iLEAD Exploration Remains Open Virtually for Learners

iLEAD Exploration continues to operate its independent study model in an entirely virtual format. Click here for resources.

Aug 23, 2020 @ 01:00

High School Highlights

Our News & Events

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Attention: All Graduates

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Graduates will want to submit an application online to qualify for grants, loans, and other types of financial aid for college and career training. Here are a few important things to know:
  • FAFSA opens on Oct 1 and closes on March 2. It is recommended that you fill it out ASAP (before January) to secure grants.
  • Prior to filling out the FAFSA, learners and parents must have their own FSA ID. Create your FSA ID at Requesting your FSA ID is very easy and takes about 4-5 minutes. Make sure you have your social security number on hand. One of your parents will need their own FSA ID. You will receive your FSA ID between 3-4 business days.
  • Upon receiving your FSA ID, complete your FAFSA at Learners and parents should sit together when filling out the FAFSA. You will report your prior income and tax information from 2019.


College Application

Last week, an invitation to Scoir was sent to all iLEAD-issued high school email addresses. Scoir is a college search tool that helps you search for colleges in greater depth. You can take an interactive tour of the college’s campus, watch student videos describing student life, and visit a school’s social media wall to learn about campus clubs and activities. Scoir provides an overview of important college information, such as admission stats, costs, and application deadlines. There is so much to learn about a college and Scoir can help!
Through Scoir, all iLEAD high school learners have access to YouScience. YouScience is a comprehensive career assessment program that combines aptitudes, interests, and 21st century careers to make career and educational recommendations. Through the use of 5-8 minute performance-based exercises, YouScience captures a learner’s true areas of highest potential. Once logged into Scoir, you will click on “My Profile”, then “Career Profile” on the left side bar. Then select “YouScience” to get started. It will redirect you to their outside website, but saved careers will sync back to your Scoir account.

College Deadlines


College application season is upon us, and learners are hard at work filling out applications. Each college will have its own decision dates and rules. Here is an overview of the different types of applications.

Early Deadlines: Learners apply early and receive an early admission and financial aid response. Early option deadlines are often in November and December. There may be more than one early option:

  • Early Decision (ED) is a binding decision and cannot be broken. The parents, learner, and the high school counselor will sign a contract stating that if the learner is accepted, they will withdraw all other college applications and commit to the college. You should only use this option if you know you can afford and are willing to attend this college. Students can only apply to one college using early decision.
  • Early Action (EA) is a non-binding decision. While the college’s admission and financial aid offers come early, an admitted student has until May 1 to make a decision. A student can apply to as many early-action colleges as they wish. EA can be advantageous because it shows learner interest and could result in special scholarships. Important note: Early decision overrides early action admission offers.
  • Restricted Early-Action (REA) or Single Choice Early Action (SCEA) is a non-binding decision; however, often the college adds restrictions. Most often a learner who applies under REA/SCEA may not apply using early decision to any college and may also not be allowed to apply early action. REA/SCEA does not restrict regular decision applications. Only a handful of very selective colleges use REA/SCEA.

Regular Decision (RD): Most colleges have a regular-decision deadline in January or early February. The deadline allows students to take the time they need to complete a strong application and apply to numerous colleges. All colleges must provide an admission response by April 1, and the student has until May 1 to accept an offer and submit a deposit.

Surprise Deadlines: Students who are applying to majors such as music, dance, theater, film, business, or other programs may have an earlier deadline. This is especially true for majors that require auditions, creative supplements, or an extended interview process. Some colleges may also require an earlier application if the student would like to be considered for scholarships. Check the website of each college for financial aid deadlines.

Rolling Decisions: Many colleges have a rolling application process. This allows the student to apply anytime in the fall and receive an admission and financial aid offer quickly, sometimes as early as two weeks. Some colleges with rolling decisions do not stop taking applications until they are full and applications may continue to be accepted into the spring. Other colleges may have a final application deadline.

Congratulations to our new ASB team for the 2020-2021 school year!

