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Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board 2013-14 Annual Poster Contest
PA Liquor Control Board, 10/18/2013

Editor's Note from Susan Richman-- In past years many homeschoolers have taken part in this annual poster contest that helps students investigate the problems of underage drinking. This can be a valuable part of an overall health program -- not to mention a great art lesson! The website for the program includes images of past winning posters, to help students get a feel for the level of quality hoped for in the contest.   I especially like that the contest is encouraging students to come up with positive images of the many wonderful alternatives to using alcohol, rather than focusing on negative images. Here's also one (of many!) possible websites that has helpful information for parents about starting the conversation about alcohol use -- and this poster contest can be one vehicle to do so. This link to PLCB resources can also be helpful--  many are PDF information sheets you can print out at home.  Hope your student takes part-- and that we have some homeschool winners once again this year!  
With a little under a month remaining until the deadline, the Bureau of Alcohol Education wants to remind you that we are still accepting submissions for the Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest.  This contest is open to all Pennsylvania students in kindergarten through 12th grade, including those who are home-schooled. 
The Alcohol Awareness Poster Contest is a valuable educational tool that provides students with an opportunity to learn about the dangers of.... 


Comments: 43

American Homeschool Model United Nations Conference 2013 This September 26, 2013!
Nicholas Emery, 7/24/2013

Editor's Note from Susan Richman:  I've known a number of homeschoolers who have loved participating in the Model UN program-- participation really lets these students learn in a very active way about so many current (and controversial!) issues around the world, and lets them meet a wide range of other students at regional meets. I was very pleased when homeschooler Nicholas Emery from New Jersey shared with me about this upcoming conference for homeschoolers and Model UN -- and the 'early bird' registration fee is still available until August 1, 2013. Hope you might be able to attend and gain a feel for this excellent program. The date of the upcoming conference is September 26, 2013, and it will be held at the Princeton Holiday Inn, in Princeton NJ. 

$25 per delegate Early Registration through August 1, 2013

$30 per delegate August 2, 2013 – September 1, 2013

American Homeschool Model United Nations Conference 2013 This September 26, 2013!

Planning where to hold the 2020 Olympics. Discussing GMOs in the context of international trade. Collaborating with students from around the world. These are just some of the many experiences students have in Model United Nations. Model UN is an organization in which high school students from across the nation, and indeed around the world, model the UN. Delegates attend conferences hosted by major universities and organizations, where they spend four action-packed days of debate and collaboration as they work together to solve relevant, real-world issues.

Over the past several years, delegates from our club, the American Homeschool Model UN Club (AHMUNC), have attended conferences hosted by top universities. Two years ago, our delegates went to the Ivy League Model UN Conference (ILMUNC) hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. We attended such committees as


Comments: 5

Reflections on our Hunt for College Scholarships
Sheryl Robel, 1/31/2013

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to get an email recently from Sheryl Robel, a wonderful homeschooling mother I've known for years and years. Some of our kids were on homeschool volleyball teams together, and the Robel kids all took part in the Homeschoolers Writing Club that I offered for years. Sheryl was writing to share the very happy news that her youngest son, Ben, had just been named a winner in the state level of the Horatio Alger Scholarship program, earning $5000 towards the college of his choice. I looked into this particular scholarship-- the organization offers 50 of these $5000 scholarships to students in Pennsylvania.They are looking for students who "have exhibited integrity and perseverance in overcoming personal adversity and who aspire to pursue higher education." A family must also demonstrate financial needs in pursuing a college education for their student. The website further shares the values they seek to establish through their scholarship program: 

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty and determination can conquer all obstacles. Today, through its Members, the Association continues to educate our nation's young people about the economic and personal opportunities afforded them by the promise of the American free enterprise system. Through its scholarship programs, the Association encourages students to pursue their own version of the American Dream. While providing scholarship opportunities, Association Members mentor the Scholars and underscore the importance of service to others. The Members work directly to provide promising young people with the support, education and confidence needed to realize their aspirations.

After hearing this good news about Ben's honor, I emailed Sheryl to see if she would like to share her thoughts on encouraging kids to try for various college scholarships-- and I was delighted to hear right back from her! Many words of wisdom here! And above everything, be sure to look for scholarship opportunities that resonate with *your student*, that just seem to have his or her 'name written all over them.' 

