May 2024 marks the 32nd anniversary of Hardin County Home Educators beginnings.
On May 9, 1992, two moms invited the families they were aware of in the area who were interested in homeschooling to join us at a family picnic. Five other families attended in addition to the original two families. In general the families did not previously know each other, but parents and kids all enjoyed the evening, and it was decided to continue meeting. In conversation that night, it was decided that the moms would meet once a month with the meeting moving from community to community. A June meeting was planned for moms to share curriculum and teaching methods. We also determined that night to plan a field trip and a family activity once every three months. There grew a strong bond between those initial families in the first year. The name Hardin County Home Educators was selected.
By the time the school year began in 1993, there were 24 families that had joined HCHE. Dues were set at $10 per family. After moving the meetings from place to place the first year, it was decided to hold them in a permanent location. Mom's meetings were held the second Tuesday of each month while dads organized a very popular activity - Gym Night. The purpose of the mom's meetings was for discussion, support, and education. There were no business meetings, no committees, and no board. The church where the group met had a moms’ group. In order for homeschool moms to attend, there needed to be a place for their kids while the moms met. Two homeschool moms, therefore, began offering classes at the church for homeschool students while the mothers attended the moms’ group. In addition to those classes, HCHE events that year included a wonderful pioneer field trip, a day in a one-room schoolhouse, a family bowling party, a family bike hike, and a musical about the Ten Commandments presented by the kids. A monthly newsletter was created and was hand-addressed and sent to each family. At the end of that second year, we organized the oldest kids (upper elementary and middle school age kids) into an annual staff, and they created the first HCHE annual.
By 1996, 44 families were members of HCHE. Hardin County Home Educators sponsored events like a citizenship essay contest and a dramatic Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln presentation by Illinois professional Lincoln impersonators, Max and Donna Daniel. The families of HCHE organized a homeschool conference which was held that April. It was well attended by people from across the state.
In the fall of 1997, HCHE began offering education classes. The first classes offered were speech, paper cutting, patriotism, the solar system, and Spanish. Students of all ages presented the play, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Moms began meeting one Saturday morning a month for breakfast, sometimes meeting in homes, and other times meeting at restaurants. It was an opportunity to get better acquainted and to find support among other homeschool moms.
A dad began classes to teach the fundamentals of basketball. Those initial classes led eventually to the HCHE Chargers basketball teams from elementary through high school. The group held tournaments, which lasted from early morning until late into the evening, were a highlight for players and fans alike. A homeschool mom and caterer, organized fantastic food stands, and HCHE parents and kids worked to feed the crowds of people.
HCHE girls and boys teams were very competitive at several private school invite tournaments. A trophy case displays the many trophies won. In 2006 a HCHE boys basketball team competed in the National Homeschool Basketball Tournament in Wichita, Kansas, finishing second, and in 2007 and 2008 the HCHE boys basketball team competed in the National Homeschool Basketball Championships in Oklahoma City finishing in the Final Four. The HCHE boys were the only Iowa team ever to compete at the Oklahoma City nationals
A mom began volleyball classes and her HCHE teams competed in Ankeny tournaments and at our own invitational tournament.
Under the drama direction of moms, dozens of kids have had an opportunity to act on stage. Anne of Green Gables, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Looking Glass Land, Our Miss Brooks, and The Adventures of Lewis and Clark are just a few of the many productions audiences have enjoyed. Parents have annually created wonderful sets for each production.
On May 29, 1996, the group had its first HCHE graduate. Graduation ceremonies have been held to honor the kindergarten, 8th grade and high school seniors ever since. The largest class to date had 13 students - the class of 2014. There have been 173 HCHE graduates.
In the 31 year history of HCHE there have been more than 156 different families involved in Hardin County Home Educators from 22 different communities.
The outline of the HOUSE stands for “homeschooling.” The ARROW stands both for our children as arrows in our quivers (Ps. 127) and our responsibility to give them direction (Prov. 22:6). The BOOK stands for the Bible, as well as the textbooks and other books incorporated in our children’s education. The VERSE, Prov. 22:6, says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.”
The Team Name
The ARMORED KNIGHT AND HORSE call to mind Eph. 6 and the armor of God. Note that he is “charging” forth with the Sword (the Word of God), with a Bible, and cross in hand.
The Name, THE CHARGERS, contains the abbreviation of the group’s name, HCHE, and seemed like a good name for our sports involvement. It also refers to boldly going out with the gospel message. The VERSE is II Chronicles 19:9, “Then he charged them, saying ‘Thus shall ye do in the fear of the LORD, faithfully, and with a perfect heart.’” The COLOR RED was chosen to stand for our redemption through the shed blood of Jesus, without which there is no forgiveness of sins. (Eph. 1:7)
Our newest HCHE logo was chosen in 2011 after a design competition among the High School students.