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Results of April 12, 2013, Western PA volleyball tournament sponsored by PA Homeschoolers
Howard Richman, 4/19/2013

The first number is the place that the team finished. In parentheses is the approximate location of the team.

Senior Division A

1. Mustangs (Pittsburgh East)
2. CAVA A (Harrisburg Area)
3. Salt & Light Red (Beaver County)
4. Eagles White (Indiana County)

Senior Division B

1. CAVA B (Harrisburg Area)
2. Phoenix 1 (Venango County)
3. Salt & Light Orange (Beaver County)
4. Timberwolves 2 (Grove City Area)
5. Timberwolves 1 (Grove City Area)
6. Salt & Light Yellow (Beaver County)
7. Indiana Eagles Gold (Indiana County)
8. Phoenix 2 (Venango County)

Junior Division A

1. Mustangs (Pittsburgh East)
2. Salt & Light Green (Beaver County)
3. CAVA A (Harrisburg Area)
4. Eagles White (Indiana County)

Junior Division B

1. Timberwolves 2 (Grove City Area)
2. Salt & Light Blue (Beaver County)
3. Timberwolves 1 (Grove City Area)
4. Salt & Light Purplie (Beaver County)
5. Eagles Gold (Indiana County)

All Tournament Team - Senior Division...



Comments: 12

Future Fencer-- some of our dreams really DO come true!
Susan Richman & Dale Purdy (when in 3rd grade!), 12/6/2011

Editor's note from Susan Richman: I have had the pleasure of serving as homeschooler Dale Purdy's home education program evaluator from early on in his homeschooling right through his graduation last June. At our last meeting, Dale mother, Letitia Berkey, shared something very, very special with me-- the little essay below titled 'Future Fencer' which Dale had written way back in 3rd grade. In it Dale describes his first experiences in the magical world of fencing-- you know, the real thing... swords, competitions, taking classes. It might be any young boy's dream activity-- but Dale persevered through all his homeschooling years with fencing-- it became one of his major extra-curriculars and passions. And he was good at it, too!

Dale's mom shared with me that even way back then, Dale was absolutely sure where he wanted to go to college-- he wanted to go to the University of Notre Dame, so he could be on their fencing team! I knew this was a long shot-- but each year, Dale would reiterate that, yep, Notre Dame was his goal. And he kept on fencing, and kept on completing strong academic coursework. He eventually met with coaches from Notre Dame who'd seen him fence at national tournaments -- they were very interested in him and urged him to apply. Could he just nudge up those SAT scores a bit, so he'd be more readily accepted? Dale took on that challenge too-- and more than met the mark, after diligent study and practice. 

And Dale indeed applied to Notre Dame-- as well as several other schools that each had the type of pre-med program he was looking for in a college. And fencing teams-- an opportunity to be on a university fencing team was always crucial, and definitely helped Dale narrow down his list of possible schools. So, he had choices and options-- but definitely he was most focused on his choice from his youngest years. 

dale purdy & me.jpg

Dale with me after his PHAA Graduation ceremony

The upshot??? Dale got that 'big envelope' in the mail from Notre Dame-- he was in, and he was on the fencing team! He's had a great fall freshman semester, complete with fencing tournaments with his new team. Yes, sometimes we need to listen to our kids when they have major passions and deep interests-- these just really might indicate who our child is and where they are headed.

Reminds me of Alan Obuzor, who I evaluated from 3rd grade through graduation. He had just recently started dance classes with his younger sister when I first met me-- and his mother shared that after just a few ballet classes, he'd come home and looked her right in the eye and told her, "Mom, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life." He soon moved up from his local dance school to the Pittsburgh Ballet program for children-- and then made it into their elite pre-professional program for high school students. He went immediately into the PGH Ballet Theatre Company upon his high school graduation-- and this year I have a homeschool student in my AP US History class who has Alan as a teacher at the PGH Ballet high school program (and he's a terrific teacher, too!). 

Or I think of our son Jacob, who started playing around with computer programming when 7 or 8 years old, when my husband showed him a few things. Howard also showed the other kids some programming basics, but only Jacob gravitated to it-- the others had to be prodded and cajoled and encouraged, but Jacob took to it with a passion. I think probably there was hardly a day that went by after 3rd grade when Jacob didn't do some sort of computer programming task that he'd chosen for himself on an almost daily basis-- and sometimes he'd spend hours on these very creative projects. What's he doing now?? He's a programmer for Google, out in Seattle WA. 

Many times in homeschooling we need to listen  to our kids, see what their unique strengths are and where their true passions lie. It just might be their direction for their future university studies or career. Not all kids will have such clear and focused goals early on-- but when they do... we'd do well to support them. 