One further thought-- although applying for scholarships can be a *lot* of work, and of course not every application will net a 'win', still putting in this dedicated time can also help our kids learn about follow-through, communicate effectively (and with a grateful heart!) with the adults asked to write recommendation letters, meet duedates right on time, develop their writing skills, and demonstrate resourcefulness and discernment.... all very valuable character qualities and skills to gain, even if the dollars don't come through each time. There might be more that is gained here than just the 'official' award! Also, know that many scholarship programs involve helping kids learn more about the whole financial aspect of attending college and more-- there are great newsletters, say, for the students interested in this Horatio Alger program, to guide them through the process and connect them with other great getting-ready-for-college resources. 

 So... now for Sheryl's thoughts on this process....

Reflections on our Hunt for College Scholarships

Just about ten years ago our eldest of seven children started looking at colleges and took her first PSAT.  And that is when I realized that we could have started our hunt for “outside scholarships” (ones that are granted from foundations and programs not associated with any particular school or university) much sooner.  To start with, I had no idea that the PSAT (which we had signed up to take just to warm up for the SAT) was also a scholarship competition.

Highly motivated because I had already missed one opportunity, I went to our local library and spent an afternoon scanning through a REALLY big book, which listed an overwhelming number of scholarships organized alphabetically, and I returned home quite overwhelmed.  I didn’t really have time for this kind of research project, but I also didn’t want to incur any debt for higher education.

Thankfully for us, Geneva College’s financial aid office made us aware of a very helpful tool called.... 


Comments: 6

PBS 'Kids Go!' Writing Contest for grades K-3 starting up-- homeschoolers have won in the past!
Susan Richman, 1/10/2013

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Have your young kids come up with some delightful creative stories? Then consider entering this fun writing contest sponsored by Public Broadcasting Station WQED in Pittsburgh. The wonderful homeschooling Troll family from Somerset PA has had two daughters enter and go to the top levels of this contest-- their original illustrated books were delightful, and I loved seeing the little video last year at evaluations of their daughter Caroline Troll at the WQED studio recording her book (the 3rd place winner!), reading it aloud with lively expression-- and you can hear little 6-year old Caroline Troll reading her delightful butterfly story right up at the contest website! I know you'll be charmed. Older sister Christine Troll (now in 6th grade) was the 1st place third grade winner in 2010-- click here to read and see her full book, including all of her amazingly detailed and creative illustrations (just 'click' on the picture of her book, and a new pop-up window with the full book, with 'page turning' shows up-- amazing!).

And to get your kids' creative ideas going, definitely check out all the 'back winners' stories-- they are all up online, and I know you're kids will be VERY inspired to see what other children have created. In fact, one of the very wonderful things about looking into many types of contests is that the websites for the contests often share past winners' work, and looking over these quality efforts can really help our kids gain a sense of just what might be possible. It's like getting free curriculum materials-- and very motivating ones at that! 

This year's contest is open to students in Grades K-3 in the Western and Central PA regions as well as in West Virginia. The 'kick-off' is starting January 15th, and stories must be submitted by April 5, 2013. There are different length requirements for each grade level, and young children who can't yet write down their own stories can dictate to an adult. At least five colorful illustrations must accompany the story. The links below will give you all the needed info-- let us know if your kids enter, or let us know how they enjoyed seeing the past winning stories! This would also be a terrific activity for homeschool Writing Clubs or weekly Co-op programs.

         (The cover of kindergartner Caroline Troll's original story-- 3rd place regional winner in 2012!)



PITTSBURGH – Today, WQED announced its annual PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest, designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. Also partnering with WQED this year arePenn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU) which serves central Pennsylvania and West Virginia Public Broadcasting(WVPB). The Contest, made possible by financial support from EQT Corporation, encourages children in grades K-3 to celebrate creativity by submitting their own original stories and illustrations.

“WQED is committed to providing fun opportunities for Pittsburgh-area kids to express their creativity,” said Deborah L. Acklin, President and CEO, WQED. “The PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest helps children across southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond to build valuable literacy skills for success in school and life.”


How the Contest Works
Beginning January 14, 2013, children in southwestern and central Pennsylvania, as well as throughout West Virginia, can submit their entries to the PBS KIDS GO! Writers Contest. WQED will select local winners and award prizes, including the opportunity to record their winning story to be broadcast on Saturday Light Brigade (SLB) Radio in the spring of 2013.


WQED will send its list of winners to the national contest where a panel of esteemed judges will rank the top 12 entries. National winners will be announced during the summer of 2013 and the winning stories will be featured on pbskids.org/writerscontest....


Comments: 9

Homeschool grad, Trevor Barron, from Pittsburgh region took part in London Olympics-- men's race walking
Susan Richman, 8/5/2012

I know many homeschoolers have been enjoying watching the London Summer Olympics this past week-- and I'm sure many are finding ways to truly use this as a wonderful learning experience, too. If you want great ideas for further learning, see this website: http://simplehomeschool.net/the-olympics/

photo of Trevor Barron in the 2012 Olympic Trials race.

