compassion

Practice Self-Kindness
  • Pausing and noticing our suffering and responding to it with kindness
  • Noticing that is painful and stressful
  • Be kind to ourselves in a similar way we would respond to a friend who needs a shoulder to lean on. 
  • What would you say to a friend who is going through a difficult time? We need to practice that same compassion inwards.
Find that Common in Humanity
  • Pausing and noticing that other people are sharing in your suffering right now. Noticing they are feeling similarly, even if their experiences might be different than yours.
Be Mindful of the situation
  • We need to be mindful of our experiences and approaching them with a sense of curiosity and acceptance.
  • A simple way of responding to our present stressors is by asking “Where am I feeling this stress right in my body?” and ”What would I call this emotion?” 
  • If you notice your shoulders are tense, what can you do to relax them?. 
  • Think about what can you do in the present moment to reduce your stress.

Practicing Self-Compassion can help interrupt our inner critic and help us get centered. Take a minute or two each day to practice these. It will help reduce negative thoughts and allow our minds to be in the present moment. 

Step 3: Create a Self-Care Plan

The final step in this journey is to develop our Self-Care Plan (Self-Care Plan). This self-care plan serves as a reminder to take care of ourselves physically and mentally every day. These small actions will contribute to making you more resilient.  The Self-Care Plan below is an example of what you can do.

As you look into building your self-care plan think about the following:

Physical  What is one thing that you can do to take care of yourself physically?
Mental & Emotional What is something you can do each day to support your mental and emotional wellbeing?

What is something you can do for fun?

Note: within 5 to 15 minutes of doing something fun, the central nervous system starts calming down.

Social What can you do to stay socially connected with your friends, family and/or significant other?

Remember that practicing self-care is never a selfish act, it is important that we find that balance in our lives to keep us centered and psychologically healthy. I hope these tools can help you stay resilient and healthy. For more information or for further resources, please contact me at [email protected]