Behind the Mascot: PIONEERS
By: Alyse Guenther
April 18, 2012
At 8:30 on Wednesday mornings, Ganson Church fills with students meeting for class. They gather around tables with padded chairs discussing their busy week of duel-enrolled college classes, figure skating lessons and field-trips with their siblings. These high schoolers are homeschooled and arrive from the surrounding area to attend PIONEERS Home-school Co-op on Wednesdays. PIONEERS serves about a hundred and sixty students with eighty to a hundred being high schoolers.
“I see PIONEERS as a bridging of both worlds,” administrative director Patti Sailor said. “It brings together home education which has some very positive attributes, and traditional education like public and parochial schools. PIONEERS highlights the positive aspects of both.”
For students who are dedicated to other activities, like junior Danae Bundy, giving a week to complete an assignment gives her more freedom to plan her week.
“I really like that PIONEERS is flexible with our schedules,” Bundy said. “I’m not a full time student this year. I have Anatomy Physiology, Humanities, lunch, and then Consumers’ math. Though our classes are only one day a week, I would say students still have the same amount of homework, it’s just you are given the freedom to spread it out as you choose.” Senior Megan Crook also appreciates PIONEERS’ schedule, which enables her to currently take a total of twelve classes, divided between home, PIONEERS and Baker College. Because of meeting once a week, ‘PIONEERS seems more like a college atmosphere’ Crook says.
Students can design their schedule at PIONEERS, though prerequisites exist for core classes such as math, science and upper level English. Students progress by their ability, not grade level, so if they are able to meet the requirements of a class they are allowed to take it. This results in mix-grade level classes, eliminating the distinction between freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
With each weekly hour and a half class time, teachers do their best to balance class discussion and lectures, leaving no time for homework to be done in class.
“With all that we have to cover in class, sometimes we only have twenty minutes for discussion,” said English teacher Steffany Maher. “Though because we have smaller class sizes we are able to do more. Typically a [traditional school] student might write one essay, maybe two, their whole freshman year,” Maher said. “My eighth and ninth graders in Themes in Literature are writing essays every week.”
PIONEERS students see each other outside of their weekly classes, as they participate in PIONEERS’ ski club, sport teams, and group field trips. Between juggling activities, social events, and planning time for homework, PIONEER high schoolers feel they are not too different to the traditional school students.
“I’ve been to both, public and homeschool, and I see the similarities,” Crook said. “We all have different life stories, though we all go through the same struggles.”