Monthly Archives: September 2016

GWUOHS Parent Newsletter October 2016

A Message From Our Head of School


I hope you and your child are off to a successful start of the 2016-2017 school year!  As we begin and plan for an exciting new year, it is important to reflect upon what is important for us to accomplish during this school year with our students and our school.

As I reflect upon what I would like to accomplish, one area of utmost importance to me is building relationships with you.  This year, I will strive to make connections with each and every one of you and your students.  I want to know what is important to you in your child’s academic experience, as well as what you need to feel supported.  Therefore, this October, we want the focus to be on you and building relationships with you.

First, the Associate Head of School (Maria Coyle) and I will be hosting a “Partnering with Parents” session.  During this time, we will discuss our expectations for academic success, as well as hear from you on how we can support you and your child.  We hope this will lead to productive discussions, as we build our partnerships to strengthen our school community.  But, in order to make this as beneficial as possible for you, we need your help.  We are looking for volunteers to speak during this session to share what you have done to help your child be successful in our environment.  If you are willing to present, please email me at  Further communications regarding the date and time of the session will be emailed to all of you.

Also, we will be sending out a survey to all parents, which will ask for your feedback on what makes GWUOHS successful, in addition to areas where you believe we can seek improvement.  We will use your ideas to implement new strategies and activities to make this outstanding school even better.

And, finally, I have had the privilege of speaking with quite a few of you, and I am consistently amazed at your accomplishments, professionally and personally. One of our school’s greatest assets is your own experiences and stories.  We have plan this school year for a “Speaker Series” – and, again, we would appreciate your help.  We are seeking presenters to speak with our students about a wide range of topics, in the hopes that we can inspire, educate, and motivate them in their career/post-secondary explorations and community service. Please keep an eye out for an email from me with information on signing up to share your stories/careers/community.

“A relationship is not based on the length of time you spent together; it is based on the foundation you build together.”  I look forward to strengthening my partnerships with all of you, as we build our own foundation for our students’ success.

Have a wonderful October!

Alison Mistretta

College Counseling Corner

Lisa Bell, College Counselor

Welcome to your Fall Semester! We are off to an excellent start in Journeys!

Some of the valuable topics we are covering this term include:


  • Setting Goals
  • Time Management
  • College Lists
  • Updating Family Connection
  • Common Application
  • And many more!

Taking the SAT/ACT/AP Exam(s)?

  • Don’t forget our CEEB Code! 471066

Seniors/Senior Parents!

  • Please keep me informed of:
    • College Applications-where are you applying, acceptances, denials, waitlist
    • Scholarships/Grants received
    • Where are you planning to attend
    • If not college, what are you after high school plans? Gap Year? Other?
    • Don’t forget to update your Family Connections with this information!

Mark your Calendars! Upcoming Events (Check your ClassConnect!)

  • PSAT Night-October 4th 6:30PM-7:30 PM EST
  • NCAA Night-October 5th 6:30PM-7:30PM EST
  • Senior Parent/Student Night-October 11th 6:30PM-7:30PM EST
  • Freshman Parent/Student Night-October 12th 6:30PM-7:30PM EST
  • Junior Parent/Student Night-October 13th 6:30PM-7:30 PM EST

Virtual Admissions Presentations!

  • October 7th: UC Berkeley 2PM-3PM EST
  • October 28th: George Washington University 2:30PM-3:30PM EST

News and Announcements

GWUOHS Graduate Success

Curious to find out where our students go after they graduate from GWUOHS? Look no further! 100% of our graduates are accepted to one or more colleges, including schools such as Harvard or UC Berkeley. Additionally, our students received $2.8 million in scholarships, both in 2015 and 2016. As both our profile and population grows, we look forward to seeing what our 2017 class is capable of! Best of luck during this college application season, seniors!

About the Writing Center
Cassi Brownlow

The GWUOHS Writing Center is one of very few, and possibly the only, online high school writing center in the nation. The Writing Center has been functioning as a writing resource for GWUOHS for the past four years and has provided our student body (both high school and middle school) a unique opportunity to have their writing reviewed and edited.  The Center has been modeled after writing centers often found on college campuses and functions to serve the writing needs, no matter what those needs are, of our student body. Our school’s writing center is run by dedicated student-editors that meet daily with GWUOHS students to assist them with their writing. This writing takes all forms: from English essays, to history assignments, and even personal writing projects that students are composing. Our GWUOHS student-editors have been trained to focus on asking their clients questions about their writing in order to best assist with the client’s writing needs. Students can attend the Writing Center by clicking on the session in their ClassConnect tab. The GWUOHS Writing Center is run virtually out of Blackboard and is open daily each week to support the students of GWUOHS.


K12 Online ACT/SAT Test Prep

Are you looking to improve your student’s ACT/SAT test scores? K12’s online test prep programs can help strengthen their performance on these high stakes exams. There are both teacher-led and independent study options available.

