Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Six years down

It’s hard to believe but we are finishing up our sixth year of homeschooling. I never thought we’d do more than a year. I never thought we’d homeschool for high school. I never thought it would be as hard as it is, and I never thought I’d love it as much as I (usually) do.

Over the six years we’ve used various curricula and programs and co-ops. Some were great. Some, not so much. I’m often asked what’s worked for us so I thought I’d take a few days over the next couple of weeks to talk about the good, the bad and the downright ugly of our homeschool adventure.

One of the finest groups we’ve been blessed to work with is Homeschool Performing Arts (HPA). According to their website, the focus of HPA is developing a quality performance with aesthetic value that is glorifying to God. They produce high-quality performances all while teaching the students that glorifying the Lord is the main aim.  They've produced Annie, The Music Man, It's a Wonderful Life and My Fair Lady, to name a few.

Our first experience with HPA was last year when the kids tried out for The Sound of Music. Michael and Amy both got parts which meant they went to a weekly practice where they were taught singing and dancing and acting by some extremely talented folks. But last year Rebecca wasn’t in the show, so she and I weren’t at rehearsals often and I really didn’t have any idea how great an organization HPA was because my contact with the staff was limited to hellos at drop-off and goodbyes at pick-up.

This year, however, our involvement with HPA is a total family affair. All three kids have a part in the production, Seussical the Musical, Sean’s the rehearsal accompanist and I’m helping the production manager at the weekly rehearsals. As a result, Sean and I have gotten to know the director, assistant director and production manager and all we can say is, “Wow, wow, wow.”

These gifted folks take 80 kids, ages 8 – 18 with varying degrees of experience, and teach them to act, dance and sing, all while caring about each of the students. The production manager told me, “Teaching acting is a small part of what we do.” On a different day the director said, “Ten percent is teaching drama. The other 90% is teaching life skills.” He and the assistant director (who, by the way, is unbelievably talented and crazy fun to be around) treat each cast member with kindness and respect.

I’m helping with the business end of things, and even there grace permeates everything the production manager does. She is the one who deals with the parents and the volunteers and the questions about tickets and rehearsals and costumes and what’s an excused absence and what’s not and every other inquiry under the sun. She radiates grace which amazes me because some of the questions she gets are just plain stupid. I don’t know how she manages to answer without screaming, “Did you read the email? IT'S IN THE EMAIL!!!” But her purpose is to glorify God in all she does and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be terribly God-honoring to yell at the parents. Even when they deserve it. (And that’s why I’m only assisting…)

If you’re in Lansing, Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo and want your kids to take part in theater productions where they'll receive top-notch direction in singing, acting and choreography from directors care about kids, HPA is for you. Even this non-musical-loving Mom is learning to love musicals.  Okay, that's a stretch - but I am certainly learning to appreciate them.