Dec 27, 2010 11:19 AM by Posted by Sharlee Barriere
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A GED wouldn't have been enough for Jude Eschete - he was determined to get a high-school diploma.
Two days before his class graduated from Carencro High School last year, he learned that he wouldn't be getting a diploma because he was two points short of passing senior English.
Now he's the first student to get a diploma through the Lafayette Parish School System's eCampus program.
The distance-learning program was set up to let high school students get ahead or make up missed credits.
"We've had some take the program to satisfy TOPS requirements, some to catch up for graduation," eCampus teacher Jarrett Coutee said. "There's a lot of good stories. We've had two athletes who were missing classes for their athletic scholarships."
About 40 different classes are offered, including core subjects and electives.
About 115 students are participating and 75 credits have been awarded. But none before Eschete left school without a diploma, then used eCampus to graduate.
He had been waiting tables since the end of school in 2009.
"One of my customers was a Lafayette Parish School Board employee, and she's the one that told me about eCampus," Eschete said. "The next day I went in, enrolled in the course and started working on it."
Students who take a course work from home on personal or loaned computers, but must report to the eCampus lab to take tests, Coutee said.
"It's distance learning," Coutee said. "That's the most important thing. We have to follow the state requirements for distance learning."
The eCampus lab has 25 computers and is located at Lafayette Charter High School.
Most courses are designed to be completed in four to six months, at the student's pace. Eschete finished senior English in less than three.
"With the eCampus course, it's set up to where it doesn't burn you out," he said. "It doesn't get stale. It says interesting."
After Eschete completed all his high-school requirements, he leveraged his way into a better job at a call center. He received his diploma at a special ceremony in front of the School Board earlier this month.
"It felt amazing," Eschete said. "The biggest part was the whole time before I finished, there was a weight - like something holding me back - and really, without a diploma, you are being held back."
Eschete still meets with people who work with eCampus to work on a UL application. He hopes to begin taking classes this summer and major in computer engineering.
Now eCampus has become a model for other local and statewide school systems.
The software for eCampus, Education 2020, will be rolled out into the parish's alternative and charter schools.
The software company has pointed to eCampus as a success story, Coutee said.
"We've actually had a bunch of schools come and visit our site," Coutee said. "We've had a lot of superintendents and parishes."