Military Dad in Iraq Sees Daughter Graduate From PA Cyber

Mar 03, 2011, 14:42 ET from PA Cyber Charter School

HARRISBURG, Pa., March 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Though stationed in Iraq, U.S. Army Maj. Jay Eckhart got to see his daughter graduate from high school after all.

Wearing a blue cap and gown, Miranda Eckhart, 19, was graduated from the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School Wednesday, March 2, in a special ceremony at the online school's Harrisburg Support Center. Present were her mother, Susan, her sister-in-law Jenny, and -  via a Skype video phone connection - her father, a career Army engineering officer who served 20 years ago in Operation Desert Storm and has returned to active duty in Iraq.

Among PA Cyber staff present was Miranda's instructional supervisor, Sarah Potter.

"Sarah asked me if I wanted to do a graduation thing," said Miranda. "I didn't care, but Dad wanted me to do it, so I did it for him."

In a ceremony videotaped for airing on the local Fox Network station (to view report, click on Fox 43) PA Cyber Harrisburg Academy Leader Jade Kozlina thanked Maj. Eckhart and the other men and women of the armed forces for their service to our country.

Sarah Potter acknowledged the challenges Miranda had to overcome to complete her graduation requirements, recalling the many famous people who succeeded despite stumbles in their formal education.

Miranda was presented with her diploma and, amid smiles and applause, turned the tassel on her mortarboard to officially become a PA Cyber graduate.

She didn't know whether her Dad shed any tears as he watched on his computer in an Internet cafe on his base, but, said Miranda, "I did tell my Mom not to cry."

Then it was time for photos ops and interviews with the Fox 43 reporter and PA Cyber's own video crew, which also recorded the event.

Miranda was behind in a couple of her senior classes when her father was informed last May that he was being deployed to Iraq. Potter said it is not unusual for a student to take extra time to complete course work, such as when a family situation has thrown them off track. PA Cyber has the flexibility to accommodate students working behind, just as it can when students have the ability and desire to work ahead.

The new graduate currently is working at a pet store in nearby Shrewsbury. She is applying to enroll at the Harrisburg Area Community College.

Miranda said she switched to PA Cyber two years ago after having difficulties in a math class in her public school. The students were given a textbook and essentially told to teach themselves, she said. She got a barely passing grade and began looking for alternatives.

As the daughter in a military family moving from base to base, Miranda said she has been enrolled in eight different schools in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The family resides in Stewartstown near the Maryland state line.

The Fox 43 report quoted Miranda saying, "Being in the military, family is one of the things that you always have. Friends come and go, new places, new people to see but family is one of those things that you always have."

Based in Midland, Pa., PA Cyber is a Pennsylvania public school offering a state-approved, tuition-free education for age 4 kindergarten through high school senior. PA Cyber for the past two years has met all 29 performance targets for AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress, the federal standard of school effectiveness) and surpassed 10,000 student enrollment, making it the largest charter school of any kind in the nation ever to make AYP. In 2010 PA Cyber received a five-year charter renewal from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Contact: Fred Miller, 724.777.5918,

SOURCE PA Cyber Charter School