Virginia Beach schools tune into more opportunity

A successful distance learning pilot program at three Virginia Beach high

schools prompted the local school board to expand the program to all 10

of the city's high schools

During the 1998-1999 school year, students at Princess Anne, Bayside

and Ocean Lakes high schools took a class in discrete math that was only

offered at one of the school district's 10 high schools. The students used

videoconferencing capabilities provided by Cox Communications Inc. to interact

with each other and the teacher who lead the class from Princess Anne.

Three more schools were hooked up by the end of January, and the remaining

four should be connected by the beginning of the next school year, said

Eva Roupas, distance learning teacher specialist for the Virginia Beach

City Public Schools.

"The primary goal of the program is to create more opportunities for

students, based on a more level playing field systemwide so they can be

competitive in the future," Roupas said. "This way the school they physically

attend doesn't matter because there won't be opportunities that are only

offered at one school and not another."

Classes are currently offered in discrete math, theater appreciation,

honors public speaking and various advanced placement areas. More are on

the way. To date, more than 200 students have participated in distance learning

courses, a number that will at least double next fall when all 10 schools

are connected, Roupas said. Every school will be responsible for sending

and receiving at least one course.

The total cost of the project is about $400,000, and Cox has provided

all the equipment and installation services, Roupas said.

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