ASB iLEAD Exploration

Regional Presidents
Julianna Longhenry
Ariella Clarino

Communications Coordinator
Charis Dubois

Junior Reps
Kassandra Corral
Xenia Badillo

Sophomore Reps
Miya de Vera
Maia Longhenry
October Bartlett
Kelly Henley
Zion Garrett
Daniel Munoz

Freshman Reps
Michael Lawrence
Catalina Pena
Kylie Carson
Aidan Freel
Karina Ramirez
Raegan Brown
Ezra Watrous
Shayna Hewitt
Zeke Griffice

High School Student Spotlight: Abigail Myers


Abigail is a junior in her third year of homeschooling. This year, she is president of iLEAD’s National Honors Society and enjoys leading her peers. She enjoys finding new ideas to help encourage and support all of the members as they complete their service hours. She truly appreciates the flexibility that homeschooling provides, such as the opportunity to teach preschool weekly.

Abigail has many passions, including working with little kids, baking, and making spaces beautiful and homey. She enjoys helping friends plan and decorate parties, particularly making flower arrangements. Abigail wants to be a kindergarten or special-education teacher in her future, and she would be perfect for either job!

Spending time with friends and family is important to Abigail. She has a big heart for serving others and models servant leadership. She helps teach a preschool program at her church each week, prepping crafts, and designing activities for the kids. This is the highlight of her week as she finds so much joy working with kids. Abigail also loves coffee and enjoys making lattes for everyone who stops by her house. She loves serving in her church youth group, helping with events and social media.

In addition to her many hobbies, Abigail also makes videos of all her adventures, and even put them all on a website just for fun! She has even made camp and promo videos for her youth group, as well as a wedding video, and fun montages of trips to the beach and around town.

As a homeschooler, Abigail has traveled all around the United States, but she hopes to visit Ireland and Greece someday. Abigail is indeed an amazing learner and we are so proud to have her at iLEAD!

Welcome to Our New Counselor

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We are so excited to welcome Heather Fecarotta to our high school counseling team. She is joining us with a wealth of experience in both public and private school settings and is looking forward to meeting all of her new learners. For the time being, she and Mrs. Maddox will conduct meetings together, but her calendar will be open for appointments beginning in October. See below for our counselors’ learner divisions and contact information.

Bethany Maddox (Last Names A-K) –
Click here to schedule an appointment!

Heather Fecarotta (Last Names L-Z) –
Click here to schedule an appointment!

High School Clubs

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Our iLEAD Exploration ASB has been working hard to find creative ways to make this school year fun. School clubs can be a great way for learners to interact and enjoy activities of common interest. Most importantly, we want these clubs to be relevant and fun for you, our learners. Please take a minute to fill out this survey to let ASB know which clubs you want to see this school year!

Distance Learning Helpful Hints

Online Learning iLEAD Exploration

Now more than ever, learners are using distance learning as the foundation of their education. Learning from home has great benefits but can also pose organizational challenges. Below are some hints that might help you stay more focused and organized in your virtual classes.

Organize your Digital Workspace

  • Try creating an orderly folder/file system in Google Drive or Evernote that works for what you need.

  • Session Buddy is a great way to save your tabs, windows, and bookmarks.

  • Try using Google Sticky Notes for deadline reminders or to keep record of your different logins and passwords for your classes.

Minimize Distractions and Save Time

  • If you get distracted by the internet, try using a timed internet blocker like SelfControl.

  • Taking an intentional break from social media or email in your phone can also prevent distractions.

  • Some learners find that peaceful music helps them to focus. There are many different kinds of ambient and classical music tracks specifically designed for studying and staying focused.

  • Google Calendar is a great way to organize your time and set class times as well as due date reminders for yourself.

Keep Your Workspace Functional

  • Look around your workspace to see if it functions well for you. Is your work space well-lit? Are pens and notepads and other supplies in reach where you can quickly grab them? Do you have access to enough plugs and outlets in case you need to quickly charge your computer?

  • Keep your desk clear of dirty dishes, trash, or junk papers. A quick clean up of your desk area between classes can keep your area tidy and organized. We recommend keeping a small trash bin right near your work area.

