EARNING A DIPLOMA FROM ST. THOMAS AQUINAS ACADEMY

Our goal is to help your family succeed in homeschooling, producing children of beautiful Catholic character with a passion for learning and the skills necessary to succeed in their adult life. We strive to protect against burnout in the teaching parent and the student. We work hard to make sure that most of your energies as the homeschooling parent are spent actually teaching instead of chasing paperwork. We have a system for tracking high school academic progress that is efficient, time effective, and, by including your high school student in the process, also a teaching tool for organization, goal setting, and preparing university appropriate work assignments. This tracking system culminates in the student earning a St. Thomas Aquinas Academy high school diploma.

The ten conditions for earning a diploma from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy follow. These conditions apply to all fully enrolled St. Thomas Aquinas Academy students who wish to earn a high school diploma from the academy. These conditions do not apply to students that fully enroll and do not participate in the semester reporting/transcript development process. These conditions also do not impact the plans of students who enroll in a "course support only" option. If helping your teen earn a diploma from the academy is your goal, your academic advisor and high school advisor will help you craft a plan that is personalized for your student and meets the conditions of the program.


If the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy Diploma Program is not for your students, but you would like the support of a cohesive program and experienced homeschool advisor, we encourage you to enroll in our full program so your academic advisor can start the basic skills evaluation process with you and match your students to appropriate materials to help get your family back on track for academic success.


MULTIPLE PATHS

Students taking high school courses through St. Thomas Aquinas Academy may choose a graduation path that best meets their needs:
 
  1. STAA Transcript and STAA Diploma: Studying STAA courses with the intention of earning an STAA diploma.  Students electing this option need to add the Transcript Option program to their enrollment each year of high school as well as arrange for any Grade 9 and Grade 10 credits from other institutions transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.

  2. STAA Transcript Only: Studying STAA courses to develop a transcript with the academy but drawing a diploma from another source such as their own homeschool.  Students electing this option need to add the Transcript Option to their enrollment each year.

  3. No STAA Transcript and No STAA Diploma: Studying STAA courses and maintaining their own transcript within their homeschool or with another institution and NOT drawing a diploma from STAA.  The Transcript Option program is not necessary for students on this path.

"What Is the Transcript Option?"
The Transcript Option is an option that you may add to the enrollment of any of your students that are in Grades 8 through 12.  The annual fee for the Transcript Option is $75.00 per student.  To develop a transcript with St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, the student and teaching-parent will be asked to mail a reporting packet to the academy at the end of each semester (two per year). This process is carefully explained, but do expect to prepare and mail two packages of work samples along with a few forms each school year.
 

 

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS ACADEMY DIPLOMA PROGRAM

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy is a homeschool program for Catholic families that wish to embrace the classical approach – in method and content – to learn to learn and reason. The program focuses on formation, not just information, and the expectations of the courses and diploma program are based on coming to know more about Our Lord and His Church, how to lead a thoughtful and virtuous life, understanding the information that universities want students to be proficient in before attending, how to think critically about all that we are exposed to while living in the world but keeping our eyes on heaven, and developing a variety of practical study and learning tools so excelling in academic, vocational, and professional endeavors is very possible.

The expectations of the STAA courses and diploma program typically meet and exceed state requirements and university admissions policies. However, we encourage you to review the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy definitions, requirements, and expectations and then check to see if your desired state and the university programs have any special, additional requirements. For instance, if your state requires that students complete a semester of state history in addition to a year of U.S. History, be sure to forward a copy of that requirement to your academic advisor so room can be made to add that extra study into your high school student's plan. Or, if your student plans on studying engineering or medicine in college, forward a copy of the homeschool student admissions policy from a prospective university to your academic advisor so your student's overall high school plan can be crafted to incorporate the advanced math and extra science needed to show as a strong applicant to that university.

