The History of Firework Shows, and a Few Tips for a Great Fourth of July at Home

Happy birthday to America, turning 245 this 2021!

With shows and parades coming back this year, hopefully the Fourth of July feels celebratory for you! But we know this year's celebration is still going to look a little different this year for many Americans, so to help you get ready, we've put together some great tips to make the most out of this year's Independence Day.

How the firework shows came to be

We know, you're on summer break! But still, here's a quick history lesson in case you've ever wondered why we have a fireworks display each Fourth of July Holiday.

There’s a famous song in America that goes something like “And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” Recognize it? Of course you do, but what you may not know is that the phrase comes from the Battle of Fort McHenry (also known as the Battle of Baltimore) where our traditional celebration with fireworks came to be.

In the fall of 1814, the War of 1812 was still at large. An attorney known as Francis Scott Key boarded a British ship attempting to negotiate the release of an American prisoner of war. During that time, Key discovered Britain’s plan to attack Fort McHenry and was thus promptly held detained by the British.

That night, Key was the witness of a major battle. As he watched the night sky light up, he could see the American flag in the distance. That symbol not only encouraged him to hold on to hope, but inspired him to write a poem that we now know as the “Star Spangled Banner.”

As a tribute to Francis Scott Key, America now celebrates Independence Day every Fourth of July by lighting the sky with fireworks.

Although Key is our greatest attribution to the fireworks show, the idea of fireworks started all the way back on July 4, 1776 when our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, declaring America to be its own country independent from Britain. Thereafter, John Adams stated that this day should be long remembered and celebrated with parades, games and “illuminations,” otherwise known as fireworks.

Some tips for having a great Fourth of July at home

Maybe you're going to a show this year, and that's awesome! But if you're still staying at home, here are a few ways to make it fun. These are great weekend ideas too, by the way, even if you're planning on heading out somewhere!

Tip #1: Bake some patriotic goods, or have a good ole' fashioned bbq

Whether you head out to parades and shows, or you're at home this Fourth of July, you can get in the spirit with some baked goods! Here's a few patriotic recipe ideas:

  • Bake a pie and decorate it with stars, like this one, maybe?
  • Make an American flag cake. Seriously, it's as simple as adding some strawberries and blueberries. Check it out!
  • Of course, there's always grilling some traditional bbq, so long as it reminds you of childhood favorites and America! If you need inspiration, here are some ideas.

Tip #2 And some simple Watermelon Juice to go along with it!

Watermelon as a drink? Yes! It's delicious and simple. Watermelon is a reminder great times in the summer. This time around, try turning your favorite side dish into your favorite drink.

For easy instructions, check out this recipe.

Tip #3 Memorize at least one amendment in the Bill of Rights

Speaking of Independence Day, why not celebrate your freedoms by learning more about them? The first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States are known as the Bill of Rights, which lists out each freedom you are guaranteed as an American citizen.

Without the events that took place in 1776, there would be no Bill of Rights. So make sure you know at least one of them and memorize it this Fourth of July. Then you can cite it to your friends like a pro.

Tip #4 Drive somewhere nearby and soak up some local history

You might be thinking there isn't much "Fourth of July" history in California. And yes, while we may not be near Revolutionary War historical sites, but there absolutely is some history in Southern California to appreciate. Here are a couple places in California that likely aren't too far from you:

  • Grab your bikes or hop in the car and take a scenic route along the coast. Enjoy a beautiful, quiet scenery in the great outdoors.
  • Take an adventure to a state/national park, like Joshua Tree, Crystal Cove or Palomar Mountain State ParkAs Theodore Roosevelt said, "Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders."
  • Head out to Old Town San Diego or the Old Mission in Santa Barbara. Take a moment and remember the history that lives around you, both the good and the bad. It'll help you find respect for the place you live in, while seeing where you can help make progress.

Tip #5  Above all, spend the day with someone you care about

Of course, the best part of any holiday is that you can surround yourself with people you love. Maybe you can't all physically be together this year, that doesn't mean you shouldn't connect through Zoom or FaceTime. And whoever can physically be there will be such a gift!  Whether it's a significant other or family and friends, be sure to spend your Independence with people you care about.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!


Get to Know our Homeschool Academy Graduates!

It’s always a great accomplishment when a student graduates high school.

But, we think it’s probably fair to give a little extra credit to the graduates of 2021! These students made it successfully through the 2020-21 school year, and that was no easy feat. Despite everything that happened this past year, these student kept diligently pursuing their diplomas and made it!

