2012 Convention Review
by Nancy Manos, AFHE Convention Program Coordinator
The 29th annual Arizona Home Education Convention and Curriculum Fair truly was a weekend of dreaming big! With record-breaking attendance of 5,200, this was the largest-ever gathering of homeschoolers in our great state. What a thrill to come together as a community again this year!
Quite a few speakers and exhibitors commented on the sweet spirit of our convention and how friendly and cheerful everyone was—from the board and committee to the volunteers and attendees. That says something really special about the Arizona homeschool community!
We kicked off the weekend’s events with our 2nd annual free pre-convention “Considering Homeschooling” mini-conference on Thursday, July 19. Nearly 200 parents who are new to homeschooling spent three hours soaking up helpful information about getting started. Marilyn Boyer and Sherry McKown provided insights into planning and choosing curriculum and Mary Schofield shared her top tips for successful homeschooling. Across the hall, 90 couples had a fun and engaging afternoon with Jay and Heidi St. John in a free marriage mini-conference, “Real Life Marriage: Homeschool Edition.”
Friday and Saturday, attendees enjoyed a variety of excellent workshops. There was much laughter, inspiration, and encouragement in sessions taught by each of our keynote speakers, Heidi St. John and Todd Wilson. Throughout the weekend ideas were gleaned, vision was renewed, motivation was refueled, and we were reminded that we can indeed teach our children at home and it is a joy and a blessing to be able to do so.
Over 400 teens had a blast participating in a mock presidential campaign in the highly interactive teen program iElect, run by Generation Joshua.
The exhibit hall was filled to the brim with quality vendors whose products and services are a help to homeschooling families. Attendees enjoyed shopping for curriculum and learning about a number of other resources as well.
The Young Entrepreneurs program was a huge hit again this year. What an excellent array of products and services these industrious young people have to offer!
Many attendees enjoyed the brand-new iPad2 Giveaway. Participants visited the 16 exhibitor booths listed on the punch card. They listened to a short presentation and received a punch or stamp on their card from each, and when the card was completed they entered it for an opportunity to win. Congratulations to Jonathan Jensen, winner of this year’s iPad2 Giveaway!
Another exciting new feature at this year’s convention was the introduction of a Friday Night Family Entertainment event. With over 1,600 present Friday night, we had a delightful evening of laughter with Christian comedian John Branyan, a homeschool dad himself and part of the Rockshow Comedy Tour with Tim Hawkins.
The weekend’s events wrapped up Saturday evening with our annual Junior High Graduate Recognition Ceremony. This beautiful, reverent ceremony is a special celebration of homeschooled students from across the state who are graduating from junior high.
Over the course of three days, we were blessed to come together as a community and affirm the beauty and fruitfulness of home education as a way of life and learning together as families. We were encouraged, edified, and equipped for another year in the homeschool adventure from some wonderful, quality speakers who are passionate about this model of parent-led, family-funded, relationship-based home education.
We would like to thank the many volunteers who worked so hard to make the convention such an overwhelming success. Our convention is run entirely by volunteers from the convention directors to the workshop hosts and registration workers. Thank you for another outstanding year!