Texas Tech University

TTU K-12 Distance Learners Meet Up at Raiderpalooza

February 5, 2024

TTU K-12 Distance Learners Meet Up at Raiderpalooza

Nearly 50 online students gathered together at the Texas Tech DFW site.

A spelling bee. Science experiments. Art projects. Typical activities for most school-age children. But for the fully online students enrolled in TTU K-12, it was a day that made history. 

Raiderpalooza, the first in-person academic event hosted Jan. 25 by Texas Tech University's kindergarten through 12th grade school, showcased why TTU K-12 has become a leader in online education statewide, regionally, and around the globe in the past 30 years. 

The event, held at the new Texas Tech DFW site in Irving, was open to TTU K-12 students and families, prospective students, and the public. Aside from the school's annual onsite commencement ceremony held on the Texas Tech campus each spring, there were no previous opportunities to gather a group of students in one place at one time. With many of the program's online students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the new site provided the perfect place for the school's first meet-up.

Students standing along a table
Students work on a science experiment involving photosynthesis.

In fact, two of the school's four new student council officers got to meet and discuss the upcoming year.

High school junior Kyleigh Castloo, the incoming vice president, had to speak loudly to be heard over the buzz of activities around her, saying that meeting another officer and friends in her grade was her favorite part of the event. She also was eager to explain why she enjoys schooling through the online program.

“It is very flexible, and it helps you understand how to learn for yourself and how to get involved in the community around you, even if you don't have much,” Kyleigh said. “I come from a small town. We don't have much, but Texas Tech's school being self-paced really helps you utilize the opportunities you have around you.”

“Not much” is relative, according to Kyleigh's mom, Sheila. 

“Kyleigh is involved in quite a bit. She works part-time at a local restaurant. She is involved in 4-H, where she is the chapter president and county parliamentarian,” Sheila said. “She shows rabbits, does agriculture mechanics projects, photography, public speaking contests, and she's on the food challenge team. This year she is putting in her application for 4-H at-large delegate for the state.”

All possible because of the flexibility of her courses through TTU K-12. 

Student Council officers Kyleigh Castloo, left; and Lauren Holder, right, with Principal Cari Moye.
Student Council officers Kyleigh Castloo, left; and Lauren Holder, right, with Principal Cari Moye.

Lauren Holder, a sophomore and student council president, is completely self-aware in relation to choosing online schooling, knowing exactly why it is a good fit for her. And, although it's her first year in TTU K-12, she's tried to make a good impression not only on her teachers but also on the community itself, one of the reasons she joined student council.

“I realized that in-person school wasn't giving me a challenge; I wasn't driven to do my work,” she explained. “As a self-starter, I found it very difficult to fit in and connect with the other students. But through Texas Tech High School I feel a lot more at home and a lot more like I'm in a community. These people are the people I want to spend my time with and get to know. I'm just so thankful to be here and be student council president.” 

Raiderpalooza was both a showcase of all TTU K-12 has to offer and a recruiting event for students who may want or need the flexibility of full-time online learning, or the convenience of self-paced supplemental courses. Aside from students, the large meeting room nearly overflowed with teachers and advisers, parents, other family members and visitors.  

Father and son sit at a table painting a Double-T.
Parents and their students enjoyed activities at the first Raiderpalooza.

Many of the parents were equally as involved as their students in connecting with others and finding families to bond with. With her rather shy student at her side, one mom took a moment, also speaking over the hubbub, to give a few details about why her family chose TTU K-12's educational opportunity.

“We were making a big move to another city, and we didn't want to have to enroll in a new high school in the middle of a semester, 11th grade, get used to new things,” she said. “We found TTU K-12 satisfied all the things she needed, more flexibility, and she can visit old friends and do her classes at home.”  

One of the highlights of the day was a good old-fashioned spelling bee. In a quiet, more isolated room, students each passed the microphone to the next in line as they took turns spelling words given by the appointed reader. 

Eighth-grader Vidyuth Krishnamurthy, who is in his second semester with the school, was the bee winner. Aside from being jubilant at taking first place, he also was ebullient about being a student in Texas Tech's middle school.

“My favorite thing about TTU K-12 is that the classes are really fun; the teachers are always ready to teach and help me any time I'm struggling,” he said.

1st place spelling bee winner poses with prinicipal. 2nd place winner
(left) Vidyuth Krishnamurthy was the winner of the spelling bee, while Riley Choyce (right) took second place.

The first-of-its-kind event took months of planning, including site visits, staffing, purchasing swag, and deciding on food and activities, among many other tasks. One of the chief planners was Principal Cari Moye, who said the teachers went above and beyond by preparing engaging and fun lessons. To her, the best part of the day was getting to talk with their students and families, bringing together staff and students to engage, connect and learn.

Young boy wearing a TTU shirt, lanyard and a white coat with NASA patch.
One TTU K-12 elementary student was very interested in science.

With science experiments going on at a couple of tables in one corner, elementary students with stencils painting Texas Tech-themed canvases a few feet away, families grazing at the plentiful spread provided at the event, and other bits and pieces of activity all around her, Moye looked over the controlled chaos, her eyes beaming.

"Raiderpalooza has provided a unique experience for our online students to meet and participate in hands-on activities,” Moye said. “It has fostered such an engaging and positive learning environment, leaving a lasting impact on both our students and our educators; the energy in the room is palpable. Overall, it's been a huge success, and we look forward to providing more opportunities like this in the future.”

Principal Moye speaks to the crowd at Raiderpalooza.
Principal Moye speaks to the crowd at Raiderpalooza.

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