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Southeast Alaska News

Pacific High: A (new) century of education in downtown Sitka

Tue, 2014-01-07 10:38

“The greatest iteration yet,” is how Pacific High co-principal Phil Burdick describes the remodeled school, which has been an educational center for over a century. (KCAW photo/Emily Forman)

Sitka’s Pacific High School students returned from winter break today (1-7-14), to find one last holiday gift: a new school. For the past two years, Pacific High has been housed in the Southeast Alaska Career Center, while the Lincoln Street building was remodeled from the ground up. KCAW’s Emily Forman visited the all-new Pacific High the day before students arrived and learned how this state-of-the-art facility has been over a century in the making.


Listen to iFriendly audio.

It’s the first week of the New Year. Resolutions are fresh, and we’re still optimistic that they’ll stick. It’s a time focused on new beginnings, and Sitka’s Pacific High School is honoring that sentiment in a big way – with a brand new building.

The central area of the school is filled with natural light. (KCAW photo/Emily Forman)

KCAW: So here I am this is the new building.
Burdick: Looks great doesn’t it? It’s hard to see on the radio but…
KCAW: Describe it
Burdick: Looking from office you get this great rotunda. Which has this light from the sky coming down in this scoop. So, we have this great space where everyone can meet and gather. That’s my favorite spot.

If it sounds quiet for 11:30am on a Monday, that’s because the students are still on break. When I ask Phil Burdick co-principal of Pacific High about how the renovation came to fruition, he starts from the beginning. The very beginning. All the way back to the late 1800s.

Education was segregated for a long time in Sitka and this place where we sit now was a part of that history. This site has gone through many many incarnations.

Tracking the history is a little murky, but the point is that for well over 100 years the Lincoln Street site has been dedicated to education. And today’s version is worlds away from the original: a one room, segregated, Native training school. Burdick is confident that the current iteration is the best.

KCAW: So are there way in which the curriculum will be able to be expanded because of this space?
Burdick: Yeah, if you look around every classroom has door to the outside, which ties into our model that learning happens out in the community. It doesn’t have to happen in the school. So, everyone has an opportunity to get out, everyone has an opportunity to get messy, everyone has an opportunity to find a quiet space, everyone has an opportunity to learn in the way that suits them best.

This building is all about options. For instance, Burdick loves the “flex” room – a room flanked on either side by large glass door that lead to two additional classrooms. The doors slide open – transforming what was three separate rooms into a large open space.

My name is Mandy Summer and I teach English and health.

Summer says the space is a huge luxury. It’s roomy compared to the career center where teachers had to share classrooms. Once Summer started listing the new perks, it was hard to stop.

Summer: It’s nice to have sinks in our rooms. The little things that you don’t realize. And it’s just new, I have only worked here with the ceiling dripping on me, and moldy tiles above my head. That’s the only Pacific High I’ve ever known. So, this is really nice.

Hillary Seeland teaches English, History and Government and really appreciates her large windows overlooking crescent harbor.

Seeland: And the windows are really lovely, I love all the light in here. I love the color pallet in here. I love the storage.
KCAW: Look at your view.
Seeland: I know right!
KCAW: How many teachers have this kind of view?
Seeland: No one.

Rest assured that the Pacific High crew is feeling pretty grateful, and optimistic about 2014.

Burdick: There’s a lot of history on this site and we’re just the latest and hopefully greatest iteration of what has gone on here.

Breaking the new American class system

Tue, 2014-01-07 10:07


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Shannon Haugland, with the Sitka Film Society, discusses this Friday’s screening of Inequality for All, a documentary featuring former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. (5:30 PM Fri Jan 10, Coliseum Theater downtown, tickets $8 in advance at Old Harbor Books)

Tue Jan 7, 2014

Tue, 2014-01-07 10:01


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Remodeled Pacific High building a century in the making. Ocean acidification changing behavior of some fish. USGC’s Polar Star steaming to Antarctica to free Russian, Chinese ships.

SEARHC names new practice director

Tue, 2014-01-07 01:05

Eric Gettis is the new director of practice management at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. He begins the new position on Jan. 13.

Gettis will work alongside Dr. Janice Sheufelt, SEARHC’s new primary care clinics medical director. Together they will manage SEARHC’s 16 medical practices.

Gettis has over 20 years of healthcare leadership, according to a statement from SEARHC. He comes to Juneau from the Tri-City area in Washington state.

read more

Dept. of Revenue names deputy commissioner

Tue, 2014-01-07 01:05

Mike Pawlowski has been named deputy commissioner of the Department of Revenue.

