May 8, 2001

Montana Home school student named winner in Boston Globe essay contest

A 12-year-old from Montana has become the first home school student to win the Boston Globe's third-annual essay contest for students in grades 6, 7, and 8.

Jay C. Rickel, Jr., of Kalispell, is also the first winner from outside of New England.

Almost 3,800 contestants submitted essays this year from which it selected ten winners. Students this year wrote about "My Ideal School."

When Jay thought it would be a good opportunity to share his faith.

"The Boston Globe is one of the largest papers in the country, and a lot of people would be reading that if I won," Jay said. "I thought it would be big."

The winning essays were published Sunday, May 6, 2001, in the Learning Section. The Sunday circulation of the Boston Globe is more than 730,000.

The Rickel family was headed to Boston this week for the awards ceremony, scheduled for Wednesday, May 9, 5-7 p.m., at the offices of the Boston Globe.

Jay C. Rickel, Jr.'s, essay as published in the Boston Globe, is reprinted here in full, with the author's permission.

Jay C. Rickel Jr.
Grade 7
Home school, Kalispell, Mont.

My name is Jay Rickel Jr. I am 12 years old and in seventh grade. I've been home-schooled all my life. I have never once desired to be in a different situation. I see the value for the present and future of being home-schooled, and am therefore content and wholeheartedly believe that my home is the perfect school for me.

My parents are Bible-believing Christians. Various Christian speakers and authors introduced them to the idea of home-schooling in 1989. Basing their decision on the Bible, they began to home-school in 1991. The Bible scripture, which continues to shape and build this conviction, is Deuteronomy 6:4-7, which says, "Hear O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy might. And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." As a Christian myself, I believe it is God's plan for children to be with their parents, so their parents can teach them to love the Lord. Home-schooling allows time for this.

Not only do I have academic studies, but also studies involving practical skills for life. I'm getting a head start. I will be prepared when I leave my parents' house. I will not have to learn these primary skills in the midst of more pressing circumstances. We often hear, "How will you be socialized?" God has taken care of this. He has placed me in a large family, with children of all ages. I am constantly challenged to help and reach out to those younger, as well as learning to receive from those older.

My school is extremely individualized. As my parents and I seek to know God's plan for my future, we structure my studies accordingly. If I'm behind in a specific area of study, I can spend more time on it. This has been challenging, but has taught me how to push myself to achieve an ultimate goal. Not only do I realize academic growth, but the character quality of diligence as well.

I will be eternally grateful to my parents for choosing this type of schooling. We actually call it DISCIPLESHIP. Not only does it enable me to spend more time with my family, but also prepares me for real life!