Josie’s Graduation Project

Josie’s Graduation Project

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Josie is an incredible artist, who has spent her time as a West River Academy student developing all aspects of her creativity. In this art piece, she has intertwined her love of books with her educational journey in a way that tells her own life story as a novel. We congratulate Josie on her acceptance at Pratt Institute and look forward to hearing about the success of her future endeavors!

(View full photo below – click to enlarge)

I became a student at West River Academy when I was 10 years old. I’m now 18 and will be moving to New York City in the fall to study Art at Pratt Institute. This Graduation Project explores my time at West River Academy and is loosely based on the Greek myth of Persephone, as I chronicle my journey from childhood to womanhood.

It starts at the house we lived in when I was in elementary school. My favorite thing about that house was the giant palm tree in the front yard that looked like a huge pineapple. It made our incredibly suburban house just a little more fun. You’ll also see my cat, Lucy, who loved to be outside and who I miss very much. In the back is my family who I, obviously, had to include in this! They’ve supported me every step of the way on my journey to adulthood.

In fourth grade, I was a voracious reader, so I filled the cloud space with my favorite books from that period of time. I changed the name of the ship we went on, “Queen Mary 2” to “Hades”, to represent the chariot in which Hades took Persephone to the Underworld. There are so many different tellings of the Persephone myth, but my favorite version is the one where, instead of being kidnapped, Persephone chooses to go to the Underworld with Hades, seeking adventure.

When we started unschooling, so many of my friends said I’d never be able to get a job or go to college if I didn’t stay in school. We knew from the very first day that it was a good decision for our family, but still, we were bored in the suburbs. With our new freedom, we put everything we owned in storage and embarked on what ended up being an almost two-year world schooling adventure – really going into the unknown.

The second section depicts the Queen Mary 2 which was the start of our adventure. You’ll see my dog, “Toffee”, and the friend she made in the portholes. On deck, the friend I made, playing the blow-up saxophone I still have and treasure. We each had a backpack and just a few personal items, but we each needed one formal outfit for the QM2. It was my first “gown.”

This is the dress I wear as I step off the boat into my middle school years, lantern raised as my curiosity, to explore Europe’s treasures. Here, I illustrate the skylines of Rome, Paris and London. Most of my memories are captured on film. I got my first good camera on this trip and curated a highlight book of my photography; several images of which helped form my portfolio for Pratt. As you might imagine, photography became a life-long love through those years of regularly exploring something totally new.

Eventually, my brother and I missed playing sports and wanted to settle back in SoCal. This third panel of my scroll represents my high school years. During this time, I learned what I do want to do, and what I don’t want to do, represented by volleyball and working at our local ice cream place. Volleyball represents my discipline and drive: working with others, making friends, achieving goals and having a lot of fun doing it. That would be the Elysian Fields in my Persephone analogy, whereas the ice cream job was more like Tartarus. I thought it would be fun and full of smiles, but no one there really liked their job, the management was demeaning, and the customers were entitled.

Books were the biggest part of my elementary years, the focus of middle school was exploring the world, and high school was all about music. During high school, I was introduced to new genres of music that I’ve come to love. This passion is represented with the names of my favorite artists in the dark clouds between this section and the next. It was a valuable lesson in things not necessarily being what I expect, and how to shift when I’m in the wrong spot.

The final section of my scroll represents spring, my future, and the adult Persephone returning to the world anew. The gusts of wind are full of my interests and what I plan to pursue, but I imagine there will be some surprises along the way. Unschooling has kept me ready to notice and respond to what’s new, to carve my path and to make my way.”

JosieGPsmall

Isaac Loves Learning: A Year End Report

Isaac Loves Learning: A Year End Report

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“I love being homeschooled.” Those words make it all worthwhile.
~ Barb, WRA mom, Colorado USA

We love seeing our West River Academy families thrive! No matter what educational journey you are on, we want to see you and your children happy, healthy, and loving their freedom! .

This year we completed our third year of Classical Conversations, supplemented by a variety of curricula, activities, and events. We are enjoying our time together and making changes in teach methods as we work together.

The goals we have for our home(school):

  • Encourage Isaac to be at or above grade level.
  • Help Isaac maintain a love of learning.

The values we have in our home(school):

  • Kindness above all else
  • Protect and care for those who need it (younger children, animals, elders)
  • Grow an awareness that he can do anything he wants or needs to do if he is willing to work hard.
  • Have integrity; do what is right whether it is easy or not.

Field Trips This Year:

  • History Reenactment
  • School of Mines Geology Museum
  • History Museum of Golden
  • Denver Zoo
  • Denver Aquarium
  • Denver Capital
  • Denver Museum of Nature and Science
  • Longmont Humane Society
  • Garden of the Gods
  • Denver Art Museum
  • Denver Library
  • Jim Hamm Nature Preserve
  • Butterfly Pavilion
  • Chick hatching at the public library

Family Fun:

We have been playing a lot of board games (Isaac is great at Chess), doing legos together, reading aloud, archery, walks, hikes, bike rides. We have a mini-farm (guinea pigs, 3 cats, 1 dog, 3 fish, 3 hermit crabs) that Isaac helps care for.

Highlights:

We are very proud of Isaac for many reasons, but some highlights included:

  • Caring for the younger children at the Classical Conversations after-care program. Isaac was never asked to help the younger children, but he could be counted on to look out for them. He played with them, helped them get snacks, drinks, etc, and hugged them when they were sad.
  • Several times this year Isaac has stood up for other kids who were being hurt by others or who were just sad. He also has started standing up more for himself with bossy or rude peers.
  • Standing up for animals when some peers were joking about doing cruel things to animals
  • Persevering with the things that are hard for him, such as handwriting.

