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Undercover Highschooler Review by Kathy Gelzer

By Shari and Elle Popejoy
Injoy, Inc.
PO Box 75
Buffalo, MO 65622

Have you ever wondered what public high school is really like? Well, now you can find out! In this short (120-page) book by a mother/daughter team, we learn about the firsthand experiences of Elle, a Midwestern homeschooled girl who enrolls in public high school for a semester to take vocational graphic arts classes. This is to prepare Elle for becoming part of her family's small business.

As one might expect, Elle hears a lot of bad language and conversations about drinking and drugs, but what is shocking is the blatant sexual talk between students (which is shared in the book) about their various exploits. Inappropriate touching also occurs in the classroom as well as some episodes of physical mistreatment between students. Elle often feels uncomfortable, but she sometimes feels unsafe as well. In case you were wondering, this book comes with a strong caution regarding who reads it. Parents, please take note!

Elle, who writes in journal form about her high school days, reports how disrespectful the students are to their teachers as well as each other. Surprisingly, friendships and romances have no bearing on the lack of respect. Here is Elle's summation of the public high school experience: "The music in school is worldly. The language in school is worldly. The clothes they wear in school are worldly. The relationships they have in school are worldly. There is nothing in the school that follows God's rules." (p. 99)

Texting shorthand is used in some of the entries. It would have been nice if the authors had included a key for those who are unfamiliar with these.

Interspersed between the dated journal entries are segments written by Elle's mother, Shari Popejoy. These sections illuminate many of the reasons behind their choice to homeschool as well as the benefits they have received as a result of that choice.

Elle does a lot of comparing between homeschool and public high school students: "There are so many things going on in the public school system, peer pressure and things that contaminate the mind. I wouldn't want my kids to have to go through it. There is something special when you see a child, or a teenager who has made it through life very sheltered. You can tell how they have been raised based on what they say and do. You can tell what they are exposed to based on the language that they use, the way they talk and treat people." (p. 37)

I recommend this book not only to homeschool parents thinking of mainstreaming their high schoolers but also to parents (especially Christian ones) of publicly educated children so they will be aware of the environment they are subjecting their children to.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2010