Youngest daughter's high school graduation is another personal highlight for Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley.

Did you hear about the mid-30s woman who posed as a high school sophomore for the better part of the school year? I know it sounds like a joke set-up that begs for a punch line, but it’s true.

Authorities in Longview, Texas, are at a loss to explain the motivation of 34-year-old Charity Anne Johnson to enroll at New Life Christian School as 15-year-old Charity Stevens.

“That’s the mystery. We have no clue,” school principal Stuart Newlin told ABC News.


That’s the question I’ve kept asking myself since stumbling upon the story last week.

Why on earth would someone in their 30s want to go back and re-live high school? Were Johnson’s high school years so bad she wanted a “do-over?” Or has life been so hard on Johnson that she wanted to go back to a time when maybe life was easier?

My high school years were OK. I was never tormented to the extent that I fantasized about walking into school and committing carnage. Neither was I a member of the “in crowd,” who perceived the world, at least at high school, revolved around me.

I was an average kid. I made decent grades, stayed out of trouble and had friends. High school was tolerable, but not something I’d want to repeat if somehow given the chance.

Unlike for some people, high school ranks pretty far down on my highlights list. Ranking No. 1 on my “best of” rundown would be marrying my wife, Nancy. Right behind that experience comes the births of our five children. Next on my “most memorable” list comes an assortment of events in their lives.

Another of those pinnacle moments will arrive this week when my 18-year-old daughter, Anna, graduates from high school. However, instead of walking into Porter Stadium with numerous other graduating Hannibal High seniors, she will be the lone senior attired in a cap and gown during this week’s local homeschool ceremony.

The decision Nancy and I made to homeschool our last child should in no way be interpreted as a negative attitude toward the quality of education that is provided by the local public school district. Anna’s four older siblings are HHS grads, and we initially enrolled Anna in the public school system. There were also points through the years, as Anna’s friends transitioned from homeschooling to the public school district, that we asked Anna if she would like a change, too. Each time she indicated a desire to continue homeschooling.

Some parents are ill-equipped to homeschool their youngsters, who wind up paying a hefty price. But in Anna’s case, had we re-enrolled her in the public school district, I’m confident she would not only have held her own in the classroom, but would have excelled.

Anna’s academic success is due to two things: (1) Her hunger for knowledge; (2) Having a teacher – Nancy - willing and able to feed that appetite.

Nancy will tell you I played a significant role in Anna’s homeschool education. Truth be told, while I helped where and when I could, my primary contribution was supporting teacher and student.

Also contributing to our family’s homeschooling success was the support we received from other homeschooling families, who provided teaching insights, books and encouragement. We’re also extremely thankful for the countless prayers that were answered for wisdom and guidance regarding our at-home education endeavor.

Hopefully one day as Anna looks back on her homeschooling experience, she’ll remember it as being far more than “OK.” I pray she’ll realize she had a teacher who helped her learn, not out of obligation, but out of love. I also hope she’ll appreciate the unique educational opportunities she was afforded because she was homeschooled, such as taking advantage of Hannibal-LaGrange University’s early enrollment program. Because of it, this graduating high school senior has earned enough credits to now be a sophomore in college.

When Anna receives her diploma tonight, I’ll be filled with pride for both my daughter, and my wife. I’ll also have another addition for my personal highlights list.