So, here’s a virtual high five being sent your way, to not just our students, but all the 2021 high school graduates out there.

About the Elite Class of 2021

We had an awesome graduation ceremony with almost all our seniors in attendance! Here’s a little more about them.

From Oliver’s Parents:

“I know it sounds cliche to say we are proud of you, so we won’t. We are impressed with how you’ve grown up in this crazy family with seven siblings and still managed to take the initiative and complete your high school education independently. You have now joined the family business and you are working harder than we could ever have imagined. We are stunned everyday with how dedicated and conscientious you are in every aspect of your life. So here’s to you, we couldn’t be more proud!!”

From Katherine’s Parents:

“Katherine…This past year has been filled with challenges. With so many uncertainties and lack of answers with respect to college testing, college applications, NCAA eligibility, college recruitment, and the emotional highs and lows that went with this journey, you did an amazing job on navigating such uncharted circumstances. You’ve never waiver from your commitment to your studies nor to your tennis training and development. The results can speak for itself and a 4-year ride to APU clearly speaks volume.”

From Tawny’s Parents:

“You came into our life unexpected, a surprise to all of us. What an adventure you have brought us, the laughter, the tears and the love. We wish you all the success we know you will have because you are blessed and to us, a blessing. We are forever grateful for that surprise we call TNT. Love you to infinity and beyond, Mom and Dad.”

Tawny’s Future Plans:

“I hope to be an author one day. Eventually, I will look into real estate school so I can support myself as a realtor while pursuing my goal of being an author.”

From Rayshawn’s Parents:

“Rayshawn, we are so proud of you and knew you were destined to be great. Life has a way of molding your every move, and the greatest reward is not always how you start but how you finish. It has been exciting to see how you have evolved from beating pots and pans, to becoming a great percussionist. All the creative noise you made from sunup to sundown perfecting your gift was well worth it. Rayshawn, never be silent, continue to make noise and the world will appreciate your awesome gift. Your chapter in life is just beginning. Enjoy it and use every day to be great. With much love and admiration, Mom and Dad”

From Jaron’s Parents:

“Jaron is our sunshine. He radiates enthusiasm and zeal for life. He shows passion for all his interests and activities and draws everyone in with his optimistic ‘good vibes.’ Jaron has excelled both academically as well as in performing arts, studio arts and film studies. He has become a young man who confidently tackles challenges and achieves his goals. Jaron always looks for opportunities to serve, and he is an amazing example to his siblings. We are proud and blessed to be his family. -Mom, Dad, Ariel, Larissa, Alina, and Ian”

From Graham’s Parents:

“Well done, Graham! This is an achievement to savor. You learned a lot about yourself. You learned a lot about the world around you. We all feel really good about how we were able to work together and be supportive. And most of all, you did the work and you kept at it. Having done all this, we all know – with conviction – that you will be successful going forward. Congratulations!”

 

From Garret’s Parents:

“Congratulations Garret on this momentous occasion! It has been a blessing to see you learn and grow throughout the years. We are so proud of you for all your hard work. We look forward to the next chapter in your life to see what God has in store for you. We know that whatever you do, you will be successful as you follow the Lord’s leading in your life.”

Garret’s Future Plans:

“In the fall, I will be taking classes at Palomar College to work towards obtaining a business administration degree with an emphasis in legal studies. I will also be working part-time as a legal assistant at my father’s law office.”

From Alex’s Parents:

“Alex, since you were born, you have been the gift that our family never knew we needed. Growing along with you as you have gone from baby to child to man has been a learning experience that we will treasure always. Your challenges have been many, but your triumphs have been more. We are confident that you have so much more to show the world in the future.”

Alex’s Future Plans:

Alex worked hard to complete his studies and graduate early. He is currently attending Palomar college as a full-time student and getting his pre-requisites done. He plans on studying computer science.

 

From Evy’s Parents:

“Dear Evy, we could not be more proud of you! You have always been a ray of sunshine, the kid everyone wants for a best friend, the Pied Piper of children. Now you have completed this awesome milestone. All your grueling work has paid off. We always knew you could accomplish whatever you set your mind to. You will be fantastic at UCLA and we will always be here for you. We love you very much! Mom and Dad”
page1image1656768624

From Ashlynn’s Parents:

“Ashlynn, you have always been a joy and blessing in our lives. We are so proud of the accomplishments you have achieved and the beautiful woman you have become. You have been a great blessing to our family and have taught us kindness, patience, and most importantly love. Thank you for your beautiful smile and quick wit that brings joy and laughter to our days. We wish you the best in life and will always be there to support and love you. We are grateful to have you as our daughter and sister! Lots of love, Mom, Dad, Heather”

For more information about Elite Academic Academy, head here.


