While seniors in Iowa’s public school system will walk down the aisle for graduation in the coming weeks, over 100 students who got their schooling at home will have their own graduation ceremony Saturday.
Barb Heki, a spokesperson for the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE), says this is the 14th year they’ve had a ceremony. Heki says their first graduation ceremony was in 1995 and they had seven graduates. She says they progressed to 111 graduates in 2009.
Heki says the home school graduation is a little different from public school ceremonies, as the parents join the student on stage, and the student’s achievements are read.
She says it’s a highlight for the parents and graduates to celebrate together all the years and things they accomplished in education and character development. Heki says students from all parts of Iowa take part in this ceremony, and it is one of several honoring home school students.
Heki says there are individual home schooling support groups across the state and several hold their own graduations, so some in this ceremony will also have a hometown graduation ceremony too. Heki’s four kids were homeschooled and she says there are number of reasons why parents decide to do so. For the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators the top reason for home schooling is religion.
"Because what’s being taught at the public schools is the exact opposite of some of the biblical teachings that we want our kids to learn," Heki says. She says they also are able to do a lot of entrepreneurial endeavors and give the kids a lot of hands on experience, which Heki says leads to less wasted time for kids.
Heki says two former home school students set up and run the graduation ceremony. The ceremony is Saturday at the First Federated Church in Des Moines, and is open to the public.