An innovative learning tool made its big debut in an unlikely place today.
It's an online, Spanish language learning program that students at Highland County High School took for a spin.
Whether it's shrinking budgets, lack of interest, or a combination of the two, some smaller rural school districts like Highland County don't have full-time foreign language teachers. That means students take some of these courses online.
School leaders expect this new program to take learning to the next level.
"I'm very excited about this. This is an awesome opportunity," said Sophomore Cesar Ruiz.
Through the eyes of the rural Virginia student interested in taking spanish, this is exciting stuff.
"It's very different because you don't have a teacher that's telling you do this, or this, or this, or they're stressing you to get this done. It's kind of, you gotta keep yourself up with all this," Ruiz said.
Through the eyes of their educators facing thinner budgets, it's necessary.
"We had to reduce our force last year and we lost our live foreign language teacher. So this online is the only opportunity our students have to earn that advanced diploma and to get their exposure to world languages," said April Goff, Principal at Highland High School.
To get a true grasp of how important this program is, look no further than who was in the room on Tuesday.
Patricia Wright is the superintendent of all Virginia public schools. Highland is the least populous county in the Commonwealth.
She says expanding the 50-plus virtual offerings benefits Highland County tremendously.
"Student's don't always have the same opportunities in these localities as they have in other places," said Dr. Wright.
Making an even longer trip was John Conner. He's the Massachusetts-based educator who came up with Breaking the Spanish Barrier.
That program is the basis for the interactive, expansive program that students like Cesar Ruiz are enrolling in for next fall.
Virginia students will be the first in the country to use it.
What makes this program different is its inclusiveness. It's not just language learning, but also opens up students to the cultural components and different dialects of spanish spoken in different countries.