The Homeschoolers Aggregate
|The Homeschoolers Aggregate|
Homeschoolers Aggregate Online (or HSAO) was a fan-created immersive online fiction series that began in October 2006 with some short, text based "advertisements" for an online program for home schooled students.
Videos in the series shared strict rules that participants needed to follow in order to remain in the program. Many viewers questioned the relationship of these videos and the HSA website to the lonelygirl15 production, but it was quickly realized that the videos and site were fan-run spinoff running parallel to Bree's story. HSAO was a game following the idea of immersive fiction more than a traditional ARG, as it offered no puzzles to break.
To participate in the program, students were required to register by a deadline. They then completed written tasks to find a password to The Class Notebook, a password-protected message forum. On the forum, students were discouraged from interacting or socializing and were to instead leave answers to "assignments," which had been posted on the HSA website. Assignments ranged from replying to philosophical theories and making personal connections to these ideas, to discussing issues relevant to Bree's situation, to responding to specific pieces of art, and even creating and sharing one's own art work.
Videos from the group were created to either reinforce a lesson's focus, provide insight to an area of examination, or to offer clues as to what the new forum password was. While interaction was discouraged, students could elect to post personal information about themselves on their in-character blogs on the site.
The head of school was a woman known as Rose Marie Crandall Crowley Kelly, married to Phillip Crowley (no relation to Aleister). She was a very strict yet supportive instructor who encouraged students to do their best. She expected students to follow her rules without question, and those who have questioned her have had their IP addresses banned from the site. Assignments would receive responses from Ms. Kelly and student work was frequently exhibited on the website. At the end of each term, students were treated to a graduation ceremony video and a certificate of completion.
Throughout each term, a back story emerged involving Ms. Kelly’s exploits, and those who seemed interested in harming her, for reasons that remain unclear. The website offered clues, blogs for additional characters such as guest instructors or former students, and links to related material.
During its primary stages, HSAOnline appeared to be recovering from some sort of major hack of its computer systems as well as from a suspicious fire, based on some oblique comments from Ms. Kelly. Orientation 2006 completed with a speech by LordGreystoke422 entitled HSAO: What is Reality. Graduates who completed the necessary assignments were issued diplomas and treated to HSAO online yearbooks.
Disorientation 2006: Transcendental Train Trip
For a short period, Ms. Kelly was institutionalized for unclear reasons vaguely addressed in a video entitled Rose Kelly. There is some speculation as to whether Ms. Kelly suffers from spontaneous combustions. During this period, students were invited along on a train trip by a mysterious host/architect. The train ride turned into a surrealistic and confusing journey that lead nowhere.
On the train, the characters, Lyn, her mother Rebecca, laughing, Indigo (gogo) James, and Ms. Kelly, realized that they are fictional characters whose situations, struggles, and lives have been plotted by the architect, their host on the journey. The host mistakenly believed that the characters would happily join together to discuss this new development, however, the characters expressed their shock and anger that this author's whim has forced them to experience difficulty and pain. The characters refused to oblige the author/architect/host, and stayed in their rooms. One by one the characters confronted the author. They each left the train, vowing to become real and take hold of their own lives.
Although the lounge, library, and drawing room art offer much to occupy the travelers, many of whom are Ms. Kelly's students, there was little else to do but watch the characters grow into people and leave the architect's story. Ms. Kelly jumped off of the train part way through the trip to get back to her family, her school and the consequences she would face for some fraudulent behavior. In a drunken stupor, the architect found herself left forever on an empty train, alone to wander the halls of the fictional train wreck she created. Back at HSA and with her life now in her own hands, Ms. Kelly vowed to turn things around. She applied for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status for her school. Back at the helm, she began planning a new term for her students focused on technology and art.
Term 2006: Technology and Art
Students spent the term focused on examining technology and art, as well as learning from the examples set by lonelygirl15 in a series of lessons from Bree. HSA is sponsored by a mysterious charitable foundation named TiKO, whose sponsors choose to remain anonymous. TiKO demands that HSA hold a very public open house, so that the sponsors can assess the school's work. Some paperwork in Ms. Kelly’s office alluded to a conflict between TiKO’s intentions and Ms. Kelly’s curriculum. Professor Boone secretly worked for TiKO, as discovered by emails in his classroom. Ms. Kelly explained to students that she was concerned about continued funding for her non-profit school.
As graduation neared, Ms. Kelly solicited some of her friends to contribute their words of wisdom for the graduation video. Contributing friends included ApotheosisAZ, Simian Liberation Front, Nikki Bower, Dr. Immant, Jonas, TWJaniak, Sister and Daniel's friend Paul. Students' final projects were displayed on the HSA website.
Term 1 2007: The Philosophy of Good and Evil
Students completed a variety of exercises and receive help with class notebook passwords from Professor Boone. However, they began to notice Ms. Kelly’s sporadic attendance and lack of responses to their class work. Professor Boone shared some information with students in the form of a notice. A video credited to The Executive Director of the TiKO Foundation explained some concern over Ms. Kelly's last few video lessons, which appeared to be targeting Bree and her situation. The video did not give specific information, other than to say that Ms. Kelly needed to learn how to better serve her students. Along with the text, the video also showed firefighters battling a blazing building and an unknown man engaged in actions that appeared to be suspicious.
Professor Boone, left to run the school in Ms. Kelly’s absence, discussed his concerns with the students. Suspicious of the sponsors, TiKO's public relations video, and Rose's plight in the hands of these individuals, he left copies of sensitive material that he had delivered at his time as a go-between for TiKO and the sponsors, and posted a lesson involving pieces of art that alluded to sinister behavior on the part of those holding Ms. Kelly. Surprisingly, a new video was released, again credited to both HSA and TiKO. It included a calm voice-mail message from Ms. Kelly, who stated that the seminar had "opened [her] eyes." Professor Boone and the class were left to wonder if Ms. Kelly willfully joined forces with her captors or if she was influenced through more sinister means.
After Daniel appeared on camera under the influence of his captors, convincing Bree to do the ceremony, Ms. Kelly offered a new lesson, suggesting that the Order could provide a helpful career boost for Bree and her friends. Back at the school, with the term ending, a number of the students asked for extensions to complete missing work in time to receive certificates of completion. However, with her sudden time away, Ms. Kelly was unable to provide the necessary assistance to help these students complete their academic tasks. At the end of the term, only four students managed to complete the requirements to receive their certificates.
Winter Course 2007: Examining Ms. Kelly
As the first term of 2007 ended with neither fanfare nor a special graduation ceremony, Ms. Kelly seemed too preoccupied by her recent experiences to focus on lessons. Ms. Kelly's weekly visit to her therapist was presented as a voice-over, unlike her previous text-based videos. The continuation of this visit shed no real light on the dreams that seemed to plague her. It is still unknown whether or not Ms. Kelly accepted the seemingly sinister intentions of the TiKO Foundation. Ms. Kelly stepped away from her self-reflection to share a lesson called Perception vs. Reality that alluded to the family issues afflicting Daniel. With another voice-over and the continued water motif, Ms. Kelly shared her suggestions for ways to approach the future.