This past weekend (April 27-28, 2007), Koalagir15 and I attended the 18th annual convention of the Massachusetts Homeschool Organization of Parent Educators, known locally as MassHOPE. I attended this conference for the first time many, many years ago, before I ever started homeschooling. I did not return until 2003. Why the long years of absence? I have no idea. I suppose I could claim a busy schedule or lack of financial wherewithal. Personally, I think it was lack of motivation or arrogance that I “had it all figured out.” Being the mother of a homeschooled high school student and serving as the Coordinator of a homeschool support group have certainly worked to cure me of those two ailments, but I digress…
For me, THE highlight of the 2007 convention was having the privilege to, once again, hear Chris Klicka speak. I was blessed to hear this gentleman give a presentation at that first homeschool convention many years ago when my daughter was only two years old. I don’t recall the topic back then but, this year, the seminar titles were “The Battle for Our Children’s Minds” and “Homeschooling Teenagers: Standing Against the Culture.” To me, Mr. Klicka is one of the giants of the homeschooling movement, serving the community as an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) since 1985. He is also the father of seven homeschooled children, the author of a number of books, and an MS patient. To watch him continue on with life (and an abundant life at that) in the face of the challenges presented by his illness is both inspiring and humbling. My water heater running out of hot water or a bad headache can sidetrack my best daily efforts; I cannot imagine the level of mental and spiritual fortitude it takes to live with MS. Needless to say, I respect the man immensely and was ecstatic that my daughter had the opportunity to see and listen to Mr. Klicka in person.
My second convention high point was the general session on Friday night that featured a presentation by Doug Phillips of Vision Forum and the graduation ceremony of (at least) ten homeschooled high school students. In honor of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, Mr. Phillips gave a speech comparing the settlement efforts in Virginia with those in New England. Having a degree in Political Science with a fair amount of coursework in American History, I found this topic fascinating (so much so that I took notes).
The graduation ceremony was like nothing I had seen before. The emcee for the evening read a personalized description of each student that included their achievements, as well as their dreams and goals for the future. At my high school commencement, the principal read my name. In a class of 227 graduates, he couldn’t do much more. If he had, I would still be sitting in the second row of gymnasium chairs waiting to get my diploma.
Other positives from the convention:
- purchase of Apologia Advanced Biology curriculum (Human Anatomy)
- acquisition of poetry curriculum
- the opportunity to see The Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum
- the chance to talk with homeschool parents from across New England
- the opportunity to hear about the work of support groups in other towns
MassHOPE 2008 is already scheduled (April 25-26). Mark your calendar today and reserve your hotel room early.
Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.