CCA's flexibility helps graduate explore passion for biology, baton twirling

Andrea Griesacker will attend Bloomsburg University to study biology in hopes of becoming a veterinary technician.​

Andrea Griesacker’s eight years at Commonwealth Charter Academy have passed in a whirlwind – from her monthly adrenaline-pumping trips with the Adventure Club to the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform at the presidential inaugural concert in January.

Looking back at her time with CCA, Andrea, of Adams County, can clearly see the decisions that shaped her education – and her future. A standout memory involves the first biology course she ever took, when she would stay after virtual lessons to continue having discussions with her teacher.

“I would do research on topics outside of the coursework, and those conversations with my biology teacher definitely made my week each time,” said Andrea, who graduated as a member of the class of 2017.

The personalized learning approach and the ability to create an individualized curriculum fueled the fire of Andrea’s lifelong love of science. Thanks to her participation in the STEM Conservatory program, Andrea took an internship at a veterinary hospital. She learned about the differences between a vet and a vet tech (“The vet tech does more hands-on work, while the vet is more of the doctor role,” she explained), and she observed surgeries and took on small assignments, including helping to trim pets’ nails.

Andrea plans to turn this passion into an undergraduate degree. She will attend Bloomsburg University to study biology in hopes of becoming a veterinary technician.

While biology was her first love, her time with CCA has allowed her to explore other interests. During her last semester, Andrea is job shadowing at a local theater group, pushing her penchant for performing to the next level by learning the ins and outs of running a small theater.

Andrea’s no stranger to the stage. She has been baton twirling from an early age, and she had the incredible opportunity to perform alongside her team, the TwirlTasTix, to kick off the president’s inaugural ceremonies.

When she wasn’t studying biology, participating in STEM conservatories or practicing her baton-twirling craft, you could likely find Andrea in search of her next adrenaline rush. The senior has been a member of CCA’s Adventure Club since it began during her seventh-grade year. Since then, she’s joined many of the club’s monthly trips, including kayaking, indoor rock climbing and horseback riding. Because of the regularity of these trips, Andrea has begun and maintained friendships with many other CCA learners.

“I’m definitely going to miss my CCA friends and the teachers I’ve made friends with over the years,” said Andrea, who lists connecting with teachers as one of the biggest pieces of advice she’d give to new CCA families. “If you’re behind, teachers have an easier time helping you if they know you and have a feel for what you might be struggling with. I’d definitely recommend keeping in touch with them.”

While closing one chapter and beginning another is always bittersweet, Andrea feels ready for the world outside of CCA.

“CCA helped prepare me for life after graduation because of its hands-on structure, which means you have to keep up with your own schedule. CCA teachers weren’t reminding me on a daily basis to do my work; I had to remind myself, just like in the real world.”

In addition, the many field trips she attended opened her eyes to the various career paths she can pursue.

While she’s still considering ways to combine her interests in biology and the arts, Andrea said she is excited for life in college – from learning to balance a budget to meeting her roommates.