  • You may find it helpful to print out the schedule of your weekly classes as well as usernames and passwords and post them on your wall near your desk where you can easily refer to them.

College Application Time: Are You Stressed?

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Application Stress

We are now in the middle of college application season and many learners and parents are feeling various forms of stree. Remember that you are not alone in this process and the iLEAD high school team is here to help.

Test Stress

Since March of last year, learners have been unable to access the ACT or SAT due to local school closures. There is a high likelihood that no testing will be available before college applications are due. Please do not worry! COVID-19 has brought about a change in testing policies throughout the United States. Some colleges have changed their testing requirements for this year while others have changed their testing policies permanently!

At this time, many colleges and universities have a test-blind policy which means they will not consider a test score even if you have one. Institutions with a test-blind policy include all 23 California State University campuses and UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Cruz. Other well-known colleges have taken the step to reduce test stress through a temporary testblind policy, including CalTech, Reed, and CUNY.

Over two-thirds of all colleges in the United States have adopted a test-optional policy which means that test scores may be submitted but are not required. Well-known colleges like MIT and Harvard have even adopted this policy. If you are unsure about the testing policy at your desired colleges, reach out to them directly and ask.

Learner Stress

It is normal for learners to feel overwhelmed by all the moving parts in the application process. Each college has its own application, deadline, essays, and supplements. It may feel like you need a personal assistant to keep track of it all, but we have tools to help. iLEAD uses Scoir to help learners explore and track college requirements. Contact Laura Kazan, our college advisor, to get started with Scoir. Seniors can sign up for application support here. In addition, parents who are feeling anxious about the application process are welcome to reach out to Laura Kazan as well.

Five Social-Emotional Strategies for Teenagers

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The past six months have been challenging in many ways, particularly for teenagers who already tend to struggle with emotional regulation. The following tips can help guide our high school learners through these unique times. How can I help my teenager self-regulate?

  • Strategy 1: Teach learners about their brains by looking at “Understanding the Parts of the Brain.” Discuss how the reward center (the limbic system) is fully developed in the teenage brain, which is why teenagers experience emotion so profoundly. Afterward, discuss how the prefrontal cortex is still rapidly developing—the spot that is transforming them from 13 year olds to adults.

  • Strategy 2: Help learners connect with their emotional centers. Teach “Checking the Emotional Thermometer” to give students a quick way to gauge the intensity of happiness, sadness, hurt, anger, love, or other feelings. Then discuss how feelings aren’t right or wrong—they just are. The right or wrong part comes into play when people choose what to do with their feelings.

  • Strategy 3: Teach the 5-5-5 breathing strategy. Given that emotions are more intense during the teenage years, students need strategies that help them manage stress, anxiety, anger, and other intense feelings. Teach “Using 5-5-5 Breathing to Calm Down.” Afterward, ask students to share stories about situations in their day so far when they could have used such a strategy. Have them watch for situations that arise later in the day and try 5-5-5 breathing.

  • Strategy 4: Promote positive self-talk. Help learners recognize negative thoughts, stop them, and replace them with positive thoughts—a first step in self-regulation. Teach “Using Positive Self-Talk.” Discuss how this strategy helps break a negative fixed mindset and develop a positive growth mindset.

  • Strategy 5: Help learners set goals. Self-regulation begins in the moment with recognizing moods and dealing with them appropriately. Self-regulation, however, can also grow into the future. Teach “Setting and Reaching Goals.” Discuss how students can set goals in school and beyond. Ask them to think about who they want to become in one month, one year, and five years. Then ask them what doable steps they can take in the short term and long term to reach their goals.

    Adapted from

Learner Spotlight: Katelyn Bright

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Katelyn has been homeschooled her whole life and joined iLEAD Exploration three years ago. Homeschooling allows her to pursue her life passions, including dance. Katelyn’s love of dance began while she was still in diapers. She will dance anywhere – at the beach, in a parking lot, on top of a mountain, in the desert or at the hardware store. Her passion has taken her to New York City, San Francisco and Philadelphia for training. Her dream is to dance for a progressive company that integrates different dance styles and cultural representations.

