PALCS student William McGregor has been selected as a National YoungArts Foundation Merit Winner. William is 16 years old and in 11th grade here at PALCS. He is a member of the University Scholars program (USP) and has attended the Juilliard Pre-College program in NYC for the past eight years studying the double bass.

According to the YoungArts website, 693 young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts from across the nation make up the YoungArts 2017 winners. This year, the thousands of applicants made up the largest pool the program has ever seen; the various artists represent 42 states. William had to submit several video audition recordings, and winners were selected through a blind decision process coordinated by an independent panel of accomplished artists. As a Merit Winner, William, who began his double bass studies at age 2, is invited to participate in a week of events taking place in New York City this April with other winners across all disciplines.

We recently had the chance to speak with Nancy, William’s mother, about her sons’ and family’s success and experiences with PALCS.

The McGregor family moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan 8 years ago and now reside in Chester County. They first made the move so that their oldest son, Colin, could pursue his musical studies at The Julliard School. Colin graduated from PALCS in 2016 and was also a member of USP as well as a talented violinist. He now attends Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Following in his brother’s footsteps, William is also a very bright student. He is in the top 20% of his class and has been enrolled at PALCS since the 5th grade in 2010.

Originally homeschooling her children, Nancy and her husband Brian wanted to find an alternative to homeschooling that would not require her sons to attend a brick and mortar school 5 days a week because they were both serious musicians. Nancy’s biggest concern when searching for a school for her children was to make sure she found a school and curriculum that offered “academic rigor and challenge, I wanted to be sure that the strong curriculum we had been doing on our own continued,” Nancy explained.

After researching PALCS and several other cyber schools in PA, the McGregor family found the courses, flexibility, and programs at PALCS to be the best fit for their family. They particularly liked the possibility of applying to the USP program because no other cyber school had such an option. Enrolling at PALCS and in the USP program gave William and Colin the opportunity to be taught by highly qualified and dedicated PALCS teachers.

William participates in on-site University Scholars classes at the PALCS Advanced Ideas Center (AIC) building. His favorite subject in school is AP Micro Economics, he is involved in Academic Team, and is a member of AIC Student Council. “We have so many memorable moments, from Mr. Stiles and Mr. Park’s Speakeasy class, where the kids get to experience the Roaring 20s, to acting out Shakespeare in Ms. Niedert’s class to singing Calculus holiday carols around the school with Mr. Sommar. William has also enjoyed super fun labs with Ms. Castle. They are truly extraordinary and are there because they love to teach and mold young minds,” Nancy reminisced.

As a result of all of William’s involvement in advanced classes and activities (also including a love of sports, encompassing pitching in little league last year), he’s had to develop planning and organizational skills from a young age to handle his demanding schedule. He has to practice the double bass for at least 3 hours every day and every Saturday he travels to New York City to attend Julliard from 8:30am-7pm. “Because of the partial cyber model, he is able to take work with him on the road. It also affords him more time to practice. His teachers have always been so flexible, such as when he has a performance in NYC or a concert,” said Nancy. She credits William’s USP teachers for giving him a great foundation and study habits that have helped him learn time management.

“My advice to other parents (I’ve recommended the school many times) is to check out teacher profiles, abundance of honor and AP classes, time to interact with teachers, and academic rigor. The academic excellence of USP/PALCS and the top notch education at Juilliard have given William a future with many choices, which is exciting,” exclaimed Nancy. William has many choices indeed, he of course has an interest in pursuing a career in music; on the other hand he also has an interest in pursuing academics and attending medical school for a career in Dermatology.

No matter what, we are confident that William will be successful in whatever path he chooses to follow. We would like to thank Nancy McGregor for taking the time to speak with us about her family’s experience at PALCS as well as her sons’ successes. We would also like to congratulate William on becoming a 2017 YoungArts Merrit Winner, we cannot wait to see what your future holds!