First-grade teacher Akela Silkman of Haines won third place in the Association of Alaska School Boards’ “Digital Lessons for Digital Learners” contest. The contest gave teachers an opportunity to use advancements in digital publishing technology to create “eBook” lesson plans. eBooks incorporate photos, videos, audio and hyperlinks into their pages. Silkman and Haines School technology coordinator Sam McPhetres developed teacher and student eBooks entitled “Eagles in your Backyard” for use by primary students in grades K-3. The interactive lesson plan was “a great opportunity to learn the software that could lead to creating customized textbooks in the future.” Silkman plans to use the lesson and activities in her classroom this fall during the American Bald Eagle Festival. Her prize was a round-trip ticket and lodging at the 2012 International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Diego, June 24-27.
McPhetres also attended the conference with funds from the school, as did middle school science teacher Ella Bredthauer, who funded her own way. Silkman also met her father, David Eldridge, a high school careers and math teacher in Yuba City, Calif., at the conference. “It was great to get to discuss the session and get to know each other as colleagues,” she said.
Frances Leach is competing in the “Who’s Your Diva” fundraiser Sept. 15, sponsored by the Juneau Lyric Opera. Leach was director of the Southeast Alaska State Fair about five years ago, when she lived in Haines. She produced the diva event last year when she was working for the organization and said she was “excited that they asked me to be a diva this year.” The organization has been soliciting votes and selling advertisements for the event since June. Supporters vote for their favorite diva with charitable donations to the Juneau Lyric Opera. Leach currently works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She will appear as Amber in the Juneau Lyric Opera’s production of Hairspray in November. For more information, go to
Mary and Tim O’Brien visited Doris Ward and experienced a sunny Haines for three days, including a tour of Valley of the Eagles golf course with Stan Jones. Starting from Louisville, Colo., they stopped in Juneau and Haines en route to Seward, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Denali National Park. Tim, son of Doris’ college roommate, and Mary were on their first Alaska trip.  He’s worked 30 years for a computer company, and Mary is a retired music teacher.
The Jacobson family sees plenty of whales while running their daily sightseeing excursion to Juneau, but they had an unexpectedly close encounter with a group of humpbacks while subsistence fishing recently. Glen, Libby and Ketch Jacobson were fishing in Lutak Inlet when they saw the whales near Taiyasanka Harbor. They drove their zodiac over to get a closer look, and cut the engine to watch the show. Three adults and a baby made their way toward the boat, and surfaced close by. Glen caught the sighting on video, which is gaining popularity on YouTube. Search for “Humpback Whales in Haines, Alaska” to see for yourself.
Calling all cowboys and farmers! Lynn Canal Community Players is still accepting chorus members for their fall production of Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The first read-through of the play is 1 p.m. Sunday at the Chilkat Center.
Reed Scott-Schwalbach has created an online account to support Tim June and Sue Nelson while Tim undergoes medical treatment in Seattle. Tim has a chronic heart and lung condition that requires him to be no more than 15-minutes from a cardiac emergency center. Donations may be made online at by searching for “It’s Tim Time.” Contributions may also be made directly to the “Tim June and Sue Nelson Medical Assistance Fund” at the Haines branch of First National Bank Alaska or by sending a check to Stephanie Scott, at Box 431, Haines, 99827. A card is available to sign at the bank, or donations may be made anonymously.
The luxury yacht M/Y Luna was anchored outside the Haines harbor this week. The 377-foot vessel is owned by Roman Abramovich, the Russian business tycoon who is reportedly the country’s 9th richest man, worth an estimated $12.1 billion according to a 2012 Forbes magazine list. The $115 million ship includes two helicopter pads and a covered swimming pool. Abramovich and his party went on a walking tour with Joe Ordonez and ordered an ermine hat from Alaska Indian Arts. Members of the party also bought a Heather Lende book and jewelry at Debbie Kennedy‘s art gallery on Soapsuds Gallery.