Annabel K. – 2023 Agoratorian
Meet our 2023 Agoratorian—fast, focused, and off to college at 16.
By age five, recent Agora graduate, Annabel Keth, had determined she was going to be a doctor. She knew it. And so did her parents, Pam and Phil, who even at that early age understood that their daughter was wired to achieve whatever she set her mind to—regardless of the hard work and challenges it may entail. Annabel clearly was determined to get into the field of medicine, so it was going to happen. However, what her parents never imagined was that a mere 11 years later—at an age when all that most kids can think about is learning to drive—Annabel would be starting college, having earned early acceptance in a pre-med program. And that is exactly what will happen this fall, when Annabel at age 16 heads off to Pennsylvania Western University Clarion with vision of becoming an OB-GYN.
A stellar student who was in her school’s gifted program since kindergarten, Annabel excelled learning at a brick-and-mortar school, and she had a healthy social component and activities calendar as well. However, when the COVID pandemic forced schools to carry on with a distance learning model, things changed for Annabel. When school resumed after summer 2020, she and her parents found that not enough preparation was made to bring the virtual learning model up to par, let alone up to a level that continued to challenge Annabel academically, provide opportunities that met her drive for learning, and satiated her hunger for continually upping the ante in her educational achievements.
Annabel’s mother Pam is a Family Coach Coordinator at Agora, so they already knew what Agora could provide, and together with her father, they decided it was the right place for her to continue her academic pursuits—at her own unique, fast, and focused pace. However even they could not have predicted just how incredibly Annabel would excel.
“Education at my other school basically stalled during COVID,” said Annabel. “I was a little nervous about cyber school because it would be a completely different experience. It wasn’t as big of a change as I thought it would be. Once I got used to the program at Agora, I was able to get ahead and I liked it a lot better.”
In August 2020, Annabel enrolled at Agora as an eighth grader, but she never actually experienced being one! As she and the team began to build her eighth-grade schedule they discovered she would be taking mostly high school classes and determined it would be most beneficial for her to start Agora in ninth grade. Moreover, Annabel herself determined Agora was where she’d complete her high school career—ideally ahead of schedule.
“The counselor spent a lot of time with us to determine which would be better—an eighth grader taking ninth-grade classes or advancing her to ninth grade,” said Annabel’s mother Pam. “We decided ninth grade would be best, but it would mean she’d graduate a year early. We had to ask if we, as parents, were ready for that. We got so much support from the Agora staff. As Annabel progressed, they helped her fill her schedule with classes at her own pace, we didn’t push—but she wanted it. She’s very motivated and pushed herself, working with her counselor.”
Annabel is especially grateful for the support she received from her school counselor, Barron Whitted M.Ed. Barron helped guide her journey at Agora for all three years, worked with her to develop a graduation plan, and stayed in continual communications with Annabel and her parents to make sure everyone was comfortable with each step and staying on track.
“I can’t even count how many meetings I had with him,” said Annabel. “If I had an issue in the schedule, we talked and figured it out. When I talked about moving up to twelfth grade, he was very supportive. He let me know what I needed to do and sent me emails with all the information I could ever need.”
The respect between counselor and student is mutual. “Annabel is an excellent student who goes above and beyond in her classes and her community,” said Barron. “I know we are going to see amazing things from her in the future.”
Annabel started out at Agora as a synchronous learner, then transitioned to an asynchronous program. This opportunity to take responsibility for her own learning was something she and her parents loved about Agora.
“When she first enrolled, my biggest concern was would she be able to get up and attend school on her own,” said Annabel’s father Phil. “We are very lucky because Annabel is so focused and gets things done. The asynchronous learning model turned out to be great for her. And, if she wanted more work, she’d schedule a meeting and they figured it out. Agora was so much more challenging for her—which is exactly what we all had hoped.”
As for that balanced social component Annabel enjoyed during her in-person schooling, after a brief pause—something experienced by everyone during the pandemic shut-down—Annabel once again began to thrive. During her time at Agora, she participated in various activities such as cooking club, the Post Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) student committee, the School Improvement Plan (SIP) student committee, the National Honor Society, and the HOSA Future Health Professionals elective, where she served as the treasurer for the 2021-2022 school year and the Vice President for the 2022-2023 school year. She also remained active with the Hollidaysburg High School Golf Team and performed in their drama club’s fall performance of Guys and Dolls.
Upon graduation, Agora proudly presented Annabel with our 2023 Agoratorian Award, presented to the senior that is enrolled in a college or trade school and has demonstrated to be an outstanding example of what it means to be an Agora student. With her incredible level of achievement, dedication, determination, and drive, Annabel certainly lives up to the award’s spirit.
Attending college two years early is quite the accomplishment, and Annabel is excited to follow in the footsteps that her family has set at Pennsylvania Western Clarion University. In fact, Annabel’s grandfather Dr. Cliff Keth attended Clarion for his undergrad education before getting advanced degrees in Physics at PSU and Harvard. Annabel dreams of attending Harvard for medical school, and with her work ethic, it is within reach.