Though I have been inactive for a couple of weeks, I have not given up blogging. It is one of my few remaining passions in life. However another passion took precedence for the last few weeks. My daughter graduated out if High School Homeschooling last week. About 11 mothers, headed up by the formidable Susan Gulachek (Thanks, Sue!), put together a wonderful ceremony at Cornerstone Church. Even the local newspaper took notice. The graduates made the cover page of the May 31st issue, complete with the photograph shown below.
My daughter is one of those esteemed eleven. She is also our last home schooled child, so it was as much a milestone for us as parents—my wife especially—as it was for her. A definite era has passed for us. As my wife always says, “The days were long, but the years flew by.” I don’t think she would trade the experience for anything. I must say, if the results are any indicator, she did brilliantly. Both children are strong in the faith, and true to the family genes, strong in their opinions.
So the week ahead was taken up in preparation. If you have not been to a home school graduation; you have not been to a graduation. Since the numbers are small (11 in the case of my daughter) each student can do much more than simply walk across the stage. Each student read their own two minute speech; each was read a parent letter of equal length while receiving their diplomas. Songs were in abundance and each was hand picked by the students. In addition, several PowerPoint presentations were made showing pictures of each student from almost birth to graduation.
Even a class song was illustrated in black-lighted gloves performed on video ahead of time and shown on the screens. When I get the DVD copy, I just have to post that piece for you on my YouTube account. It was truly amazing for just two rehearsals.
If there was a dry eye in the house, then that person had ice water in their veins. I know tears (of both joy and some regret for times now gone) were on my eyes. I was not alone.
My dad fought to see his first grandson’s graduation. Unfortunately, the cancer got him before he could see my daughter’s. On the joyful side, my in-laws who couldn’t come in from Colorado to see my son graduate came in for my daughter. So life does seem to balance out sometimes.
I fear that those who follow in our footsteps may not have the same choices we had. Although there are materials coming out in terms of texts, programs, and curriculums, other avenues are closing down. The curious part of the whole process is that it appears to be the churches rather than the State that are developing into the explicit enemies of the Home School movement. It appears that once a church is of a size to support a home school group, they neither have the desire nor the priorities to do so. Others appear to find it more of a bother than an asset.
For example, Ohio had a Post-Secondary program that allowed high school students to enroll in local colleges and get high school as well as college credits at the same time. Although apparently the law was meant to apply to private and explicitly Roman Catholic schools, the forms could be filed by any school. Using O-8 status, many home schoolers took advantage of this program. Since it was a first come-first serve basis, the program went to those who filed first.
Home schoolers are prompt and punctual; at least when it comes to filing forms. For the most part, they got in on the programs first. That did not sit well with the Roman Catholic Schools who filed later and suddenly found themselves out. So they petitioned the state and this is the last year that the Post-Secondary program can be used by home schooling families. Too bad, as it allowed for a good transition from the home to college for those who participated. (And as far as I know, Home Schoolers pay taxes for such programs, like everyone else).
Next, churches are wanting more control over the home schooling groups that meet in their facilities. At the same time, they are cutting down on the allowed use of those same facilities. One church so restricted the time that we had to seek out another facility. Once there, the mother that head it up fought battle after battle in church politics to get the ceremony in place. (Recognize that the groups must pay to rent the facility even though many also pay tithes to that same church.) Even the day of the ceremony, there were battles to be fought as one of the elders thought we were arriving “too early” (though it was on the church calendar with just those hours). Others did not like the attention received from the above mentioned newspaper article.
I say it is a symptom of American Evangelism as a whole. They value programs to “get people to decide for Christ” but have no regard for the discipleship necessary to make followers after that decision. Home Schooling is nothing if it is not discipleship of our own children.
But despite this fact, it appears that same facility will not be available next year. I told my wife and daughter that it appears we are finishing up just as the buildings are burning down behind us.
Pray for those who will follow after us.
It has been an exhausting, expensive, exasperating, expansive, exhilarating, exuberant experience. It is one we could have never imagined choosing when we got married, much less when the first child was born. Now I cannot imagine how our lives would have been without it.