The St. Thomas Aquinas Academy Diploma Program is a program intended to cumulate in issuing a high school student a certificate and transcript from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy attesting to the fact that the student completed the course of study prescribed by the academy and has met or exceeded the academic expectations of the academy. Teaching-parents certify that the academic expectations have been met by submitting neat-and-complete semester reporting packets and copies of two standardized test results. St. Thomas Aquinas Academy reviews the semester reporting packets, awards credits based on the values, enters the grades and credits data on a transcript that tracks subject/credit completion. Additionally, STAA academic advisors evaluate the annual placement assessments and the two standardized test results to verify that the student can demonstrate reasonable scholastic achievement in standardized, out-of-context situations.

Students enrolled in St. Thomas Aquinas Academy are not obligated to pursue a diploma from the program. Please contact Home School Legal Defense Association or a GED testing service to learn about alternatives to the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy diploma and/or transcript.

Full enrollment in St. Thomas Aquinas Academy’s academic advisory, placement, and transcript program is necessary to earn a St. Thomas Aquinas Academy diploma.   

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Attendance
2. Transcripts
3. Required Course List
 

4. Minimum Number of Credits
5. Standardized Testing
6. High School Appropriate Work
7. Age of Student
8. Paperwork Sent to the Academy
9. Substitutions and Non-STAA Courses
10. Diploma Application


 

1. Attendance

The student must complete eight full quarters with St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, four quarters of 11th grade and four quarters of 12th grade. A quarter is 45 school days (nine weeks). A school day is defined as three or more hours of academic activity. We strongly recommend at least six hours of daily academic activity to achieve academic excellence.

 

1A. HOW MUCH AND HOW LONG?

The minimum number of credits needed per year to earn a diploma is 60 credits in the required subjects -- that is six key, academic courses each semester. The student will need to earn 15 credits each quarter. This breaks down to around 6 or 7 full-time courses in the subjects listed in the Required Course List (see below) , which is around 5 to 7 hours a day for 45 days a quarter of course time. General studying and coursework includes (but is not limited to) reading aloud, independent reading, developing reading notes, writing, research for papers, written exercises, online quizzing, oral presentation, in-home schedule discussions, coursework corrections, testing, performances, and preparing progress reporting packets for St. Thomas Aquinas Academy to review. We recommend a minimum of 1080 hours of academics each school year (six hours a school day for 180 school days).

The academy utilizes a two semester system. Each semester consists of 90 school days, which are divided into eighteen 5-day school weeks. The first two weeks of the semester are preparatory weeks called Weeks A and B and are dedicated to organization, planning, and review. The eight school weeks following, Weeks 1 - 8, are Quarter 1. The next eight school weeks, Weeks 9 - 16, are Quarter 2. This pattern repeats itself in Semester 2: Weeks A and B are preparatory weeks, Weeks 1 - 8 are Quarter 3, and Weeks 9 - 16 are Quarter 4.

Teaching-parents are encouraged to develop their own school calendars and class period schedules that meet the above system in a way that is responsive to the needs of their family. However, annual enrollment in St. Thomas Aquinas Academy expires on June 30th, so please plan accordingly.


 

2. Transcripts

To graduate, your student must have four years of high school transcripts with St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.  To develop transcripts with St. Thomas Aquinas Academy, enroll in the Transcript Option each school year and complete the Semester Reporting process described below in the "8. Paperwork Sent to the Academy" section of this page.

TRANSFER STUDENTS

From Independent Homeschools

If homeschooled independently for Grades 9 and 10 and transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas Academy for Grades 11 and 12, please schedule a consultation with a high school advisor to discuss options for satisfying this requirement.

From Other Institutions

Students transferring in high school credits from a previous year of high school or outside institution should expect the credit evaluation process to cost between $35-$65 per academic year, per institution.  The credit evaluation process will take place after your planning appointment.  (Pricing update for transfer service 1/15/2018).


 

3. Required Course List

This checklist from our Key Course Worksheet provides a compact view of the courses required in each subject area.  The rest of this section provides more information about the requirements in each subject.

Required Credits for Graduation Checklist
From the Key Courses Worksheet

 

Listed below are the essential courses to complete to graduate from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy as well as prepare students for college and other future paths. Whether or not students take more than the minimum number of credits required for graduation depends on the student's desired college major, vocation, personal goals, and interests.

In the following numbered list, courses marked with ** can be swapped with a remedial course in the same subject area for students with moderate to severe remediation needs in Math and Language Arts.

