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Gymnast Finds Balance In Blended Learning

Jay Barnish on the rings during a recent competition.
"Gymnastics is easier to focus on because of the flexibility I have at Falcon Virtual Academy," said Jay Barnish, who recently qualified for the U.S. Gymnastics Junior Olympic National Championships. "I get more time in the gym when I need it because of the freedom."
A strong performance during an early April meet against gymnasts from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico propelled the FVA student onto the national stage.
Barnish says he is strongest on the rings and has his sights set on a finals appearance in the event at nationals. He credits sticking his landing in regionals as a primary factor in reaching the national championships. "I knew it would be close," Barnish said, " I knew it would be within reach." The 18 year old says he had his best landing of the competition season during the regional meet.
Falcon Virtual Academy is the state leader in blended learning and the only K-12 blended learning school in District 49. The school, which has a core knowledge focus and requires a full-time parent-learning coach at home, offers students and their families an engaging environment. Learners can take advantage of face-to-face direct instruction and tutoring from certified teachers, experiential project-based learning course work and flexible virtual options.
"With freedom comes responsibility," Barnish says. "Time management skills are important."
The gymnast points to his preparation for nationals, which coincides with his last week of school, as an example. "I need to finish everything a week before anyone else, but it's ok here because you can take tests anytime before they are due."
"The flexibility afforded to students enrolled at Falcon Virtual Academy provides them with the time to train at a high level," said FVA assistant principal Jodi Fletcher. "Jay's enrollment here gives him the opportunity to continue his rigorous training schedule at the USOC in order to qualify for the men's gymnastics Junior Olympic Nationals."
Jay Barnish, a senior at Falcon Virtual Academy, works on an Environmental Science project April 21.
Barnish will participate in gymnastics at Arizona State University, but chose the school because of an academic scholarship. "I'm going to do engineering," he said, "There is high demand for engineers in general, but I want to serve in the military because it's important." The senior plans on joining ASU's ROTC and eventually the US Navy. "There's a high demand for engineers in the Navy," said Barnish.
The 18-year old left a traditional high school in Academy District 20 to attend a statewide online school, "but I missed being with kids," he said, "Here I get to see and be with others." 
 "FVA is a real comfort," said Barnish, "It's easier to focus because of the flexibility I have with school. It helps me mentally prepare for gymnastics." 
Jennifer Gallagher, Falcon Virtual Academy
"His diligence in the gym is mirrored in his coursework at FVA," Fletcher said.
Barnish will compete in the national championships May 6-10, in Daytona Beach, Florida. He will participate in the all-around, a series of six events. If his score is high enough after the first day, he will advance to the all-around finals. Scores on individual events during the first day are also used to place gymnasts in the finals of individual events. 
"It requires me to be more responsible," he said, "but it's worth it to me because I get more freedom with anything outside of school. I happen to use mine on gymnastics." 

Matt Meister