Read more on their personal blog!
https://isaacloveslearning.wordpress.com

Creatively Learning

Creatively Learning

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Art by Makena Brumm

In the High School Graduation Program, students are given the flexibility to choose their own schedule and learning materials; some choose a curriculum-based approach and others choose an interest-based approach. This way, they are able to decide what is most important for them to learn in order to succeed in this rapidly changing world.

In this monthly report our prospective graduate, Makena Brumm, describes what she has learned and what a month looks like in her life as an unschooler.

My name is Makena Brumm and I am so excited to be a part of West River Academy! The flexibility between choosing classes and scheduling them caught my attention, but more importantly I will be able to do all the work to graduate and that responsibility will be put in my own hands. Challenging, valuable, and interesting schoolwork has been important to me for a very long time but art has always been my passion, no matter the media. Creativity is something I’ll never lose; it will always be with me.

The subjects I’ve been studying this past month are: algebra, U.S. government, chemistry, economics, personal finance, Japanese, nutritional science, physical fitness, language arts, home economics, guitar, drawing and multimedia art.

I have used the lessons from The Learning Odyssey for many of my subjects, as I find them very thorough and informative. For example, in Algebra I’ve been learning about functions. I now know how to graph much more complex equations than I did before, as well as effectively put them in an input output chart. Sometimes, it can be a bit difficult but I enjoy the challenge. Functions are really good to know because it is very commonly used in business and economics. In U.S. government, I’ve been learning about The Ideals of Government, Foundations of US Government, and The United States Constitution. I really enjoy the way I am taught this class because there are many visual notes for me to copy down, and it is not just lecturing me.

In chemistry, I’ve been learning a lot about atoms. Specifically, I’ve been learning how and why they are organized on the periodic table of elements, as well as what forms an atom, and how molecules form. I love how in depth the lessons are, they go as specific as teaching me electron configurations and covalent, ionic, and metallic bonding. It seems a bit nerdy for an art student to be fascinated by molecular science, but I love being able to understand how our physical world works.

In economics, I’ve been learning basic fundamental information about how the system works. I will be continuing with macroeconomic and microeconomics as well as international economics. Personal finance is honestly one of my favorite classes. I study the material I’m provided with very meticulously because it is essential to know to keep my future running smoothly. So far, I have read the chapters: Avoiding or Eliminating Credit Card Debt, Managing Money for Home Ownership, Responsible Renting or Home Ownership, and Starting a Small Business. The links that are included with the lessons are very informative and useful to my understanding of the lesson.

In Japanese, I am learning the “language basics” which is how to use verbs, nouns and pronouns effectively while reading, writing, listening and speaking the language. Flash cards have been a huge help in learning everything, as well as randomly saying words or sentences that pertain to everyday life. I am also teaching everything I learn to my younger sister Jolene, who also loves the Japanese culture like I do!

The following classes are self-taught. In Nutritional Science, I watch Thomas Delauer’s YouTube channel and take many notes. The videos are so packed with information about how our body processes everything, and it’s shocking how many people think the food you put in your body has little effect on well-being. This is something I feel very passionate about and I am always hoping to learn more. It’s just so amazing how our body works and how important it is to give it the nutrients it needs.

In Physical Fitness, I work 15-20 minutes of ground exercises such as sit ups, squats, and pushups in the early morning. I also run /walk or jog a mile in the evening, and occasionally do a workout with my mom in the middle of the day. I like to keep my body in tip top condition so I feel better physically and mentally.

In learning my language arts, I focus a lot on reading and writing. Every other year since the fourth grade, I have read the Harry Potter series, and my tradition hasn’t stopped. As for the writing portion, I have been writing essays about things I’d love to know more about. So far I’ve wrote about Japanese mythology, Wiccan ideology, and how to make a good resume for when the time comes. I also am putting handwriting under this category. I love cursive writing and try to perfect mine by copying song lyrics in a notebook using my best penmanship.

For home economics, I sew a lot of my own clothes and modify old clothes as well. I make both cosplay items and just everyday wear. I currently am sewing a Harley Quinn costume for the Denver Comic Con coming up this summer. I also meal plan for my family and on occasion prepare and cook it as well. Before I started cooking as my home economics lesson, I could only make very simple food so I’m super excited that now I have the time to learn real recipes. I just learned how to make Golden Milk, which is a healthy turmeric drink.

In guitar I’ve been learning songs at a much faster rate and I have been improving drastically. Being able to pick up my guitar whenever I want and just play is a really good way to simmer down if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed.

Now onto my very favorite class, drawing! I try to put about an hour of work into my drawings per day. I have attached a couple of my drawings that I scanned onto my computer about a month ago just so you can see my art style. Since I want to be a tattoo artist, they reflect my taste in tattoos. I’m also learning about multimedia which includes painting and graphic design.

All in all, I have had a very productive month and have really enjoyed my learning experiences. I look forward to what I will learn next month!

Screen Shot 2018 04 02 at 3.22.49 PM 226x300

Art by Makena Brumm

Year End Report in Photos

Year End Report in Photos

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Teo and Zoe are students from our international program. They’ve been really busy this year learning all kind of things and here are some amazing photographs we would like to share with you.

They love reading, science and visiting museums among many other things. Let’s see a little piece of their year in pictures.