Online high school marks 10 years

To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Wolf Creek Online High School in Chisago City, dean of students Brenda Swanson and director Tracy Quarnstrom planted an apple tree. (Photo submitted)

This summer Wolf Creek Online High School celebrated 10 years as a charter school at their 2nd annual Back to School Howl Festival on Aug. 16.

This achievement is noteworthy for the online high school and for the charter movement in Minnesota.

When the school opened in 2002, the online world was very different.

That year at the MN legislature, no bill had been passed for funding online students. Wolf Creek was told they may have to close their doors before they had even opened as a charter school.

Members of Wolf Creek spread the word and the need for online options.  The legislature, in special session, passed an on-line learning funding bill.

That was the start of the state’s first online high school.

The past 10 years Wolf Creek has grown as a public school and as a model of an effective online learning community.

“We have seen students graduate with us who acknowledge that Wolf Creek was the only place they ever found academic success,” said director Tracy Quarnstrom.

“Our best and most valuable asset over the past 10 years has been our dedicated staff members,” she added.  “Without their dedication and commitment to working in a small environment, Wolf Creek would not exist.”

The number of students this year is 150, up from last year.

Wolf Creek is the only “hybrid” school in Minnesota, with classes on-line plus a campus that is open Tuesdays and Thursdays for students who want to come in person.

About half of the students show up on those days to visit with the teachers, who are called advisors.  Attendance is not required.

Wolf Creek can accept any student in Minnesota.  Most are from Forest Lake, North Branch, and Chisago City.

Other cities represented are Worthington, St. Paul, Princeton, Belle Plaine, Wayzata, Braham, St. Francis, Rush City, and Elk River.