And now, here's what Dale wrote in just 3rd grade-- get ready to be charmed! And this wonderful essay also shows that when homeschoolers are encouraged to write about their passions, they'll have lots to say! 

Future Fencer

Tomorrow is my second fencing tournament. The tournament is at St. Vincent College. I want to tell you why I love to fence, who brought me into the fencing world, and what my goals are. 

I love fencing because it is a very physical sport and I enjoy physical sports. i also love it because it is called 'chess on your feet.' Fencing has strategy like chess, which is my favorite game. Fencing can be an individual or a team sport. I love fencing. 

When I was five, I met Norm Flam. He owns the Toy Soldier Gallery, and I went there because I collect toy soldiers. One year later, I found out that Norm and his wife, Robbie, taught a fencing class. Once I found that out, I asked Norm if I could fence. Norm answered, "You are too young. Come see me when you are ten." Feeling in dismay, I went home. I kept begging Norm to teach me to fence for two years. Near my 8th birthday, I went to Norm's and asked him if I could fence again. Surprisingly, his answer was yes! I was....


Comments: 6

The Dance Connection-- Discover, Create, Celebrate, SHINE!
Deborah Bruckman-Bardun, 11/30/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman:  I am always delighted to hear from parents who have long 'graduated' from their homeschooling years-- and who are now offering their special services to those in the homeschooling community. Deborah Bruckman-Bardun has been a dancer, teacher, and choreographer for many years. Having been a home schooling mother herself, she, her daughter Kristel (homeschooled from 8th grade through graduation from high school, after experiencing bullying in school), and her sister, Charlene Bruckman-Levine are the co-founders of The Home Schooler’s Clubhouse, located in the North Hills area outside of Pittsburgh. Deborah, Charlene, and Kristel wanted to create a place exclusively for the home schooling community and their children to learn, explore, and create in a nurturing and supportive environment. Thus, HSC has been created, with great thought, especially for them. Located at 9142 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh PA 15237, you can contact them at homeschoolersclubhouse@gmail.com or check out their excellent website at www.homeschoolersclubhouse.com. You'll see that besides offering a full range of dance classes, they also offer a *party* service at their studio, including dance activities for the group! 

I certainly know many homeschoolers whose children have really blossomed through involvement in dance programs-- it's a terrific example of the type of fitness and arts program that you just can't find within a regular elementary or high school curriculum... but it's out there in the wider community! I've met homeschoolers shining in classical ballet, modern dance, square dancing, swing dancing, 'Jane Austen' era ballroom dancing, and much more. Even if you live far from the North Hills of Pittsburgh, I hope this article helps you decide to add dance to your program on some level. And I know Deborah's thought below on the negative impact of too much TV viewing or computer use will resonate with many homeschooling families-- my guess is that homeschoolers are among those few in the nation that have found ways to curtail TV over-use in their homes. Enjoy this article-- and then get up and dance about for a few minutes with your kids!!

The Dance Connection-- Discover, Create, Celebrate, SHINE!

Dance is one of the great forms of art. It is hailed as the oldest of the arts, owing its antiquity to the fact that people dance for the sheer fun of it, for the joy of moving in a way that fits both the inner spirit and the contemporary world. Today, dance is not regarded as merely an art form, but rather an athletic activity. Dance has taken its place beside athletics in the development of the physical being. Every portion of a dancer’s body must be developed for strength, absolute control, and execution on command. The professional dancer requires a long daily workout to achieve this and as such, dancers are also athletes.

The benefits of dance, as opposed to other activities, are immense. It not only encourages physical development, but has been proven to.... 


Comments: 6

Informational Meeting for homeschoolers interested in exploring the sport of ROWING -- Saturday, Sept 24, 2011 at 3:00pm! Steel City Rowing Club, Verona PA (right near PGH)
Steel City Rowing Club, 9/13/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: It's been really heartening to see the wide range of fitness and sports activities homeschoolers take part in-- from ballet or Irish step dancing, to homeschool volleyball and basketball, to swim team at the YMCA, to distance running in road races, to martial arts, and public and private school sports programs. BUT-- have you ever thought of rowing as a sport that might really add something to your program? I've really enjoyed communicating with the folks at Steel City Rowing Club, located just outside of Pittsburgh, to learn about all they can offer to homeschool students in this unique sport. Just this past year I had two homeschoolers in my AP US History online class who were competitive rowers-- both girls absolutely loved the sport and all the wonderful opportunities for travel and for really developing team spirit and their overall athletic abilities.... and were they ever fit!!! I'll be posting an essay one of these students wrote about the impact rowing has had on her life below, as a 'comment' -- be sure to check this out. I hope there's a great turn-out at this planned informational meeting at their state-of-the-art facilitiy at Verona PA, just outside of Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River. 



