Home School Skating Programs Popular and Growing

by Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz, special to U.S. Figure Skating

Westminster Ice in Westminster, California, and Hagerstown Ice in Hagerstown, Maryland, both offer Learn to Skate classes from Snow Plow Sam to Adult. They also offer classes for home school students.

In fact, many clubs across the country now have classes for home school students, with lessons to accommodate study schedules. At Hagerstown Ice, a home school program has been part of their ice schedule for about 20 years.

"We do have large home school co-ops in this area," Skating Director Lorraine Olson said. "We draw from the four state areas of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia."

Westminster Ice's Home School Program started about six years ago according to Skating School Lead Sarah Sherman.

"We offer a one hour session every Monday from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m.," Sherman said. "A few skaters come every week but most come every other week or once a month."

At Hagerstown, lessons also take place on Mondays.

"The program is more laid back than our regular Learn to Skate program and after the lessons there is a public skate where they can practice their new skills," Olson said.

The Home school on ice programs also fulfill the PE requirement for home schoolers, another plus for parents.

"Overall people like it and enjoy the flexibility to come whenever it suits their schedule. We do not have a structured session that is prepaid for a number of weeks, so skaters can come whenever they want and only pay for the times they skate," Sherman said.

Some students immediately take to the ice and want to be a part of figure skating.

"We have a few skaters who take it every session and we love to see that," Olson said. "That is our hope. That once they try, they get hooked."

Hagerstown also produces two shows per year. Skaters in the home school program are invited to participate.

"It gives them a goal and something fun to work toward," Olson said.

Sherman feels one of the reasons the class is successful is the alternate structure and mid day time slot fills the need of the home school families.

"We have considered adding a structured 30 minute class on an alternate day that would provide advancement in a traditional Learn to Skate level class," Sherman said.

Olson said the response has been good and she would like to continue to grow the home school program and keeps in touch with the families and the different co-ops in the area.

"I think what makes it successful is that it gives the home school families a different option for their PE class and a place to get together that fits their schedule," Olson said. "I am glad we are able to offer this program to the home school community. Our rink is a nonprofit and we do our best to help all in our community."