ATLANTA — While most students struggled when they were forced into virtual learning by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fulton County senior Caroline Ridout thrived.
Ridout is among the seniors who are a part of the Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence’s first graduating class.
She not only coped with learning from home, she found new opportunities that led to college scholarships.
“It’s nice to stay at home and get to do my own thing,” said Ridout. “I don’t really like being stuck in a classroom all day. If it’s sunny out I can go sit on the patio and do something outside.”
It was a shock when Caroline moved from small town Alaska to metro-Atlanta. She was just getting to know her classmates at Roswell High School when the pandemic hit.
After months of virtual learning, she had the opportunity to re-join those classmates. However, she decided to finish high school at the Fulton Academy of Virtual Excellence.
While her mom had doubts, she said those were quickly erased.
“It’s bolstered her sense of self because she has put herself out there,” said Molly Ridout. “She’s tested things and they’ve come to fruition.”
The school inspired by the pandemic lives on to accommodate students whose schedules or personalities fit virtual learning.
While students and teachers work from home most of the time there are moments when they come together. The teachers collaborate while the students meet once a month to bond.
Caroline stepped forward to offer ideas on student events including the school’s first prom that almost didn’t happen.
It taught her to deal with doubt.
“You just have to keep asking, maybe present it in a different way, keep reaching out to people,” Ridout explained.
She will graduate with a scholarship to Brenau University. There, Ridout will study psychology and early childhood education while leaning on the growth she and other students experienced while learning from home.
“I think they take pride in the fact that they’re doing something different than other students and they’re making it their own,” said FAVE Principal Taylor Barton.
Caroline Ridout hit her stride while navigating a virtual world others were eager to leave.