teens combine education with the art of rodeo
Keeley and Janis Osbrink are not your average thirteen and fourteen year olds – both girls already know where they want to go to college. Keeley wants to attend Fresno State, and Janis is thinking about Montana University, because both schools have highly rated rodeo teams.
The girls are currently spending many weekends competing in rodeo events sponsored by the California Junior High Rodeo Association. Their events include barrel racing, pole bending, and team roping. Each girl has a "pattern horse" and a "livestock horse". They care for their horses themselves, and help their parents take care of the family's other 26 horses, six cows and several dogs. To make extra money the girls also often help take care of other people's animals.
To maintain this very active lifestyle and to stay in competition form, the Osbrink family needed a school that would provide the needed flexibility and the curriculum required for the girls to pursue their college plans. Their parents chose California Connections Academy at Central, a tuition-free online public school, which is based in Visalia and services more than 200 students in Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties.
On an average day, after breakfast, their mother Diana does attendance and the girls work on their assignments. Each assignment has a deadline, although they can be somewhat flexible. Diana says she tries to load most of their study schedule into the first three days of the week to accommodate their rodeo/riding schedule.
The girls said they may also have "live lessons" online. With some of the more popular classes, like art, they need to sign in early as the classes fill up fast and attendance is limited. They try to be online a half hour, or so, early, and they can chat with the other students until the class starts. These classes include time for questions and answers, and students can also request a live chat with the teacher. If the girls happen to miss a live class they can log into the "library" and listen to the class they missed.
Diana says she likes that she can always see what the girls are doing, what grades they get on tests, and what answers they got wrong, so she can help them.
The girls said that some classes have "portfolios", which are projects to complete. For example, Janis just completed models of an animal cell and a plant cell. The teacher was so impressed with her work that she received 23 points out of possible 18 for her project.
They go to Bakersfield for PE testing per the California regulations (riding and roping do count toward PE requirements), and they go to Bakersfield or Mojave for state testing. These occasions, along with school picnics and field trips, give the girls a chance to spend time their teachers and friends, face to face.
When daily school work is done, both Keeley and Janis can be seen on horseback. They ride every day and try to practice roping, usually on a hay bale.
They are not the only high achievers in the Osbrink family. The girls have a brother who is a nuclear engineer on a submarine in the US Navy, and a sister studying Creative Non-fiction at Columbia College of Chicago. Their father is a master farrier, who has also won his share of competitions.