Dance and training usually add up to more than 20 hours per week, but Katelyn has many other interests. Last year, she enjoyed participating in the iLEAD Artisan Boutique and the Science Fair. This year, she is taking her first community college course as a ninth grader. iLEAD gives her the flexibility to direct her education and allows time for her main passion, dance. She loves to learn about history, archaeology, cultures, food, and nature wherever she goes. The Mojave Desert is her favorite place for rockhounding and the Sierra Mountains are her favorite place for backpacking. This year’s ‘high points’ were Boundary Peak at 13,146 feet, New Army Pass, at 12,400 feet and Cottonwood Pass at 12,126 elevation. Next year she hopes to reach the summit of Mt. Whitney.

Katelyn knows that dance is usually a short career and has a “Plan B” for a career after dance. Since animals are a close second to her love of dance, she plans to explore the veterinary or marine science fields. During summer camp at a wildlife rehabilitation center in California, Katelyn worked with exotic animals, cleaned cages, and learned about animal nutrition. She is hoping to explore marine science in the future through community college courses and summer programs. One benefit of the pandemic has been the large amount of online educational resources from aquariums around the world. Katelyn spends any extra time watching videos and learning about ocean environments.

iLEAD Exploration is a great fit for someone who has so many interests and has a passion that is very time consuming. Katelyn is so thankful for her style of education. It has allowed her to design her life around the things that she loves.

National Honor Society

National Honor Society

The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation’s premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. NHS serves to recognize students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. iLEAD Exploration is excited to invite all iLEAD Exploration learners who are currently in 10th-12th grade and who have been enrolled with iLEAD a minimum of one full semester and have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA to apply. The application period is open from now until September 30 at midnight. If you have a learner who applied last fall and received an acceptance letter, they do not need to apply again. Meetings will begin in October. Please share with your 10th, 11th, and 12th grade learners who qualify. Please click HERE to apply.

Meet and Greet

iLEAD Exploration Meet and Greet

Don’t miss our online Meet & Greet where we will introduce our team and break into smaller groups to explain our high school program and answer your questions directly. We’ve added a second session in the afternoon to accommodate more families. Please select the session that works best for you.
Session 1: September 11, 10:00 a.m. High School Team Meet and Greet #1
Session 2: September 11, 1:00 p.m. High School Team Meet and Greet #2

Career & Technical Education

Career and Technical Education

Career & Technical Education is a program of study that involves a multi-year sequence of courses covering technical and occupational knowledge. The goal is to provide learners with a pathway to postsecondary education and/or career. You can think of this as a way for learners to “major” while in high school and focus on elective courses of specific occupational interest. iLEAD Exploration is offering the following career pathways:

  • Patient Care
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Public Service
  • Childhood Development
  • Performing Arts
  • Game Design
  • Animation
  • Photography

To complete a CTE Pathway, learners need to choose a pathway, identify a career within that pathway, and then complete a two-year sequence of courses. Talk with your EF about adding a CTE pathway to your courses for this school year.

Don’t see a career of interest above? That’s okay! There are many CTE opportunities available through your local community college. These programs offer state-of-the art equipment and accredited certificates that can lead directly to a career. As a bonus, you can also earn college units while working towards your career of interest! A simple search for CTE + the college name will bring up a listing of all their CTE pathways. If you are interested, contact the Strong Workforce Counselor at your local community college.

For more information or assistance, view our CTE informational video and PowerPoint (also located here on the Hub) or reach out to us directly at

College Update

SAT Updates iLEAD Exploration

Due to COVID-19, PSAT/NMSQT has been canceled for fall 2020. We will keep families updated if alternative testing options become available. It is important to note that UC/CSU schools will not be requiring SAT/ACT test scores to be submitted for fall 2021 applicants and many more colleges across the country are becoming test optional. Please set up a Calendly appointment with our College Advisor, Laura Kazan, if you have questions about your college path!

