Odessa Educators To Open Online Middle School

by Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - You've heard of going to college online, but this fall students in the Permian Basin will be able to finish middle school without even leaving their house. That's because Odessa educators are expanding their online high school program.

When you think online education, you're probably not thinking about middle school. However, starting in the beginning of September, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders will be able to log-in for all their classes.

"We're excited, the opportunities just keep flowing in," Sophia Valdez, advisor and board member for Orion Middle School.

With eight alums, thirty students, and a hundred applicants, directors with Orion said their first program, an online high school, has been more successful then they thought.

"We're busy all the time now," Valdez explained. "In fact, I'm here full time now during the summer because, we have phone calls coming in and emails all the time."

Calls and emails from students all over the Country, and even Mexico. However, there's another request for the Odessa educators in charge.

"They were talking to us and said 'How come you don't have a middle school?'" Valdez explained. "And this is a group of middle school people."

Parents who want their kids home-schooled said they could use the help from interactive online programs.

Students can watch videos, listen to podcasts, and talk with other students in online forums. But doesn't going to middle school online take away a social life?

"I know that's a question, even with high school, but we have found that most all of our students are very active. They're active in sports, in music, in church," Valdez said.

But there's one thing advisors said they must have for the middle school to work: parental supervision.

"We want students to be safe and we want them to use the internet properly, so we're hoping to get a lot of parent feedback," Valdez added.

From here, directors at Orion said they hope to expand to offering college degrees. When NewsWest 9 asked if they would start on online elementary school, they said if there's a market for it, they'll consider it.