It started out as an unusual school assembly at Eagle River High School on the morning of Feb. 1 as Alaska Commissioner of Education Michael Johnson, Anchorage School District’s Superintendent Deena Bishop, and CEO of the National Institute for Excellence Dr. Gary Stark arrived to speak. They knew a tightly held secret. Dr. Stark began his speech, but then shifted his focus by revealing that the purpose of the assembly was actually to announce the winner of the Milken Educator Award. The Milken Educator Award is a rare honor for select teachers across the U.S. Only one educator from Alaska received it this year. The award comes with a $25,000 prize and numerous professional development opportunities.
A simple mission with profound implications for Anchorage youth. The Anchorage Youth Court (AYC) offers the ability for youth to receive training and gain a deeper understanding of our judicial system while helping their peers resolve legal problems.
Eagle River High School’s (ERHS) volleyball teams donned pink like many teams on October 10th to raise awareness for breast cancer. However, the Lady Wolves decided to do something unique; they raised money from bake sales and at home games throughout October to give directly to someone in Eagle River fighting breast cancer. Since its inception in 2005, this program has raised money for members of Eagle River who are battling breast cancer. Recipients can use the money for any need they have, whether that be for offsetting medical costs, paying regular bills, or buying groceries.
While some might like to run like the wind, in this house, my children like to run with the rabbits. What started with a race Wayne Armstrong and Lynda Barcom held in the parking lot at Birchwood Elementary back in 1987, has not only kept its momentum but has proven year after year, that this is a race many elementary school-aged children get excited about. Thursday, September 28, 2017, approximately 800 children showed up to what has become the Beach Lake Area Trails Cross Country Running Jamboree not because they want to win but because they want to be there. (Ok, some are there to win.)
Discussions about closing any Eagle River/Chugiak Schools are no longer being conducted in the Anchorage School District although local parents may need to be active in consideration of ASD boundary changes, according to Elisa Snelling, School Board Treasurer. “We can take a look at our enrollment out here and see that we are not getting smaller as a community,” explained Snelling. “All the reductions are in Anchorage. We’re about 95.4 percent of our anticipated enrollment, which is about where we were last year.”
In the back of my mind I wondered - isn’t the school supposed to provide all this? Do they just not know how to manage their resources? Maybe, it is different at other schools. When the military moved us, we started a new school. New school, new PTA - this school will have it together, and I will get my casual PTA lunches! Again, school district resource shortfalls left classrooms and teachers in need. So, I went to work. Along with other parents, we turned to the community for the necessary resources for students to have a productive and meaningful school year.
Each year, the Air Force JROTC program at Eagle River High School offers cadets a chance to attend a week long Leadership Camp near Gunsight Mountain, located about 8 miles south of Eureka. Lt. Col. (Ret) David Ennis and CMSgt. (Ret) Bill McNew along with the adult volunteer “Cadre” provide cadets training in first aid, orienteering, marksmanship, archery, rappelling, physical fitness, team building and leadership skills. Cadets leave Leadership Camp having been physically and mentally challenged.