Here’s Garrett’s winning essay:
I am a homeschooled student. I proudly own this title since I know what my family has sacrificed to make this possible. I also know what I have gained through this educational experience. There are so many aspects of homeschooling that are clearly better than public or private school, but one in particular sticks out to me. I can narrow down most of the homeschooling advantages that I have enjoyed to the aspect of time.
Through the flexibility of time, homeschooling has allowed me to learn what I love or spend extra time learning what I need to know.
The flexibility of time throughout my homeschool experience has been a key advantage. Without my studies being divided into 50-minute increments, I am able to spend more time learning about subjects that interest me the most. I believe that this helped develop my ability to focus for long periods of time. In my younger years, I remember spending hours on recreating ancient structures in Minecraft and then creating a video presentation on it for a final project in my history class. Or, of concentrating on my music production or even taking an easel down to the river to paint in the middle of the day. In a way, I can say that homeschooling allowed me to structure my time to pursue my passions and learn at the same time.
Another passion that homeschooling has allowed me to pursue in depth is robotics. I have been part of FIRST Robotics of Washington for 7 years. Because of the short, intense build and competition season I made the choice of devoting much of my afternoons, evenings, and weekends during the season toward helping design and build a 120lb competition robot. In order to do this, it meant I had to continue some of my homeschooling into the summer. This time advantage through an unrestricted school calendar helped me meet my subject requirements while giving me opportunities to build robots that competed at three World Championships.
Besides spending all this time to pursue my passions, homeschooling has given me time to pursue understanding. If I didn’t understand something, instead of just having to move on to keep pace with a class, I could spend additional time until I did understand. Math is a strong subject for me. However, there were times when I had to spend a long time on a topic before I could move on to the next chapter. Specifically, I can remember how long it took me to understand quadratic equations, trigonometric functions, and derivatives. Through the flexibility of time, homeschooling has allowed me to learn what I love or spend extra time learning what I need to know.
I am glad that my parents made the decision to homeschool and took advantage of time to provide me with a positive educational experience. I feel confident in what I have learned and how I have learned it. I will always be proud to share with others about my homeschool experience, and now I look forward to the next step in my education when I attend college in the fall.