My special thanks to longterm homeschool advocate and conservative political candidate Sue Ann Means of Bethel Park PA for alerting me to the story of homeschool graduate Trevor Barron. Trevor just competed on Saturday, August 4th, in the London Olympics-- at just age 19, he was the youngest competitor ever in the mens' 20 kilometer race-walking competition. He finished a very respectable 26th place in the event, out of 56 competitors-- it was the 2nd best time in his life, and he was all smiles upon finishing. Racewalking is a much more common sport in other countries-- but I think that perhaps Trevor's pluck and courage and drive just may spark more *homeschoolers* to look into this unique sport. 

Trevor's story is especially inspiring, because he has overcome some daunting challenges in his life. At age 8 he was diagnosed with an unusual form of epilepsy, and the family opted to homeschool Trevor for 2nd and 3rd grade while he adjusted to needed medications. By age 13 his medications were no longer working for him, and the family opted for brain surgery at PGH Children's Hospital. He worked very hard to recuperate quickly and fully, and is now seizure free. He also got right back to his varied athletic endeavors, including track and field at the Bethel Park High School. Earlier Trevor had been a serious competitive swimmer, but had to stop that sport when seizures began hitting during swim meets. Here's how the PGH Post-Gazette explained this in an August 3, 2012 article....


Comments: 18

Thomas Forstmeier of Bellfonte gets US Naval Academy Appointment
Howard Richman, 5/20/2012

Congratulations to Thomas Forestmeier of Bellefonte. He received an appointment to the US Naval Academy from his Congressman Rep. Glenn Thompson. The Centre Daily Times reported on May 15, 2012:

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson recently announced the fully qualified appointment of Thomas Forstmeier, of Bellefonte, to the U.S. Naval Academy. Forstmeier, a son of Kenneth and Elizabeth Forstmeier, will join the Academy as a member of the Class of 2016.

Forstmeier was home-schooled throughout high school and excelled in Advanced Placement courses and was nominated for the National Merit Scholarship Program. In his senior year, he entered dual enrollment at Penn State, studying calculus and economics....


Comments: 8

Another Robot team, with homeschoolers from Western PA makes it to the World Competition!
The Terabytes Robotics Team!, 4/20/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: a while back I shared a terrific article about the eastern PA team of junior high level homeschoolers taking part in the robotics competition-- now here's news on a senior level team! AND they are also looking to do a major service projectwith their robot down in Guatemala at a children's home-- read on! Also,   if you are in the Plum, PA area, the Terabytes would like to invite you to their team room at Bible Baptist Church (200 Elicker Road, Plum) for an Open House on Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 12 to 6pm to see their robot in action.

     A local team of seven high school students, team 4149 the Terabytes, has earned their way to the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World competition in St. Louis in late April.

     The FIRST organization (www.usfirst.org) was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology.  They work to accomplish this goal through mentor based programs such as the FIRST Tech Challenge.  The FTC competition is played on a twelve by twelve foot playing area where four robots in alliances of two compete to earn the most points.  This year the challenge involves picking up racquetballs, putting them in baskets, then stacking the baskets or raising them super high.  There are also bowling balls on the field that can be pushed around to be scored.  A match starts out with a thirty second autonomous period followed by a two minute teleop(remote controlled) period.  There are also a variety of judged awards based on the team’s outreach, engineering design, ingenuity, and other factors.  The highest award in FTC is the Inspire Award.  The Inspire Award is given to the team whom the judges thought was the best “role model”, and was a strong competitor in all the judging categories as well as on the field.

     FTC Robotics team 4149 the Terabytes, based in the Pittsburgh area, recently qualified for the World FTC competition at the Ohio state championship in Cleveland.  Though the Terabytes didn’t win the competition on the field, they were honored to receive the Inspire Award which ensured them a seat at the World Competition.  They are the only team from western Pennsylvania to qualify at the FTC level....


