fall 2015 j1 student
Imagine being able to sleep in every day, being taught by parents, and, best of all, not being forced to change out of pajamas.
This was part of sophomore Maria Whitmer’s daily routine. Whitmer is a typical 15 year old; she loves to sing, act and perform special effects makeup.
The difference in Whitmer’s life is she is homeschooled for part of the day and attends classes at BV the rest. She is currently enrolled in design fundamentals, choir, Spanish I and beginning acting.
“I’d never been to school a day in my life until the first day of school,” Whitmer said. “I walked in, and there were all of these people [who] were all so different — I’d never met so many varieties of people. I remember walking in and introducing myself to someone, and she looked at me like she was horrified.”
Homeschooling is not as foreign as most people think — her mother buys her different homeschooling books, and she is enrolled into Khan Academy, Whitmer said.
“We do ‘co-ops’,” Whitmer said.“[It] is basically a big homeschooled get together and all the moms are teachers — kind of like school for a day except a lot more family oriented — everybody knows each other.”
Whitmer said homeschoolers put on homeschool dances, debates and even basketball teams.
“[A homeschooled dance is] when a bunch of homeschoolers get together and they dance,” Whitmer said. “Sometimes we’ll hire people to teach us swing or the polka, and we always turn on the hokey pokey — it’s a tradition.”
“My brother played on a homeschool basketball team [and] a homeschool debate team,” Whitmer said. “There are just some people who say, ‘Hey, let’s make a homeschool basketball team!’ And it works.”
BV counselor Jane McGraw, who is Whitmer’s counselor, said she believes homeschooling can be beneficial.
“[Students] can really individualize [their] curriculum,” McGraw said. “For some students it is a big advantage — if they need to move at a faster pace, or perhaps they need to move at a slower pace.”
Scheduling classes for homeschool students isn’t necessarily hard — they need to be flexible, McGraw said.
Whitmer mentioned homeschoolers do get a form of credit for college from homeschooling.
“All [extra activities] come into account for college,” Whitmer said.“[Homeschoolers] don’t say, ‘We all get straight-a’s and that’s about it.’ We’re not smarter than the average person — we’re not shut out completely.”
Before coming to BV, Whitmer said she did occasionally feel left out of certain life experiences.
“I didn’t know what it was like to have that ‘high school sweetheart’,” Whitmer said. “Or to have that little ‘clique’ of friends because with homeschoolers we’re so socially awkward that we all just kind of socialize together.”
Whitmer said she is incredibly excited to go to events such as football games and meet all the different varieties of people.
“Even if you’re not home schooled — and I know homeschooling kind of promotes this more — really be yourself,” Whitmer said. “Never ever let your friends, family, teachers [or] anybody you know, tell you what you have to do. You have to follow what you believe, what you want. That’s your choice — you’re your own person.”