Testimonials 2019-10-29T18:03:52+00:00

Testimonials from Students and Parents


 “I am deeply grateful for the opportunity and flexibility that ALC/IHS has offered to [my son].  He has learned a great deal about self-motivation and accountability while completing his required curriculum and pursuing interests for which he has talent and passion.” 

Sara Sheaffer’s son completed a high school curriculum that included Running Start classes at Whatcom Community College and independent studies to earn his high school diploma from Independence High School in May, 2019.


“I don’t know if I ever thanked all of you properly for what you are doing, but I truly am grateful that John Lackey, Alger, and everyone who has worked for, or is working for, the Alger Learning Center, were there when I needed an education.”              

Connor Clark-Lindh, Washington, graduated early from the Local Program and was accepted to Western Washington University in 2001; exchange student at Asia University (Tokyo, Japan), 2002-03; graduated WWU, 2005, with his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and Journalism; is currently a resident of Singapore where he is a leading theorist, consultant, and executive recruitment strategist for the growing renewables industry in South East Asian markets.


“Thank you to the staff at Independence High School: You have facilitated many ongoing, memorable team projects between my daughter and I.”

Irene (Mrs. Glenn) Stoops, North Bend OR. Daughter Alissa graduated through the Distance Learning Program in 2005, at age 16, followed by her sister Joanna in 2009.


“ . . . Please let [her former teacher] know that Dania [Chebib, graduated 2000] has transferred to The University of Western Ontario, one of the top two universities in Canada and the one with the best-rated business programs. She is 18 now and is in her third year of University and last year received a 3.85 average . . . Thanks again.”           

Dr. Ursula Harlos (Chebib), Canada, Sept. 2002, mother of 3 past ALC/IHS students.


“Mr. Lackey, Matt Blue is enrolled in your distance learning program. He began his studies in March and will finish his senior year early . . . this December . . . thanks to your wonderful program. Had he stayed in the public school, he might have graduated college prep NEXT December! . . . [We] wanted to thank you and your teachers for the opportunity given to Matt and others like him. Designing his own courses of study and realizing that he can learn and is bright has done wonders for his self-esteem. When Matt left the public school system, he felt beaten, judged, stupid, and angry . . . Since he began his independent learning in March, he has read over 30 books dealing with world issues, religions, philosophy, physics, human rights, Latin America, and many others . . . Matt has a Math LD but did well enough on the ACT to make it. He soared in the Reading . . . 30, and well in English (28). I know these are just tests but since they are still a part of the college application process it is encouraging. We are sure that Matt’s reading and independent learning and research increased his tests scores . . . Matt is finishing his studies now . . . Matt hopes to enter Savannah College of Art and Design in January. Matt has big plans . . . wants to be a film director and major in history. Savannah is the first step . . . he is hoping to be accepted to Hampshire College in Amherst next year . . . Thanks again for the opportunity given to [our] son.”

Dr. and Mrs. Richard Blue, Georgia, Nov. 2002 [Note: Matt graduated in Dec. 2002, 6 months ahead of his public school peers, and began college at one of the several schools that accepted him].


“Again, I would like to tell you how pleased we are with your . . . program and the invaluable help that you gave us as we searched for an acceptable way to complete Chad’s High School education. You are providing a wonderful service.”

Rev. Daniel Corbett, Freeland, WA. father of 2005 graduate Chad Corbett.


“We have appreciated our time with your school. Your work is a great service to independent learners. We will be continuing to recommend your school to friends and colleagues.”

Suzanne Tattan, Damascus, Syria, mother of Yusef Tattan, 2005 Distance graduate.


“Thank you again for providing a much-needed and appreciated educational option for us and [our son] . . . Harry has had a very successful year and we are very pleased with his progress . . . [and] with our association with Alger Learning Center/Independence High School. Together with the Running Start program offered at the local college, it has made Harry’s high school experience very rich and specially tailored to his interests. Thank you for your support.”

Wil (Mrs. Denis) Harlock, Mount Vernon, WA. Harry graduated 2005 and was accepted to the Digipen Institute of Technology where he studied for a career in video game design and programming.