Comments: 6

5th grade homeschooler wins PA level of National Bicycle Poster Contest!!!
Jenna Litynski, 3/27/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was so delighted to hear from the Litnyski family this morning about this wonderful win for Brenna! This is her poster-- we hope *everyone* who takes part in this website helps in VOTING now for Brenna's terrific artwork, from April 2-6, 2012.... We can all help her become the national winner! I know you'll agree that she really worked hard and that she created a dramatic and very meaningful image. Brenna's mom shared how much her daughter enjoyed taking part in this project -- and her hope was that Brenna's win would inspire other homeschool students to jump in and take part in engaging and worthwhile contests of all sorts, which can really stretch our kids to reach for new goals and complete a memorable project. We're all so proud of Brenna! And your homeschool kids will also benefit by knowing they've helped out another student here (through voting for Brenna's poster!), and I know they'll be inspired by seeing the work of the other state winners up on the website for the contest. 
On January 24, 2012, Suzan Knott made the following posting on the bulletin board of www.pahomeschoolers.com: 


The 2012 NATIONAL BICYCLE POSTER CONTEST is also open to homeschool students!
Now through March 1st, fifth-grade students across the state can compete in the contest and learn about how bicycles can be one solution to many of our countries emerging issues (bicycling is fun, healthy and green). The contest, is sponsored by Saris, Schwinn, Lazer and Planet Bike and there are great prizes to be won for the students AND schools.

Bike poster 2.jpg

My name is Jenna Litynski and I am the proud mother of Brenna Litynski, a homeschooled student, who won the 5th Grade Saris Cycling Poster Contest for the state of Pennsylvania!  She will be representing Pennsylvania with her artwork at the National Level and NEEDS YOUR HELP. Online public voting will take place between April 2nd and 6th at www.sariscyclinggroup.com/postercontest and the national winner wins a trip to Washington DC for the 2013 National Bike Summit!  We need the homeschoolers of Pennsylvania to support Brenna by helping her get votes. If she wins, she will attend the National Bike Summit in 2013 and represent the homeschooled students and families of Pennsylvania!  She does not have classmates from a brick and mortar school to help, but hopefully she will have the hundreds of Pennsylvania homeschooled students and their families support her and vote for her artwork!  The future of cycling as a form of transportation and healthy living is in the hands of young people like Brenna.  Art contests such as this one are wonderful opportunities for homeschooled students to broaden their horizons.  They allow the creative student to use and enjoy their creative gifts, but also encourage students to find ways of applying them to make a difference in the lives of others....



Comments: 34

Homeschoolers FLL Robotics Team from the Quakertown PA area earns major win-- heading to international competition!
Allison Janney, homeschool student, 2/26/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Over the years I've heard from many homeschool groups taking part in the First Lego League Robotics program-- and all have been incredibly grateful for this unique experience.  I was delighted to hear of the wonderful experience of this team from the Quakertown PA region in the eastern part of the state-- and to see their grateful hearts as they have worked together so very well as a team. I know we all wish them the best, and that they will be able to fund their team trip to the international competition this April 2012. 

If you don’t like long stories, we suggest skipping this. However, for the few readers that might still remain, we should add the disclaimer that although this is a long story, it is not quite long enough to count as one of your 25 books for the PHAA diploma English requirement. So if anyone is still interested in reading this, then we shall ask you to solve a math equation:  What does 8 homeschool kids + 1 robot equal?

In the fall of 2010, eight homeschooled teenagers formed an First Lego League robotics team and over the two seasons the team has been existence, we have really seen God at work. God brought the team together in less than twenty-four hours. Some of us had never met before.  God also provided all registration fees, robots, parts, pieces and many other things. Consequently, we picked Jireh, which in Hebrew means the Lord provides, as our team name.

robotics team pyramid.jpg

As an FLL team we must:  build and program an autonomous robot (If you don’t know what this means then, as a homeschooler, you should grab a dictionary!); research a real world problem in a specified area of science and come up with an innovative solution; and work well together as a team. Of course, being homeschooled, our moms quickly turned the research project into a unit study and we can all quite easily rattle off the summary of last year’s research.  “We aim to prevent medial epicondylar apophysitis using the principles of neuroplasticity and biofeedback.” This year the team chose something easier-- preventing food spoilage during a power outage by designing a refrigerator ice pack which utilizes UV-C pulse light and endothermic reactions.

Last season, through God’s grace, the team did very well (taking first at the local level and second at the regional level). Of course, since we were homeschooled, we were asked some rather interesting questions at the competitions, my favorite being, “Isn’t so nice that you get to get out and see people?” Yes, I know how it is, we spend all day in our pajamas, cruelly locked in a dark closet, without TV and…I’m off topic.

robot team 2 students.jpg

This season our team saw God move mountains. At the local event our team placed first but at regionals everything fell apart. Although the research and the team work judging sessions went well, the robot game just went horribly. The first match our light sensors stopped working and the second match our fully charged battery died. In robot scores, the team was just about last place. Quickly we changed batteries, attempted to fix the light sensors by shoving a tire in one and were frantically rewriting code when we were called up for our third and last round of the day. We knew we were going in with an untested battery, untested code, and light sensors that worked sporadically even if the tire stayed wedged in place. The team was on the competition floor and we were praying, “God, it’s up to you because there is no way this should work.” All too soon we were up....