Note: Students that transfer into the program with high school credits will not be expected to repeat similar courses in Religion, History, Literature, and Science (for instance, if the student already completed a year of high school level U.S. History with another school or program then he will not need to complete St. Thomas Aquinas Academy's U.S. Hist & Geogr I and II courses).  Special arrangements will be made for students with documented learning disabilities.

All students petitioning for a diploma from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy must complete the Essay Writing B, Logic, Essay Writing A, and Critical Reading course sequence mentioned in “3A. Composition/Reasoning.”

3A. COMPOSITION/REASONING

Minimum Requirement: 30 credits / 3 years / 450 course hours.

Complete STAA courses:

  1. Essay Writing B
  2. Logic
  3. Essay Writing A
  4. Critical Reading
  5. Complete two additional semesters of courses from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy or other sources.

 

3B. MATHEMATICS

At least three years of math are required and must include at least one year of Algebra (preferably Algebra II) and one year of Geometry. An additional 10 credits are recommended for all college-bound students.

Preferred homeschool math courses: Saxon, Math U See, Harold Jacobs, Teaching Textbook, and Pearson's Pre-Algebra. Series such as Key To... or Life of Fred are accepted as supplements or labs to accompany primary math texts.

Credits can be earned for Consumer Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I & II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and college-level math.

All math studies must include working the problem sets on paper, neat-and-complete-show-your-work-paper, math study cards or math study notebooks, and regular, closed-book testing. Students are expected to earn 91% or above on their closed-book testing before moving on to new lessons.

Typical Math Sequences STAA's Preferred Math Sequence* Alternative Sequence**
Grade 7 Saxon 87 Math U See Pre-Algebra
Grade 8 Saxon Algebra 1/2 Math U See Algebra I or
Teaching Textbook Algebra I
Grade 9 Saxon Algebra I or
Jacobs’ Elementary Algebra
Math U See Geometry or
Teaching Textbook Geometry
Grade 10 Saxon Algebra II or
Jacobs’ Geometry
Math U See Algebra II or
Teaching Textbook Algebra II
Grade 11 Saxon Advanced Math or
Jacobs’ Geometry
Math U See Pre-Calculus or
Teaching Textbook Pre-Calculus
Grade 12 Saxon Advanced Math Math U See Calculus

 

*Students that are interested in taking the SAT Math Subject Tests or pursuing a STEM major are best served by following STAA's Preferred Math Sequence.

**Students utilizing an alternative sequence or programming for math are encouraged to take a standardized test such as the CAT, Iowa Basics, Terra Nova, or Stanford Achievement Test each spring as well as the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy assessment test.

 

3C. LANGUAGES

Minimum Requirement: Four semesters studying a single language (20 credits; 300 hours of oral work, grammar, and composition).

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy encourages students to study Latin but gladly accepts German, Italian, French, or Spanish.

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy recommended Latin course sequence:

  • Introductory Latin (semester),
  • Classical Latin I (two semesters),
  • Classical Latin II (two semesters), and
  • Classical Latin III (two semesters).

 

3D. RELIGION

Minimum Requirement: 30 credits / 3 years / 450 course hours

Complete STAA courses:

  1. Moral Apologetics
  2. Church History I
  3. Old Testament I**
  4. Catholic Apologetics
  5. Complete two additional semesters of courses from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy or other sources.

 

3E. HISTORY

Minimum Requirement:
10 credits / 1 year of U.S. History & Geography
20 credits / 2 years of World History & Geography

Complete STAA courses:

  1. U.S. Hist & Geogr I and II (two semesters)
  2. Greek History I** (semester)
  3. Roman History I** (semester)
  4. European History I and II (two semesters)

 

3F. GOVERNMENT AND ECONOMICS

Minimum Requirement:
5 credits / 1 semester of Government
5 credits / 1 semester of Economics

Complete STAA courses:

  1. Govt & Natural Law (semester)
  2. Economics (semester)

 

3G. PHYSICAL EDUCATION/HEALTH

Minimum Requirements: 20 credits / 2 years / 300 hours

Students are encouraged to complete one semester (75 hours) of Physical Education or Health each school year. Home-generated, local community activities, private lessons, safety, health, nutrition studies, first-aid, and the like may be reported for Physical Education credit.