“I know that you’ve sent transcripts to many schools on my behalf, but I only ended up applying to Pepperdine University, Santa Clara University, Loyola Marymount University, Gonzaga University, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound, University of Washington – Seattle, New York University, and University of Southern California, and I was accepted to all of these schools! Thank you always for your service, I truly appreciate it!

Chiana Corning, 2013 Distance Learning program graduate.


“I just wanted . . . to express my appreciation to [you] for helping my daughter gain early admission to one of Japan’s top universities. We live in Tokyo where we homeschool our children . . . From her pre-teen years, our oldest daughter had a clearly defined goal of gaining admission to Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, as a voice major. Normally in Japan, it is not possible to apply until one turns 18 . . . Then we noticed the university regulations say that graduates of overseas schools can apply even before age 18 . . . we tried to locate an overseas high school that could accommodate our special needs. We considered several schools but in terms of flexibility, nobody could compare with [you]. Ultimately, it was the only school that could meet our needs. Thanks to your cooperation and flexible assistance, my eldest daughter was able to obtain a high school diploma and then apply to her first-choice university at age 16 . . . she was rejected on her first try, but she re-applied again a year later, at age 17, and was accepted – becoming (to our knowledge) the youngest person ever to matriculate and one of just 23 successful applicants to her department out of an initial field of 209 . . . Alger Learning Center and Independence High School has truly been a godsend to us. I hope you continue to prosper and always retain what I see as one of your strongest features, which is flexibility. We also have younger children and we would definitely consider enrolling them . . . when their turns come.”

Christopher Witmer, all seven of whose daughters, Distance students Kristen Konomi Witmer (2003), Stephanie Eimi Witmer (2006), Talitha Cumi Witmer (2010), Irene Hitomi Witmer (2012), Sophia Izumi Witmer (2014), Alethea Hiromi Witmer (2016), and Charissa Naomi Witmer (2018) have now graduated from Independence High School.


“This is one of the most exciting days of Seanna’s life – the completion of her classes and course descriptions and the final work before graduation! It has been an amazing year – we cannot thank you enough for your help and support and amazing school . . . We have been absolutely amazed by you guys and your service, support, and dedication to a great education! Our family will probably be schooling through Alger even into the next generation . . . It has truly been an incredible experience academically – Seanna has never been so challenged and refreshed by a school in her life! . . . This has been the ‘semester’ of a lifetime! . . . Again, THANK YOU!!”

Nikki Sharpe, Michigan, whose daughter graduated in July 2004 after completing 13+ credits in one year in the Distance program, for a total of 37.5 high school credits earned, and a 3.79 cumulative GPA.


“ . . . Thanks for all you have done. I have continued to recommend [Alger Learning Center] to parents of kids like Stephen, those that don’t fit the box created by traditional education. I hope many more will find the help that we did . . .” 

Sandy Irving’s son Stephen graduated from the Distance program in 2005 with a 3.61 GPA.


 “I wanted to take a moment to tell you how grateful we are to be a part of Alger Learning Center/Independence High School. This format works so well for my daughter. It is a joy and a blessing to see her learn and discover the world and who she is, for real.  It is so awesome!  Thank you and your staff for making this opportunity possible.”

Robin Kwiatek and daughter Karen live in New Jersey. A Distance Learning student, Karen went on to community college and later Rutgers University.


“In November of 1994 we turned to you and ALC to help us with our son Larry who attended two local high schools and just could not adjust to the public school system. . . . We were not sure if he would go on to complete high school at the time. He could have easily dropped out or gone in a direction that would not have tapped his abilities. . . . ALC worked with Larry and us and assisted us to rekindle his interest once again in academics and gave him confidence. . . . This was a critical juncture in his young life . . . he went on to graduate near the top of his class and then went to a few other schools as well. [He is now] finishing up his graduate program at Harvard. . . . John, we sometimes never fully realize how we impact and affect the lives of others and the successes that we have accomplished that never come to our attention. We wanted you and ALC to take pride as well in Larry’s success thus far. You have had a part in molding his future.”

Lawrence Estrada, Sudden Valley, WA, writing in November 2009.


“Last Thursday I got the opportunity of a lifetime. I got accepted into the Canada West Provincial Mogul Team, which is basically the level below World Cup. . . I just wanted to let you guys know what’s going on, because you helped me get through my schoolwork this year. . . . Thanks again for a great winter.”