Comments: 10

Lancaster Teen Named Grand Prize Winner in Susquehanna Bank Video Contest
Alison Giella, 1/19/2012

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: It's always great to hear about homeschoolers getting involved in positive and creative activities, especially when they are working as a small team to meet a goal. I hope the following press release encourages your family to look into some unique ways to use your children's strengths and interests. Our warmest congratulations to Zachary and Mitch Blank, and to Elijah and Jude VanHanxleden-- sounds like they've really found a wonderful activity that they love, and that they are enjoying spreading a positive message to others through their unique video productions.

Zach Blank 1.jpg

LITITZ, Pa., January 19, 2012 – What’s the risk of not saving money? Zachary Blank and a few friends provided the answer in a video that won Susquehanna Bank’s Lights, Camera, Save! contest for teens, and their effort is now competing as a finalist in the national contest.

Zach’s video “Saving Matters” was honored as part of the Lights, Camera, Save! video contest organized by the American Bankers Association Education Foundation. It is featured on Susquehanna Bank’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/SusquehannaBank. In the contest, students age 13 to 18 submitted 90-second videos about the importance of saving money.

“Saving Matters” shows a boy considering buying a toy tractor, until he imagines what his future may hold if he doesn’t learn to save money as well. Sixteen-year-old Zach made the video with his brother Mitch, as well as Elijah and Jude VanHanxleden.

Zach Blank 2.jpg

Together, they formed Zebrafilm Studios, and they’ve been making videos regularly since the middle of 2011. Their videos can be seen at www.youtube.com/zebrafilmstudios.

“We usually like to plan out some absurd storyline, shoot it together, and then relax and edit it afterwards. Once we're done, we put it up on our website, Youtube, and Facebook,” Zach said. “We believe that videos can be funny, entertaining, and clever without being crude, inappropriate, or violent.”....


Comments: 6

Poerty Out Loud-- a wonderful national contest... homeschoolers welcome... and info on local Greensburg PA contest February 3, 2012
Leigh Jerz, 12/20/2011

Editor’s Note from Susan Richman: I love the annual Poetry Out Loud contest, and it’s wonderful to see that homeschoolers are continuing to have fine opportunities to take part in this program, which has local, regional, state, and national levels of competition. In the past half-dozen years, homeschoolers in Pennsylvania have done very well in this competition—with PHAA graduate Olivia Meldrum (now a junior at Franciscan University in Ohio, majoring in sacred music) one year winning at the state level and going on to National competition. I treasure the opportunity to have heard Olivia recite her poetry selections for me at her annual evaluation meetings—she truly used this contest as a vehicle to explore poetry deeply, gain real presence in recitation, and develop her appreciation of a full range of poems from varied eras.  Some years there have been as many as three homeschoolers making it to the ‘top ten’ finalists in Pennsylvania—and I’m sure all gained immensely by participating.

The contest involves memorizing and reciting one poem from the Poetry Out Loud online anthology at the local level, two poems at regionals, and three at the state level.  The website gives excellent guidelines to families – you can make this an important part of your English program for your high school homeschooler. Many parents might feel at a loss in approaching poetry—use this contest website to guide your teens towards real appreciation.  Below is specific info on the Greesburg area local homeschoolers competition, open to any homeschoolers nearby (Westmoreland County in Western PA). If you know of other local homeschool groups hosting competitions, do post below as a ‘comment’. This would be a *wonderful* activity for a homeschool co-op to consider—I know many co-ops have high school English classes or drama classes, and hosting this contest would be a great activity!


StageRight of Greensburg is offering homeschoolers the chance to participate in the Poetry Out Loud contest,scheduled for  Friday February 3, 2012.  Artistic Director Tony Marino will be judging the contest.  High School homeschool students (Grades 9-12, plus 8th-graders who are taking High School English) need only recite ONE poem from the many listed on the Poetry Out Loud website; the winner gets to participate in the Regional competition in February at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg-- and that winner goes to state (which requires 3 poems). The location will be StageRight, 100 North Main St, Greensburg PA 15601


Comments: 4

Want a unique health assignment??? Have your kids take part in this PA contest to create a PSA against alcohol and drug use...
PA National Guard, 11/21/2011

Editor's Note from Susan: We all need to help our kids learn about varied health issues, including the dangers of alcohol and drug use. Some of you might want to look into this neat contest to help you do this. Let us know if your kids decide to enter! I was pleased that homeschoolers in PA were specifically invited to take part, too. One nice thing about many academic contests is that they often include free educational materials related to the theme of the program-- here's a link for the DrugFreePA curricular materials related to this contest, which could be interesting for families to look over even if your kids don't actually enter the competition. The materials focus on helping kids discern how advertizing media can try to influence their choices and decisions related to this issue. You can also find past winning public service announcements (PSA's) from this contest, on YouTube. If anyone has other ways they've found helpful in discussing this topic with your kids, do post below.  I'm sure for most of us, simply *modeling* an appropriate message is a main approach-- but having ways to have a more in-depth conversation is also a great idea.

