Elaura Crawford Participated in Sac State’s ACE Program as High School Student
With a 4.09 GPA, Horizon Charter Schools’ 2020 graduate Elaura Crawford received multiple honors, including the Highest Honors 4.0+ GPA award and the Golden State Merit Diploma. She was also an A-G Completer. Most notably, Elaura was the first Horizon student to participate in Sacramento State University’s Accelerated College Entrance (ACE) program both junior and senior year of high school. This fall, she plans to continue her studies at Sac State where she will major in mathematics.
However, the humble Horizon graduate downplays the importance of the recognitions.
“Success can’t be measured on a scale such as GPA or rewards,” she stated. “If I’m being honest, I didn’t realize I was getting awards until they showed up in the mail (thanks COVID!). I knew I succeeded when I set goals and achieved them every day. I met great teammates and friends, had some incredible experiences, laughed a lot, cried a lot, and grew a lot.”
Well-Rounded Horizon Graduate Enjoys a Variety of Extracurricular Activities
A self-described “Jack of all trades,” Elaura enjoys everything from weightlifting, soccer and being outdoors to computers, hacking and coding to art history, fashion and thrifting. In fact, if you take a peek inside her closet, you’ll likely find several pairs of high heeled shoes resting comfortably next to a well-warn pair of hiking boots.
“I played violin as a child religiously for about 10 years. Eventually realized it wasn’t the violin that sounded terrible, it was me. So, I began playing on occasion for fun and only fun,” Elaura confessed. “Now, some of my favorite extracurricular activities are hiking, music, soccer, weightlifting, and art history. They all keep me sane by occupying different parts of my mind and letting me either be social or private depending on my mood.”
Several of her new-found hobbies came as a result of her relationships with friends and families.
“I picked up hiking from my father, and it became something we could do together where we could either talk and share life stories, or just walk through nature and enjoy the silence,” Elaura continued. “Soccer and weightlifting became hobbies from some friends I made at Sac State.”
An Education Journey Through Traditional School, Homeschool, and Independent Study
The Horizon graduate began her homeschool journey with Horizon Charter Schools in the fourth grade and continued through seventh grade. In addition to schooling at home, she attended classes at Horizon’s Roseville Learning Center.
“I took classes on campus a few days a week when I was younger and made a group of friends that made school an absolute blast!” Elaura recounted with fondness. “We went to all the school dances and events together and hung out at lunch.”
When her family moved just before Elaura started eighth grade, they decided to try the local public school rather than continue homeschooling. However, it wasn’t a good fit for the ambitious teen.
“I didn’t like the lack of control I had over my education in traditional public school,” Elaura said. “So, I convinced my parents to get me back into Horizon, which became one of the best decisions of my early education.”
She returned to Horizon for high school. Elaura participated in the independent study program, taking some classes online via Horizon’s Virtual Learning Instruction (VLI) program and others as in-person lab classes.
“Independent study can be challenging at times. You really have to be on top of your work and not procrastinate,” Elaura explained. “I had done homeschooling before, but my classes eventually got to a certain level that my mother knew distance learning would be better.”
When asked about her favorite Horizon memory, Elaura smiled and said, “Some of my favorite memories are (VLI math instructor) Mr. McClung’s math shirts, the school dances I got to attend in junior high, and the college events I visited early in high school. I went to a few college and career fairs through Horizon that led to some great opportunities to get ahead in high school and make college decisions.”
Horizon’s Annual College and Career Fair Sets Student’s Future in Motion
During her sophomore year, Elaura attended her first Horizon-sponsored College and Career Fair. It set her on a course for her next educational adventure. Prior to that, she planned to participate in dual enrollment at Sierra College. Also known as concurrent enrollment, the program allows high school students to enroll in college classes and receive credit toward their high school diploma requirements and college graduation requisites.
“I went to the college and career fair and the Sac State booth just seemed to call my name. The program director, Dr. Lilly, was presenting for Sac State. She introduced me to the ACE program. This was exactly the challenge I was looking for,” the Horizon graduate recalled. “I wanted to be challenged academically. Don’t get me wrong, high school classes can get difficult, but I wanted to do something different.”
During her junior year in high school, Elaura Crawford was featured in a video promoting Horizon Charter Schools’ College and Career Fair. Each year, Horizon’s Guidance Department organizes the event for high school students and their parents throughout the Greater Sacramento Region. The event provides a glimpse of some of the options awaiting students after graduating from high school. It includes participation from colleges, universities, career and trade schools across the country as well as military organizations and businesses. In addition, leaders in the college and career field host multiple seminars. The event is free and open to the public.
