Originally published in Rocket Miner – November 4, 2017
A former Rock Springs High School student said attending an online school is giving him the flexibility to pursue a career of helping others.
Wyatt Bournazian, who currently lives with family friends outside Billings, Montana, enrolled in the Wyoming Virtual Academy for his junior year in August. He attended RSHS as a freshman and sophomore.
“It was kind of weird when I started it,” he said. “It was kind of like, ‘Wow I have a lot more room to do stuff.’”
The Wyoming Virtual Academy is a state-wide virtual learning program hosted by Niobrara County School District No. 1.
As of March 2017, 533 students were taking classes at the Academy, Wyoming Department of Education Communications Director Kari Eakins said.
“If a majority of their classes are taken online then they are considered full-time online students,” she said.
Bournazian is a full-time student in Niobrara County because he is taking all seven courses, English, math, algebra, image design, culinary arts, government, chemistry and nutrition and wellness, through the Academy.
“You can work on multiple things at once instead of working on one thing for a certain amount of time before moving on to another class,” he said.
He is also complimentary of his seven teachers who set one day a week to talk with students and provide lessons
“They call me about once a week and give me an update,” he said. “They are concerned about how I am doing.”
Wyatt’s father, Sweetwater County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian said the online school allows his son “to apply himself in a way that makes him comfortable and helps him be able to do things he enjoys to do.”
For example, it enables Wyatt to help family on their ranch and perform volunteer work while working on his schoolwork.
Volunteering is important to Wyatt because “it just makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile instead of staying home and watching others do something.”
“If you’re able to, why not do it,” he said.
Some work Wyatt has done is put up fencing at the ranch during the summer and travel to Houston to help victims from Hurricane Harvey.
“It was just kind of like I needed to go and do something,” he said. “Seeing all the posts on Facebook about the devastation and stuff we just decided to go down and help.”
He signed up through www.justserve.org, a website that allows volunteers to look for places to serve.
“It was his idea from the beginning, something he felt passionate about,” Wyatt’s father said. “We supported him 100 percent.”
Wyatt got to Houston Sept. 12 after most of the water receded and rescues took place. His assignment was to help empty houses that was flooded because of the storm.
He and volunteers from across the country including people he lives with in Montana took out all the appliances, furniture, books, paperwork, dry wall “until it was just the studs.”
“Nothing was salvageable,” he said.
Wyatt, who returned home on Sept. 19, said he hopes to earn his diploma through the Academy. After graduating he plans to go to college, earn a fire science degree and become a firefighter like his father.
“I’ve always watched him and thought it would just be awesome to do that,” Wyatt said.
“I encouraged all my kids to find their own likes and dislikes,” Mike Bournazian said. “Wyatt has had an interest in public service.”
Wyatt added that being a firefighter is “not just a sit at a desk all day” job.
“It’s fun, it’s energetic, you’re not just working in a cubicle all day, you’re out helping people,” he said.