Beyond buses and buildings: Fayette School System expands online virtual learning options

The logo above designates the recently rebranded Fayette school system Alternative Program as the expanded Fayette LIFE Academy, which includes the Horizon Academy and Open Campus Academy with the newly former Fayette Virtual Academy. Logo/Fayette County School System.
The logo above designates the recently rebranded Fayette school system Alternative Program as the expanded Fayette LIFE Academy, which includes the Horizon Academy and Open Campus Academy with the newly former Fayette Virtual Academy. Logo/Fayette County School System.

“Students take classes whenever and wherever they want from their own devices, on their own schedules”

The Fayette County School System has rebranded its alternative education program, complete with a new name, logo and tagline.

Beyond the logo, the system is expanding student learning options to include the Fayette Virtual Academy, offering an online school for any student in the county without being physically present in a bricks-and-mortar building.

The move was approved recently by the Fayette County Board of Education, and is designed to offer an additional choice for currently-enrolled students and to tap into the homeschool and private school market.

The Alternative Program currently has two programs, the Horizon Academy for grades 6-12 for students with attendance or behavioral issues, and the Open Campus Academy, for students seeking flexible learning options outside the traditional school day, staff said.

“In order to be a school system of choice for more students, the alternative program has recently expanded its offerings to include the Fayette Virtual Academy, an online school where students can receive the same quality education for which Fayette County is known without having to come to a physical building.

“Students take classes whenever and wherever they want from their own devices, on their own schedules. Unlike the other two options, the virtual school is open to any student living in Fayette County,” staff said.

Noting the reason for the change, school system staff said Fayette schools are working to be a system of choice for both students and parents by offering programs designed to meet a wide variety of student needs.

Staff said the hope is to tap into both the private and homeschool market (approximately 3,000 students), as well as offer a third choice for currently-enrolled students who find themselves seeking something different from the traditional brick and mortar experience.

Staff explained that to successfully market the Virtual Academy to students and their parents, the Fayette County Alternative Program needs to rebrand in order to lose the negative stigma associated with the word “Alternative” (i.e., a school for students with discipline problems or issues with low achievement).

Only 35 percent of the program’s total population is made up of students with disciplinary problems, but public perception has the percentage much higher. The program will have difficulty attracting its target market unless the perception is changed, staff said.

“The changing of perception begins with rebranding that includes a new name, logo and tagline encapsulating its true identity and mission, to provide quality ‘choice options’ for students seeking opportunities outside of conventional education.

“Additionally, a name change will improve morale among students and staff, and will subsequently help with word-of-mouth advertising. If students and staff do not feel negatively stigmatized by the name of the program, they will be more likely to tell others about where they are going for their education, and encourage their peers to do the same. Words have power, a name change will create a different outlook for students and staff,” according to staff.

To accomplish the goal, 63 stakeholders from across the community were sent surveys, and asked to pick five words they would use to describe the brand of the alternative program. Of the surveys sent, 37 percent responded.

The intent was to develop an acronym that spells a word, with the word having a specific meaning to the program. The parameters were that the acronym be no more than four letters, for easy memory, and that each letter represent a word embodying the attributes of the three academies: Fayette Virtual Academy, Open Campus Academy and Horizon Academy.

The resulting new name is the Fayette Life Academy — Limitless Innovative Flexible Education (LIFE).

Arriving at the logo for the Life Academy, staff said the logo is a presentation of the word LIFE that forms a diamond, complimentary of the school system’s logo. The rationale stated:

•The “L” is the base and is the same navy blue as the FCBOE logo. Navy blue means trust, the trust that parents and students have in our school system to deliver a quality education, and that trust is our base and strength.

• The word “IF” is in the middle of the word “LIFE.” In the logo, “IF” is emphasized because the word means “possibility,” and that is what Fayette LIFE Academy offers its students, the possibility to be a successful student who graduates and is prepared for all future possibilities.

• The “I” and “F” in “IF” utilizes the light and medium blue in the FCBOE logo, the colors represent growth and intellect, respectively. Students at the Fayette LIFE academy experience growth, both educationally and personally, with the academic and social/emotional support offered to all students. They develop their intellect through customized academics designed to meet their needs and interests.

• The “F” and “E” form notches on the right side of the diamond. They resemble the notches in a “key,” representing that Fayette LIFE Academy is a student’s “key” to a successful, bright and productive life.

As for the tagline, “Where Creative, College, Career and Life Readiness Happens,” its purpose is to further define the program and reinforce the brand. The proposed tagline aligns with the school system’s tagline, further reinforcing the connection to the school system as well as capturing the essence of the program.


  1. Great rebranding effort! New name, logo and mission statement all A-OK. Somebody is a seriously good PR person. Yes, there is a “but” coming.

    But, the big question will be – will this effort recruit mostly students from existing home schooling allowing the teaching parent to enter or re-enter the workforce – a logical need during these economic times. Private school shifting seems unlikely. Or, will the existing classroom students swarm to this new and attractive alternative for kids who will perceive this as new freedom, their parents, again with the workforce motive or just flexibility for schedule or location. Think of it – Dad (who works from home) and son or daughter (Fayette Life Academy students) working side by side in the rec room or basement. Or, for the slightly more creative and affluent, doing the same thing from their second home on the beach at Destin or Hilton Head.

    I love all of it and wish I had that option as a kid or a parent of young ones. Seems like a win/win to me. Small or modest enrollment costs about the same since were is no space involved and a small number or teachers needed that don’t have to increase with the number of students. And larger than expected migration from classroom students? Still no increased cost and a chance to limit teacher hiring and even closing and selling some schools for some additional revenue.

    Only suggestion I have is allow this Academy be a pathway to trade schools and other non-college opportunities. We really will need more welders, plumbers and electricians as the current group ages out. Just ask the next one of those professionals you encounter – they will confirm a serious lack of young ones in the pipeline.