COLUMBUS, Ohio--()--Ohio Gov. John Kasich addressed the Class of 2011 of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) at its 11th annual graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 11 at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
More than 2000 students from all over Ohio were eligible to participate in the ceremonies, making it the largest graduating class of any school in the United States.
ECOT is Ohio’s first and largest online charter school. In addition to Gov. Kasich, ECOT school officials and class representatives spoke to students and guests.
In the spirit of the fulltime online school, about 1000 students attended in person at the event, but many others watched from their homes around Ohio via an unusual live event webcast (www.ecotohio.org).
The growth of the school has been remarkable. In ECOT’s first graduation ceremony in 2001, just 14 students graduated. The school now has more than 12,000 enrolled students and is the largest charter school in the nation.
ECOT graduates more students than any school in the United States and more than the any of the entire districts of Toledo, Youngstown, Dayton, Akron, and Canton.
Student speakers and awards come from all around Ohio
ECOT graduations are highly unusual. Because students work with their teachers online from their homes, graduation will mark the first time many students will meet their classmates and their teachers.
Among those the school recognized was 2005 graduate Juli Merhaut of Youngstown, afflicted with a debilitating disease as a teenager that prevented her from going to a traditional school. Juli’s story represents many of those in ECOT’s past and present graduating classes.
Juli is pursuing her master’s degree in clinical research at Boston University and plans a career in medicine. Her brother, Nicholas, was among the 2011 graduates in Columbus.
This class has eight valedictorians, including:
- Shanna Christiansen (Toledo)
- Lorissa Christiansen (Toledo)
- Amber Degnan (Andover – Ashtabula Co.)
- Halden Ingwersen (Columbus)
- Rachel Kessie (Springboro)
- Forest Kunecke (Mansfield)
- Michael Woods (Cincinnati)
- Frank Watts (Ashtabula)
- Class Graduation Speaker: (Miss) Halden Ingwersen, Columbus
- The Coann Michael Scholarship (for overcoming adversity): Brenden Tucker, Lakewood
- Founder’s Scholarship: Rachel Kessie, Springboro (Warren County)
- Patricia Felts Scholarship: Caslynn Johnston, Dayton;
- The Sponsor Scholarship: Reanna Nemec, Westerville;
- The Ohio State University Scholarship: Kelsey Armstrong, Upper Sandusky.
About the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow
The largest full-time K-12 online school in the nation with over 12,000 enrolled students, ECOT opened its online doors as the state’s first e-school in the fall of 2000. ECOT serves an “at-risk” student population, and students often enroll in ECOT after not succeeding in traditional schools for a variety of reasons:
- Those who must work to support their families;
- Victims of bullies or of violence;
- Pregnant teenagers;
- Students who have severe health issues;
- Others who need the flexible schedule that online learning provides;
- Credit recovery, high-school dropouts returning to school;
- As many reasons as there are students.