Federal Relations

Bright Spots in Home Schooling

September 15, 2006  

Homeschoolers Named to Prestigious High School Society

by Andrea Longbottom

In spring 2006, homeschooled students Ronnie Grider and Penelope Anderson were selected for membership in the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).

Ronnie Grider
Ronnie Grider after participating in a symphony concert in his hometown in March 2006.

NSHSS was founded in 2002 by Claes Nobel (of the Nobel Prize family) and currently consists of over 150,000 student members representing almost 20 countries. According to the society’s website, the mission of the organization is to “recognize academic excellence and to encourage members to apply their unique talents, vision, and potential for the betterment of themselves and the world.”

Students join NSHSS by invitation only. To qualify, they must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and either be nominated by a teacher or educational partner or request an invitation for membership. NSHSS awards its members many benefits, including scholarships, invitations to special events and programs, and recognition that bolsters their chances of being accepted by a college or university. “Our vision is to build a dynamic international organization that connects members with meaningful content, resources, and opportunities,“ says NSHSS President James Lewis.

Sixteen-year-old Ronnie Grider of East Peoria, Illinois, was named to the society in May 2006. Ronnie was nominated by a public high school counselor who helped him participate in standardized testing at the high school. Ronnie thinks his selection to NSHSS was a result of high test scores, as well as his community involvement. “I wasn’t expecting it,” he says of his reaction.

Ronnie says the ability to go at his own pace in homeschooling helped him succeed academically. “If you need to spend a longer time studying something, you can do that,” he says. Science—particularly dissection and experimentation—has always interested the teenager, and he even has his own lab in the house. (Once, he caught the kitchen on fire while conducting an experiment!) Eventually, Ronnie plans to attend medical school and become a general practitioner or orthopedic surgeon.

Through community service, Ronnie has found a way to combine his interests with helping others. In summer 2005, he volunteered at a local hospital, transporting medicine and medical apparatus. Ronnie is also a violinist with the Central Illinois Youth Symphony, and has enjoyed playing for patients at the local hematology and oncology center at Christmas. He is currently creating a CD of his music and will donate the proceeds to Hurricane Katrina relief. Other experiences include taking a mission trip to South Africa with his parents and church family, and working with children in his church’s Bible verse memory program. “My parents have always stressed community service,” says Ronnie. “I think it’s important that we give back without expecting something to be given back to us.”

Ronnie gives all the credit to God for his accomplishments. “Because God has blessed me with good Christian parents who chose to homeschool me, it has allowed me to accomplish more,” he says. In his spare time, Ronnie enjoys hiking and skiing, and more science and music! “Work hard, and do your best,” Ronnie advises other homeschoolers. “Stay focused.”

Penelope Anderson
Penelope Anderson and students from the English class she taught during a mission trip to China in summer 2006.

In March 2006, 16-year-old Penelope Anderson received an invitation to join the National Society of High School Scholars. She does not know who nominated her, but thinks that involvement in her community and in overseas missions likely played a role in her selection to the society.

Homeschooled all of her life along with nine siblings, Penelope, now 17, credits her parents with showing her how to love and serve others. “They’ve taught me to love God and do my best in everything,” she says. “Their model—which I was able to see every day—has been helpful . . . Especially they have taught me to have a heart for people.”

Having a heart for people has taken Penelope on two mission trips, one to Thailand and another to China. On both trips, Penelope helped teach English to Asian schoolchildren and assisted missionaries with their daily responsibilities.

In her Hubbard, Iowa community, Penelope has been involved in local political campaigns. When her father, Patrick Anderson, ran for state representative in 2002, Penelope and her family made phone calls, distributed literature door to door, and attended campaign events and rallies. Since then, the whole family has worked together to help elect other candidates.

Penelope says that homeschooling allowed her to go at her own pace in her studies. “When I was struggling somewhere, we could stop and take a whole day on just that—go over and over it until I got it. That’s been really helpful.” Penelope says plant and animal science is her favorite subject—in the future, she hopes to combine this love of science with mission work, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in missions and her master’s in botany and animal sciences.

For now, Penelope is beginning her senior year of high school and plans to investigate the scholarship opportunities available to her through NSHSS. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, painting, and helping her family create monthly newsletters for friends and relatives.

 Other Resources

NSHSS welcomes homeschoolers! For more information about membership, visit www.nshss.org.

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