CREIGHTON — KyLeah Sorensen was ready to get out of the high school scene.
One year and 13 classes later, Sorensen received her diploma as a third-year student thanks to an online program known as APEX Learning System.
Sorensen, who lives in Creighton, attended Creighton Community High School for just three years before graduating.
Nearing the end of her sophomore year, Sorensen decided she needed a change of pace.
"I realized school wasn't for me," she said. "So I tried to come up with a way to get out early."
After meeting with the principal, superintendent and her parents, Sorensen decided that online classes would be the best option.
"A year ago, she really didn't want to go back to school," said her father, Roger Sorensen. "Not every student knows what their life plan is, but once she got the online classes and was working toward a goal, she was really motivated."
Roger Sorensen said KyLeah applied herself in all 13 of her courses and was even able to raise her grade-point average as a result.
KyLeah took eight courses in the Creighton classrooms this school year, and she took four courses with the APEX Learning System and one with Northeast Community College.
APEX is an accredited online private high school that students can take for free to help them earn a diploma. An entire online course has one specific due date, so students can complete the work when it is convenient for them.
"I liked how I could just do it at my own pace," KyLeah said.
Once KyLeah finished regular classes every day at 3:30 p.m., she would usually go to her job at Subway until 10:30 p.m. Along with working 30 to 40 hours each week, KyLeah was involved in her high school dance team.
"I like working and dance because it lets me do something different than just studying," she said.
KyLeah didn't have time to complete her online coursework during the week, so weekends were saved for APEX.
"It was really convenient for me," she said. "I could do all of the quizzes, worksheets and tests at one time, and I learned just as much as I would in a normal classroom."
KyLeah took two English classes, a government law class and a math class through APEX Learning System. Through Northeast Community College, she took psychology. Because it was a college class, however, she did have to pay a fee.
KyLeah said she recommends online classes for other students struggling in school, but organizational skills are key.
"You have to put the most important things first," she said. "I had to manage my time really well, so I could stay on track."
After completing her junior classes at the end of the school year this week, KyLeah will receive her high school diploma.
She will go on to take general classes at Northeast Community College in Norfolk for two years before going to a college out-of-state.
"I'm undecided," KyLeah said. "But for right now, I just know I want to work with kids."
Although most of her last year at high school was filled with homework, her job and dance, KyLeah said the extra courses were worth the time and effort it took to get her diploma early.
"It did take a lot of time," KyLeah said. "I didn't have as much fun as I could have, but my parents are proud, and I feel like I've earned it."
Roger Sorensen said he couldn't be more proud of his daughter for her hard work.
"I've heard of people graduating a half a year early," her dad said. "But a whole year is just phenomenal. It was definitely worth it."