Pawlowski currently works as a petroleum fiscal systems advisor to the commissioner and has been responsible for promoting Senate Bill 21, an overhaul of the state’s oil tax regime.

read more

Proposed set net ban initiative rejected

Tue, 2014-01-07 01:04

JUNEAU — Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell on Monday rejected a proposed initiative that sought to ban commercial shore gill nets and set nets in non-subsistence areas.

Supporters of the proposal billed it as a conservation effort and were seeking to move to the signature-gathering process to qualify the proposal for the ballot. Critics, like the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association, called the proposal a fish grab by opposing interests.

read more

University of Wash. gets Future of Ice program

Tue, 2014-01-07 01:03

SEATTLE — With the planet’s polar regions changing faster than ever before in human history, the University of Washington is launching a new initiative to boost research in the Arctic and prepare students for a world where melting ice is opening new opportunities — and posing new threats.

Under the Future of Ice program, the university will hire eight scientists and faculty members and offer the country’s first Arctic studies minor outside of Alaska.

The inaugural course, which starts this month, filled up in less than two weeks.

read more

Avalanche forecasters issue backcountry warning

Tue, 2014-01-07 01:03

ANCHORAGE — Avalanche monitors in Alaska have issued an avalanche warning for backcountry areas of the Kenai and Western Chugach Mountains.

The warning was issued Saturday and was in effect until 5 p.m. Sunday, the Anchorage Daily News reported. An avalanche advisory issued Monday said the hazard is considerable above the tree line in the Turnagain area.

A storm was predicted in the backcountry area that could worsen already tenuous conditions.

read more

EPA tightens requirements for new wood stoves

Tue, 2014-01-07 01:03

FAIRBANKS — The federal Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new standards for wood stoves that would reduce the maximum amount of fine particulate emissions allowed for new stoves sold in 2015 and 2019.

Maximum emissions would be reduced by one-third next year and by 80 percent in five years, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

read more

Scholarships offered to Sealaska shareholders

Mon, 2014-01-06 21:45

Rosita Worl is president of the Sealaska Heritage Institute, which offers scholarships to shareholder descendants.

The Sealaska Heritage Institute is once again offering scholarships to students attending college, graduate school or vocational-technical programs.

Only Sealaska shareholders and their lineal descendents are eligible.

Institute President Rosita Worl says up to 400 scholarships are awarded each year.

“A major consideration is the hopes that our educated young people will come back home and help us in developing strong, healthy communities,” Worl says.

The application deadline is March 1st. Students submitting paperwork by February 1st get an extra $50 tacked onto their scholarships, if they qualify.

Applications are available via the institute’s website.

Worl says the program has broadened its focus since it began.

“At first we thought we’d just concentrate just on education required to work in Sealaska. But then we found out that we need everything from an anthropologist to accountants to foresters. So we dropped that, just because we found we needed educated people in all areas,” she says.

Scholarships have totaled around $400,000 a year. Most of the funding comes from the Sealaska regional Native corporation.

Sealaska has more than 21,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian shareholders. About half live outside Alaska.

$10K plus a coin collection stolen in Hydaburg

Mon, 2014-01-06 17:35

Over the new year, someone broke into a home in Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island, forced open a safe and stole about $10,000 plus a coin collection.

According to Alaska State Troopers, the report came in on Jan. 2nd, and the burglary likely occurred between New Year’s Eve and noon on New Year’s Day.

Troopers report that the unknown burglar apparently entered through a rear-facing window of the house. The investigation continues, and anyone with information is encouraged to contact Troopers in Klawock. Informants can remain anonymous.

And Ketchikan’s total rainfall for the year is….

Mon, 2014-01-06 16:55

So far in 2014, Ketchikan has gotten about two inches of rain. It’s been less than a week, though, and as we know, there’s plenty more to come.

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Juneau predicts that the rest of this winter will be colder and wetter than normal for Southeast Alaska. He also gave a brief weather recap for 2013, including Ketchikan’s official rainfall total for the year.

As the saying goes: It rains in a rainforest. How much? Well, Ketchikan averages a little more than 150 inches every year, with some years approaching 200.

This past year was an interesting one, from a meteorologist’s perspective.

“For Ketchikan, the entire year was one of extremes in terms of precipitation,” said Rick Fritsch with the National Weather Service office in Juneau.

He said that only two months – August and November –had normal levels of precipitation. Several summer months were particularly dry; and then there was December, “Where Ketchikan received 13.45 inches above normal. To put that in perspective, that’s almost 100 percent more.”

Fritsch explained where all that rain came from.

“Believe it or not, weather that begins as a convective complex in the Indian Ocean makes it across the Indian Ocean to the Southwest Pacific Islands area and then eventually has an impact on our weather in Southeast Alaska,” he said.

