When Kieran Clark was in 6th grade, he was practicing and competing in gymnastics, which required about 20 hours a week. Every day, he would get home from practice at 9 pm, do his homework until 11 pm or later, and get up for school in the morning at 6:30 am. He was advanced in school, and one of his teachers commented that he could be doing a lot more in less time. The Clark family began to explore the different cyber school options and found PALCS.
Kieran is now a Level 10 USA Gymnastics Academic All-American athlete. He competed in the PA State Competition this past March and placed 3rd All Around and 1st on Floor. His team placed 1st in the state. In early April, he competed in the Region 7 Competition where his team won 3rd. He placed 4th All Around and 2nd on Floor and High Bar, which qualified him for Junior Olympic Nationals in Oklahoma in May.
At PALCS, Kieran is taking three dance classes at the Center for Performing and Fine Arts (CPFA) this year, including ballet for the first time. He also acts and sings. He was in a student-run production of Into the Woods at CPFA in September. He takes voice lessons and spends his down time playing the piano and singing at home. He loves music. He listens to different performers, going to concerts and spends time with his friends.
Kieran is focusing on finding a balance within his passions for gymnastics, learning, music, dance, and art. This summer, he’ll be taking a prep course to prepare for SATs/ACTs and will be visiting a few colleges in California when he attends a gymnastics camp at Stanford, one of the schools he is visiting. Kieran is focusing on doing what he needs to get accepted to a competitive school, taking AP courses and keeping his grades high.
For the longest time, Kieran wanted to compete at the collegiate level Division I NCAA. He is looking at colleges that have programs, but he isn’t sure he wants to limit his academic choices because of gymnastics. There aren’t many men’s programs left in the country. Above all, Kieran’s mother Tracy wants him to enjoy life and find a school that is the perfect fit for him.
For now, Kieran is enjoying his time at PALCS. After enrolling Kieran in 2014, the Clark family decided to enroll Kieran’s older sister Amanda and younger sister Brinley, all of which attend CPFA. PALCS has allowed everyone in the Clark family to follow their passions.
Amanda is a graduating senior this year and has been concentrating on theater. Tracy shared that, “it was the best decision of [her] life. She is graduating this year but doesn’t want to leave. She loves it.”
Brinley started PALCS last year in 6th grade, as soon as she could audition and participate in CPFA.
“PALCS has supported my kids’ ability to pursue their passions by giving flexibility. It has also been a way for us to spend more time together as a family. I wouldn’t trade the last 4 years for anything. As I go back to work next year and they all go on to college and different schools, it is a time that I will always cherish,” expressed Tracy.
When speaking to her about what advice she’d give to other families who may be considering the switch to cyber school, she explained, “I think it all depends on your frame of mind. Homeschool parents understand the support that kids need to do cyber school and can provide the structure around their routines. For example, it is important to establish rules about when work gets done and working during traditional school hours, if possible. If your child is coming from a traditional school, it is an easier transition in to the structure but you need to maintain those parameters, which includes being an active and involved home facilitator. As a parent, you are a key to their success. You can view yourself as a homeroom teacher, guidance counselor, adviser for your child to help support their learning. It is important to be present and available. I’ve been able to work from home over the past 4 years which helped make it work. My kids have made honor roll every semester. For a self-starter, motivated student, cyber school works very well.”
Thank you to Tracy Clark for taking the time to talk to us, and congratulations to each of the Clark children on their outstanding successes. We are so proud of you!