Graduates of Pacific Sands Academy–

May 2022

Congratulations to the May 2022 graduating class of our high school program:

andre croswell

Andre Croswell

Andre joined the Pacific Sands Program of West River Academy for his last year of high school. His mom is Norwegian, and dad is American, and he spent most of his years growing up in Norway, though he frequently spent time with family in Sonoma County, where he spent this past year. He came from the Norwegian school system, and like many kids, had a hard time focusing during the online Covid year. But he completely bloomed in our program. He was super enjoyable to work with and studied Real Estate, Economics, Personal Finance, US history, and the stock market. Andre is an avid snowboarder. He has also come to enjoy Disc Golf. He plans to attend Santa Rosa Junior College in the fall and work on his Associates Degree, and perhaps get into real estate. It’s fun to speak with a 19 year old with adult interests of real estate investments and house flipping. I think Andre will be successful and go far! You can read more about him here. 

graduate 2

Skylar Gomez

Skylar is one of the few students I have had who I have gotten to work with for four consecutive years of high school. She is an incredible self directed learner and knows how to teach herself complex programs to create amazing products- she learned the intricacies of Blender, FL Studio, Audacity, Unity, to name only a few.   Learning these programs she mastered many digital skills such as video game design, digital music, digital 3-D art, digital sketching. She also became excellent at non-digital arts too: photography, Piano and most recently pencil sketching. She has an incredible eye for detail. She also enjoyed studying science, politics and some statistics along the way. Skylar has worked on her own self knowledge and personal growth, and grew tremendously in the past four years. It has been a huge pleasure getting to know her and work with her.

graduate 3

Armando Santos Jr.

Armando joined Pacific Sands Academy this spring and immediately went to work with his dad doing drywall. He has been working full time there, and when not busy with drywall, spends time with his uncle at his auto mechanics shop. He also enjoys hanging out with his friends, playing football and soccer, and watching sports.  Armando wrote a good and reflective piece about his time in school, and leaving the school system was an excellent choice for him. He is now taking the time honored practice of apprenticeship, where he will learn a trade, get licensed in that trade, and start a business with his father. You can learn more about Armando by visiting his website here

graduate 4

Teyoman Gokcek

Teyo joined Pacific Sands Academy for his senior year of high school. He is one of the most academic students I have ever had the pleasure of working with in the 10 years I have had this program.  He studied Calculus, Economics, Government, History and Sciences. He read volumes of literature and informational texts, such as Man, Economy, and State (by Murray Rothbard),  Human Action and The Theory of Money and Credit ( both by Ludwig Von Mises). He also submitted two essays into the Ayn Rand Institute’s essay contest on The Fountainhead and Anthem. Not only is he incredibly intellectual, he spent a great deal of time on health and nutrition, running about an hour per day and learning to cook nutritious meals. Teyo introduced me to the concept of CLEP exams- and earned about two years of college credits by passing these exams. He even wrote a blog post for me about this that you can find here. Teyo will be going to Florida Southern in the fall as a Junior! Learn more about Teyo by looking at his portfolio

graduate 5

Athan Eklund

Athan is a longtime homeschooler/unschooler from Orange County, California. He enrolled with Pacific Sands Academy for his junior and senior years of high school. He is an award winning photographer who enjoys animation, graphic design, film and television history and production. He has always been a real-world, hands-on learner and probably holds the world record for field tripping. On most nights he can be found organizing his friends to play group games and to compete in video game tournaments. His love for graphic design and animation has led him to create channel art for many of his friend’s streaming channels and even a few of our local homeschool parent’s businesses. He is currently working on his own animated series, and has been concurrently enrolled in the film school at Orange Coast College where he plans to continue for the next year and then transfer to a university film school program.

graduate 5

Kaden Ward

Sports. Kaden LOVES sports. Kaden came to the Pacific Sands Program of West River Academy for his last year of high school. Most of his studies this year he did through sports- by mapping out all the pro basketball teams (and the feeder college teams) across the US (studying American Geography), to studying Stephen Curry’s statistics, to discussing and clarifying arguments about what makes a great player using his favorite athletes such as Tom Brady, Justin Fields, and Damian Lillard. He enjoyed taking master classes (a great resource by the way) – learning from Steph Curry (Mechanics of Basketball), Lewis Hamilton (Mindset), and Paul Krugman (Economics). He also did quite a bit of life skill studies- finding apartments in various cities and doing a cost analysis, banking, cooking healthy meals, animal husbandry and personal finance. Kaden has a great sense of humor and  a deep knowledge of the things he is passionate about. He hopes to get a job, and maybe get into the trades. Learn more about Kaden in his portfolio. 

graduate 5

Hannah Stapleton

Hannah joined Pacific Sands Program of West River Academy this year to complement her work with Independent Minds Academy, where she met Mayli daily for educational support, and was able to accelerate her education and  graduate from high school as a Junior. During this past year she enjoyed writing and knowing that she was preparing herself for her future goals. Hannah is great at working with her hands- building things, working on cars, creating art, and playing music. She is a very accomplished pianist, and I love hearing her play. She also is an impressive Krav Maga and Kali practitioner. These past two years she worked with her dad on building a couple of porches, working on cars, and learning how to use various tools. Hannah found a love for precision machining and looks forward to pursuing an Associates Degree in Machine Tool Technology at Pima Community College. Learn more about Hannah and see some of her work by visiting her portfolio.

graduate 5

Saren Hawthorne

Saren grew up homeschooling and unschooling and learning from elders around her. She started Pacific Sands Academy last year, left and went to school in Montana, then returned to graduate this semester. She has enjoyed the freedom of Pacific Sands Academy, for sure. 

Saren is a magical forest fairy and who I’m so happy can be graduating now. She is independent and free-spirited, inspired by Western Shoshone elders and woodland forest gatherings of women. She loves being outdoors, and is interested in learning to surf, to speak another language, and to read mosses and mushrooms, through studying bryology and mycology.  Learn more about her here.

graduate 5

Maya Pellegrino

Maya joined Pacific Sands Academy this fall for a quick path to graduation. She studied business skills, government and history. She has a full and wonderful rich life, performing in plays and musicals, dancing competitively, and singing.  She works interesting jobs as event staff in places like The Dickens Fair, Outsidelands, Bottle Rock,  San Francisco Opera, and Sonoma Drag Race. She has seen so many famous musicians, and even got to be personal security for Miley Cyrus! Maya loves beauty and fashion, and plans to go to esthiology school in the fall, and after this get her RN to eventually be a medical esthetician. You can learn more about her amazing experiences here.

Pacific Sands Academy students enjoy their childhoods and teenage-hoods again, and find they have time to pursue their real interests and passions. Families find peace, freedom, and better relationships with their teens. Please visit Pacific Sands Academy for more information.

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