 

3H. LITERATURE

Minimum Requirement: 30 credits / 3 years / 450 course hours

Complete STAA courses:

  1. American Literature I (semester)
  2. Greek Literature I & II** (two semesters)
  3. Roman Literature I** (semester)
  4. Shakespeare (semester)
  5. Complete one additional semester course from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy or another source.

 

3I. FINE ARTS

Minimum Requirement: 20 credits / 2 years / 300 course hours

Complete the STAA course:

  1. Art & Music (AR2-B) or Art Prac & Apprec (AR3-B)
  2. Complete three additional semesters from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy or other sources.
  3. Community-based music lessons are also strongly encouraged.

 

3J. SCIENCE

Minimum Requirement:
10 credits / 1 year of Physical Science
10 credits / 1 year of Biology

Complete STAA courses:

  1. Biology I and II (two semesters)
  2. One full year of physical science. St. Thomas Aquinas Academy strongly recommends completing at least three of the following, but students are eligible to graduate if they complete at least two of the following:
    1. Physical Science I (semester)
    2. Astronomy I (semester)
    3. Chemistry I (semester)
    4. Physics I (semester)

Optional science electives are available: Astronomy II, Chemistry II, Physical Science II, and Physics II.

At least two semesters of lab work are strongly recommended (for instance, lab work with Biology I and Chemistry I).

Students transferring in with a year of high school biology credits must complete at least Astronomy I and two other physical science courses from the STAA course list.


 

4. Minimum Number of Credits

Students must complete the requirements of 3A through 3J (see above) and meet the minimum goal of 240 high school credits. One semester of one course is 75+ hours of academic activity and instruction (or completing St. Thomas Aquinas Academy's 18-week course plan). Each school year students will need to complete at least 60 credits from the "Required Course List" until the requirements of each subject area are met AND the 240 credits have been earned.

4A. Summary of Required Credits:

  • 30.0 credits of Language Arts (ENG)
  • 10.0 credits of High School Math (MAT)
  • 10.0 credits of Algebra (ALG)
  • 10.0 credits of Geometry (GEO)
  • 20.0 credits of Languages (LAN)
  • 30.0 credits of Religion (REL)
  • 10.0 credits of U.S. History (USH)
  • 20.0 credits of Social Studies (SOC)
  • 5.0 credits of Economics (ECO)
  • 5.0 credits of Government (GOV)
  • 20.0 credits of Physical Education (PE)
  • 30.0 credits of Literature (LIT)
  • 20.0 credits of Fine Arts (FA)
  • 10.0 credits of Physical Science (SCI)
  • 10.0 credits of Life Science (LSC)

 

5. Standardized Testing

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy requires that students take a standardized test in 11th grade and at least one more in grades 9, 10, or 12. Furthermore, the student must demonstrate reasonable scholastic achievement on his or her standardized tests. The testing requirement cannot be marked as complete when any of the student’s scores fall below the 50th national percentile. Students with an overall score or any of the subscores (Math, English, Science, Writing, and the like) that fall below the 50th national percentile may retest as many times as needed or utilize another standardized test until the scores on at least two high school tests meet or exceed the 50th national percentile.

Member Families: Log in to learn more about standardized testing.


 

6. High School Appropriate Work

The student’s coursework must be high school level or above. Your academic advisor will have St. Thomas Aquinas Academy approved alternatives to the required courses for a student with remediation needs in some areas. Of course, exceptions and individualized plans are made for students with documented learning disabilities or special needs.


 

7. Age of Student

St. Thomas Aquinas Academy is an authentic K-12 homeschool program, not an adult education or self-directed program. The student must be instructed and graded by a teaching-parent, legal guardian, or other adult instructor hired by the student's family. We do not issue diplomas to students older than the age of 19 unless arrangements have been made at the beginning of 11th grade because of documented learning disabilities, special needs, illness, or other extreme circumstances (subject to the Academy's review and approval; official documentation is required for all of the listed circumstances).


