Homeschooled students thrive in Hudson Valley senate

Tyler McNeil
Creative Editor

Casey Angello, 2014 Fall senior class president, is one out of four members with a homeschooled background to have served on the student senate in the 2014-15 academic year, including senate president Grace Harrison. “When it comes to collaborating and coming up with new innovative ideas – it’s great because we know each other and can bring that home schooled passion and apply it [to the Student Senate],” said Angello.

“It’s just more natural for us to go do something that requires our extra involvement past academics on campus and the Student Senate is the perfect opportunity to go do that,” said Angello.

“We’ve known each other for a while,” said senior senator Jordan Neves about having ties with Angello and Harrison before entering student government.

Everett McNair, freshman class president did not know any of the other senate members his first semester but his ties to homeschoolers in senate history were close to home. His sister, Nathalie McNair, 2013-14 senate treasurer, recommended joining the student senate. “It was definitely a factor. She suggested when I enrolled, ‘You should look into the senate’.”

“When you’re home schooled, you can really find out what your passions are in life and you can really take those passions and run with them,” said Angello, who was active in building and art and crafts while being homeschooled from 6th to 8th grade. Unlike the other three members, Angello experienced public education before college, coming to Hudson Valley in the early admissions program while at Taconic Hills High School.

“I think for the most part, I can handle my own stuff in life and I can relate that back to the homeschooling aspect of growing up that way,” said Neves. The senior senator was one of eight children whose classroom wasn’t far away from his living room growing up in Harlemville, NY. “Everyone sees teachers different than they see their friends. I can see them as parents, friends and teachers and I think that’s a really cool combination,” Neves said.

Harrison has grown up working on her family’s organic and biodynamic farm.  She works full time on the farm during vacations and year ’round on Saturdays managing the farm stand at a Westchester farmers market. Home schooling gave her family the flexibility they needed to run their business and educate their children.  They didn’t do it alone, however. There are a large number of families homeschooling in Grace’s rural area that pool resources and share teaching expertise/responsibilities. Afternoons of home schoolers were often filled with extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and art. . “When you’re home schooled, you’re in an environment that is anti-stress so you don’t have unnecessary homework but the homework you do have is meaningful and a great way to explore further,” she said.

According to McNair, homeschooling helped align his schedule with his passion for swimming and music throughout high school. He was able to swim twice a day and travel with the New York State Orchestra. “If I had a concert in Buffalo on Friday, I could plan accordingly and get my schoolwork done for Friday. Here [at Hudson Valley] I would have to miss a day of class in order to do that,” said McNair.

Born in Queens and raised in Louisiana until arriving in Castleton-on-Hudson in 2004, the McNairs were only taught at home until reaching Hudson Valley. Prior to coming to Hudson Valley, Harrison had been home schooled for three years, and had spent one year at a Waldorf school in Geneva Switzerland. Angello and Harrison attended the Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School at the same time in Ghent before they were homeschooled, and Neves attended the Great Barrington Waldorf School later on in Massachusetts.

 

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