So, Elaura decided to try something no other Horizon student had attempted and set her sights on participating in Sacramento State’s Accelerated College Entrance (ACE) program. Unlike dual enrollment at a community college that is open to most high school students, the ACE program requires participants to meet strict criteria with SAT scores and receive acceptance by the university’s Dean.
A-G Requirements Assisted with College Plans
Completion of A-G courses is another requirement for entry into the ACE program. Students who pass the 15 required A-G courses for UC/CSU Freshman Admission with a C or better are recognized with A-G Completion. The sequence includes social science, English, math, science, language other than English (LOTE), visual and performing arts (VAPA), and elective. The state of California recognizes A-G completion as one indicator that a student is prepared for college and career.
“I stuck with the mathematical pathway towards the end of my time at Horizon Charter Schools. Before that, I followed the simple recipe of math, English, history, science, and Spanish. I wanted to get a challenging and well-rounded learning, therefore the five subjects,” Elaura stated. “My senior year, I took economics and government along with the final years of English, mathematics and Spanish. I really wanted to follow this path to be prepared for college. I didn’t know if I was going to go to a 4-year university right away or a community college; honestly it didn’t matter. The A-G pathway appeared like a great fit for me and my goals.”
Horizon’s Robust Support Model Instrumental in Graduate Achieving Goals
With help from Dr. Lilly, her supervising teacher (ST) Christine Dykastra, and her guidance counselor Melora Klusnik, Elaura gained admission into Sac State’s ACE program. This allowed her to explore new areas of study as well as get a jump on her college credits and experience.
“I know everyone says they have the best ST and guidance counselor but unfortunately, they’re incorrect — although I’m sure theirs are amazing too,” Elaura says with a smile. “My ST, Christine Dykastra, and guidance counselor, Melora Klusnik, were incredibly supportive and encouraging of my goals and aspirations. They showed a lot of trust in a starry eyed 15-year-old when she said she was going to get her driver’s license, take the SAT for the first time, and get into a program that hadn’t been attempted by another Horizon Charter Schools student.”
“My ST set me up to get my learners permit using my educational funds. My guidance counselor tracked my classes and master agreement to make sure that I completed all the classes I needed to graduate and then some. They had a lot of understanding and maybe a little blind faith when I told them my schedule was completely up in the air and I wouldn’t know if I was going to be able to take a class until after I got signed up on the first day,” Elaura continued. “I could go on forever about these amazing women, but the ending is always the same. They were the most supportive educators that I could have asked for and made everything that I have achieved possible.”
Horizon Counselor Credits Graduate’s Determination and Courage
Elaura’s high school guidance counselor saw something special in the teen. She went beyond simply applying herself to her studies and getting good grades. Melora credits the student’s determination and courage with making the difference.
“Elaura is a very driven student who is willing to do the work of researching her options and isn’t afraid to pursue challenging goals. Whether it was a college and career fair or a career workshop presentation, Elaura was there and eager to make the most of the experience,” stated Melora. “She had the courage to take on-campus Sac State classes in 11th and 12th grades. This paid off very well for her. It gave her the opportunity to explore different majors and work with several Sac State faculty members. As a result, Elaura is even better prepared to attend Sac State this fall. I know she has a successful future ahead of her.”
Horizon Graduate Offers Advice for Other Students
“All the classes I took at Sac State with the ACE program were picked because of my A-G requirements, personal interests, or recommendations by Dr. Lilly,” Elaura continued. “Apart from taking all the A-G courses at Horizon, I took a few critical thinking and art history classes at Sac State. These were mostly out of personal interest and encouragement of the ACE program director. I highly recommend theses classes to other students. They are both intriguing and developmental. Plus your professors will be amazing and teach you really cool observation tricks.”
When asked if she had any recommendations for younger students, the Horizon graduate said, “Learn to love learning. Find something interesting and just practice learning all you can about it. Use that passion like a fuse for other subjects that you might not like as much. That way the ball is already rolling.”
Elaura sums up her reflection on her homeschool journey by saying, “Success is measured in effort, because effort shows your passion and consistency.”
We know that whatever Elaura decides to pursue after graduation, she will definitely be a success. We are proud that Horizon Charter Schools was part of her educational journey.