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  • Writer's pictureMarguerite Gaspar

Reclassify your Student Athlete before High School

The Talega Prep Gap Year offers students an opportunity to repeat 8th-grade, with a flexible curriculum and schedule that provides ample time for conditioning and training.

Every year, many families reach out to us seeking options for their high school-bound children. These parents know their students need some extra time to mature and build skills before entering high school and feel that repeating grade 8 will help them meet that goal. This is especially true after the years of pandemic-related stress and learning loss and has always been true for elite athletes.

The Athletes 1st Academy Gap Year was created to help you reclassify your student athlete before high school. During the Gap Year, parents homeschool their children as 8th-grade students for a second year. After completing a traditional year of grade 8, students transfer to Talega Prep's Athletes 1st Academy to homeschool for the Gap Year. We manage the paperwork, provide guidance as requested, and facilitate the transfer to high school the following year. The flexibility of homeschooling offers each student a personalized curriculum and school schedule with the freedom to focus on interests, build academic skills, and for many, train intensively for elite athletic competition.

For elite athletes, reclassification can be paramount to maintaining their competitive edge. Smaller, younger students might lose out on high school sports opportunities if not given a chance to grow both physically and mentally. We understand the importance this maturity plays in preparing the student-athlete for four years of high school competition, while still following all of the rules of their particular state athletic federation. Parents are encouraged to review their athletic federation's rulebook carefully for themselves.

Because the Gap Year occurs during 8th grade, students are not reclassified in high school, but in middle school. Thus, the CIF clock is not triggered until the next year. During the Gap Year, the student may not participate in any high school training or other activities that would affect CIF eligibility. The student remains a middle school student.

Often, student athletes need additional time to mature before enrolling in a rigorous high school program.

While there are many valid reasons families may want their student to repeat a grade, public schools almost universally refuse to allow retention. We have met many families who undergo hours of paperwork and formal administrative meetings only to be denied retention.

Our Gap Year supports families who know their children will benefit from the chance to mature mentally, emotionally, academically, and physically so that they are best situated for high school success the following year. Our families regularly tell us that the Gap Year was the best decision they ever made, and not one of our families has said they regret the experience. Not one.

One word of warning. We have heard of some California public schools stating that a student that repeats grade 8 will be placed in 10th grade upon return to the public school. We have yet to see this actually occur, but we do warn you and stress that in California, public schools have the authority to do this*. As such, we encourage you to have a backup plan should the high school choose to restrict your student's reentry. Private schools are much more open to meeting your student's needs and supporting your student for success. This may seem unfair, but it is true.

CIF Blue Book (eligibility rules begin on p.49)

*California is under a local area authority rule that allows public schools to make their own rules regarding student admission and grade-level placement. The state publishes guidelines for the grade level that corresponds to student birthdates. This is a guideline and is not a law. The individual school or district may decide to strictly follow the guideline or to make their own decisions. Talega Prep has no way of determining how a specific school will determine grade-level placement. However, in ten years of offering the Gap Year, we have not had a student forced into grade 10, although two high schools have threatened this. We will keep you posted on our website and blog of any updates.

Marguerite Gaspar is the founder and director of the Talega Preparatory Academy and is committed to supporting homeschool families in California

Marguerite Gaspar is the Director of the Talega Preparatory Academy and the Athletes 1st Academy. Marguerite has homeschooled her three children, taught middle school science and math for over thirty years in California public schools, and has supported homeschooling families throughout the state since 2002.

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