            412-828-5565 or dori.tompa@steelcityrowing.org or see www.steelcityrowing.org

WHEN: SEPTEMBER 24th at 3:00PM


Rowing is a sport in which the vast majority of home-schooled students can participate.   There is absolutely no requirement for high school affiliation needed in order to row at Steel City Rowing Club (SCRC). In fact, it is advantageous not to have conflicts with any high school related activities.

SCRC aims to foster the spirit of competitive rowing and to support individual rowers in reaching their potential by encouraging teamwork, dedication and self-confidence. At Steel City Rowing Club, some rowers’ interest and potential in rowing is at a recreational level. For others, their aspirations and hard work are dedicated towards competing in national and world championships. It is the long-term goal of Steel City Rowing Club to become a national training center for the sport of rowing and give athletes opportunities to train for national and international competition.

The following highlights the unique features of rowing:

• Height and weight are not critical. There are lightweight and heavyweight categories of competition.

• Rowing is a low impact sport and improves overall body conditioning.

• Rowing is an excellent cross-training sport as it is a total-body activity that builds muscular and cardiovascular endurance and flexibility.

• Athletes injured from contact sports can easily transition in to rowing and achieve athletic success.

• Rowing can be a great athletic pursuit for those who do not consider themselves as talented athletes or are not interested in ball sports, such as basketball, baseball or football.

• Rowing is a pursuit that can be enjoyed through out one’s life....


Comments: 11

Physical Education .... give it your all!
Ana Baert, 3/8/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I hope each of you enjoy this article as much as I do! I know Ana Baert, a homeschooling mother now from New Jersey, because all of her three teens are in our AP Online classes. She happened to write asking me a question about listing Phys Ed on her older daughter's transcript-- and from her brief description of how the whole family was involved in tennis and a number of other sports, I knew she had a wonderful story to share. And what comes through here so strongly is the very positive impact that regular fitness activities and sports involvement has had on their whole attitude towards family life, homeschooling, and everyone's ability to handle real challenges in life. Be ready for something heart-warming, folks-- AND be ready to lace up your running shoes and get out there and take part wholeheartedly yourself in getting fit and active! Makes me look forward to my planned 6 mile walk later today! 


Jon, Maggie, and Evelyn Baert at a Thanksgiving Day 'Turkey Trot' race

In 2004, my husband and I and our three children moved to the Bronx, NY. Our children were entering  4th, 3rd, and 1st grade. This was the beginning of our wonderful, and still on-going, home school adventure. As overwhelming as the task ahead seemed, in addition to adjusting to life in “Da Bronx,”  I knew my advantage was that all three children had been to public school and knew very well what “school” meant. I did not need to go through the awkward phase of explaining why our kitchen table suddenly became a desk, and why getting up for no reason in the middle of a subject was just unacceptable. The first day of home schooling was cute: I had three very eager children looking at me and even raising their hand! They had no idea I felt like the butcher-baker-candlestick maker- all-in-one as I tried to figure out what I was supposed to tell them to do, in what order, and for how long.

The beginning was a bit overwhelming. I felt like I got so much done as far as academic subjects go, yet the fact remained that we had stayed inside our apartment every day- all day - for the first two weeks. Each day I would look at the children and say “today, we’ll go outside,” and I broke my promise each time. Please note, I did not have the option of simply telling the kids to go play in the yard as I stayed inside.  We had no yard. I would have to be outside with them for the obvious reason that it would be unsafe to leave them out there alone. Not to mention that just playing  in the yard is not physical education.

Those two weeks flew by and I knew I needed help. In public or private school Physical Education (P.E.)  is not an option. As a student you know that P.E. is not an elective. It is on predetermined days which do not fluctuate based on weather, mood, other subjects, schedules, etc. When it’s time for gym class, everyone conforms and gets the required exercise no matter what. I decided to approach the principal: my husband! I started with my whole drawn-out  explanation about the challenge of fitting in exercise. He came up with a simple solution immediately. Nick asked when I wanted to do gym class. I hesitated and replied that two days would suffice. He asked what days. I figured Monday and Wednesday would do. He then stated that from now on, gym would be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (Hadn’t I just said two days???)

Monday, Nick came home from work and asked everyone to get ready for P.E. The children were so excited! I wondered what gym would be on a very, very, tight family budget. (My husband pastors a small, store-front church in the Bronx and is a union mason; besides, any sport is costly in the City for a single-income family.) He decreed that a pair of sneakers is all that was needed. Yes, running is still free! Then came what I can now see as a pivotal moment in my life: my husband looked at me and asked why I wasn’t getting ready to go running. I had been looking forward to this moment when, for the first time in two weeks, I could actually be alone. All alone. I thoroughly explained how I could  do the dishes that had been piling up all day, I could even be more productive and do laundry, I could start dinner, I could return a phone call, I could read, and maybe, just maybe  simply close my eyes and do sweet nothing. Nick just stood there and said they would wait for me and we would go together. I pleaded, I stated my case, I even reasoned with him that as a good homeschooling dad, this could be his active role in the education of our children. Nick didn’t budge. I knew right then and there, with these three, precious, little ones observing the exchange, that if I bucked now I was setting a dangerous precedent. If I stayed home with my good excuses, the day would come when all the children would do the same. I also knew I hated running with all my being. Inside, I was screaming, whining, and just having a tantrum. On the outside, I glared at my best friend, and went to put on my sweats and sneakers....


