Shoppers at Francis Scott Key Mall could do more than just browse stores Saturday. They also had a chance to learn about local independent schools.
For the second year in a row, the School Choice Fair was held at the mall in Frederick, and featured representatives from 13 area schools.
Event coordinator Angela Phillips, director of development with New Life Christian School in Frederick, described the day as the public getting "to shop for educational choices" outside of whatever their assigned public schools happen to be.
"Our children learn best when their parents have some say in their choices to be educated," Phillips said.
Phillips said Saturday's milder temperatures led to good mall traffic throughout the day.
"I think the weather's been great, so the turnout's been great. I think the mall's feeling that as well," she said.
The 13 schools all had representatives handing out information to passers-by. The fair also included eight student musical performances on a stage in the middle of the mall.
Danielle Celebre, of Walkersville, was one of the home-school co-op representatives at the fair. She said the co-op consisted of two eight-week semesters that met on Mondays. She said the co-op taught classes like art, music, drama and wood-work, since actual core subjects were taught within individual home schools.
She said about 30 students, ages 3 to 16 years old, attended the co-op. Celebre said the students were divided into smaller age groups.
"So we're not teaching preschool and 16-year-olds in the same room," Celebre said.
She said she was trying to reach out to people who might be curious about home-schooling, as well as people who are already home-schooling but might want some additional support.
Celebre said she started home-schooling when her daughter started to struggle in a public school.
"It wasn't just an educational decision for my family, but a lifestyle," she said. "We can see pop-pop in the middle of November, and not have to worry about pulling the children out and getting dinged for attendance. We can make that week up in July if we want to."
Ginger Bennett, of Frederick, picked up information from the various schools with her 4-year-old daughter Amelia by her side.
Bennett said she was exploring independent school options since she was looking for smaller class sizes and wanted to avoid the Common Core.
"There's no proof that it's really tested or proven, it was just sort of rolled out," Bennett said.
She said she was impressed with what she saw from The Banner School.
"We feel like we've only got one chance with her, so we want to make sure she has the best opportunities possible," Bennett said of her daughter.
Follow Laura Dukes on Twitter: @LauraDukesFNP.
In attendance were: New Life Christian School; Mount Airy Christian Academy; The Lucy School, of Middletown; The Banner School of Frederick; Friends Meeting School, of Ijamsville; St. John Regional Catholic School, of Frederick; Frederick Christian Academy; Mother Seton School, of Emmitsburg; two home-school co-ops; and three public charter schools: Monocacy Valley Montessori, Carroll Creek Montessori and Frederick Classical Charter School, all of Frederick.