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Student News: 6th grade students Maddy and Melody Win National History Award

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Well, folks. Our students have done it again! They've worked hard, accomplished something big, and we are so happy to see them getting recognition for it.

These homeschool 6th grade students managed to build an entire website and won a national award!

The incredible things our students do never ceases to amaze us.

Learn more about Maddy and Melody, and the website they built below.

Congrats to Maddy and Melody, Winners of the Junior Group Website National History Day Award

Maddy and Melody are homeschool students who have been friends since the first grade. Maddy is a quiet, shy, intelligent girl while Melody is social, outgoing and, of course, just as smart.

Although their personalities are quite contrasting, they do share one thing in common: their teacher of record, Mr. Eric Shirley, who encouraged them in their work.

And talk about productive, these two got together and decided for fun that they wanted to dive into a history project. They knew they wanted to do something big, but weren’t even sure what the topic would be.

Here’s how they came to the idea of a website around the FSA Great Depression photos:

“So what we did is so we we wrote (our ideas) all on the board, and we were going to choose which one. And I remembered that in second grade my art teacher showed a picture of the migrant mother photo from the Great Depression and then she started talking about how the FSA came to help and communicate that these farmers need help. I just remembered that because I was so interested in the topic that that topic, so that was the one we did,” said Melody.

That’s when they got to work creating the website that ultimately won them an award.

Click on the image below to see the student’s website:

"I think I learned a lot with the context of what we were writing in websites, but I think we also learned about web design, which I don't think we have done that, before, so it would just really big for," Maddy Carpiuc, Elite homeschool student

While creating the website, it was important to Melody to focus on how the FSA came to help and communicate about farmers and the thing that the episode tried to do was they didn’t want to miss communicate the topic.

“After the stock market went down, a lot of people started to lose their homes and their jobs, mostly the farmers, so they had a move, and they had to do a lot of labor. And then the FSA noticed the other day was created because they were noticing how hard and the lives of the farmers worse, so they told the photographers to go and take pictures of the farmers and spread the word and communicate with others,” said Melody. “And the reason why we chose through the lens of the camera is because all of this photography was taken through the lens is kind of what captured the photograph so we just thought that would be a good name, and something we could make a website on.”


Their website project was chosen as a finalist winner in the San Diego region, and they were awarded a special California history award as well. The project is now entered into the California state competition. It’s such a huge accomplishment for both of these students that we had to know how they felt when they found out.

“We hadn’t really expected it at all,” said Maddy. “We weren’t really doing it for the competition, so I think we were really surprised when we found out that we would move on to the state level.”

“It was actually a funny story for me,” said Melody. “So I was sleeping and it was really early in the morning and my mom came and she said melody wake up and I said, ‘no.’ And she said, ‘Guess what you guys won some awards!” And I was so I was so happy because I didn’t know we were going to get through.”

“Mr. Shirley called us after and said he was really proud of us. He said he had a personal experience reading our website, so I was also proud that what we accomplished made other people have feelings about objects,” said Maddy.

“Yeah, I mean, Mr. Shirley has like a lot of students and I didn’t know that he would actually be proud of us, and he actually read the website and he was proud of us. I mean, another human beings actually saw our website and was proud of us!

Maddy and Melody were in a school together in first grade, but lost contact after moving. So, it was exciting for them to find each other once again at Elite.

“I came to Elite mainly because of the pandemic,” said Maddy. Once I saw what school online would be like, I decided that I didn’t really want that, so I decided to try homeschooling since will be better to work on my own pace.”

” Just like Maddy said it was mainly about the pandemic and near the end of the year I was feeling that the school was a little too easy for me… I mean, in the summers, my mom to would give me a really big, fat book and I would have to study a lot. So, I went to fifth grade and felt bored because it felt like we were just doing really, really easy stuff. So, I like homeschool because I can work at my own pace. It’s quiet, it’s relaxing, I can work in my room and dive into the things I love.

One interesting thing to note is that history is not necessarily Maddy’s favorite subject. It’s actually her least favorite subject. Or was, before this project.

“I think before I project, that history might have been one of my least favorite subjects, but we decided to just try something new, so and I found out that I actually really enjoyed it. We might even do some more history day projects in the future.” said Maddy.

Maddy also learned a lot about web design in this process, something she’s come to really enjoy.

After graduating high school, Maddy and Melody aren’t sure what they want to do. They both are writers. Maddy is a strong writer with a passion for it and Melody is working on some novels, which she may want to continue in the future. Maddy said she may even want to pursue her passion in music instead, but neither really knows just yet.

But one thing is for sure: These two are going to be doing some great things.

Congratulations to Maddy and Melody on winning a National History Day award!