 

8. Paperwork Sent to the Academy

Semester reporting is required to be eligible for a high school diploma. The paperwork submitted:

  1. Must clearly show that the student demonstrates reasonable scholastic achievement in his or her daily coursework
  2. Must be received by St. Thomas Aquinas Academy in a timely fashion (Semester 1 must be postmarked by February 28th, Semester 2 must be postmarked by June 30th, and all amendments must be submitted within 30 days of the request for additional information)
  3. Must be neat and orderly
  4. Must include the requested paperwork (approved Course Registration, neat and complete Semester Forms, Gradebooks or Weekly Assignment Sheets, quarterly work samples, official copy of standardized test results, etc.)

 

8A. THE BASICS OF SEMESTER REPORTING:


ONCE A YEAR...

  • Submit a Course Registration form. This is a statement of what courses your student will be studying. An advisor will review your plan to make sure it is appropriate to achieve your student’s academic goals. The Course Registration form is due on or before September 30th or thirty days after the Course of Study Planning appointment, whichever comes later.

 

8B. THE BASICS OF SEMESTER REPORTING:


AT THE END OF EVERY SEMESTER (SO, TWICE A YEAR) SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING…

  • ...A Semester Report form. This is a report of the text; progress (in terms of course plan weeks, pages, or chapters completed); approximate hours spent in Math, Foreign Languages, and Non-STAA Courses; and grade for each course. This form is provided by the academy.

  • ...Copies of your lesson tracker: Either one Gradebook from each quarter of each course or 16-18 Weekly Assignment Sheets (one for each week in the semester). These are maintained weekly by the student and teaching-parent so the communication between the parent and student about assignments, due dates, time spent, organization, scheduling, and grades does not break down.

    • Gradebooks are included in the back of each STAA Study Guide. Each completed gradebook must show that the student was graded (received feedback) consistently from a teaching-parent or tutor and completed the majority of the key assignments.

    • St. Thomas Aquinas Academy generates Weekly Assignment Sheets for students, but customized, equivalent forms are accepted. Whether using the official Weekly Assignment Sheets or a customized version, each week must clearly demonstrate that (1) it was communicated to the student what coursework was required for that school week; (2) that time was tracked in the courses that need it (Foreign Languages, Math, and Non-STAA Courses); and (3) that the student’s coursework was graded on AT LEAST a weekly basis by his or her teaching-parent or tutor.

  • ...At least one quality work sample from each quarter for each course you are reporting. The high school STAA Study Guides mark with an asterisk the specific work samples to submit for each quarter and the High School Orientation discusses at length the guidelines for quality work samples. Some examples: a report, book report, essay, composition piece, math test, science quiz, and the like. If studying a literature course without a STAA Study Guide, completion of one Progeny Press Study Guide or two book reports of comparable length to STAA book reports is required each quarter.

  • ...One neat and complete Non-STAA Course (NSC) form for each quarter a Non-STAA Course is studied. While there is a great deal of flexibility in our program, we cannot award credits for courses that are not included in our course catalog unless it is properly reported and meets the academic standards of the courses in the STAA course catalog. Using our guidelines, you may develop a course and submit it to STAA for approval. Only St. Thomas Aquinas Academy approved courses may earn high school credits and mention on your student’s transcript. As a homeschooler you may study the course with or without St. Thomas Aquinas Academy approval, but without our approval it will not appear on the transcript issued by St. Thomas Aquinas Academy. When in doubt, ask! Our advisors will be happy to discuss with you which courses we can accept and which we cannot.

  • ...A report of School Days in Attendance. This is reported on the Semester Report form and is essential! The goal is at least 90 six-hour school days each semester (minimum 1080 hours of academics per year).

 

8C. REPORTING DUE DATES

Semester 1 packets including all of the above-listed paperwork and information are due before February 28. Semester 2 packets are due before June 30.


 

9. Substitutions and Non-STAA Courses

We refer to substitutions and home-generated courses as Non-STAA Courses (NSC). St. Thomas Aquinas Academy will gladly accept properly reported NSC courses as part of the student’s academic plan. Dramatic departure from the STAA core plan tends to compromise the cohesiveness of the program and may leave holes in the development of certain college-preparatory skills. Please discuss any planned swapping of STAA courses for NSC courses with your academic planning advisor to verify that your plan will skill keep your student on track for graduation.

