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My Friend, the Piano
Ginger Frack, PHAA homeschool high school student, 9/30/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I know you are all going to feel inspired by Ginger Frack's wonderful major personal essay about her experiences over many years in playing piano-- and I wanted to give you a sense of why she happened to write this paper. In the PA Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency (PHAA) guidelines for high school English credit, we require students to write at least one major paper that's at minimum 2500 words long each year-- this is roughly 10-pages double spaced typed. Ginger is one of my (wonderful!!) evaluation students, and this was her paper for this past school year -- her 10th grade year. I think this paper is a terrific example of what we're hoping to inspire by this writing requirement-- and may inspire other students to consider tackling a personal topic rather than a subject area 'research paper'. I always hear from families each year who somehow thought we were requiring only a formal research paper. Though those types of writings can certainly meet this requirement, a personal experience extended paper like Ginger's is also a very meaningful way to meet this goal-- and in Ginger's case, I knew this paper deserved a broader audience as I think she has a lot to say to other homeschooling families about the persistence that needs to be shown, and the key role of positive experiences with others, before real motivation might actually 'kick in'. Enjoy this thoroughly-- and know that Ginger is just as delightful and lively in person as she shows herself to be in this paper. I know she has a very meaningful future ahead of her-- and I'm so grateful that she shares both her growing up years with her piano and her future musical dreams here through this paper. 


My Piano... My Friend

    My number was given; my name called. As I walked past the rows of distraught faces I wondered what had happened to the beautiful world that I had known just hours before. Here, shut up in the dimly lit room with so many others who wished for an escape, I trudged to the front to face my doom. This was my first time, but I had heard many tales of horror from those whom fate had also chosen to undergo such torture. This was….my first piano recital.

     I can hardly remember life without the piano. When I was very young, my grandma promised her three children, (my mom, my uncle George, and my aunt Gwen) that she would buy them all pianos if they would get lessons for their children. The entire family took the bait. Through this choice, the piano has changed my life, and I believe that God is going to continue to use it to change my future.

    I began taking piano lessons when I was only four years old. I can still remember Miss Julie putting a blue crayon sticker on the back of one of my hands, and red one on the other. I couldn’t believe I had to know my right hand from my left hand to be able to play that huge black monster. Was piano really going to be this hard?

    After about a year of lessons, we had our first piano recital....


Comments: 28

Homeschoolers invited to Grove City College-- special 1 hour performance of "A Visit with Marie Curie" Oct 11, 2011-- 1-2pm
Susan Richman // Libby Carbone, Grove City College, 9/22/2011

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: Grove City College in Western PA has always been so welcoming and interested in homeschoolers-- so I was delighted to get a phone call yesterday from Libby Carbone of GCC specifically inviting homeschooling groups and individual families to come to the special day they are having on October 11, 2011 to host this 'one-woman show' A Visit with Marie Curie. 

There will be a one-hour production aimed at 6th-12th grade students from 1-2:00pm on October 11, 2011, and later that evening there will be a two-hour more in-depth performance titled MANYA - The Living History of Marie Curie from 7-9:00pm. Both productions will be in the Pew Fine Arts Center on the southest part of the Grove City College campus. They would appreciate knowing in advance if you plan to come-- please email Libby Carbone at  caroneea1@gcc.edu. Both performances are free, but please reserve tickets in advance.  Call 724-458-3331 or email theatretickets@gcc.edu for the evening performance.

Libby sent me the following message about the program... 


Comments: 8

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

My Love Affair With Homeschool Catalogs Vs. Basic Necessities
Gwen Fredette, 9/7/2011

Editor's note from Susan Richman.... Gwen Fredette is a homeschool mother in the Philadelphia area, and a wonderful 'blogger' about homeschooling, with a great balance on postings about homeschooling opportunities in her region (co-op activities, drama groups, field trips, special programs at area museums), and her own inspirational writing about the challenges of homeschooling and balancing all of our many responsibilities and goals. Do check out her blogsite here. I so appreciate Gwen's readiness to grant permission for PA Homeschoolers to repost selected articles here-- thanks, Gwen! I thought this particular piece would really speak to so many readers, as Gwen talks about something we are all challenged by-- finding the balance between getting 'homeschool stuff' and remembering what's really *crucial* in developing a truly positive and encouraging homeschooling *atmosphere* in our homes. Enjoy-- and looking forward to hearing your comments about what you'd deem your 'homeschooling basic necessities'. 

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Homeschool Catalogs.  I love them.  I love looking through them.  I love discovering new curriculums I haven’t heard of before.  I love buying new books.  I love book sets.  I love the way they look on my bookshelf.  I love bookshelves.  I love planners, and organizers, and homeschool notebooks that help me keep my paperwork in order and my day going smoothly.  I love cubbies, and baskets, and bins (all color-coordinated) to keep the kid’s stuff straight.  I love file systems, and homeschool manipulatives, and dry-erase boards, and bulletin boards with cute borders.  I love notebooks and pencils with my kids’ names printed on them.

But, in reality I don’t need all that stuff.  They’re fun to have.  But when I really think on it, to do a good job homeschooling, I really only need a few important things.

Homeschooling Basic Necessities

1.  A Prayerful Desire to Be the Best Teacher I Can Be. When I think back to my own school days, I have no memory of the bulletin boards, cubbies, or resources we used.  I don’t even remember most of the curriculum.  I do remember the teachers I had.  I remember the better ones as being hard-working, helpful, tough but fair, generally happy, and pleasant to be around.  I remember the bad ones as being lazy, grumpy, bad-tempered, unreasonable, or unable to control the class.  The best resource I can bring to the homeschool table is being a good teacher - to trust and pray that my God will help me to be the kind of teacher He wants me to be.

2.  Curriculum.  I do need to get curriculum, but I shouldn’t fool myself into thinking I need to buy it brand new.*  I also don’t need to buy the beautiful literature books that go with it.  I can buy many excellent used curriculums for half the price.... 


Comments: 4

Our website store is now back and 'open for business'!!! hooray!!!
Susan Richman, 9/7/2011

I'm very happy to announce that our online store, which down for needed updates and repairs from yesterday through right now, is now all fixed and 'open for business' once again. Thanks for your patience! 

Final tuition payments for AP Online classes can now be made online-- and registration for Fall Testing. 

Many families new to homeschooling in PA may want to order our popular and helpful Guide to the Homeschool Lawor Guide to the PA Homeschoolers Diploma. 

We wish everyone a  wonderful start to this new homeschool year! 


Susan & Howard Richman


Comments: 10


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