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Learning with the stars

Teen actors earn diplomas with MU High School

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  • By Ryan Gavin
  • Photo courtesy PRPhotos.com
  • Published: March 21, 2011
Kyle Massey

Actor Kyle Massey works it on the red carpet at TV Guide's 2010 "Hot List" party in Los Angeles. Massey, known for his roles in Disney Channel shows, earned a diploma from MU High School last semester.

Regardless of what show you recognize him from, Kyle Massey, 19, has been a TV regular for years. He performed in the cast of the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven and its spinoff, Cory in the House, and last year he competed on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, charming his way into the finals. His older brother, Christopher, also an actor, started his career playing Simba in Disney’s stage production of The Lion King, and he was in the cast of Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101 for three years.

During their teens, the frenetic show business schedule didn't leave the Masseys with much time for a traditional high school education. On set for as many as three weeks per month, the young actors needed an online learning program that would both challenge them and allow for flexibility. When their mom, Angel Massey, found MU High School, she fell in love.

“This curriculum is set up for you to really know the information,” Angel Massey said after her sons had been in MU High School for two years. “You have to really pay attention to detail, which is great for SAT scores.”

The brothers were successful in their educational endeavors, with Christopher earning his diploma in 2008 and Kyle getting his this past December.

The Masseys aren't the only celebrities who have studied with MU High School. Skiers Lindsey Vonn and Kieffer Christianson also earned high school credits with the program while pursuing their careers. More than 6,500 students from all walks of life in grades 3-12 take core subjects, advanced-placement courses and gifted-education courses with MU High School. For some students, the online program supplements a traditional education, providing courses not available in their schools. The diplomas students earn are fully accredited by the AdvanceED and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.

2011 marks the 100th anniversary of distance education at the University of Missouri. MU High School’s parent unit, the Center for Distance and Independent Study, has been offering correspondence courses since 1911. MU High School achieved accreditation as a diploma-granting institution in 1999.

Success in class work has translated to success in the limelight for the Masseys. Now an official high school graduate, Kyle is shooting the upcoming Beethoven's Christmas Adventure in Canada this spring. The brothers have appeared in The District, Punk’d and CSI-Miami, in addition to numerous commercials and voiceover projects. And whatever their futures might hold, their mom knows the importance of education.

"With a good education," Angel Massey says, "the door will always be open for them with whatever career they chose."

Read more in:  Beyond CampusArts & CultureEducation

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Last updated: Feb. 22, 2012