Associated Student Body

ASB iLEAD Exploration

ASB (Associated Student Body) is a leadership team comprised of learners who will represent the entire student body of high schoolers. The main objective of ASB is to help learners feel more connected to school and each other through involvement in ASB-organized activities. This year, we are planning on launching virtual clubs as well as planning several fun virtual events! Click HERE to apply!

National Honor Society

National Honor Society

The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation’s premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. iLEAD Exploration is excited to invite all learners who are currently in 10-12th grade and who have been enrolled with iLEAD a minimum of one full semester and have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA to apply. The application period is open from now until September 30th at midnight. If you applied last fall and received an acceptance letter, there is no need to apply again. Meetings will begin in October. Click HERE to apply.

CTE Labs at Community Colleges

Career Technical Education

Career Technical Education is an exciting and ever-evolving frontier in California. Our community colleges started receiving grant funding to build out incredible labs for their CTE pathways, and they have created some wonderful hands-on opportunities, of which many of our learners can take advantage. Below are just some of the many offerings available. Reach out to your EF or for more information.

  • Aeronautical and Aviation Technology at Antelope Valley College has labs taught by industry professionals where learners can work on actual engines from aircraft. This program also boasts a 95% employment placement rate.
  • Athletic Training at Cerritos College gives learners the opportunity to practice movement as well as injury prevention and management with industry experts. Many of these courses also transfer to degrees in kinesiology.
  • Welding CTE at Orange Coast College has over nine available certifications. These hands-on courses enable learners to prepare for careers in the fields of welding inspectors, welding engineers, welding supervisors, and advanced welders.
  • Technical Theater at Pierce College offers a certificate that enables learners to work as lighting and stagecraft designers and builders. This program is hands-on, working with the performing arts pathways to design and build shows at the school’s theater.
  • Visual Display and Presentation at Saddleback College offers a certificate in which learners have the opportunity to design, prep, and shoot merchandise for advertisements as well as hands-on experience with creating window displays.

Please note that completing pathways does not guarantee certification. Most certifications require successful pathway completion and successfully passing the professional exam for that field.

Summer School Options


Summer is a good time to catch up or get ahead on credits toward graduation. Community college classes may be a good fit, but be aware that for this summer, courses are being offered only in an online format. Until June 12, you may submit paperwork to your EF. Requests for dual enrollment signatures after that must be sent to Colleges permit a maximum of five units during the summer. Another option for summer credit is to take free classes through iLEAD Online. Their summer program starts on July 1, and enrollment information can be found on the iLEAD Online website.

Dual Enrollment Reminders


Spring 2020
Remember to request a transcript to be sent to iLEAD Exploration/Hybrid when your community college course is complete. E-script (Electronic Transcript) is the quickest and best way to send transcripts. Click HERE for a list of participating schools. If your college is not participating in e-script, the hard-copy original transcripts will need to be either hand-delivered (keep envelope sealed) or mailed to:
iLEAD Hybrid/Exploration Registrar
3843 S. Bristol St. #616
Santa Ana, CA 92704
Summer and Fall
Due to changes with Covid-19, enrolling in a dual enrollment course may look different than it has in the past. Please refer to the individual college for specific directions on how to submit the signed dual enrollment form, and keep in contact with your EF. Please note that due to summer break, if a form is submitted for signature after June 12, there may be a delay in getting a signature, but paperwork will continue to be signed over summer.

Planning For College


Jobs, Internships, Community Service, and Caring

For colleges using a holistic approach to admissions (not just grades and test scores), work and community service can be important ways to bolster your application.

Paid Work Experience

Summers, weekends, or anytime, employment is considered a solid extracurricular activity. Employment shows you are dependable, hardworking, and independent. With many opportunities to work on campus, admission officers will know you’ll be a solid member of the community and fill needed roles. Work can take many forms: McDonald’s, babysitting, and lifeguarding are all great choices. It’s also a perfect way to save up money for college!