Comments: 19

Summer Fun & Fitness Ideas-- for the whole family....
Susan Richman, 7/12/2010

I was browsing about online this morning, and came upon a program that USA Today is running this summer-- it's their Family Fitness Challenge, where families are encouraged to do unusual and different activities together... like trying hoola hooping, making a funny dance video of themselves, going on an overnight camping trip (even to the backyard!), and more. The article I read had some great quotes from psychologists who pointed out some truths that many of us homeschoolers have known... that kids can sometimes be in TOO many structured activities, involving lots of driving and chauffeuring, lots of stress over getting there at the right time, having the uniform all ready, practicing in between official practices, and more. Though many of these are wonderful activities, it's also nice to have a *balance* of less structures times, when kids can, well, just play. And when parents can join in the fun without feeling they have to be looking at the clock or the rearview mirror in heavy traffic... So I thought homeschooling families might love these ideas from USA Today-- see this link:

www.usatoday.com/news/health -- and you'll see the feature.

One point hit home with me--

And when you break out of the ordinary, the experience may end up "an entry in the family scrapbook," says Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University in Philadelphia and former president of the American Psychological Association. It's the coming together to try something new and different that underlies the bonding phenomenon, he says....


Comments: 3

Results of PA Homeschoolers Western PA Co-ed Volleyball Tournament, May 3
Howard Richman, 5/5/2010

The CHESS Masters were undefeated in the senior division throughout this year's tournament schedule, which began with a fall tournament in Downingtown sponsored by the United Sports Training Center and continued in the spring with three tournaments sponsored by PA Homeschoolers, one in Eastern, one in Central, and one in Western PA. 

PA Homeschoolers will be sponsoring the same tournaments again next year. Each team has to play six players, including two boys and two girls. Both home educated students and cyberschool students are invited to participate.

There were 20 teams at the Western PA Tournament at Monroeville Sports. They hailed from Mercer County (Timberwolves), Beaver County (Salt & Light), Pittsburgh East area (Mustangs), Harrisburg West area (TNT), Harrisburg East area (CHESS), Lewisburg area (Leopards), and Berks County (Air Raiders). There were two age groups: Seniors (18 and under) and Juniors (14 and under). Here are the final standings of the Western PA tournament:...


Comments: 4

Results of PA Homeschoolers Eastern PA Volleyball Tournament on April 19
Howard Richman, 4/26/2010

A total of 46 teams participated in PA Homeschoolers first ever Eastern PA Spring Volleyball Tournament at United Sports Training Center in Downingtown on April 19. Two teams came from Fairfax Virginia; the others came from almost every region of Pennsylvania:

  • Western PA. There were two groups of teams from Western Pennsylvania, the Salt & Light teams from Beaver County and the Mustangs teams from Allegheny and Westmoreland County area.
  • North Central PA. There were two teams from North Central Pennsylvania area, the Shore Servers from Jersey Shore and the Leopards from Lewisburg.
  • Harrisburg Area. There were several groups from the counties surrounding Harrisburg including TNT and CAVA from the West Shore area, the Snypers from Snyper and Perry Counties, and CHESS from the Lebanon County area.
  • Rural Eastern PA. Teamworkz was from the northern part of Lancaster County, Petra from the New Holland area, Rockville from the Honeybrook area between Lancaster and Chester Counties, WOW was from Chester County, and the Air Raiders teams were from Berks County.
  • Philadelphia Area. The western suburbs were represented by the Hot Tamales and Hot Peppers and the northern suburbs by the Catalyst teams.

Here are the results:...


Comments: 6

Results of PA Homeschoolers Central PA Volleyball Tournament
Howard Richman, 4/16/2010


The above photo shows the CHESS Masters, the top team in the top division at PA Homeschoolers Thirteenth Annual Central PA Co-ed Volleyball Tournament on April 5 at Messiah College. Pennsylvania Homeschoolers organizes three volleyball tournaments each year, one in eastern, one in central, and one in western Pennsylvania. Our Eastern PA tournament is at the United Sports Training Center in Downingtown on Monday (April 19). You are welcome to come and watch the action. Admission is free.

Here were the Final Standings at the Central PA tournament:...


Comments: 13


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