The Pennsylvania National Guard Counterdrug Joint Task Force, Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Drug Free Pennsylvania are launching, for the 5th year, a statewide contest designed to find highly creative middle and high school students.


The Sound Off: Pennsylvania's Drug Prevention Television/Radio Public Service Announcement (PSA) Contest will provide an opportunity for youth to send a positive message to their peers and communities that drugs and alcohol do not have to be part of their activities.


The contest is open to all public, private and home-educated Pennsylvania students in grades 6-12. If necessary, the winning team will professionally produce the PSA that will be aired on television or radio stations throughout the state....


Comments: 4

Scholarships for 12th graders planning on careers in government or military service
Katharine Hutton Tweedy, Washington Crossing Foundation, Washington Crossing Foundation

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: When we receive info on scholarship opportunities we like to pass this info on to homeschooling families-- especially when the sponsoring organization is seeking ways to let homeschoolers specifically know about their offering. Today I heard from the Washington Crossing Foundation, a non-profit group located in Pennsylvania, about their scholarship program for high school seniors-- perhaps they had heard that many homeschoolers seek to serve our nation through involvement in government or through military service leadership. I hope this opportunity will be helpful ones for homeschool seniors in PA-- and note in the following info that there are some special awards available for students in the Greater Philadelphia counties. The deadline for receipt of application materials is January 15, 2012-- PHAA of course can help with providing official copies of high school transcripts for students enrolled in the PHAA diploma program, and your PHAA homeschool evaluator could be a terrific person to write the needed recommendation letter. Full info on applying can be found at the organization's website, listed below. 


P. O. BOX 503




The Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the FORTY-THIRD ANNUAL NATIONAL WASHINGTON CROSSING FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS for STUDENTS COMPLETING TWELFTH (or final high school year) in 2012 that are planning careers in government service.

We invite you to explore our web site www.gwcf.org, which contains all of the information candidates should require to prepare and submit an application. Each interested student is invited to write a one-page essay stating why he or she plans a career in government service including any inspiration to be derived from the leadership of George Washington in his famous crossing of the Delaware. The student must confine the essay to viewpoint, attitude and purpose in choice of career.

This essay must be accompanied by a recommendation....


Comments: 5

Encouragement to take part in the ASA Statistical Project Competition-- Homeschooler Jeremy Keenan WON 1st place last year!
Carole Matheny, AP Statistics Online Teacher, 10/4/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: It's always really encouraging to hear about the dedicated work and effort of our AP Online students really paying off-- and often this is quite literally! I was delighted to hear this story from our (wonderful!) AP Statistics teacher, Carole Matheny, about the 1st place win of one of her past students in this excellent project competition. I think this is such a great example of encouraging a student to really go with their interests and stretch to develop a major contest entry, demonstrating how this can often reap real benefits. And I don't mean only the actual prize and special recognition this student won-- but the longterm benefits of knowing he could develop such a major project, follow-through on all the many details, figure his results, write up a major paper and develop graphs of his findings, and get everything in final form by the deadline of June 1st. I'm sure that knowing he could accomplish this will really help him feel confident to try the next major challenge he takes on-- he'll know he's the sort of student who can really shoulder personal responsibility in a meaningful way. I also think this article points out the unique benefits of having your child take part in one of our Advanced Placement Online Classes-- your child might become inspired to really pursue a unique major project that goes beyond the scope of the class itself. Also, besides the project competition, there is also a poster competition (entries due April 1 each year), open even to young elementary age students-- check out the website for the American Statistics Association, as they have lots of examples of past winning entries. Even if you opt not to take part, could be quite fun to look over these posters with your kids!


       [Don't worry-- just read on and you'll see why this is the illustration for this article!]

It was May, 2009, and since AP testing was over, my AP Statistics class was also finished for the year. It was that time of year when most students think about their summer vacation or maybe if they’re graduating, about the college they will soon attend in the fall. Several students wrote thank you notes to me for teaching the class and others left encouraging notes to future students about my class. So I wasn’t surprised when I heard from the youngest student in the class, a ninth grader, Jeremiah. Having enjoyed the class, he wanted to continue learning about statistics. Surely four years without working with statistics would be too long of a break from the subject and he might not remember the material when he needed it in college. Besides, he found he really enjoyed statistics and wanted to learn more. That is something I really enjoy about working with homeschool students-- their interest to learn, inside or outside the classroom.

