Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Klukwan and Haines students head back to school


August 31, 2017

The Phrase of the Week “Yak’éi ixwsiteení!” (It is good to see you!) greeted students Monday morning at Klukwan school on their first day back.

Twenty-three students from preschool through twelfth grade will be attending school this year, about 10 more than the beginning of last year. A new preschool through second grade teacher, Janice Byerlee, will also be joining the staff.

Students told teachers during breakfast about their summer travels. Third grader Noah Nash went to Sweden this summer and said he’s “looking forward to seeing his cousins all the time” this school year.

Sixth grader Raven Hotch went to Ohio for her grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration.

School cook Jack Strong said he’s looking forward to teaching kids about cooking healthy food. Strong will be teaching students Tlingit art, song and dance on Fridays.

Lead teacher Jessica Tipkemper gathered students and staff into a circle for a morning game and introductions before leading the Pledge of Allegiance in both English and Tlingit.

Tipkemper said cross-country skiing, Eulegon fishing and berry picking will all be part of this year’s curriculum.

Students will follow the seasons and learn how to subsist from the resources available.

Tipkemper’s hopes for this year include doing a year-long study of the Chilkat River and exploring Alaska studies with an intimate understanding of the history and culture of Klukwan and the Chilkat Valley before moving on to the rest of Alaska.

The school plans to start fundraising efforts for a new playground, expand Tlingit classes and continue to grow its archery program. 

Chatham School District is one of the poorest districts in the state, but Tipkemper said “money is only one way to measure wealth and Klukwan is really rich in resources.”

Tipkemper said she’s looking forward to making “the most of everything that’s around.”

The Haines Borough School District opened its doors for the first day of school Tuesday, Aug. 22.

Students of all ages filtered into Haines School, hugging parents farewell, greeting old friends and posing for school photos.

Fourth grader Audrey Bader went fishing and visited her uncle this summer. Her friend Addie Prisciandaro went to Anchorage and spent time with her aunt.

Bader was looking forward to seeing all her friends this school year while Prisciandaro said she was “honestly looking forward to harder school work this year.”

This year’s student body president, Seth Waldo, spent his summer fishing, crabbing and running his own lawn care business, “Seth Ro’s Services.” Waldo said he learned a lot about not over-committing.

He said he is looking forward to his senior year at Haines High and representing the Haines student body as the Alaska Associate for Student Government in Wasilla this fall.

Waldo said he is especially looking forward to hearing input from Morgan Cloke as the spirit committee chair. She is the sole female representative in the high school.

Marty Fowler will serve as vice president and Keegan Palmieri will be treasurer.

Waldo said, “I couldn’t ask for a better crew,” and looks forward to bringing new ideas and student body input before the Haines Borough school board this year.

Principal Rene Martin said Haines School has a total K-12 enrollment of 262 students in its preliminary count, including students in the home school program. The district budgeted for an enrollment of 250.

The Karl Ward Gymnasium floor is newly painted and refinished. Open gym nights for volleyball, basketball, and weight room access will begin Wednesday, Sept. 6. Haines is hosting a cross-country match this weekend.


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