Non-STAA Courses are welcome, but the courses on St. Thomas Aquinas Academy's "Required Course List" (see above) must be completed to remain eligible for a diploma from the academy.

Students that utilize Non-STAA Courses in composition, math, and science will need to submit standardized test results each school year these substitutions are in place.

While we encourage and accept reasonable book substitutions and the development of home-generated courses (courses NOT designed by St. Thomas Aquinas Academy), each year of high school over fifty percent of the high school student's academic credits must be from courses designed by St. Thomas Aquinas Academy for high school students in order to stay in our diploma program. For instance, if a student is taking Religion (10 credits), English (10 credits), Latin (10 credits), History (10 credits), Literature (10 credits), and Science (10 credits) then over 30 credits of this 60 credit plan must be from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy designed courses, following STAA Study Guides.
Properly reported Non-STAA Courses showing adequate academic achievement WILL be eligible to appear on the report cards and transcript. They will be labeled “Non-STAA Courses.” Quality work samples must be submitted to qualify the courses for academic credit.

For more information about Non-STAA Courses, visit the Personalizing the Course of Study page to read about the GS, GE, CP, LA, and NSC course classifications.


 

10. Diploma Application

The Diploma Application form petitioning for a diploma must be submitted with the student's Semester 2, Grade 12 reporting packet. The form asks the teaching-parents and student to confirm that all conditions for earning a diploma from St. Thomas Aquinas Academy have been met in their entirety. This application is found in the appendix of the High School Orientation booklet.





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We would love to hear from you!  Please reach out with your questions by phone or email, schedule a courtesy telephone consultation with an advisor, or submit an enrollment application if you are ready to start planning for the upcoming school year.

 

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We have all enjoyed the way STAA ties the courses together for the whole family.

Alyse M.

California

Thanks for all you do on your end to help make our homeschooling academically, intellectually, spiritually, and morally enriching!!

Denise

Michigan

My advisor helps me to understand what needs to be done and how to make it really fun for the kids. What I really like are the tips she gives me for dealing with the little ones while trying to school the older ones.

Amber

Texas

This is our first year homeschooling. STAA and [our advisor] have made this a very easy transition. We have had a great year!

Gwen H.

Kansas

I really don't know what I would do without your kindness, and very helpful advice. You are a blessing to our family.

Pat

Idaho

The assessment testing was quick and easy to do, so I didn't expect much valuable feedback. Boy was I wrong!!! It was like my advisor had met my kids and spent hours/days with them.

Mary Ellen

Maryland

We have been so very happy with our first year with STAA! Thank you for walking me through it and for all the fantastic resources and materials we are using. There is not one we don't like!

Elizabeth

California

Our family so enjoyed our wonderful relationship with STAA as our [son] worked his way through high school. It was a wonderful and outstanding experience for him and we continue to suggest your program to all those who are looking for an excellent homeschool experience.

Debra S.

Colorado

Since I am writing, I will also sing more praises of the Greek Studies plan. [My daughter] moaned over the timed-essay and then did very well. So easy to implement with the choose one reflection topic from each subject and then get ready, get set, go! Apparently the school also gave suggestions for the process essay in "Format Writing." Thank you! For a mom of many this is real time saver.

Alisa from Indiana

mother of 9th grade daughter and several STAA graduates

The academy works as a team to accomplish for your family specific ideas or needs for education, but more importantly, what each individual in your family needs, even Mom.

Anne

Illinois

God bless you for the job you are doing -- the peace you have helped us find as a family is priceless!

Cerita

Texas

We can’t imagine going without these wonderful, enhanced lesson plans! Thank you!

On the STAA Study Guides

Anonymous

I especially appreciate the advice and wise counsel I receive from the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy staff during our phone appointments and their understanding of my children's needs.

Stephen T.

Illinois

It is a thrill to receive the delightfully arranged weekly guidelines from STAA that keep us on track but allow for flexibility.

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Florida

I can honestly say that our children have blossomed into well rounded individuals because of your program.

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California