In our email correspondence I pointed Jeremiah to several online courses he might pursue in statistics and to several possible statistical competitions.  AP Statistics is similar in scope to a college level statistics introductory course. Being new to online courses, I had heard other PA Homeschoolers AP Online teachers mention how they often had continued contact with past students and how much they enjoyed hearing from them and keeping up with their accomplishments or learning how they found the course useful in their college studies. Helping Jeremiah find these additional statistical courses and competitions was having a similar affect upon me. It also might be quite helpful to future students.

It wasn’t long before Jeremiah decided that he would enter the American Statistical Association Statistical Project Competition.  ASA is a large community of statisticians and each year they promote statistics by conducting poster and project competitions for children in grades K through 12.  The entries are judged by committees of statisticians and teachers who award cash prizes, calculators and certificates.  

Jeremiah decided to run a unique taste test. Living in China, he was familiar with both Chinese made Coke and through visits to the States, US made Coke. Could people tell the difference between the two? Could they identify one as made in China and the other as made in the U.S?....


Comments: 6

The Legacy Project, 2/23/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: One of my very favorite projects that my AP US History online students do each year is a History Interview. They find someone who's older-- often a grandparent, or an elderly neighbor or friend-- and ask them about some key historical events they remember. Many chose to interview a veteran-- this year I even had a student complete a professional level video interview of a man who survived the Bataan Death March during World War II. One of the sweetest parts of the project is how close my students feel to these special older people after their interviews-- and there have even been sad times when the grandfather interviewed about his time serving our nation overseas during World War II died before the end of the school year. These students then felt a particular level of gratitude that they had made the time to really talk with their grandparent, hearing stories they'd never known before, and feeling a new bond. Knowing the power of this type of exchange, I was delighted to find out about this national essay contest-- I hope many homeschoolers will enter. With any contest, my core criteria for deciding whether or not it would be 'worth it' to enter, is to decide if the activity the contest involved was inherently worthwhile-- without any outside prizes involved. And that is definitely the case with this contest, open to student ages 8 to 18. And my guess is that many students will end up writing two essays, instead of just one-- one that's just 300-words long, to fit the criteria of this contest, and a second that is quite a bit longer, to really bring out all that was learned through the interview.  

The Legacy Project is running its 11th annual Listen to a Life
Essay Contest.
The biggest reward for students -- like last
year's Grand Prize winner 10-year-old Vann Barnette -- is what
they learn about themselves, their family, and even history when
they listen to the life stories of a grandparent or grandfriend.
The national contest, run in partnership with Generations United
in Washington, DC, receives thousands of entries from across the
country. Barnette won last year's Grand Prize of a Lenovo
ThinkCentre computer for himself and $25,000 of Orchard
educational software for his school. This year's contest is open
to students 8-18 years of age.

Barnette, a grade 4 student at Strawberry Hill Elementary School
in Anamosa, IA, learned about a pivotal moment in his maternal
grandfather's life when he interviewed Gerald Udell, 74. He
starts his essay by writing, "My Grandpa has done a lot of things
such as getting a PhD and testifying in front of members of
congress. Despite these accomplishments, the proudest moment of
his life is when he made an old man cry."

He goes on to tell the story of his grandfather's experience....


Comments: 10

Homeschoolers and 4H-- some new programs related to the sciences!
Amber Shollenberger, 7/1/2010

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I was delighted to get this note from Amber Shollenberger, one of our PHAA homeschool grads-- it's always exciting to see what fields homeschoolers move into in their lives. Amber and her older sister were both very involved in 4H during their growing-up years, taking many state awards for projects with sheep and wool especially-- so I loved hearing that Amber is now working fulltime for the national 4H office.  

Dear Dr. and Mrs. Richman,

I’m not sure if you remember me, but I was a 2005 PHAA graduate. Both my older sister, Ashley (2000), and I graduated through PHAA ceremonies in Harrisburg, PA. I went on to obtain my B.A. from the Penn State University in 2009, and today I work for the National 4-H Council in Chevy Chase, MD (right outside of Washington, D.C.).

I am contacting you today to see if there if there are any opportunities to connect homeschoolers in Pennsylvania with 4-H, specifically with 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD)....


