HOBY 2019 by Ben Wade

What happens when two hundred high school sophomores stay at WVU for a weekend?  A leadership seminar. Hugh O’Brian Youth is a seminar for sophomores in high school focused on leading yourself, your community, and your world.  HOBY, as it is called, has been around since 1958, and has seventy seminars across the country every year. I attended the seminar in Morgantown this year.  Somehow managing to balance work and fun, HOBY was educational and enjoyable most of the time.

The seminar’s main point was leadership, and the organizers definitely drove that home, but there was fun involved too.  Most of the speakers were more than qualified to lecture a room of teenagers about how they could influence their world. During the HOBY seminar, we don’t just talk about leadership.  Every seminar has a mandatory service project where teens can put into practice the skills they have learned. My group went to a youth camp and helped them set up beds and cubbies for the summer season.  While dragging iron bedframes up mountains, you meet many kinds of people from all across the state. After attending HOBY, I firmly believe that bluegrass pickers can be found everywhere. Bluegrass has become a passion of mine, and I was extremely pleased to find at least two people who could play really well at the seminar.  However, the main point was always leadership.

  Although HOBY was an educational and interesting experience, it was not all fun and games.  My introduction to HOBY was a crowd of staff screaming “HOBY HUGS!”. I said “HOBY what!?”. Apparently it is a tradition to welcome the ambassadors by swarming them with hugs.  Not my cup of tea. Another thing that I found unnecessary was PMA—Positive Mental Attitude. During PMA, we would use every chant from every summer camp ever invented—Little Red Wagon, Pizza Man, and dozens of others.  It seems to me that we should be doing something other than chanting during a leadership seminar. Although the application specifically states that HOBY is not politically motivated, most of the speakers had the same political beliefs, and were very vocal about them.  The organizers did not do a very good job of bringing in speakers from both sides of an argument. HOBY is good at teaching leadership, but there are still places to improve.

Overall, HOBY was a great experience.  It does an excellent job of teaching leadership, while still staying mostly fun.  Most importantly, it is the only place where many of these teens really get to study leadership.  This allows them to go back to their communities and make a difference. HOBY teens return home ready to work, yet prepared for adversity.       


Each spring, select area sophomores convene at one of the 70 State Leadership Seminars across the country to recognize their leadership talents and apply them to becoming effective and ethical leaders. Student participants (known as HOBY Ambassadors) take part in hands-on activities, meet leaders in their state, and explore their own personal leadership skills while learning how to lead others and make a positive impact in their community.

At the end of their seminars, HOBY Ambassadors are challenged to give back by serving at least 100 volunteer hours in their communities. Students who complete the Leadership for Service (L4S) Challenge within 12 months of their seminar are eligible for the HOBY L4S Challenge Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Alumni who log 4,000 hours of service receive the President’s Call to Service Award from HOBY. To date, HOBY Ambassadors have performed over 3 million hours of volunteer service in their communities.

Following a motivational meeting with Dr. Albert Schweitzer during a trip to Africa in 1958, Actor Hugh O’Brian was inspired to establish Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership. “One of the things Dr. Schweitzer said to me was that the most important thing in education was to teach young people to think for themselves,” O’Brian said. “From that inspiration, and with the support of others who believe in youth and the American dream, I started HOBY to seek out, recognize, and develop outstanding leadership potential among our nation’s youth.”

Homeschoolers Ben Wade of Triadelphia and Emma Meadows of Alkol have been selected to attend the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar held at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. Wade and Meadows will be joined by many other young high school leaders from the region.

For further information about HOBY programs and sponsorship opportunities contact your state Chapter’s Co-Directors of Recruitment at Amber Kelley, amber.kelley@hobywv.org or Katie Padden, katie.padden@hobywv.org


For 60 years, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) has helped to cultivate leaders by inspiring a global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. HOBY programs annually provide more than 10,000 local and international high school students the opportunity to participate in unique leadership training, service learning and motivation-building experiences. HOBY also provides adults the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of youth by volunteering, and today more than 4,000 volunteers annually and over 500,000 alumni proudly make up the HOBY family. For further information on HOBY, visit www.hoby.org. “Like” Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HOBY and follow the organization on Twitter via @HOBY

Community Spotlight

“Begun in 1990 with fewer than 10 families, Ohio Valley Christian Home Educators (OVCHE) has matured into an active, non-denominational support group serving around 100 families in the Tri-State area near Wheeling, WV.
Our mission is to support and encourage families who are striving to educate their children in a manner pleasing to our Savior Jesus Christ. OVCHE is a volunteer-led, Board of Directors governed support group providing resources for educational activities, encouragement, fellowship, and information to homeschool families and to those considering homeschooling in the Ohio Valley.
Although we are faith based, we are inclusive, allowing families to join who choose not to sign our Statement of Faith. Instead, they may choose the option agreeing not to undermine the sincerely held beliefs of our members and abide by our code of conduct.
By joining OVCHE for $30 per year, privileges include:
• Field trips
• TerraNova Group testing
• Weekly co-op (fee-based; pre-school-12th grade)
• Sport-of-the month
• Members-only portions of the group’s website: ovche.org
• All e-mail/text communications, including announcements of interest to OVCHE members and homeschoolers in general
• Private members-only Facebook group
• Workshops
• Mom’s Night Out (MNO)
We warmly welcome new members. To find out more, please visit ovche.org.

