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Homeschool Graduates Honored in Puerto Rico
On May 26, 2003, the Christian Homeschool Association of Puerto Rico (AHEC) honored homeschooled graduates of all ages with a "Day of Achievement" ceremony. The event was held at Iglesia Cristiana Discípulos de Cristo (Christian Church Disciples of Christ) of Sierra Linda in Bayamón, Puerto Rico.
"We congratulate those graduates of home schooling in Puerto Rico, Said Mike Smith, President of the Home School Legal Defense Association. "Truly, they are the pioneers of home education in the Caribbean."
Over 300 relatives and friends attended the ceremony that recognized 51 graduates, eight of which were high school seniors. Day of Achievement saw students completing kindergarten, first, sixth, eight, and ninth grades in addition to seniors since, organizers say, it is difficult to bring together so many families from across the island. AHEC President Nancy Morales, and a working committee of three families organized the day's activities which included music, dance and poetic recitations by homeschooled students.
Although many homeschoolers of Puerto Rico have graduated and been admitted to colleges in the past, this is the first year homeschoolers can take advantage of the University of Puerto Rico's (UPR) new admissions policy. Up until this point, homeschoolers wishing to attend college in Puerto Rico need a GED or mediation from a private "umbrella" school to be accepted. UPR's admissions department has now created criteria that allows homeschoolers to be considered on their own merit.
UPR Dean of Admissions Blanca Cruzado announced the changes to the university's policy as the keynote speaker of the ceremony. Mrs. Cruzado expressed her best wishes to the graduates and congratulated their parents, acknowledging the important contribution homeschoolers are making to education in Puerto Rico. She also reminisced about her own childhood when she learned to read at home with the assistance of her grandmother.
Four of the eight graduating students were accepted to UPR, and two have chosen to attend in the fall.
"The doors are being opened to other homeschoolers on our island, and I am sure that other universities will follow on the footsteps of the UPR," said Hector Torres, an active member of AHEC whose son was one of the four accepted students.
Attorney Carlos Perez, HSLDA's representative in Puerto Rico, also addressed the graduates highlighting the bravery homeschoolers show standing up to defend their own liberty. Many of the parents present were involved in the fight against recent legislation (H.P. 3048) which would enact burdensome regulations on homeschooling.
"We can also consider [UPR's new policy] a major achievement, recognizing the value and excellence of home education in Puerto Rico at a time when the legislature is making attempts to regulate [homeschooling]," Torres told HSLDA.