The next sessions start soon, which will coorelate with upcoming administration dates for both the SAT and ACT. Learn more today at the ACT/SAT Test Prep webpage:

Participate in the K12 Art Contest!

artcontest2016_fbpromoReason: Opportunity for students in grades K-12 to share their artistic talents.

Timeframe: September 26 – October 31, 2016

Prize: All winners will receive a canvas of submitted artwork, a plaque of recognition, and a sketchbook

  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place grade level winners
  • Overall Best in Show

Blog Post:

Link to Rules:


2016-17 School Calendar

Be sure to bookmark this year’s school calendar, linked above. The calendar provides our complete schedule for the year, along with holidays, dates on which our terms end and begin, exam dates, and upcoming events. Coming up in October, we will host a series of parent and student nights for Freshmen (October 12th), Juniors (October 13th), and Seniors (October 11th). Parents of Sophomores are also welcome to attend the Freshman or Junior nights if interested. We hope to see you there!


National Online Learning Day
September 15, 2016

GWUOHS was proud to celebrate National Online Learning Day on September 15, 2016. We are proud sponsors of NOLD! If you celebrated NOLD as well, please share your stories with us! For more information, please visit the website for National Online Learning Day at

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National Honor Society/National Junior Honor Society
Lucas Humphrey

We are currently reviewing NHS and NJHS applications for the 2016-17 school year, and will be holding our virtual induction ceremony in October! Keep an eye on your ClassConnect schedule and e-mail for this announcement, and congrats to our NHS and NJHS members, whether you are new or returning!


September 2016 Spotlights

Teachers & Staff

Welcome Dr. Joseph Chernich – GWUOHS Math Teacher

Q: We have students from around the world.  Where do you live?

A:  I currently live in North Pole, Alaska where I regularly see polar bears, salmon, and moose.  I enjoy carving ice sculptures and being led along trails with my dogsled team.  Alaskans talk about leaving the state as “going outside”.

Q: Have you ever been “outside”?

A: Sure. I have been around the world.  My family is from Ukraine.  I have lived in England, Costa Rica, and even Antarctica (for a couple months).  We also like to travel now for vacation…my four kids like amusement parks while my wife prefers islands.  I speak many languages fluently and also traveled for international sports competitions in my youth.

Q: Have you ever taught online before?

A: I have been connecting with students in Blackboard Collaborate for over 10 years.  I recognize the flexibility that it offers to busy schedules as well as the privilege of getting to know my students on a personal level.  I have had hundreds of wonderful students–from American Idol finalists to gold medalists in the Olympics.

Q:  What made you decide to teach at GWUOHS?

A;  I was most impressed with the collection of students. I love teaching and enjoy seeing successful people work hard towards their goals.  I like to embrace diversity and this school feels like a great mix of personalities and interests.  It is honestly an ideal learning environment.

Mrs. Whitney Keaton        

whitney2 whitney3Mrs. Keaton is a science teacher and advisor at GWUOHS, and this is her 5th year with the school.  Growing up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, she was active in many school clubs and sports and enjoyed volunteering.  She received her Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education from the University of Scranton.  During her junior year of college, she studied abroad at the University of Queensland in Australia.  After graduating, she taught at a brick-and-mortar high school in Winchester, VA for 9 years.  During that time, she became the head of the science department there and she also completed her Master’s degree in Chemistry.

Throughout her career and graduate work, she had a great deal of interest in online education and got her foot in the door by working to develop online chemistry courses at a local community college.  Mrs. Keaton then found GWUOHS and has been passionate about working in and improving online education from within a school in which she loves working.  She is currently working on a Ph.D. in science education research with a secondary emphasis in instructional technology.  Her research interests are in STEM education in online learning settings.

She now lives in Ashburn, Virginia with her husband, Dan, who works for a public accounting firm and their two daughters, Olivia and Haley.  Olivia is 2 and a half and Haley is 5 months old, so she often has her hands full!  She enjoys spending time with her family, taking advantage of the many exciting things to do in the DC area, going to the beach or lake, and sometimes just relaxing at home!

Alumni (Graduates)

Sarah Hesterman


Sarah Hesterman was also featured in our August newsletter as a 2016 graduate of GWUOHS. Sarah is doing well in Costa Rica, and is in Year 1 of her extreme study abroad program with Long Island University’s Global College. The independent learning and organizational skills she learned from GWUOHS are certainly paying off! Next year, she’ll spend time in 7 European countries and her 3rd year will be in China and Indonesia.



Has your student recently accomplished or participated in something particularly noteworthy? We’d like to know! Feel free to send information and/or pictures to for possible inclusion in a future newsletter.

The mission of The George Washington University Online High School is to educate and inspire academically talented and motivated students who seek membership in a school community that values and cultivates hard work, integrity, appreciation of diversity, love of learning, compassion, and high personal expectations. Through intensive, interactive online collaboration, the GWUOHS experience prepares students to contribute significantly, responsibly, and respectfully in a global society.

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