Martha Clarke
OVCHE Vice President”


-by Ashley Neider

Common Concerns

Academics – Homeschoolers generally do well academically. In fact, children who received structured homeschooling had superior test results compared to their peers, anywhere from a half-grade advantage in math to 2.2 grade levels in reading.

Socialization – Homeschoolers tend to walk their own path. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be homeschooling! But, homeschoolers have many opportunities to be social—in fact, many experienced homeschoolers are so busy with activities outside the home that they work to find time to do academics! More research is available here and here.

Special Education – One of the strengths of homeschooling is the ability to tailor the education to meet the needs of the individual student. One size does not fit all—especially for children with special needs. Homeschooling parents have access to a wide range of resources to help their children.

Sports – Homeschoolers in WV cannot play WVSSAC sports. But, depending on your area, your student can participate in local, private leagues and teams.

College – Some of the best colleges in the world love homeschoolers, and accept them at higher rates than the most applicants. WV parents issue their child’s diplomas and transcripts, legally equivalent to public school diplomas.


–by Courtney Ostaff

Confusion in the Legislature

While ultimately HB 3127, the Tim Tebow bill, did not pass during the 2019 legislative session, statements made during the debate have created significant confusion among West Virginia homeschoolers—after all, if a lawmaker made a statement on the floor of the Legislature, it must be true, right?


In an effort to clear up confusion in the homeschool community, here are some clarifications:

  • West Virginia homeschool requirements are set by the state, not the county. Therefore, every county has the same homeschool requirements. Parents need to know the requirements so they may  defend themselves against overzealous administrators who regularly provide forms or other documents that request more than is legally required. See WV Code §18-8-1(c) for more details.
  • By law, every homeschool student must be assessed every year, and the results retained for three years. Homeschooling parents have used these end-of-year assessments to guard against charges of educational neglect, to place their students in courses, and to assist them with college entrance. See WV Code §18-8-1(c)(2)(C) for more details.
  • Parents have the choice of four assessment methods. Due to issues that homeschoolers have had with methods 2 and 4, WVHEA recommends standardized testing or a portfolio review. See WV Code §18-8-1(c)(2)(C) for more details.
    1. standardized testing,
    2. public school testing,
    3. portfolio review, or
    4. a mutually agreed-upon alternative assessment.
  • Every homeschool student who complies with WV Code §18-8-1(c) meets school attendance requirements, as per WV state law. According to the WVSSAC handbook 127-2-6.3, students participating in WVSSAC-regulated activities are not all required to attend full day class periods, so homeschooled students aren’t requesting any changes in attendance expectations.
  • Every homeschooled student is required to obtain un-graded records of satisfactory progress as per WV Code §18-8-1(c), just like students participating in WVSSAC-regulated activities may participate based on un-graded records of satisfactory progress as per WVSSAC handbook 126-26-3.h

–Courtney Ostaff

Homeschooling Kindergarten and Child Protective Services

WV Code §18-8-1a covers when students are required to start school and how you get in. Beginning in the school year 2019-2020, parents don’t have to file a Notification of Intent (NOI) until the child is six by July 1, or if they’ve enrolled in a publicly supported kindergarten program. Easy, right? Then why do school systems call Child Protective Services?

Most parents want to start their child in kindergarten at age 5.

WV Code says: “beginning in the school year 2019-2020, compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to July 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program.”

The child isn’t legally required to attend school yet, and so no NOI is legally required. However, the law continues on to say:

(b) Attendance at a state-approved or Montessori kindergarten, as provided in section eighteen, article five of this chapter, is deemed school attendance for purposes of this section. Prior to entrance into the first grade in accordance with section five, article two of this chapter, each child must have either:

     (1) Successfully completed such publicly or privately supported, state-approved kindergarten program or Montessori kindergarten program; or

     (2) Successfully completed an entrance test of basic readiness skills approved by the county in which the school is located. The test may be administered in lieu of kindergarten attendance only under extraordinary circumstances to be determined by the county board.

If parents have done kindergarten at home and haven’t filed an NOI, from the BOE’s point of view the child hasn’t yet been in school and the kindergarten law would apply. Therefore, if parents try to enroll their child in first grade in a public school, they will either deny entrance to first grade, or test the child into first grade.

