Homeschoolers should walk at graduation

Hannah+Dear-+the+BluePrints+Entertainment+Editor+and+Homeschooled+senior-+poses+with+her+tennis+teammates.

Hannah Dear- the BluePrints Entertainment Editor and Homeschooled senior- poses with her tennis teammates.

Hannah Dear

BY HANNAH DEAR (’17)

NEWS EDITOR

Graduation is an event that all students look forward to when envisioning their senior year. Walking to get one’s diploma symbolizes the completion of one phase in life and the beginning of a new adventure. There is a particular group of students, however, that does not share this experience fully. Homeschoolers walk the halls daily at this high school, yet, these homeschoolers cannot share in the ceremony that signifies the end of a stage in life and gives one closure.

Homeschoolers who take classes at a public school are students who, for whatever reason, think it best to juxtapose two different forms of education. These partially homeschooled students are in no way inferior to the full-time students. Homeschoolers meet essentially the same graduation requirements and have their own, unique high school experience. They simply choose a different path of education.

Walking in the graduation ceremony is something that even homeschoolers dream of. Nevertheless, most homeschoolers do not experience this milestone to its fullest. Homeschoolers don’t really lack anything else when it comes to the “high school experience.” Many local homeschoolers attend fall and spring formals, have parties, and take classes together through co-ops. Graduation is the only element of high school that homeschoolers do not get to experience. This is an event that most people in America can look back at fondly, but homeschoolers have this void in their high school years.

The solution for these homeschooled students who take classes at our high school is to simply allow them to walk in graduation. However, our school board refuses to allow this privilege to homeschoolers. The reasoning behind this is that homeschoolers are not fully enrolled despite the fact that they take classes. They are also not receiving their diploma from the school district which is thought to be the point of graduation.

This reasoning seems faulty. If one compares a homeschooled student who takes classes at a public school to a foreign exchange student, there are many similarities yet one gets to be in graduation whereas the other does not. A foreign exchange student is one who elects to leave their typical learning environment to experience new things and learn in a different way. The same definition can be applied to homeschoolers, yet the foreign exchange student participates in graduation and the homeschooler does not.

Are the foreign exchange students truly enrolled at the school? This seems to be the key argument in keeping homeschoolers from graduation. Upon closer examination, though, neither of these two groups of students are truly enrolled students at this school. Foreign exchange students may be held to the same graduation requirements, but this does not justify these students participating in graduation. The grades exchange students receive when in America do not count back in their country so they are not held to the same standards as everyone else. Some of the foreign exchange students have already graduated in their country and some are not old enough to graduate, but they are welcome in the graduation ceremony. As for homeschoolers, they take the same classes as everyone else, they are held to the same standards, and they are allowed to participate in everything at the school except graduation.

What is the high school diploma? It is truly nothing but a piece of expensive paper with a few signatures on it. It is not the diploma that is treasured, but the entire high school experience. Neither foreign exchange students nor homeschoolers receive their diploma from our high school. Instead, exchange students receive a certificate while homeschoolers receive nothing. Nevertheless, both groups do share experiences with the full time students.

The graduation ceremony is more about celebrating the experiences one has had in high school. Full time students obviously participate in this and foreign exchange students likewise share in the festivities because, even though they are not really students here, they share experiences in the high school with the full time graduates. How is this any different for the homeschoolers? The homeschoolers who take classes at the school have experienced life within these walls. They have experienced tech week for drama productions, they have travelled with the symphonic band to state contest, and they have survived Mr. Mullins’s AP English class along with other full time students at the school. Shared experiences are what unite students at graduation. The school board should not tear the homeschoolers away from this important event in everyone’s lives.

I naturally believe very strongly in homeschoolers taking classes at the school getting the opportunity to participate in graduation because of my own homeschool background. I have made many friends in the couple of classes I have taken here, and I would love to share the graduation experience with them. At this point in time I will be able to do no more than watch my friends walk across the stage. I believe the school board should do something about this.

If homeschoolers taking classes at the school have shared experiences with other students, they should be able to participate in graduation. The school does not have to and cannot technically give them an official diploma, but the school board should consider the group of homeschoolers in the high school and the appropriate course of action to be taken when it comes to graduation. When it all comes down to it, allowing homeschoolers to walk across a stage in cap and gown is not that much to ask for, but it signifies a unique and important moment in one’s life that will be remembered forever.