Jake Little was a Port Angeles, WA-based student and competitive skier, who did a semester of independent study with Independence High School (2009-2010) as a 10th grader in order to attend a winter ski camp in British Columbia. The four credits he earned were transferred and recorded on his transcript by his public high school (April 2010). Jake now lives in Bellingham and skis regularly at Mount Baker.


“I just wanted you to know that Kyle got accepted to three universities (Washington, Oregon, and Miami) and has decided to attend the University of Miami. Thanks for all your assistance with the transcripts, etc. It was quite an adventure . . . He’s been accepted into the Biomedical Engineering program . . . Again, thank you for your help!”

Melynda Sylvestre’s son Kyle Rosen graduated from the Distance program in 2009 with a 3.954 GPA after homeschooling throughout high school (April 2011).


“I wanted to personally thank you for the degree of assistance I received from you and the staff at Independence High School. . . . During my three-year involvement with the Alger Learning Center, I have experienced the highest quality of education possible. The individual care and attention shown to me made it possible to excel in my high school education and complete my graduation a full year early. Your preparation has enabled me to accept the challenges facing our generation, and has accelerated my introduction to the career of investment advisor. . . . I was especially grateful for the flexibility of the curricula that I was able to design, with the guidance of ALC staff . . . a course of study which allowed me the time to develop my own computer business, and progress with my long-range goal of becoming a stockbroker. . . . The unique alternatives offered by Independence High School have allowed me to consider, at age 16, a career which would otherwise be limited to the older applicants.”

Nicholas C. Waters, upon graduating in 1996, one month before his 17th birthday. Currently Nick is a Technology Resources professional, specializing in web design, hosting services, as well as custom web application development and network support (among his clients is the Alger Learning Center).


“Dear John: Yesterday I witnessed the graduation of another of my children from the Alger Learning Center. The ceremony was typical of the style of teaching that you emit . . . casual and student centered. There were a lot of smiling faces in the crowd of parents, but even more excitement shown from the graduating class . . . many of whom would not have met this accomplishment without your help. . . . Anna was my first to meet with you. . . . under a system of teaching that allowed her to study and grow without the bureaucracy of the public school system that she struggled under, [she] moved on to the University of Washington and then out into the world. Last winter we attended her wedding in Bangkok Thailand. . . . Yesterday my daughter Mollie graduated, yet another student frustrated with the public school system. Mollie met with medical needs requiring her to drop out of school during her senior year. So close to graduation, and with an excellent academic record, she was able to finish her requirements for graduation with help from the Alger Learning Center, when the public school system was unable or unwilling to go to the level needed for just one student. . . . Do not misunderstand my support for schooling be it public or private. My wife teaches in the public system and I have worked at all levels in volunteering within the public system of schooling. We need good quality public schools. When they fail to meet the needs of some students, we need private schools to assist those who are struggling under that system. Yours has meet the needs of many students who for one reason or another were looking for more than the public school system is able to provide. . . . John, I cannot thank you enough for your work. I have two children who would not have a high school degree without your system of education. As I looked at the graduating students, I wondered at the changes in the lives that you have made in those young adults. You should be proud.”

June, 2001 from Dick Zagelow, Bellingham father of two Independence High School Graduates.


We got EXCELLENT news in Friday’s mail: Karen received her acceptance to Whitworth University (Spokane). This was her first (and only) choice, so we are ELATED! I wanted to say thanks [to Alger] for your help.  I’m sure her good looking transcript was a big part of the puzzle.”

Brenda Robison, mother of 2008 Distance graduate Karen Robison.


“It really has been great; you have no idea. Over the last year I have seen a huge change in motivation, purpose and interest. . . . To start with, in fact, I felt quite left out of it all! But now, it is great seeing Esther keen to research this or read that, and study things she is interested in way beyond the hours she needs to do. Such good preparation for University.”

Naomi Syred and her daughter Esther are homeschoolers living in Auckland, New Zeeland (August 2009).


