AO: Unlimited began in 2008 when three AO teens named Tim, Hannah, and Brittani met at ChildlightUSA's Charlotte Mason conference. They had so much in common due to their AO upbringing that they became fast friends immediately. They decided that day that all AO teens should be able to meet each other and talk about what they love, so they founded AO: Unlimited.
AOU started as a Proboards forum and a Facebook group. The Proboards forum was a big hit and has remained fairly active over the years. The Facebook group took longer to gain momentum, but when the server began to close down inactive groups, AOU members started posting in full force. Now, between the forum and the Facebook group, AOU has book discussions, RPGs, games, chats, places where students exchange their writing and poetry, talk about AO years, Charlotte Mason's ideas and pursuing them in college, get to know one another and discover common interests, and ultimately find like minds.
As well as meeting AO students online, Tim, Hannah, and Brittani wanted to be able to meet new friends at the ChildlightUSA conference every summer and give other AO teens a chance to form friendships with kindred spirits. They became the informal board of directors and leaders of the student conference. That conference has been through a series of names as its relationship with Childlight has changed over the years. Currently it is referred to as "The Charlotte Mason Student Conference."
Meet the AOU Student Board
Hannah graduated AO in 2008. She is currently a college sophomore at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studies vocal performance and film scoring. Like most AO-ers, she writes fiction, loves classic literature, and is a little obsessed with “The Lord of the Rings.” Hannah grew up dancing in the kitchen to opera music, reading big books after her bedtime by her night-light, crying over her math lessons, laughing at Shakespeare plays, and climbing willow trees in the backyard. Her interest in Charlotte Mason grew as she watched her mom co-found her city’s Charlotte Mason support group and join the Childight board. By helping her mom with Childlight’s first Charlotte Mason conferences, Hannah learned much more about her unique style of schooling, and greatly appreciated the gift she had been given in her AO education. Hannah has now met so many wonderful friends through AOU, and is so thankful to have the Charlotte Mason community as a part of her life. Her plans for the future include marrying her fiancé (and AOU co-founder) Tim Laurio, attending graduate school, singing opera and writing music for films, building a hobbit hole to live in and a hot air balloon to explore in, and of course, schooling her own children the Charlotte Mason way.
Tim was homeschooled all the way through, graduated in '08, and is getting ready to finish his first four years of college. He started Ambleside when he was in the fifth grade, when the curriculum was still being developed, and served as one of the AO guinea pigs by flight-testing the AO years as they were created and providing feedback. Since graduating, he has continued to make book suggestions and has kept up with old Charlotte Mason friends as well as meeting many new ones through the Childlight conferences and AOU. Like many AO students, Tim loves classic literature, especially good fantasy stories from "Beowulf" and "The Faerie Queene" on down to "The Space Trilogy" and "A Wrinkle in Time." He is a great lover and mediocre writer of poetry. He loves classical music, singing, piano, and composing, has taken three cello lessons, and would love to compose and conduct his own music someday, if his dreams of a singing career don't pan out. At the moment, however, he is focused on finishing up an English degree, which includes a semester abroad at Oxford this fall. Some of his other interests include filmmaking, swordfighting, acting, apples and cheese for lunch, and his beautiful fiancée Hannah who conveniently happens to be another AO student. Tim has a theory, by the way, that AO students are doomed to have an overabundance of interests and hobbies in their lives, and is doing his best to prove it.