Online classes expand choices for Catholic school students


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With small enrollments and tight budgets, some Catholic high schools struggle to provide classes outside the core curriculum. This was a problem at St. Peter-Marian Junior-Senior High School in Worcester, Mass., until it delved into online courses.

Virtual High School,, is a nonprofit company with headquarters in Maynard, Mass., that collaborates with more than 575 public and private schools each semester to supplement standard classes with online learning.

St. Peter-Marian, a school with fewer than 850 students in grades seven through 12, joined Virtual High School in 2004. Twenty-five students take the online classes each semester.

Dawn Van Riper, the school's technology director, said joining the program was a way to offer students more classes.

Van Riper serves as coordinator for the online program, overseeing class assignments and helping students with technological difficulties.