How I Created a Middle School Drop Out

– Christina Krivolavek

I grew up in a small Nebraska town where everyone went to THE school. There weren’t options for different places to go. You didn’t choose a school. You went to THE school. The expectation was you went to THE school, you finished THE school and maybe you went to college. 

When I thought about being a parent, I wanted to live in a city where there would be options for my son. I wanted there to be different clubs he could be in, lessons he could take, different types of people to interact with and different ways he could expand his interests.

I have fulfilled that parenthood dream and I have a 14 year old son and we live in the second largest city in Nebraska, Lincoln. He WAS attending the Middle School in our neighborhood and participated in a few afterschool clubs focused on different interests. I love when a dream comes true!

Elementary and early middle school were easy for Ezven. He has always gotten good grades. He has never really had homework. He seemed to be having fun every day. He would periodically complain about waiting for the teacher to start class and the other children’s behaviors but for the most part school was going ok. Enter the global pandemic – a time where a lot of options were taken away and we discovered the kind of school my son really wanted to go to.

My husband and I work from home. We are here in the house all the time. When the option of “remote learning” became available through the Lincoln Public School System it was an easy and obvious choice for Ezven to do the remote school option they offered. We knew this option would help us all stay safe from the virus and make our lives pretty easy. Dropping off and picking up your kids from schools is one of my all time LEAST favorite things to do. The rage inducing lines, and other people’s lack of ability to follow simple rules is something I can live without.

Ezven has no interest in the kids at school. He rarely calls anyone a friend. He would rather get to work and get the work done so he can move on to other things. Remote Learning was an easy choice for him. He was more than happy to stay in his room all day working on the computer.

Ezven has always learned well by reading and watching. He has a long attention span, can sit still for long periods of time and processes information well from visual forms of communication. I knew he could pull off remote learning as long as he listened to what the teachers were saying and did the work they requested.

I became concerned about whether or not Ezven was staying on task during his Zoom classes so I sat next to him a few days. I call it “Playing Laptops” because we each have our own computer and we work side by side. Ezven does not love when I do this but I needed to know what was going on. I wanted to hear what the teachers were doing and see what was happening while he was “remote learning”. From what I saw, “remote learning” was really a waste of time. You could barely hear the teacher or the other kids in class. If they showed a video, the remote learners couldn’t see it. If they did an interactive game in class, the remote learners couldn’t play. If the inperson kids were becoming unruly, everyone had to wait for them to calm down (this is probably true for all in person learning too). It was fairly awful. I was bored and didn’t learn anything. If I was bored, I am sure the kids were bored and not learning anything. I was probably the most interested middle school student EVER. When it comes to my kid, I am interested in what he is doing and what is happening with him – probably more than necessary but I can’t help it, I love him! He wishes I would calm down and be less involved, but sorry love, I am very interested in you. After a few days of playing laptops, I knew there had to be a better way.

I am a member of a coworking space and one of the other members told me about the University of Nebraska High School. UNHS is an online accredited high school built specifically for remote learning. There are no class times or Zoom meetings. There is just online course work you can complete at your own speed. This seemed like an amazing option for us! 

When we told Ezven about the University of Nebraska High School option and he got excited. He loved the idea of not waiting for the teacher. He loved the concept of not waiting for the other kids to calm down so he could get to the business of learning. He loved the prospect of not waiting for other people and just getting the work done. 

We decided to take the leap and enroll Ezven as a full time student in high school over Christmas break after half a year of remote learning through our local public school. He became a Middle School Drop Out when we stopped wasting time with Middle School “remote learning” and started High School in January 2021.

I was surprised at how easy it was to take my kid out of public school. It seemed no one cared that he finished. As a parent, I really thought there would be more of a process and that the school system would want him to stay at their school. After UNHS sent the enrollment email to the LPS School District, I forwarded it to my son’s middle school principal. She responded with, “Thank you for letting me know. Good luck to Ezven.” 

I am thrilled we are moving him forward and not wasting any more of his time with “remote learning”. We will see how it goes! I hope he will be successful and be able to complete high school in this non-traditional way. It will be a new adventure for all of us.