Shelby Murray - Homeschool Academy Students Ranks First Nationally in Horsemanship

Shelby Murray is one of our Homeschool Academy Students that just finished up her 10th grade school year. Like many of our students, she works hard in all areas of her life. Shelby has taken it one step further and become an absolute rockstar in the sport of Three day Eventing. She was recently ranked Number 1 in eventing at the Junior/training division by the United States Eventing Association, USEA. We had to learn more about Shelby's rise up the ranks and what keeps her motivated to do her best in her sport.

Shelby's mom, Julie, has loved horses her whole life. It seems that the love of horses and discovery of the sport came from her! They got involved with the US Pony Club when Shelby was 9 years old, and have been a part of the organization ever since. Through the Pony Club, learning to ride a horse is just one aspect that you're taught. Kids learn everything there is to know about a horse, from its hooves to its ears. They also learn how to properly care for a horse on their own.

"Children learn all aspects about a horse including it's genetic defaults, nutrition, diseases, anatomy.... The Pony Club fully encompasses the whole gamete of owning a horse" Julie said. "It starts with basic stuff, but now Shelby is one level from being at the top of the Pony Club’s horse management pinnacle A rating.".

Every rating that Shelby has surpassed has been earned. In the upper levels national raters come and test both her riding ability and horsemanship knowledge.

Shelby started out at the Fallbrook Pony Club, where future Tokyo 2021 Olympian Liz Halliday-Sharp got her start as well. Shelby's family has since started their own Pony Club, San River Downs, which they saw was needed for Shelby in order to progress further in the sport. "She has her own motor and I'm just helping to guide her engine" mom said.

On top of being nationally ranked in her sport, Shelby is an awesome student and also works part time as a working student at Swift Ridge Eventing. She has a great head on her shoulders and is thinking about her future. Shelby has a goal of becoming a dental hygienist so she can make a living for herself and continue with Equestrian as her hobby. She's also working on her gold award for girl scouts and is a part of the national charity league with 500 volunteer hours logged over the last four years.

We asked Shelby's mom how she took the news about being ranked Number 1 in her Junior/training division.

"She's super humble and just happy that she gets to ride. Her main horse Sonik was injured a year ago, he had to have surgery and just came back for a show one month ago. So every ride that she gets to ride with her horses is a gift to her. Another horse she rides is Reverie. This horse is not easy, but Shelby rose to the occasion and they're doing fabulous. It's unusual for anyone to get 4 first places in a row in eventing. She could have done much more showing and earning points for the leaderboard, but she didn't want to possibly injure the horse. She said it's not worth it and she wants what's best for the horse".

Check out this video compilation created by Shelby of her past riding competitions with her Horse, Reverie GWF.  

That is where her horsemanship knowledge comes into play. On top of riding her horse, Shelby is there every day feeding, wrapping, exercising, grooming the horse, completely taking care of it as it is her responsibility. She knows what it's like to take care of a sick horse and understands what over-activity can do to them, so she refrained from showing too much. Being a part of the Pony Club and continuing her education in horsemanship has taught her a lot more than just being a passenger on a horse.  It’s a delicate dance between horse and rider, the ultimate partnership in a very challenging sport.

There are some Homeschool Programs that do not recognize Equestrian as a sport, which is why Shelby found a good fit with Elite.

She is able to get an unmatched education through Elite and Mr. Shirley and through the US Pony Club. The flexibility of Elite's program allows her to fit her riding and horse-training responsibilities in when she needs. It also allows her to teach younger kids in the Pony Club about riding and horsemanship.

"She'd love to help anybody who has any questions. She teaches horsemanship as part of the upper horsemanship rating responsibility and she also does it for the love of it" mom says.

Shelby is always looking for the next step, which is why she recently started looking into the different aspects of eventing. Eventing is described as the equestrian triathlon and is extremely rigorous. There are three phases: dressage, cross country, and show jumping. Shelby is looking into shadowing  cross country course designers/builders and learn more about that phase, which is the most dangerous. But her background in this sport has prepared her for taking this next step.

We have no doubt she will succeed in this event, just like she has in everything else. Shelby, thank you for choosing to Be Elite and representing our school so well!

