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PA Virtual Recognizes National Bullying Prevention Month Part II



Bullying is no longer limited to children pushing and shoving on the playground where they can easily be caught and disciplined. It happens behind screens and on social media platforms, many of which parents don’t even know exist.  

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In the second part of this blog series, we take a look at some of the warning signs parents can look for if they suspect their child might be bullying others.

A major warning sign is an obsession with devices. We live in a digital world, so a child’s connection to their phone or game console is to be expected, however when it turns into an obsession it could be a sign that your child is spending their time bullying others through technology. Your child may not outwardly be displaying signs of aggression or bullying others in front of you, but rather instead hiding behind a screen. Parents can prevent bullying by carefully monitoring screen time and explain that cyber bullying is harmful and unacceptable behavior.

In 2015, Pennsylvania passed HB 229, which made it a crime to bully any child in the state using electronic means. This bill states that an offender of any age, who intimidates, harasses, or threatens the well-being or mental state of a juvenile could be charged with a fine and possibly jail time depending upon the severity of the act. Comments on a child’s physical traits, sexuality, and mental or physical health are all punishable. Educators from all backgrounds – cyber, charter, parochial, and traditional schools – celebrated the passage, and took it as a sign that the new epidemic of cyber bullying could be slowed.

Roughly 80% of teenagers think that bullying is easier to get away with online than in person. If you suspect your child may be bullying others, lay out expectations for responsible online behavior and make it clear that there will be consequences for inappropriate actions. If your child is hiding behind a screen, keep all devices in a central area – not tucked away or hidden where they could be using technology in a negative way. Every family may be different, so find what works best for your child. PA Virtual always encourages parents and Learning Coaches to bring concerns about student behavior to the Guidance Department.

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Posted on: October 25, 2017 by Melissa Reese in |

Why I Chose PA Virtual- The Bonnell Family

image - Jennifer Bonnell (2).jpegAs families in Pennsylvania close their pools for the off season, many students won’t even think of swimming until the weather turns warm again. For PA Virtual junior, Matthew Bonnell, he doesn’t ever stop.

Matthew swims competitively and is in the pool 6-7 days a week for practices. No matter the weather, his competitive forte is open water swimming – meaning lakes, rivers and even the ocean. Two-a-day practices keep him in the water for about four hours a day, and his workout regimen also includes other conditioning and strength training. As a junior in high school, how does Matthew balance his demanding training with school? By attending PA Virtual Charter School, Matt has the flexibility to complete his studies whenever and wherever he can.

Matt has been with the school since kindergarten, and his older sister graduated as a member of the Class of 2016. His mother, Jennifer Bonnell initially wanted to homeschool her children, but wanted the additional structure and accountability of a recognized curriculum, as well as the assistance of certified teachers.  Matt’s youngest brother was enrolled at PA Virtual through 7th grade, but the family realized all of their children have different learning styles and Jonathan was better suited for the traditional brick and mortar environment.  

PA Virtual provides rigorous curriculum to families who want to learn from the comfort of their own home or for students who need the flexibility to pursue outside talents – like swimming. All three of the Bonnell children swim recreationally, but a few years ago Matthew entered the competitive arena. In the last few months, Matthew swam six events at the Eastern Zone Long Course Championships in Richmond, Virginia and the Eastern Zone Open Water 5K in Atlantic City, where he finished 2nd. He won all six events at the Richmond meet.  His finishing times qualified him to swim at the 2018 Open Water Junior Nationals (under 16) and 2018 Open Water Nationals, both of which will take place during the school year.

“PA Virtual gives Matthew the opportunity to swim competitively, but not make any sacrifices when it comes to his school work,” said his mother, Jennifer Bonnell. “We have been able to find a balance for our family and they have excelled academically.”

Regardless of a rigorous practice and meet schedule, Matt maintains top grades. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the PA Virtual Scholars’ Academy. Matthew plans to swim in college at the Division 1 level and study physical therapy.  He became interested in physical therapy after recovering from his own exercise-induced injuries due to swimming. He suffered from the overuse of certain muscle groups, a common condition faced by competitive swimmers, which forces them to limit their training and growth.

For more information on the challenging academic curriculum at PA Virtual, click the button below.

 Read More About the K12 Curriculum!

