If you walk through the halls of Minnesota Virtual High School in downtown St. Paul, you’d see that it has many of the things a normal school would have, minus the actual students.

The lone exception on a Wednesday morning was 14-year-old Dailona Bean.

“I like being here, so I usually come in here every Wednesday,” Bean said.

In August, she made the shift from Roseville High School to Minnesota Virtual High School, where she takes 100 percent of her classes online. She says she had anxiety issues in a traditional school setting.

“It was social anxiety and then I suffered from perfectionism,” Bean said, “so a lot of anxiety around tests, and essays and papers.”

The concept of a virtual high school has caught on. This free public charter school has students from all across Minnesota, including 32 from the northwest suburbs.

“So we have 400 students, and there’s 400 reasons for coming,” said Matthew Finnesgard, a special education coordinator at Minnesota Virtual High School. “But usually it’s because something in the seat-based programs, or the brick and mortar programs, isn’t working for them.”

Students at Minnesota Virtual High School work at their own pace and their own schedule, although it’s recommended they spend four to six hours a day on school work.

“We definitely provide as high of a curriculum and quality of education as Minnesota state requires,” Finnesgard said. “So they can go to any college, they can get into any military career.”

It’s an option that certainly didn’t exist a generation ago and provides new opportunities for students who need something different.

“I would recommend it because the traditional way isn’t everyone’s way,” Bean said.

Attendance at Minnesota Virtual High School is based on progress in classes. In the last five years, 64 graduates have come from the northwest suburbs.

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By: Northwest Community Television