Ethan Pegg was never one of those students who thrived in the classroom. Large groups make him anxious and a structured classroom didn’t allow him to take the frequent breaks he needed.
But Pegg, who is on the autism spectrum, has excelled in a combination of home schooling and online learning since the fifth grade and is set to graduate from East Valley Online with a 3.93 GPA.
He said he likes knowing exactly when things are due and says it’s easier to turn his work in online. “I have all day to work on stuff,” he said. “I can just take a break in the middle if I want to.”
Pegg has high-functioning autism, and problems in school became apparent early on. He didn’t need special education, but he didn’t fit in a traditional classroom either. His parents tried home schooling, joining a hybrid home-school and classroom program and private school.
“We just kind of tried whatever would work for him,” said his mother, Lori Pegg. “Public school just wasn’t a good fit for his needs.”
“I don’t like interacting with people in real life,” Pegg said. “Throughout my life I’ve been anxious around other people and I don’t like being in a room with other people.”
He started taking online classes through the Washington Academy of Art and Technology through the East Valley School District, but the program changed and he joined East Valley Online last year.
Despite his aversion to crowds, Pegg is just like other teenagers. He likes playing video games, particularly Minecraft, Legend of Zelda and Fortnite. He often has friends over to play games and has been known to play two games at once while also watching YouTube videos, a skill that makes his mother shake her head in amazement.
He has been taking Running Start classes through Spokane Community Colleges. Some classes, like the biology class he just started, are on-site while others are online. Pegg likes science and is excited that his biology class will be visiting the Saltese Flats south of Spokane Valley to find and study various organisms.
He previously took AP biology and AP chemistry and is taking AP calculus. Pegg is no fan of math, and his father, who loves physics and math, tutors him. “When he’s done, he takes my textbook and goes and reads it for fun,” Pegg said.
He plans to finish his AA degree at SCC, then transfer to Eastern Washington University to study biology. He wants to eventually work in a microbiology career. “I’ve always liked small things,” he explained.
As an East Valley student, Pegg is entitled to participate in East Valley High School’s graduation ceremony, but he’s decided not to attend. He may not wear the cap and gown, but he’s still very proud to be graduating with a nearly perfect GPA.
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