As a result, if parents are homeschooling kindergarten and there is a possibility that their child may attend first grade in the public school system, parents should try to make sure the child is prepared to pass a first grade level reading and math test.

This is good advice even though the law does not require that homeschoolers use the public school standards for reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies.

If the parent doesn’t mind a younger child doing kindergarten twice, once at home and once at school, this is not an issue.

Because the law doesn’t explicitly mention homeschooling as an acceptable substitute for kindergarten, filing an NOI and obtaining an end-of-year assessment is not a guarantee that homeschooling will be accepted for entrance into first grade, but it certainly increases the odds.

Note that the law only applies to children entering the first grade – a second grader would probably not be sent back to kindergarten.

However, if

  • parents try to enroll their child in first grade without an NOI or an end-of-year assessment, and
  • the school system tests the child and believes that the child should be placed in kindergarten on the results of the test, but
  • parents file an NOI for homeschooling first grade instead of taking the kindergarten placement,
  • then a school system may file charges of educational neglect with the Department of Health and Human Resources.

At this point, parents should hire an attorney, assuming they’re not already a member of a homeschool legal defense association.

–Courtney Ostaff

Are you ready for annual assessments?

Chapter 18, Article 8, Section 1 lays out the compulsory school attendance requirement in West Virginia, and the exemptions–including homeschooling. In order to qualify for exemption c, subdivision 2, you must begin homeschooling with an NOI (parts A and B), and “obtain an academic assessment of the child for the previous school year“. There are four ways to do this, two of which are not usually recommended.


  • WVHEA offers the first option every spring: “a nationally normed standardized achievement test published or normed not more than ten years from the date of administration and administered under the conditions as set forth by the published instructions of the selected test and by a person qualified in accordance with the test’s published guidelines in the subjects of reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies”
  • The third option is a portfolio review by a certified teacher. This is a recommended method, although WVHEA does not typically recommend working with public school teachers because they are rarely aware of the legal requirements of homeschooling. WVHEA maintains a list of portfolio reviewers, although WVHEA does not endorse any particular reviewer. The homeschooling parent is responsible for locating a portfolio reviewer with whom they feel comfortable, and paying for the portfolio review.

Not Recommended:

  • The second option (the testing program currently in use in the state’s public schools) is not usually recommended, because homeschoolers are legally required to obtain the results by June 30, while the public school testing program results are often not yet back by then. Every year, WVHEA takes calls from homeschoolers who have been contacted by their local BOEs because they have not yet turned in their annual assessments, because the results aren’t yet available to them. Therefore, this option is not usually recommended.
  • The final option is “an alternative academic assessment of proficiency that is mutually agreed upon by the parent or legal guardian and the county superintendent.” This is not typically recommended because of the imbalance of power between the homeschooling parent and the county superintendent. Every year, WVHEA takes calls from homeschoolers who chose this option, and find that they’re having difficulty working with the superintendent’s designee, usually because they’re not aware of the law. Therefore, this option is not usually recommended.

Once the option is selected, you are required to keep copies of each child’s academic assessment for 3 years. “The parent or legal guardian shall submit to the county superintendent the results of the academic assessment of the child at grade levels three, five, eight and eleven, as applicable, by June 30 of the year in which the assessment was administered.”

–Courtney Ostaff

New Year, New Beginnings

How do you know what your child knows? Are you worried about them being behind in math or reading? What grade are they really capable of doing? Did your child actually learn all the key concepts last year? If you’re concerned about your child being behind, or ahead, one way to figure it out is to test them.

WVHEA’s annual spring testing meets state requirements. The TerraNova is a “norm-referenced” test. Norm-referenced is a percentage ranking compared to an average population. For example, Johnny is at 45th percentile. This means if you took 100 students and ranked them from top to bottom, Johnny would be 45 from the bottom. The TerraNova is a good annual test, but your score report usually doesn’t offer the detailed information you might want as your child’s teacher–is Tommy just being difficult, or can he really not divide two-digit decimals?

One product to test your child’s math and reading levels is Let’s Go Learn’s ADAM and DORA tests–available for homeschoolers. They are “criterion-referenced” because they report in grade level equivalent scores.  For example, Jane’s phonics skills are low 4th grade level. They are also:

  • online (computer, iPad, or tablet), meaning your child can do them in their pajamas
  • untimed (as many sessions as you like, take as long as your child needs, when your child is ready to work), and
  • individualized, adaptive tests (questions change depending on whether they got it right or wrong, so you know what grade level your child is actually capable of).

The best part is that they give you many pages of detailed results (Johnny can add like fractions, but not unlike fractions, for example). Sample report.

These are not the only tests, or even the best tests (an educational psychologist can administer much more detailed, much more thorough assessments, including screening for learning disabilities), but these tests can be a useful part of your homeschool planning.

–Courtney Ostaff