Though in-person learning has resumed for all Detroit Lakes Public Schools students this fall, the district has decided to begin offering an online option for high school students in grades 9-12.

E-Laker Online (ELO) High School is now open and accepting applications, though it is limited to just 20 students for the 2021-22 academic year. The course catalog, which is available online at the school's website, elakeronline.org, shows that the school's eight contracted teachers are currently offering courses in core subjects including art, English, mathematics, physical education, health, science and social studies, as well as work-based learning (i.e., internships).

"We're starting small," says Peter Lundin, who serves as principal for both the new online high school and the Detroit Lakes Area Learning Center. "We'll continue to improve, as any school does."

Peter Lundin is the principal of the new E-Laker Online High School, which began accepting applications from students in grades 9-12 for the start of this year's fall classes. Students can apply for admission at any time, however. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Peter Lundin is the principal of the new E-Laker Online High School, which began accepting applications from students in grades 9-12 for the start of this year's fall classes. Students can apply for admission at any time, however. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Eventually, he added, the district plans to open up enrollment in the online school to elementary and middle school-aged students as well.

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Though course offerings are "100% online," that doesn't mean E-Laker Online will be an easier path to graduation, Lundin said — if anything, it might be harder, he stressed, because students need to be self-motivated, and there is a strong emphasis on accountability, with students required to meet the same academic standards as their peers in Detroit Lakes High School.

"The curriculum meets the same requirements for graduation (as DLHS)," Lundin said.

"It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of 'showing up' and 'making progress'," he stated in a letter that was sent out to prospective students and their parents. "E-Laker Online will be vigilant in its expectations of attending and performing well. Vigilance means we will communicate frequently with both students and families if concerns arise."

Though the school year has already started, and 17 of the 20 initial slots are filled, students can sign up for the online high school at any time, he said, adding, "If it meets with the student's needs, and the family's needs, then they should talk with their high school counselor (about enrolling)."

To get students ready for classes, a series of online instructional videos have been created and added to the school's website to help the students become familiar with the instructional applications they will be using, including APEX, Google Classroom and DocHub. Prospective students (and their parents) can also find a list of frequently asked questions and other resources there.

Lundin credited DLPS Superintendent Mark Jenson with coming up with the idea of adding an online campus to the district's academic options.

"He had a great deal of foresight," Lundin said, adding that offering this option allowed those students looking for online academic opportunities — whether due to COVID-19 or other concerns — to enroll without losing their connection to their peers, and the Laker community as a whole.

For more information, visit the website listed above, call 218-844-4761, or send an email message to info@elakeronline.org.