This is a tough time of year for a homeschooler who is friends almost exclusively with traditional schoolers. The kids who go to actual schools are having proms and graduations and senior trips. Rhino is flopped on the loveseat (inexplicably wearing the new wool hat I knit her even though it’s about 90 degrees). But she is not relaxing. She is trying to finish her Financial Skills class in the least amount of time possible. (By the way, do you “reconcile” your checking account?)
I know I haven’t posted in forever, and actually, the homeschooling endeavor is beginning to come to a close. Ultimately, I suppose this blog, if I continue it, will have to morph into something else. But before the morph, there are some things from the last several months I would like to consider.
Something transformative happened to Rhino this spring. It was a gradual transformation—there was no single moment in which I said “Aha! Rhino has become amazing beyond my wildest dreams!” But that’s how the winter/spring have culminated.
Rhino is the outreach coordinator for the District Youth Service Committee for our religious denomination. She recruited many new youth to the quarterly conferences, and churches that had never participated before sent their youth. She served as a dean at one of the conferences. She went to monthly meeting all over the region. The adult person in charge of youth for the district asked her to revise the standards for the YES (Youth Empowerment and Supportive Congregations) Award. She arranged and ran a Cluster event at our church that involved baking a huge number of pies (and raising $250 for a local charity).
Rhino served on the religious education committee at our church. She co-chaired the Youth Adult Committee (YAC—it’s a community service committee). She ran the youth group (which won a YES award under her leadership). She attended the Leadership Committee (because she was co-chair of YAC).
Rhino wrote a proposal to amend our church’s bylaws to allow youth to become full members with voting rights after they complete the Coming of Age program, a program that is supposed to lead youth to religious adulthood (kind of a low-key bar mitzvah type thing). She lobbied for congregational support, and ultimately the board passed her proposal unanimously.
Rhino is going to accept the Governor’s Service Award on behalf of the youth volunteer program at the zoo. The volunteer coordinator told her she had been chosen because she did Junior Zoo Crew, Junior Zookeeper, Junior Interpreter, and Animal Handling and had worked at the zoo for 4 years.
Rhino is a penguin keeper at the zoo. She knows the name and identification number of every penguin. She assists in feeds and in teaching baby penguins to swim (did you know baby penguins hate water?). She watched over four hatchlings born into the Endangered Species Preservation Program. And she endured a lot of penguin bites.
Rhino has seen more than 100 children pass through the preschool for homeless children. Our church decided to make the preschool one of its places to contribute special offerings.
Rhino applied to two Americorps Programs. She first heard from the one that accepts fewer than 20% of applicants, most of whom are college graduates. So next year, Rhino will be a City Year corps member in a city about an hour away. She’s going to live on her own (with some roommates from the program).
Also, Rhino did school. She is currently preparing for two AP exams, and because City Year requires that she have a diploma, she is planning to finish the requirements to graduate from the University of Nebraska’s independent study highschool by mid-July. It’s not perfect. She didn’t finish her Spanish class or her math class. She’ll only finish the first semester of AP English.
Somehow, I think she still came out okay.