Virtual education

Jacyne Bowers of Clifton, right, admires her high school diploma with her mother, Malissa Stewart, left, and her grandmother, Marie Jalbert, of Gypsum, after commencement ceremonies Thursday for Grande River Virtual Academy at Two Rivers Convention Center in downtown Grand Junction.

Graduate Samantha Welch of Fallbrook, Calif., clutches her diploma Thursday from Grande River Virtual Academy. She was among 14 who graduated from the online school based in Grand Junction.

By the end of the summer, sisters Alexandra Matz and Samantha Welch will be new moms.

On Thursday, they celebrated being new graduates.

Welch, 19, is due to give birth to a girl in July and 18-year-old sister Matz is due to have a boy in August.

The two graduated together this week from Grande River Virtual Academy despite living in different states — Welch lives with her husband, Kyle, in Fallbrook, Calif., while Matz lives with her parents here in Grand Junction.

Welch never lived in Grand Junction because her family moved to Grand Junction from South Dakota after she and her husband moved west.

She said the graduation ceremony brought her to the Grand Valley for only the second or third time ever.

Despite living a thousand miles away, she chose to enroll in Grande River to be in the same school as her sister and to have the online education experience.

She had just one math, one history and one physical education credit to complete when she joined the school.

“I could work at my own pace, just stay home and not be worried about all the drama of high school,” Welch said.

Both Matz and Welch were done with their graduation credits before they found out about their pregnancies, with Welch done in October and Matz done in December.

Matz said she decided to go to Grande River after spending one week and one day at Grand Junction High School after moving to Colorado in November 2011.

“Schools here scared me,” she said.

The online school, which graduated its first class last year, seemed more her style. After graduation, she said finishing school “feels amazing.”

“I’m so excited,” Matz said. “I didn’t think I was going to get this far.”

Her next step may be dental assistant training, while her big sister hopes to attend college some day to become a history teacher.


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