Comments: 4

Constituting America-- website and contest encouraging students to read the Federalist Papers
Susan Richman, 6/22/2010

Note from Susan Richman, Editor: I received this email from the 'Constituting America' program, which is sponsoring a special contest for students right now-- deadline in two weeks! Even if you don't have the time right now for taking part in the contest, do check out this great site on active reading of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers-- the site has an active 'blog' section, daily videos, and much more. I'm sure these resources will be very valuable all through the school year as you help your kids learn about our government and its foundations. Let us know if you take part!



Comments: 8

Participating on a team in the Lego Robotics competition
John Cahill, 6/20/2010

[7th grade John Cahill participated on the Beaver Botics, a mixed team of school kids and homeschooled kids that competed in Lego Robotics competitions during the 2009-2010 school year.]

Six weeks of robotics, building, programming, etc., happened to be the most fun I ever had in an educational project. Two times a week for two hours each day for six weeks we met before the final competition. I, with four other teammates, constructed three robots and wrote eight programs for our three robots to perform in the competition....


Comments: 16

Homeschooler Daniel English of Pittsburgh wins Blackwood Theater Organ Scholarship!
Susan Richman, 5/11/2010

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Many homeschool students try out for scholarships to recognize their gifts and talents -- and it's always heart-warming to hear of a wonderful win like this one! Our congratulations to Daniel English for this major accomplishment. We hope his award will inspire other young homeschool musicians:

  Harrisville, Pa. (May 10, 2010) – Daniel English of Pittsburgh has been awarded a $4,500 scholarship from the Blackwood Theatre Organ Society. English was one of five Tri-State high school seniors awarded the 2010 scholarships, which totaled $20,000.


            The Blackwood Theater Organ Society is a not-for-profit organization created to encourage students to pursue instrumental music performance careers. Over the past ten years, the Society has awarded more than $126,000 in scholarships to high school seniors planning to pursue an instrumental music performance degree in college....


Comments: 4

How the Odyssey of the Mind program Gives Shape to Content; Using Art and imagination to Solve Problems.
Dianne Settino, 4/20/2010

Dianne Settino and her husband Linus Meldrum have been leading our first ever AP Studio Art: Drawing online with PA Homeschoolers this year-- within a month we plan to have an online art show of the students' amazing work completed for this outstanding course. Dianne and family live on a small farm in rural Juniata County, and she and her husband are the proud parents of two PHAA graduates (one now a graduate of Franciscan University and one completing her freshman year there), and one son now in 7th grade at home.

Four years ago when I heard about the Odyssey of the Mind program, I remember thinking, “where were you when I was a kid!?!”. This international creative problem-solving competition is all about the kind of imaginative art, learning and play activities that my family loves! In Odyssey, students learn to use creative skills of any and all types to solve one of five problems, and then present them when they compete at the local, state, and international level. One problem each year usually lends itself perfectly to an all-out art plan of attack. Go to www.odysseyofthemind.com for all the amazingly fun and exciting details! Since its inception, literally millions of students have enjoyed designing creative solutions to fun problems.

You may be thinking "FUN PROBLEMS!?" While my children were jumping with joy when the obligatory “creative” project was assigned in many co-op classes, some of the other children and their parents were groaning. As a school student, I can distinctly remember thinking that the most interesting math lessons were at the back of the math textbooks. They usually involved building models or tessellations or geometry. I eventually realized that we would never get to these. There were never enough weeks in the school year to get to the more experiential math. Each fall, a new textbook was assigned with the never-to-be-reached interesting lessons at the back. If you have a child who’s reluctant to learn a particular academic course of study it might be time to break out the lessons that we often never get to. Include more creative, "thinking outside of the box" assignments. Maybe one year you could do some of the end-of-the-year math lessons interspersed throughout the year.

Today, schools and families are trying to find ways to include creative aspects in all areas of study. If a bit of creative work is included throughout a child’s early education they probably won't dread these assignments. While it is important to learn the grammar to all subjects it is equally important to learn to use that grammar in ways that create content. This content can illustrate a student’s understanding of the subject’s ideas and concepts. A child that can take ideas and develop them into an interesting performance or presentation that teaches others is definitely learning. This type of creative sharing will also help them learn to love the process of learning. Teaching this way with even one subject will help the student think creatively across their curriculum.

Odyssey of the Mind requires the students to thoroughly understand the subject matter needed to solve their problem. As they reform the content of the solution into a performance/presentation the resulting shape is sometimes a hysterical dramatic presentation.  At other times, ity’s an awesome surprising vehicle of some sort. Young competitors are only limited by the project’s budget and their imagination!


*one of Jessie Kusuma's self-portraits for AP Studio Art: Drawing*


Comments: 5


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