LAKE PLACID — If you happened to drive down Main Avenue in Lake Placid on Monday morning, you may have wondered what was going on in front of 205 and 207. You probably noticed a lot of people on the sidewalk and even standing in the street.

Well, they were there for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of a new type of educational facility — The Lake Placid E-Learning Lab, a virtual school.

After a patriotic raising of the American flag by the Sebring VFW Post 43 honor guard, and an invocation by Dennis Griffin, it was time for the official ribbon cutting ceremony. Lake Placid Mayor John Holbrook and Greater Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Eileen May did the honors. Then it was time for photos of the 15 students and staff who were eager to get started with a new school year.

Once inside, students, parents, grandparents and visitors were given a tour of the lab. After things settled down, the middle and high school age kids seemed to know exactly what was expected of them as they got right to their schoolwork.

Here’s how this type of education works. The school is a Florida Virtual School and follows a prescribed curriculum. It’s considered “home schooling,” but instead of the students staying home and having their parents teach them, they attend the lab from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Teachers are on hand to provide individual mentoring and assist the students stay on track. Over 180 online courses are available, including all the required core classes to prepare them for graduation.

Some of the students may be there because they were having difficulty in a classroom setting, while others are advanced and eager to go beyond conventional learning. Students can also be part of “The Enrichment Connection” in the afternoons, which includes adventure field trips.

The Lake Placid E-Learning Lab is not connected to the local middle and high schools. Instead, it is operated with donations from parents and others. There are five qualified staff members: Dennis Griffin (math), Esther Gill (social studies and Spanish), Joanie Tucker (English language arts), Kathleen Gordon (science), plus Janice Hwang (secretary). They provide individualized alternative education to the children at the student’s own pace.

To learn more about this style of education, call 863-464-9502 or visit


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