If anyone is interested in joining the Elite Equestrian Team or would like to learn more from Shelby herself, please email our Community Coordinator, Kiley Allen [email protected]

Student News: Virtual Student Ethan Earns a Football Scholarship to Santa Margarita High

Elite Blog Logo

This past week, we had the opportunity to talk with the smart and incredibly talented Elite student Ethan Thomas, an 8th Grader in our Virtual Academy. He plays football and is an athlete at Platinum Athletics.

While Ethan was working out at Platinum, he heard from his coaches that Elite Academic Academy was an awesome school and they had many Platinum student athletes enrolled. Him and his mother, Alicia, decided to trust their coaches, and it paid off!

“I’ve been liking Elite and I feel like I’m learning a lot more than other charter schools that I’ve been to.”

Ethan enrolled in the Virtual Academy and Ms. Nicole Lively, now our school counselor, became his teacher.

Ethan is such a phenomenal kid and I’ve seen extraordinary growth from him this year,” said Ms. Lively. “Ethan, we are SO proud of how hard you have worked over the last year.

He has worked so hard that he was recently offered a full ride scholarship to Santa Margarita High School for the 2021/22 school year. He has found success in Academics at Elite and has been doing so great on the football field, that the school could not pass up this opportunity to snag him!

For Ethan, this scholarship is just the first step to a bigger dream of playing college football, getting his degree and making it to the NFL.

“When Santa Margarita came to my football game, they told me about their school but I didn’t have any way of getting there. It is pretty far from where I live. But when they offered me a scholarship and scheduled transportation, it really set the tone for me to go there,” said Ethan. “Also, it’s a really good school for my education and has a lot of unique courses and clubs that I could join too, and that’ll look good on my resume for colleges.

Ethan’s main goals in life are to work hard, get an excellent education and one day make it to the NFL.

“That’s one of my main goals right now is to just make it to college and play football in college, and have other opportunities to do a lot of good things,” said Ethan.

Out-Working the Others

One of Ethan’s mantras is to “Work hard when nobody else is willing to work and out-work everybody.”

And we see him live that motto so often at Elite.

Not only is Ethan a talented football player with the drive to make it, he’s also a very smart student.

He does well in school, and his Ms. Lively says he’s always there whenever there is a tutoring or extracurricular session available, especially in science–his favorite subject.

“I want to go to school so I can be an engineer and have a good fallback plan and be educated. I don’t spend all my money even if I do make it to the NFL.” said Ethan.

Ethan told us he is looking forward to being in high school and starting a new chapter in life.

“I’m most excited about the high school experience and and just having fun playing.  I will go to high school more serious and mature because I know how tough things could get because I’ve seen it before,” said Ethan. “I just want to do my best and I’m looking forward to playing a lot of football games and hopefully getting D1 offers to colleges throughout my freshman to senior years. I’m looking forward to a lot of extracurricular activities and all the clubs they provide like the robotics team.”

We are so proud of Ethan! We’ll leave you all with a small message from his Teacher of Record, Ms. Lively:

“It has been a privilege to be your teacher, Ethan – you are such a kind, dedicated, honest and funny young man. Alicia (his mother), you have done an amazing job raising such a wonderful son!”

We can’t wait to see Ethan’s academic and athletic career grow, and wish him the best at Santa Margarita High in the 2021/22 School Year!

To learn more about Elite Athletic Academy, head here


Elite's LIFE Course is Paying Off For Tiana Avetisian

Elite Blog Logo

High School is never an easy road to navigate, there are always going to be a couple of ups and downs. Fortunately for our students, we have Social-Emotional Courses through Ambassadors of Compassion (AOC) . These courses present an opportunity to mature in many different ways and positively impact their overall academic experience. One of these courses is our LIFE course! Labor, Influence, Forgiveness, Experiences (LIFE) is a course that helps students look within, and learn the importance of work to accomplish things that matter to them. You can learn more about it in this recent blog post.

Tiana, one of our High School Flex Academy Students, was brave enough to be one of the first students to enroll in this course this semester. She worked hard, changed her perspectives on her classes and completely turned her grades around! She's even got some A's currently despite English being her second language. Her LIFE Course Teacher, Mrs. Makkai, is particularly proud of her for coming out of her shell this semester and taking her life into her own hands.

From Tiana's LIFE course teacher, Mrs. Karen Makkai:

"Tiana really follows her schedule well - She is doing really well in the LIFE course and has been the perfect student to Pilot the course with as she is not afraid to ask questions. Tiana has become a very conscientious student, is now passing and even has some A's in her courses". 

Tiana has put in the work, and it's paying off with good grades and some new friends. When we asked her what the secret was to her success, Tiana felt that it was as simple as always asking questions and getting involved in school events.

