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Student travels the world while attending online school

January 1, 2020
By MEGHAN BRADBURY ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The flexibility of a private online school has helped one senior high student dive into her studies while traveling the world with her family.

Stephanie Sibayan, who lives both in Lehigh Acres and the Philippines, said she mostly attended traditional brick-and- mortar schools until her sophomore year of high school when she became a student of Laurel Springs School.

"In eighth grade I transferred to an online school. I went back to traditional for ninth and back again (to an online school) in 10th and now I am in 12th," she said. "I like the flexibility of it and being able to do my work and not have a schedule. It gives me the chance to do other things like travel. It's a different experience."

Article Photos

Laurel Springs School senior and part-time Lehigh resident Stephanie Sibayan visits the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


Laurel Springs School, which opened in 1991 for kindergarten through 12th-grade students, is ideal for the college prep student who is looking to "grow and excel academically and personally while maintaining a flexible schedule." It has offices in West Chester, Penn. and Ojai, Calif.

Laurel Springs School spokesperson Stephanie Pryor said the online school offers rolling enrollment with approximately 4,000 full-time and part-time students enrolled at any given time. Seventy-two percent are full-time students, while the remaining 28 percent are part-time.

"Currently our students represent 50 states and 95 countries," she said.

Sibayan is currently enrolled in such AP and honors classes, as calculus, British literature and psychology.

"The lessons are all set up. It's easy to move along and complete the assignments," she said of the great curriculum. "I learn to manage my time. Once you learn to do that, it's very easy to catch up with all of your work and balance school with other activities. I feel prepared for college and it's a great way to learn."

Being enrolled in a online school not only gives Sibayan the opportunity to travel between her two homes, Lehigh Acres and the Philippines, but it also lets her learn via an American curriculum, giving her the option of easily transferring to a college with her credits.

After graduating from Laurel Springs School, she will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue aeronautical engineering.

"I love planes, so I would like to learn more about them and how they are put together and work. I love going on planes. I have a lot of fun every time I go on a plane . . . at the end of the trip I will be in a new place. I'm fascinated by how they are able to fly even though they are so heavy and so big. They get me really excited. I really find them so interesting, I can't help but look at them," Sibayan said.

About four years ago her family began traveling to different places other than the Philippines and Florida.

"We went to Japan, Tokyo, and that was a lot of fun. I have been to Boston, Italy, Rome and Florence. I was also able to go to Hong Kong," she said. "It's really been great seeing all these different places. Going to an online school it's a lot easier to give me the chance to do these things."

While traveling, she sometimes brings her computer to do her school work. Other times, she works ahead enough to fully enjoy her trip.

"I can travel and do what I love and also not get behind in school and be on track," Sibayan said. "It's definitely a great experience having this school environment."

Pryor said she is has these options because she is among the "world schooling" students.

"This is possible for 'world schooling' students like Stephanie because of Laurel Springs' asynchronous learning model, which allows students to complete coursework when it is convenient for them and interact with teachers during nontraditional hours. Additionally, Laurel Springs' personalized approach is competency-based, allowing students to work at a pace that suits their individual skills and knowledge as they master concepts and course material," she said.

Out of all the destinations, Italy is among the top places Sibayan has enjoyed visiting.

"It's just like stepping in our history book. You walk on the streets and see the Colosseum and see all these places you only hear about in books," Sibayan said. "It's so unique and different. It's so much fun. It was really neat seeing all these places in person and step in history."

Due to her love of traveling, she joined the school's Travel and Tourism Club and is now its president. She said the once-a-month meeting takes place online.

"There is usually about seven of us that show up to the meeting. There are more members who watch the recording and send in slides they like to include in the meeting," Sibayan said. "It's a lot of fun to interact with the other students, especially those who have similar interest and backgrounds as you."

The meetings include a teacher, a slide presentation and the opportunity for students to hop on the microphone to speak.

The students also have the opportunity to participate in Year-End Celebration, National Junior Honor Society/National Honor Society induction, graduation and prom as some face-to-face opportunities for students to meet.

Pryor said the Year-End Celebration was held in Orlando in 2018 and 2019 and this year it will head to Anaheim, Calif.

"We look for locations that are convenient for our families and the destination changes from the East Coast to the West Coast every few years," she said.

She is excited to attend the Year-End Celebration.

"I'm excited to see California. Another exciting travel opportunity," she said.



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