Online graduate

Dayshaunarae Graves holds the high school diploma she earned through The Texas Connections Academy.

Courtesy photo

Dayshaunarae Graves chose the path less traveled for her high school education.

Over the past two years, Graves, 18, attended five schools because she was being bullied and frequent illnesses made her fall behind.

Graves said if her mom hadn’t found The Texas Connections Academy, she wouldn’t have been able to don a cap and gown and walk across a stage to receive her diploma.

The academy, a free virtual public school for students in third through 12th grade, had its first graduating class this year, and Graves was among those in attendance at the June 1 ceremony in Houston.

“I learned way more at The Texas Connections Academy than I did at any other school,” the recent grad said. “I could work with my teachers more than if I was physically at school and when I got sick, I could take a break and come back.”

An illness left her hospitalized for several months last year, and if she were attending a physical school, she wouldn’t be able to advance to the next grade level.

The school Graves attended is just like a traditional brick-and-mortar school. The only difference is the students attend from home or wherever they are by accessing the school via the Internet.

“This school made graduation possible for her,” said her mother, Athena Graves-Gross. “She wouldn’t have been able to achieve this in a traditional setting. I moved her out of Killeen because of bullies right into another set of bullies in Temple. I would have kept her at this private Catholic school in Temple, but the costs were beyond what we could afford.”

TCA is a teacher-directed environment with certified teachers putting together lesson plans, delivering instruction and assigning grades.

Students participate in clubs, write for the student newspaper, go on field trips just as they would in a traditional setting.

Since it is a public school, the same requirements exist as far as shot records and vacation days, and the students receive a diploma upon graduation.

Graves will attend Central Texas College in the fall.

For more information, go to

Contact Vanessa Lynch at or 254-501-7567.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.