“I am beginning my first day of school [at UNCSA] tomorrow which is terrifying and incredibly exciting. . . . I have been getting to know my 34 fellow drama students. A very talented diverse group of students, both in ethnicity and in personality. It has been exciting and nerve wracking to begin friendships with people which may span the length of a lifetime. . . . It is good to be remembering why I am here, at school. To be going after the opportunities and resources available to me, and soak up and learn as much as I can. . . . I am so grateful to have spent the summer learning from you, getting out of my “learning comfort zone” and realizing there are so few things I know, and that I can be brave enough to admit that and ask questions. You have absolutely provided a breath of fresh air for me in the school environment, and I have loved learning from you.”

A 2016  graduate with a perfect 4.00 GPA, aspiring drama student Isabelle Bushue’s applications to several notable colleges were accepted, but her school of choice, the University of North Carolina School of Arts (UNCSA) required the completion of an additional one-half credit of Science for admission under their entrance requirements (although Isabelle had completed over the minimum of Science credits then required by Washington State). Isabelle re-enrolled as a “grade 13” scholar in April 2018, completing the additional half credit of Science that summer with Director John Lackey in one-to-one sessions researching and discussing a variety of Science topics. She was then accepted without delay by UNCSA, beginning her studies as a student in the Drama Department in Fall 2018. John took delight in his sessions with Isabelle; after 45 years as a certified teacher and school director, he still relishes having the opportunity to engage directly with students, sharing hands-on research and  following up with reciprocal in-depth discussions.


“My experience at Alger Learning Center was a memorable one. . . . The system at Alger Learning Center allows students to take their own first real step in planning their future by allowing them to design their own classes. I designed my own classes in order to fit the field of studies that I wanted to focus on after high school. In public school, I found myself wasting time. . . . With the help of Alger Learning Center, at the age of 16, I . . . graduated from high school and am attending college this fall.”

Fatimah Khan, Illinois Distance Learning graduate, 1997.


 “I want to take this opportunity to thank you and commend you for the educational opportunities that you provide. . . . If Crystal had been forced to remain in public school, I am convinced that she would be a dropout at this point, instead of being enrolled in college level classes. This would not have been because of poor performance, but rather due to lack of stimulation and support for her abilities. . . . Your program fills the void between no education at one end of the spectrum, and public education at the other. For someone who is self-motivated, like Crystal, yours is the ideal format. . . . I also appreciate the fact that you offer this program at a reasonable cost. We would have been unable to take advantage of this option if it was offered for a cost comparable to other private schools which operate in the area. . . . Once again, thank you for being a bright light in the long dark tunnel of formal education. I wish you continued success in your program.”

Patricia Starcher’s daughter Crystal entered the Running Start program after completing 11.5 credits while enrolled at Alger.


“John, I am finishing my very last assignments for my final semester of High School. We have a notebook just about ready to send. . . . I cannot believe how far I have come. . . . I will start a job soon and then sign up for the Master Gardner course through the CU Extension Service in Colorado. . . . The last semester went by very quickly. I have never been busier in my life. . . . I feel I learned more in these last two semesters than [from] all the . . . [other high schools] I attended. Getting to be a part of . . . where and from whom I learned, taught me how to learn. This is the most valuable thing I have gained from this experience. I finally enjoy learning and will continue to search out information and learn for the rest of my life. . . . Thank you for all you [did[ to help me finish High School.”

Isaac Guerrero graduated in May 2015. Soon after Isaac began high school in Colorado, his mother passed away after a long illness, and he lived with various uncles until going to stay with his grandparents in Idaho. During this period, he had to change schools mid-semester twice and twice more at the end of semesters, losing multiple credits in the process. He also contacted mononucleosis and suffered other physical and emotional challenges during this time. He began homeschooling with his grandparents, who turned to us for help in retrieving his high school credits, and guidance as he completed the remaining graduation requirements for his graduating class year, despite what had seemed to be daunting and insurmountable obstacles. Isaac’s grandmother Cheryl Mihalka wrote: “Isaac cannot believe you were able to help him recover his classes from his unfinished semesters and that he was able to get back on track and graduate when he was supposed to originally. You have no idea what you have done for this young man, to get his life on track.” At the time of his graduation, Isaac was attending a Master Gardner course offered by the University of Colorado, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.


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