Unpaid Work Experience

From internships to caring for younger siblings, it is all important. While some may be able to access exciting internships, learners who take care of younger siblings, grandparents, or help family friends and neighbors are just as important, and their unpaid work will be seen with value. Learners who wish to step into more of a traditional internship experience will have to do a bit of work. Reach out to individuals who work in fields in which you may be interested, or speak with facilitators or professors to explore opportunities. Internships and networking are part of the process. In fact, you may be able to get a great recommendation letter for college if you do well in your internship.

Community Service

Authentic community service that matters to you is what’s important. Look into your community and see what is needed, what is missing, and where you can help. Look to your place of worship, your local food banks, and your local political campaigns. What organizations or activities matter to you? You shouldn’t be thinking about what college admission officers want to see. You should be thinking about what is important to you.


In 2016, Harvard, along with a coalition of 50 colleges, created a guide to cultivating concern for others through the college admission process. Check out the summary for a better understanding of meaningful service:

Turning the Tide

In a second report, Harvard created a guide to services and caring for parents and schools. Parents, this guide can assist you in helping your college-bound learner reduce stress and encourage meaningful engagement during high school:

Turning the Tide 2

Student Spotlight: Sydney Shepherd

HS LS1 copy

Sydney is the definition of a hardworking person. Not only did she begin her first iLEAD semester six weeks late, but she also completed the semester early with straight As, including a college-level English course! Sydney seems to effortlessly balance her academics and her professional career as a series regular on the Emmy-winning series General Hospital and the new Netflix animation series Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. She has entered multiple dance competitions, often placing first in her category. In addition to being a full-time learner and a working actress, Sydney gives back to her community by volunteering over seven hours a week at a local elementary school. She says, “I’m so glad to give back to the community. It feels good to help others!” Sydney’s determined spirit, passion, and humility will lead her on a road to success.

Sydney has been able to balance her busy schedule and maintain a 4.1 GPA by using the flexibility of the iLEAD program to her advantage. She states, “After attending public school for two years, I can confidently say that iLEAD has tremendously helped me maintain my work life, education, and mental health.” Even her mother agrees that when the pandemic hit, Sydney realized how grateful she was to already be part of such a flexible program. With the help of iLEAD’s course pacing, Sydney is also able to find time to study for SATs and prepare for college. She says she might want to go to a Historically Black College or University, such as Howard or Spelman, or she might stay in California so that she can continue working and attend one of California’s prestigious universities. Either way, we know that with all of her hard work and dedication, her future will be bright!

iLEAD Exploration ASB

ASB post final

We are excited to announce that iLEAD is now accepting Associated Student Body (ASB) applications for the 2020-21 school year. ASB is a leadership team comprised of learners who will represent the entire student body of high schoolers. The main objective of ASB is to help learners feel more connected to school and each other through involvement in ASB-organized activities.

We are looking for current 8th-11th grade learners who desire to connect with other high school learners and to help facilitate connections among their fellow learners. Team players and those who possess strong leadership skills are encouraged to apply!

Learners who are selected for ASB will be expected to attend monthly virtual meetings as well as help plan/attend a few social events throughout the year. If you are interested in joining the team, please fill out this ASB Application by May 15, 2020.

Social and Emotional Well-Being

Lunch bunch title

n an effort to address the emotional tension we are all experiencing during this season, the high school team would like to share some brief videos created by youth mentors who offer some solid words of advice for teenagers. Josten’s has made these inspirational videos available for free during this crisis. Please select any topics of interest to and spend some time talking about them together as a family. The topics include: our response to Covid-19, judgment, choices, changing my world, pressure, insecurities, failure, mental health, health and wellness, self-confidence, and self-reflection. We hope that your teenager feels encouraged, valued, and inspired as a result!

In addition, each Tuesday from April 14 through May 12, iLEAD’s student support team will host a virtual lunch bunch for learners by grade level groupings so that they can have an informal time to connect with support facilitators and other learners. This might be a great way for all Exploration learners to make new friends and talk through some of the questions and concerns going on in the world around us. Here is a flyer with those weekly times and links.

To join the High School Lunch Bunch on Tuesdays from 12:30-1:00 click here.

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