We talked to Tiana about her recent accomplishments, and here's what we learned about her.

"I really like my LIFE course teacher because of her personality, and if i have any questions, I contact her," said Tiana. "What I have learned was that there's so much more to learn about myself that I don't know."

Tiana is active in our Lunch Bunch and the Art Club, and just about any event where she has the opportunity to chat with her Elite schoolmates. She is one of the reasons we decided to start our very own anime/comic club!  She expressed her interest on the topics and inspired other students to note their interest as well. Our staff jumped at the chance to put together this engaging and connective experience for our students. Tiana is one of the club's "founding" members.

"I always wanted to learn more about Anime and Manga drawing because I watch a lot of that genre. I'm hoping I can start my own Anime/Manga Club here at Elite. When I'm not gaming online, I'm chatting with my Elite friends," said Tiana.

It's not easy getting grades back up, and we're so glad Tiana had the courage to take this LIFE class to help her get back on track not only academically, but socially as she thrives with friends and leadership skills in taking on her new club. Congrats, Tiana!

"I love how they are teaching (at Elite) and how they inspired me to learn more about me. They taught me a lot over the past year that I've been with them and I am grateful to those who taught me". 

To learn more about the LIFE and RISE courses at Elite, read here.


Clubs, Classes and Connections: Jeannelle Reeves Takes Full Advantage of Being an Elite Student

Jeannelle Reeves, a Junior in Flex Academy, is changing the mindset and academic experience of our students through the Kindness Club and Be Elite Podcast. She also helps runs our Lunch Bunch, which is a recurring school wide virtual lunch activity where students have fun connecting with each other while eating lunch. In addition to being a positive influence on our school, Jeannelle is an exceptional student.

“What made you decide to come to Elite?”

I was attending another school and they had a lot of work, but the videos and notes were completely different from the test. I was so confused and I wanted to find a different school. I saw an ad for Elite and I was like “Hey maybe I’ll check it out”. I saw that I could join the  Flex Academy, so that I can have my work on Strongmind (online) but also have a teacher to meet with. My problem has always been with teachers not getting back to me. Also, I saw that it was tuition free and there was a possibility for enrichment funds that could pay for piano lessons!

“Tell me about your overall experience with Elite!” 

It has been awesome!

“If I need help, my teachers get back to me right away and I can tell that they care about me! I feel like the school’s mission is to make the students feel cared about and helping them understand everything.”

They actually do what they say they are going to do, it’s not all talk. My teacher of record, Mrs. Steele is awesome! She’s always there for me and she always cares about me, my mom, and my cat! I have a lot of fun at our weekly meetings. Mr. Smith, my Marketing Teacher is super awesome. He makes Marketing and the Podcast a lot of fun!

“You are such an involved student. Kindness Ambassadors, Lunch Bunch, Podcast, and joining a lot of school events! What brought you to get involved with school activities and what do you enjoy about it?” 

At first I wasn’t really involved in anything. I wanted to join the Podcast, but I wasn’t really sure about it. I thought “maybe next time”. But I got an email saying that I was picked to be a part of the kindness ambassadors and I didn’t really know what it was. I thought it might be cool to be part of it. After that, we did a kindness week episode on the podcast and I was like “hey this was fun” so then I joined the podcast club!

“After I started to see how fun it is, I like getting to be part of things that the school is doing! I like how we are starting to all get to know each other and now I am starting to know students at the school that I wouldn’t have known before.”

“What are your hobbies outside of school clubs?”

I really love music and I take piano lessons, I like creative things and doing crafts! I like to paint, bake, and I like to cross stitch and I like this thing called diamond dotz! I also really love legos (like the lego piano), and playing games like Animal Crossing and Mario!

How has your academic learning experience been like at Elite? 

Really good! I feel like all my teachers really care about me! Anytime I need help I know my teachers will always get back to me and help me with whatever I need. I feel like for the most part Strongmind is pretty easy to navigate and Canvas is nice too! My teacher of record, Mrs. Steele is super awesome and she always helps me if I need anything.

” I also like how I can do classes on google classroom because I have been able to do music, film, and photography. It’s nice to have flexibility in my classes!”

Jeannelle is always putting her best foot forward, and we are with her every step. We are excited for Jeannelle to continue to excel in her academics and in her commitment to bringing our students together through the Podcast and Kindness Club. 

Keep up the amazing job, Jeannelle; we are so proud of you!


Elite Blog Logo

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

Elite Blog Logo

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.