Shawn Simard of New River, Arizona, completed twelve years of education without ever stepping into a brick-and-mortar school for any course. After being homeschooled exclusively in elementary and middle school, he enrolled in the Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) for high school. His family turned to an online curriculum at that time because they decided additional mentorship was needed for math and science, and it would provide an opportunity for Shawn to acquire computer science experience. Although not strictly homeschooling in the traditional sense, he continued to do all of his work at home under the watchful eyes of his parents.
The Arizona State Board of Education’s graduation requirements for 2012 were 20 credits, and AZVA’s requirements were 22 credits. Shawn earned 5.5 credits above the state requirements and 4 credits above the online school requirements. His total of 26 credits included: 4 credits in English Literature, 4 credits in Mathematics, 4 credits in Social Studies/History, 3 credits in Science, 2 credits in French, 1 credit in Fine Arts, 1.5 credits in counseling, and 6.5 credits in electives – of which 1 credit was in work study, 1 credit in Physical Education, 0.5 credit in Audio Engineering, and 4 credits in Computer Science. Shawn graduated in May 2012 with a 3.978 GPA. He was on the academic honor roll each semester, as well as a member of the National Society of High School Scholars and the Grand Canyon State Chapter of the National Honor Society.
Shawn has been performing community service work ever since he was 6 years old, much of it as a member of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). When he was a Tiger Cub Scout in the first grade, Shawn sorted out all of his educational toys, puzzles, books, games, posters, etc., and decided which ones he did not need anymore. He chose to give these items to a local charter school, the Stepping Stones Academy, because they were in need of donations for their new preschool program. This was the first time that Shawn had ever parted with any of his belongings. Shawn’s generosity as a homeschooler donating to a charter school for his community service patch was a nice bridging of the homeschool and public school communities in connection with the scouting community.
After starting with the Boy Scouts as a Tiger Cub in 2000, over the years Shawn earned a total of 33 merit badges. He received his Arrow of Light in March 2005 and in 2007 he was inducted into the Order of the Arrow. He also won additional special awards for a 50-mile hike, World Conservation, Philmont Duty to God, Summer Camp 2005 and 2007. He was a crew leader for Philmont Expedition 2008, and at other times he served as Troop Guide, Assistant Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, Staff Counselor in Training, and Librarian. For his Eagle Scout project, Shawn erected a horse panel fence with a gate across a 229 foot x 130 foot enclosed paddock which made two enclosed paddocks for Dreamchaser PMU Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc., a 501c(3), non-profit charity. After becoming an Eagle Scout in May 2008 he went on to earn the Bronze, Gold, and Silver Palms. Since Shawn turned 18 in September 2011 he has been an adult leader in his troop and serves as their webmaster. This year he also worked as Assistant Director of Muzzleloading for the BSA Grand Canyon Council’s Camp Geronimo summer camp. Shawn looks forward to the camp every year and he works hard to establish a good reputation in hopes of maybe one day becoming a camp director.
In addition to his scouting activities, Shawn has been a member of the American Taekwondo Association (ATA) since 2003. He completed ATA’s Junior Leadership Program in May 2004 and the Certified Instructor Trainee Program in November 2006. In October 2008 he served as a 2nd Level Certified Instructor Trainee (Specialty Instructor), and in April 2011 he served as a 2ndLevel Judge. He earned a 4th Degree Black Belt from ATA in March 2012. Shawn plans to test for the International Instructor Rank with ATA when the testing is offered in January or February 2013. He met the minimal teaching requirements back in 2010 but had to wait for the age requirement in order to make it official. In the meantime, he has been teaching taekwondo classes since Spring 2005 and is a regular instructor on Saturdays except during the summertime when he is a BSA camp instructor. He plans to stay active with both ATA and BSA through college.
Shawn studied piano from 2000-2005 and before that he took horseback riding lessons from 1999-2001. He was a weekly participant in a homeschool PE class from 2000-2009 and earned the Presidential Physical Fitness award. Shawn’s hobbies include archery, rifle/shotgun shooting, and woodworking. Shawn started archery at age 6 and began shooting at age 8 or 9, so he found it easy to complete the requirements for the BSA Archery Merit Badge and Rifle Gun Merit Badge in 2005, as well as the Shotgun Merit Badge in 2007. While he prefers target shooting with his shotgun, in 2008 Shawn also completed a 40-hour Hunter Safety Course for safe gun handling information. Shawn learned woodworking from his father and started making things when he was 7 years old. He has several wooden weapons, a few replica weapons, and in 2009 he designed and made a wooden sword from The Lord of the Rings movie as a birthday gift for a friend. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy are Shawn’s all-time favorite book and movie. He has almost every one of the figurines from The Lord of the Rings.
Since he enjoys camping and the outdoors, Shawn was originally thinking about being a forest ranger or pursuing a career in a related field, but he also likes working on computers and is interested in game design. Presently, Shawn is enrolled in the Computer Science program at Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona, where he is hoping to take most of his lower level courses online. He will receive an Associate in Arts degree, and then through a direct transfer to Arizona State University, he will obtain a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a future plan to become a computer game designer. Shawn already knows the basics of Blender, Python, HTML, C++, CAD, and Multimedia Fusion 2. He is proficient in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, as well as OpenOffice Writer and Presentation. He has some knowledge of Microsoft Excel and OpenOffice Spreadsheet, and he is also familiar with the Ubuntu Linux operating system as well as Windows 2000, XP, and 7.
Throughout his life Shawn has been self-motivated, community-minded, responsible and dedicated. His varied interests in scouting, taekwondo, and other areas show that he is a well-rounded person with positive character traits. The fact that less than 5% of people who join the Boy Scouts will ever attain the rank of Eagle Scout means that this is a great achievement in itself. He continues to be a good role model to the rest of the troop, in particular to the younger scouts. Success in college and in life is not simply based on your grades; you truly are the sum-total of your experiences. Shawn Simard definitely has what it takes to be a leader and invaluable member of the community, and he is sure to go far with a bright future ahead of him!