After being accepted into a premier ballet academy in New York City, Gwyneth Bailey left her Amherst, New Hampshire home behind to pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina. But at the young age of 15, she needed to find a way to attend the academy while also finishing her high school education. Luckily, VLACS’ online high school program was well-recommended to her and her parents, and offered the flexibility she needed to pursue her dream. Little did she know that VLACS would end up helping her find her way towards a new passion.
Moving to the Big City
Gwyneth’s schedule at the academy was hectic. She spent twelve-hour days in ballet classes and would return home very late to her New York City dorm. Since her schedule was so packed, she started her online high school career off by only taking a few classes. Weekdays were devoted to dance, while weekends were dedicated to catching up on her online schoolwork. Fortunately, her teachers understood her situation and were supportive with her schedule.
Not only was she busy, but the transition from a traditional, high school ninth-grader in New Hampshire to a big city, ballet and online high school student was not one that most teenagers would adjust to easily.
Two years into the program, tragedy struck. Gwyneth injured her ankle and was unable to continue dancing. After a surgical attempt to resolve the injury, she tried dancing again but soon came to the realization that she’d have to give up her dream of becoming a ballerina.
Understandably, this situation was a drastic life change for Gwyneth, especially at such a young age. “This was a very difficult thing for me to deal with and come to terms with,” she said. “I stopped working on school materials as much because I was very upset and the last thing I wanted to do was homework.”
But Gwyneth wasn’t going to let hanging up her dancing shoes bring her down. The support of her teachers, friends, and family combined with her positive outlook helped turn her situation around. “When one door closes, another door opens,” she said. “I keep looking forward and try to stay as positive as possible!”
Finding a New Passion
Since her ballet career had been so demanding, this was her opportunity to immerse herself completely back into her studies. And her positivity paid off, as Gwyneth was able to realize a new dream.
“I took Psychology and AP Psychology at VLACS, and I also took a summer course on behaviorism and behavior modification at Harvard,” she said. Gwyneth’s experience volunteering with autistic students in her mother’s classroom also allowed her to see different types of behavior and understand how to approach them.
If she hadn’t injured her ankle, Gwyneth might never have discovered her passion for psychology and enthusiasm for helping people. The flexibility of VLACS was just what she needed as a full-time ballet student, but VLACS was also there to help her realize new endeavors after her accident.
After her surgery, she made the change from part-time to full-time student, and was able to receive her high school diploma right before her 21st birthday. Now that she’s graduated from VLACS, her goals are focused on entering college as a psychology major, going to medical school, and becoming a pediatric neuropsychiatrist.
“I still have very sad days but I have learned not to dwell on the past and what could have been,” she said. “Now I look forward to what the world has in store for me.”
Gwyneth’s inspiring story of optimism and perseverance is just one example of how VLACS students are able to balance school work and their hobbies, as well as discover new passions. For more information about our online program, please attend an open house.