Evy Haynes

Rising to the Occasion - Evy Haynes, Class of 2021

Meet Evy, one of our Homeschool Academy's early graduates of the Class of 2021! To say Evy Haynes is a remarkable student would be an understatement. She is an exceptional student, not only in her academic abilities, but also in her work ethic and determination. Our Homeschool Staff was first introduced to Evy one year ago when she inquired about wanting to be a student at Elite. She was in the process of completing her junior year, and wanted to challenge herself more by being a dual enrolled student, both in high school and college. Her grade point average in high school was 4.94 and included a rigorous load of advanced placement courses in math and sciences. In addition to the classroom success, she successfully passed Advanced Placement exams in the subjects of Spanish, Physics 1, U.S. History, Chemistry, and earned perfect scores in Physics C Electricity and Magnetism, Physics C Mechanics, Psychology, and Calculus BC.

Evy has never backed down from a challenge. When she heard about Elite Academic Academy from two former students, she wanted to challenge herself even more by taking more college courses and graduating early. She accomplished her mission as she completed three college courses this fall semester in English, Political Science, and Economics. She received A’s in each of the courses! In a world today where students can easily have excuses, Evy refuses to let anything hold her back. She takes ownership of everything she does and has accomplished most of this on her own. She has had to overcome some family obstacles in her life, but she never let those derail her from her plan.

Evy Haynes

In addition to her academic endeavors, she has managed to work part time at Starbucks to support herself and save money for college. She plans to complete a dual major in physics and engineering and has applied to colleges such as Stanford, Rice University, Cal-Poly SLO, and University of California San Diego just to name a few. With her engineering mind always in gear, she continually plans for the future. When presented with a lime green TI graphing calculator this past year and asked “why lime green?” she replied, “I’m going to be taking classes in the future with a bunch of male students. I won’t even have to write my name on it to know it is mine.” She’s always thinking ahead. Congratulations Evy, you are another example of an outstanding Elite student and we are very excited to see what your future holds!

Graham Bennett - Homeschool Academy Graduate and Acting Extraordinaire

Some people were born with a niche for something. Sometimes it's sports, writing, or making people laugh. For Graham Bennet, one of our recent Homeschool Academy graduates, it's acting.
Graham has been an actor since he was 9 years old.  He started his career playing Tiny Tim in the American Conservatory Theater’s annual production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in San Francisco – 30 sold-out shows in a 1,000-seat theater.  In addition to more theater work, he has since starred in a number of short films that have been accepted to and won awards at numerous film festivals across the country.
As a student, Graham was never much of a reader, despite playing in numerous Shakespeare plays and loving stories of all kinds.  After spending middle school at a Waldorf school, his family moved to Southern California and enrolled him in a private college prep school with a Tony award-winning acting teacher.  While the drama program and choir were great, Graham struggled with his academics even though he put in a lot of time and effort. He then enrolled at Elite halfway through his sophomore year, just as he was finally diagnosed with a severe case of dyslexia.
At Elite, Graham got the individual attention, encouragement, and support he so desperately needed. His academics quickly took a turn for the better and he started to enjoy his schoolwork. His turnaround was so profound that with some community college classes and extra work over the summer, he actually graduated early, finishing high school on January 15th of this school year.
Graham is currently applying to and auditioning for acting conservatories on the East coast and in the UK.  He intends to spend the rest of this year seeking work in the film business.  He has already acted in another short film that is now in post-production, with voiceover work set to happen next month.  He will participate in the Palm Springs International Film Festival as a youth juror for the third year in a row.  He is also taking an essay from his last English class and turning it into a script for an animated short film.
As the whim strikes, he sometimes posts videos on TikTok, where his most watched video garnered over 2M views.
Thanks to Elite, Graham still has a desire to learn and a positive attitude.  Graham will not be going to college and taking the normal route, but that’s just fine – his journey promises to be all the more interesting.

Teacher Shoutout - Ms. Planchon, Virtual Academy Teacher of Record

In a recent staff meeting, we discussed the importance of making connections with our students. In fact, it is our staff's theme for the entire school year! Especially during such uncertain times, our teachers play a huge part in ensuring our student's academic and social-emotional well-being. This is no easy task, but our teachers are up for the challenge. Ms. Planchon, a Virtual Academy Teacher of record, has been doing a fantastic job of making connections with her students and giving them every opportunity possible to succeed.
She is doing such a great job that her Students want to make sure they continue to be in her class next school year at Elite! Here is a testimonial from the parent of one of her students, Lyric.

"...just wanted to make sure we can keep Ms Cristina as Lyric's teacher. It has been an incredible year of growth because of the connection Lyric has with Ms. Cristina.  I can't express how beneficial it's been for Lyric to have teachers that truly care. The math instructor [Ms. Singas] and Cristina have gone above and beyond, which has inspired Lyric to apply herself without instruction. I see her confidence and excitement when she does the group learning in Ms.Cristina's class. I would like to keep this same attitude and energy Into 2021...What I love most about her is she can take criticism and concerns without taking it personal because she is truly invested into the future of her students...It would be easier and preferred to stay with someone that understands my passion for my daughter's future".
Ms. Planchon has been teaching for 17 years, and she's been with Elite since we first opened in 2018. It is safe to say that she goes above and beyond for her students. You can find her sharing her passion for dance with the whole school during our holiday zoom parties! Thank you Ms. Planchon for being a part of our awesome team here at Elite and making connections that will last a lifetime.