Talk about ambition. Agora Cyber Charter School student and advanced learner Caroline Combemale not only excels in her schoolwork, but participates in several activities outside school.

Caroline is in 10th grade, but since she skipped 8th grade and took high school courses in middle school, she is technically already a junior and will graduate next year. She takes all honors classes possible and plans to take all AP classes next year—which she considers really fun.

Outside of achieving excellence in school, Caroline also teaches computer science, plays co-lead guitar in her band, participates in the debate team, works at an interactive art and tech gallery, and runs the Gay Straight Alliance support group—which she founded.

And she does all of this while dealing with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. This chronic pain condition causes severe pain without warning. The pain can be so intense that even the lightest touch on her skin can cause extreme pain. This was one of the reasons that her family decided to switch her from a brick-and-mortar school to a K12 online school. After telling her whole school about how being touched in the hallway causes her great pain, many kids started bumping into her on purpose.

Another reason for her switch to Agora was the fact that she and her brother are both advanced learners. They weren’t able to progress as quickly as they wanted to in their previous school and needed to be challenged more. Now, Caroline is enjoying her education, and, impressively, her brother graduated high school at the age of 14 and is now attending Carnegie Mellon University.

Caroline says that because of the bullying she experienced, she felt like she was on her own and sheltered. But she now thanks Agora for helping her come out of her shell. She’s also happy that because of the flexibility of her online school, she’s able to spend more time with her mother and participate in an array of outside activities. She doesn’t have a “typical” day, per se, but is able to do her schoolwork around her other commitments. Watch her video and learn the other reasons why she values online education so much.

She’s able to juggle her education with her hobbies and condition by being very organized. Too much stress will make her syndrome worse, so she plans out her schedule to make sure her days run smoothly. If she finds herself in a pain flare, she’s able to take a break from schoolwork and come back to it when she can—and her teachers understand and accommodate her needs.

In addition to her regular schoolwork, Caroline is a computer programming wiz. She built her first website at age six, was fluent in programming by age 9, and started teaching at age 12.

Caroline plans to attend college for computer science—hoping to be accepted to either Carnegie Mellon or Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We have spoken with many students who are excelling thanks to their online school. Read their success stories here.


Image Credit: Caroline Combemale

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