Student takes non-traditional route through school
Jenny English didn’t go about high school the traditional way.
She won’t have memories of eating lunch with her friends or going to dances, but that wasn’t what high school was to Jenny.
“I wanted more study time. In high school, so much time is wasted and this way I had more time for extra things like orchestra,” she said.
For the past four years, Jenny has done her studies at home through a Brigham Young University correspondence course. Her parents, Dianna and Larry English, say she blossomed in that environment, and her grades – almost all As – prove it.
“All the lessons are mapped out by a teacher. Each lesson has questions and assignments and you send it in. If I have questions I can call or e-mail the question to a teacher. My dad helped a lot with my chemistry and math,” Jenny said.
She said she had opportunities she might not have received at the high school, such as an ancient civilization class, college-level English courses, “The Year 2001” reading class in which she read books about the future and guitar class, in which she taped her lessons and sent them to a teacher.
Jenny has spent time at Douglas High School only for band. Music is her main focus and she chose to go to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, next fall for the music program. College, in part, will be funded by the millennium scholarship and a $500 scholarship from the Reno Youth Philharmonic Association. Jenny eventually hopes to be a music teacher, like all the teachers who have influenced her here in Douglas County.
She began playing flute while in the 3rd grade at Jacks Valley Elementary School and continued with Michele Baumann at Carson Valley Middle School.
While in the 7th grade at CVMS, Baumann convinced Jenny to trade in her flute for the oboe. Jenny said it is hard to describe why she loves the instrument so much.
“I really like how it sounds. Working to make it sound beautiful is a goal. It has such a different sound and some people can’t play it,” she said.
She has played with the Carson Valley Youth Symphony, the Reno Youth Philharmonic, in which she is the first chair oboe, the Carson City Symphony, also first chair, and the Ruby Mountain Symphony. In addition, she still plays for local musicals that the Baumanns are involved in.
While still in the 9th grade, Jenny’s sister, Alyssa, who is now 15 years old and a student at CVMS, had joined the band at JVES. Jenny asked music teacher Jackie Maye if she could help and has been assisting her for the past four years. She goes over before school to help with the band practices. Maye also proctors all Jenny’s finals.
“I learned a lot about keeping control of a class. I learned to play all the instruments in the band because I had to help the kids,” Jenny said. She said she admires Maye’s spirit and commitment to music. “She gets the kids involved and really tries to keep music in the community.”
Music is a big part of her life and her future goals, but Jenny said if she had gone to DHS, things probably would have been a little different.
“I think it helped me strengthen my oboe skills. If I was in school, I would be in marching band half the year and would have to play the flute for that,” she said.
Being at home has also allowed her to be closer to her parents. She works with their family business, a mail delivery service.
In fact, going to college will be a big change for her. Last summer’s stay at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan was her first introduction to being away from home for an extended period. She said she adjusted well and is glad she had that experience.
“After the first week I made friends. There were people there from all over the world,” she said.
And it’s not like Jenny hasn’t had friends just because she didn’t go to high school.
“I still have friends I made in middle school. I think I learned better by being at home. A lot of people in high school just think about who’s dating who and are just in school because they have to be, and I wanted to learn,” she said.
Dianna said she is proud of her daughter.
“She’s very responsible and she’s very self-assured. I think it shows a lot of responsibility that she helps with the 6th grade band. You know you can count on her,” Dianna said.