The Actual Academy

Student shares how Blue Valley Academy has helped her

Most students don’t know the Blue Valley Academy (BVA) exists and, if they do, chances are they think of it as a place where only troubled students go. This story shines light on what the BVA does and how it has helped senior Megan O’Connor, a transfer from Blue Valley.

Megan started going to the BVA in August of 2016 — she said she was worried in the beginning.

“I was pretty nervous,” Megan said. “But I was able to settle in right away.”

Megan said she enrolled in the BVA because she had difficulty while attending BV.

“My social anxiety and my depression were bad,” she said, “[When I could go to school,] I felt like I couldn’t focus in class. I felt really isolated.”

Megan said the BVA has different groups to help people combat difficulties — the two main ones are for depression and addiction.

“The groups meet for a class period one day a week,” she said. “They offer a lot of support and help you get to know people who are struggling. You’re not forced to share anything.”

BV counselor Kirsta Meacham said the BVA is for students who have a hard time in a traditional school environment.

“We know there are students that do struggle, whether it’s socially or academically,” Meacham said. “It provides a different setting so they can succeed.”

Megan said the smaller classes have helped her greatly.

“The teachers give you a lot more individual attention,” Megan said. “It’s really useful — you get to know everyone in the class.”

Megan’s mother, Lori O’Connor, said the BVA is great because the teachers are experienced in other fields.

“Teachers have backgrounds in psychology or special education in addition to their teaching degrees,” Lori said. “They understand why students might be struggling and how to help them.”

The BVA has plenty of different activities for students, Megan said.

“We have a music room,” she said. “There’s a gaming group that plays pool and foosball. There’s a basketball game in the gym every day.”

She said the BVA also has animals, such as chinchillas, rabbits, guinea pigs and many others, in their science rooms they can take out.

“People like to hold the animals during lunch,” Megan said. “We just let the rabbit run free in the library.”

She said the BVA has affected her life in a positive way.

“I used to have low grades, and I have all A’s right now,” she said. “It’s kind of a life-changer.”

Lori said the BVA has impacted Megan’s feelings about education.

“Once she was in a smaller environment, she really thrived,” Lori said. “She suddenly had a love of learning again — I don’t think you can ask for more than that.”

Megan said she isn’t bothered by how others think the BVA is a place for bad students.

“It just gives us more character,” Megan said. “We’re all the same as people at the normal schools — it’s just one big family. We’re all in it together.”