Education

Homeschooled students thank parents, celebrate achievement at 2019 graduation ceremony

There’s nothing traditional about homeschooling.

Sometimes students wake up at 11 a.m. and dive right into their studies. Other times, scheduling conflicts turn school years into a full calendar affair.

“There are as many ways to homeschool as there are children,” Horizon Educational Systems principal Debbie Dykes said.

But no matter how different their journeys, six homeschooled students earned their high school diplomas Friday night at the Support Homeschool Activities Reaching Everyone (SHARE) Class of 2019 graduation ceremony.

Almost all of the graduates have been homeschooled for most of their lives, Dykes explained. Each of them knew that they couldn’t have done it without the support of their parents.

“I like to think of homeschool as a super-long, super-not-easy math problem,” graduate Logan Butler told the parents in the audience at the Tabernacle Church. “But you guys are the calculators.”

“And we still came out smarter than public-schoolers,” he joked.

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Graduate Franklin Valdez poses for a photo with his parents after receiving his degree at the Support Homeschool Activities Reaching Everyone (SHARE) Class of 2019 graduation ceremony Friday night. Ryan Callihan rcallihan@bradenton.com

To show their appreciation for the parents who molded their educational experiences, the graduates put together a video set to Taylor Hicks’ “Do I Make You Proud” thanking them for their guidance. When it was over, Dykes asked if the students had made them proud. The answer was a resounding yes.

In his ceremony speech, Marine Corp. Cpl. Rick Johnson spoke of the need for a strong foundation to build upon, sharing an anecdote about a cardboard box he built, using glue to reinforce the sides.

“Without a stable structure, things don’t thrive and they don’t grow,” Johnson said.

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Hunter Butler, who was homeschooled his entire life, prepares to leave the stage at the Support Homeschool Activities Reaching Everyone (SHARE) Class of 2019 graduation ceremony Friday night. Ryan Callihan rcallihan@bradenton.com

Parents have done exactly that to prepare their kids for graduation, he said. Johnson also provided the graduates with words of wisdom, urging them to explore the world, save their money and keep God in their hearts.

“Each of you is about to start something magnificent, something great,” Johnson told the graduates. “It’s your life.”

“Stick with Jesus and he’ll stick with you,” he added. “Just like the glue in my box. You’ll remain sturdy and useful, no matter what people put in you. You’ll remain strong.”

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