In the case of December, there was a solid connection between Southeast to the tropical Pacific Ocean. Fritsch said that moisture just kept coming our way, carried by a series of low pressure systems that form in the Northwest or West Central Pacific and then head to the Gulf of Alaska, “where all good lows go to die.”

While it’s considered poor form to look a gift horse in the mouth, I just had to ask why the summer of 2013 was so gloriously dry and warm.

“The short answer is we got lucky,” he said. “The longer answer had to do with the fact that the jet stream was keeping things far enough away from us, either to the north or to the south.”

That jet stream defines where those soggy lows end up. And speaking of soggy, Fritsch had a prediction. While the first few days of January have been above-average in terms of temperature, he said, “I still am expecting the winter as a total, December January and February, to come out below normal in terms of temperature, and right now it looks like we have a pretty good chance of above normal in terms of precipitation.”

He added that it’s a little too early in the year to predict spring and summer.

Oh, and despite that dry summer, Ketchikan’s total rainfall for 2013 was pretty average. Fritsch reported that Alaska’s First City hit 151 inches even.

Space heater suspected in Saturday house fire

Mon, 2014-01-06 16:15

While the official cause of a Saturday morning house fire remains under investigation, Ketchikan Fire Chief Frank Share says he believes it originated with an electric space heater.

The fire department received the first call about the Edmonds Street fire at 9:30 a.m. Share says firefighters arrived within a couple of minutes, and remained at the scene until about 5 p.m.

One house was destroyed and two others were damaged, but there were no injuries. Share says the house where the fire began had no smoke detectors, and the lone occupant who had been sleeping narrowly escaped.

Share encourages everyone to install smoke detectors, and check the batteries regularly.

He adds that there did not appear to be any damage to the wooden boardwalk adjacent to the damaged homes. However, the city has cordoned it off while officials examine the structural integrity.

After school lineup at Sitka Fine Arts Camp

Mon, 2014-01-06 10:49


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Bayla Laks, SFAC After-School Coordinator, and Adam Andis, photography instructor, discuss the lineup of programs available for children and adults starting Jan 20 at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. Learn more about SFAC online.

Mon Jan 6, 2014

Mon, 2014-01-06 10:41


Listen to iFriendly audio.
Services planned for Vida Davis, Tlingit elder and educator. Sitka’s Himschoot wins national teaching prize. New Petersburg borough plans state land selections. ASMI seeking entries in annual photo contest.

3 apply to fill vacant Ketchikan City Council seat

Mon, 2014-01-06 01:04

KETCHIKAN — Three people have applied to fill a seat recently vacated on the Ketchikan City Council.

The Ketchikan Daily News says the three candidates — Dick Coose, Jacquie Meck and Mickey Robbins — also were candidates to fill the initial vacancy created by the November departure of Sam Bergeron.

Bergeron’s replacement, Russell Wodehouse, resigned Dec. 19, just days after other members learned he had been fired and his teaching certificate revoked in Washington state after a sexual misconduct investigation. Wodehouse denies the allegations.

read more

Corps of Engineers advances Arctic port study

Mon, 2014-01-06 01:04

ANCHORAGE — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to recommend a configuration of port facilities in western Alaska that could serve ships sailing to Arctic waters.

The Corps in early March will announce which configuration of docks, harbors and other infrastructure could best serve vessels in northern U.S. waters. The choice could be Nome, nearby Port Clarence, or a combination of the Seward Peninsula locations.

read more

Rural Alaska telecom services to be expanded

Mon, 2014-01-06 01:03

ANCHORAGE — Urban and rural telecom expansions will continue in 2014.

In rural Alaska, the General Communications Inc. TERRA-Northwest project is expected to extend faster broadband service from Nome to Kotzebue.

The TERRA service relies on a hybrid of fiber and microwave systems, and produced improved broadband performance in much of Southwest and Northwest Alaska in 2013, with Nome coming online toward the end of the year.

read more

For homeless, few options at night

Mon, 2014-01-06 01:03

ANCHORAGE — It’s 14 degrees in Anchorage and afternoon winter darkness is falling. You have nowhere to stay.

Where will you spend the night?

There are four basic answers for a single adult, according to professionals who serve the city’s homeless population: a shelter, the sleep-off center, an emergency room or jail.

Otherwise, people sleep in tents and cars, even in frigid temperatures.

Last month, two women died doing just that.

read more

Kodiak sewer replacement project enters 8th year of hidden progress

Mon, 2014-01-06 01:02

KODIAK — This summer, the city of Kodiak will begin the eighth year of the Aleutian Homes Water and Sewer Replacement Project, an ambitious effort to replace all water, sewer and storm drain conduits in Kodiak’s most densely populated neighborhood.

The project, which will need more than a decade before all is said and done, solves water and sewage leaks that have plagued Kodiak and cost the city millions of dollars.

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