Posted on: October 19, 2017 by Melissa Reese in |

PA Virtual Recognizes National Bullying Prevention Month



Did you know? Only 1 in 10 students who are bullied will inform a parent or trusted adult of the problem. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In aknowledgement of this, we have prepared a two-part blog series that examines the hidden signs a child may be experiencing bullying online AND warning signs a child may be bullying others.

Bullying and cyber bullying take many forms. PA Virtual teachers go to great lengths to monitor classroom communication on our online platform to make sure that all students are treating one another with respect and interacting in a positive manner.  However, away from the school computer, there are a number of other communication and social platforms that young teens use almost every day.  Snapchat, Instagram, and even video games have become a common way for teens to bully others. When parents become aware of bullying incidents on social networking sites, it is important to have the right tools and know what steps to take to combat the problem.

One of the many common signs that a child is a victim of bullying is a shift in actions and attitude. They may become withdrawn or quiet in social settings, which can lead to anxiety or depression if left unaddressed. PA Virtual Learning Coaches are very connected with their child’s learning experience, so if you suspect something may be off, ask questions to discover the root of the problem. Other signs of a child being cyberbullied is a shift in eating or sleeping habits. The flexibility of cyber school certainly allows for the occasional “sleeping in” day, but if it becomes a routine, you may want to make sure they aren’t staying up all night because they are being bullied.  

Other times when a child is bullied their behaviors shift in the opposite direction. As a result of being bullied, they can begin to act out and mimic bully-like behaviors. Occasional refusal to complete household chores or making fun of others can sometimes be chalked up to teenage hormones, but if this type of behavior becomes the norm; it is natural to question where it is coming from and why they suddenly believe these behaviors are acceptable.

What can parents do if they fear their child is being bullied? Start by having an open and honest conversation and make a plan to remove them from the situation. Encourage them to track and save all conversations where bullying occurs in case you choose to report it later to your school or the authorities. Make sure your child has the support and courage to resist the urge to retaliate.

Parents may seem like the “bad guy” when taking away cell phones or video game privileges, but it is important to cut off the source of the bullying. If the problem persists, it is recommended to contact school officials.

PA Virtual provides comprehensive support for families, including guidance counselors that frequently work with children who have been bullied prior to enrolling at our school.

To read some of the signs your child may be involved in bullying others, watch out for Part II of this blog coming soon.

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Posted on: October 11, 2017 by Melissa Reese in |

There's An App for That! (Part 2)


Need some extra help with school this year? Here are a few apps that can help jumpstart your academics during the 2017-2018 school year!

The second part in our blog series takes a look at a few leveled apps appropriate for History and Science.


  • Elementary School: US President (American Presidents Life History) Need to memorize the presidents of the United States? This app has you covered and also provides students with meaningful historical information about each of our nation’s former leaders.

  • Middle School: iCivics has a number of apps geared towards helping middle school aged students understand how history and government work. Simulations let students argue real life Supreme Court cases or start their own political campaign and run for President! Depending on your level of game play and the adventure you select, you can follow in the footsteps of our nation’s civic leaders or write your own version of history!

  • High School: AP World History Exam Prep 2017 Edition – Over 500 test prep questions will prepare you to master AP World History. Detailed analysis of test prep questions give students the chance to focus on weaker areas and improve on what they know. The app also allows them to see how they are progressing through the material.

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  • Elementary School: Designed by a kid for kids, KidWeather goes beyond just telling you the temperature for the day. Students can learn about weather patterns in your local area and around the world. This app gets students interested in learning about the weather and different STEM concepts.

  • Middle School:  Dissection Lab – Before students cut into their virtual frog, this app takes them though a few short lessons about the habitat, classification, and species of frogs. Don’t pick up the scalpel just yet – the app also requires the student to label the different parts of the frog internally and externally. A vocal tutorial walks the student through how to properly prepare an animal for dissection and scientific study. Only after those steps are complete can students perform a virtual dissection! Students will also be quizzed after the completion of the dissection about the different systems within the frog’s body.

  • High School:  Algadoo is a must have for budding engineers, makers, or those who want physics to be more fun. Students have the chance to play with physics and build their own creations to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts at hand. This app uses 2D simulations to create and manipulate mass, matter, and mechanics. See what happens when you introduce friction, motion or gravity to the structures you create and see how the world around us constantly changes!

Remember, all of these apps are free to download and use, but may contain optional in-app purchases. You can toggle these purchases on/off in the "Restrictions" menu on your device, or from within the game settings to disable all in-app purchases.

Posted on: October 04, 2017 by Melissa Reese in |