News and Events of the Bering Strait School District
Tuesday September 30th 2014
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Welcome from the Faculty and Staff of the Bering Strait School District

Believe it or not we are approaching the mid-point of first quarter already! BSSD has had a great start to the 2014-2015 school year. We are in the process of implementing our new Cengage National Geographic Reading, English Language Arts (ELA) program that aligns with the Alaska English Language Arts Standards.

This year we will audit the district’s current math program to ascertain how well the math curriculum aligns with the new Alaska State Standards. It is essential that we provide every opportunity for BSSD students to increase basic understanding and reinforce math fundamentals. We have implemented Daily Math Skills (DMS) district-wide in grades K-8 this year as means of daily practice of reviewing and reinforcing mathematics fundamentals.

During our all-staff in-service in August, the entire BSSD faculty was trained in the proper implementation of the Cengage Reading Curriculum. Faculty is taking the initial weeks of this school year to familiarize students with the routines and procedures essential to the success of the new reading curriculum. On October 1-3, BSSD faculty will reassemble for further training on implementing the reading program. Administrative leadership and instructional teams spent considerable time and effort last year analyzing student achievement data and agreeing on uniform interpretations of data in an effort to make accurate, data-driven decisions regarding prescriptive interventions in student learning.

Through our focused efforts, district attendance rates rose significantly in FY14 at 73% of our school sites. The FY14 ASPI star designations increased as well, with nine of our sites being rated as 3-star schools or above. We reduced the number of one-star schools from four in FY13 to a single school site in FY14.

 

Jewel Wilson making a cyanotype (sun print).

Jewel Wilson making a cyanotype (sun print).

 

Currently, reading and math proficiency across the curriculum is the primary focus within the district. An analysis of district performance across the state on the Standards Based Assessment Test (SBA), identifies BSSD as having 50% of students reading at grade level proficiency last year. It is the goal of the district leadership to increase student reading proficiency rates to no less than 76% proficient in third grade over the next three years. It is well documented that a student who is not reading at grade level by the end of third grade is at a higher statistical probability of dropping out of school, incurring a criminal record, abusing substances, and is relegated to lower socioeconomic tax brackets than functional readers.

This year, math review is the primary focus area within the BSSD due to the fact that the math proficiency rate of the district over the past ten years has averaged below 50% proficiency. It is the goal of district leadership to bring student proficiency levels in math to no less than 80% by FY19.  We have a significant focus on cultural relevance as the tool to engage our students and build connections to the academic content across the curriculum.

Gary Eckenweiler showing students how to start a fire with a bow drill.

Gary Eckenweiler showing students how to start a fire with a bow drill.

 

State cultural standards are an integral part of teacher lesson planning and district in-service training. Last year we began intensive training of our bicultural staff, instructional paraprofessionals and elementary and secondary faculty together in cultural relevance and best teaching practices; this year the focus will be on the integration of state cultural standards into instruction rich in cultural relevance and application.

Please help us in welcoming the BSSD’s faculty and staff as you have the opportunity, they are all strongly focused on measurable student growth and sustained increases in student learning across the curriculum.

Wishing everyone in the region a safe and effective school year.

 

Respectfully,

Mr. Agenbroad
Superintendent BSSD

 

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Grand Opening: Brevig Mission Bicultural Classroom

By Angela Busch Alston

Brevig students gather at the grand opening of the new bilingual classroom.

Brevig students gather at the grand opening of the new bilingual classroom.

Thanks to funds provided by Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, Brevig Mission School was able to transform an old ski shed into a new bicultural classroom.

On Friday, September 5, 2014 students, staff, community members, and NSEDC board member Lillian Olanna gathered together to celebrate and tour the classroom.  Principal Ginger Crockett and bicultural instructor Randall Jones gave short speeches before cutting a ribbon draped across the outside of the classroom.  The crowd applauded and cake was served.

Randall Jones cuts the ribbon to open Brevig's new bicultural classroom.

Randall Jones cuts the ribbon to open Brevig’s new bicultural classroom.

Instructor Randall Jones, Doreen Divers, Maranda Kakoona, and Jenna Picnalook display some projects completed in the new bicultural classroom.

Instructor Randall Jones, Doreen Divers, Maranda Kakoona, and Jenna Picnalook display some projects completed in the new bicultural classroom.

The classroom will house Brevig Mission School’s bilingual and bicultural program.  Students will learn carving, sewing, and Inupiaq language.

NSEDC Board Member Lillian Olanna at the Grand Opening of the Brevig Mission Bicultural Classroom.

NSEDC Board Member Lillian Olanna at the Grand Opening of the Brevig Mission Bicultural Classroom.

Brevig Mission School is grateful to NSEDC for the money to complete the project, Lillan Olanna for her role in securing funds, John Lycan for the hours he spent working on the classroom, and Randall Jones for writing the original grant.

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Citizen Science: Invasive Species Restoration Class Project

By Michell Ganoza
Gambell

Gambell students launching a science investigation.

Gambell students launching a science investigation.

The Gambell Earth Science and Biology classes are investigating the impact of dandelions, an invasive species on St. Lawrence Island and developing a plan to eliminate their threat to the native plant population. The students are surveying the area around the village and along the beaches for the plants to begin the removal process. More than half of Alaska’s invasive species have inhabited Alaska since statehood.

Students studying what they have found.

Students studying what they have found.

A student examining a native plant.

A student examining a native plant.

Students surveying plants.

Students surveying plants.

Gambell students learning about the area in the Citizen Science project.

Gambell students learning about the area in the Citizen Science project.

Dandelions are pervasive and tough plants that originate from Europe. They are now found throughout the United States stretching from Puerto Rico to Anchorage, and villages such as Unalakleet and now Savoonga and Gambell. The students are excited to be part of the citizen science project, an example of community-based problem solving. The students are excited to be part of a permanent solution while improving the environment and restoring the natural habitat.

Finding the Boat

By Payton Commack

Payton Commack displaying the boat he found.

Payton Commack displaying the boat he found.

 

I found this little sailboat while I was on a nature walk with my Bilingual group a few weeks ago. I found it on the beach over by Era or Ravn, whichever you call it. I was looking on the ground for coal or any type of bone, and then I saw a piece of leather with a stick through it. I picked it up and figured out that it was a boat! Then, my friend EJ found that there was a phone number on the sail.

A name and phone # was found written on the front of the boat.

A name and phone # was found written on the front of the boat.

The back of the boat.

The back of the boat.

Once we got back to our Bilingual classroom, we called the number. When they answered we asked them if they had set out a boat. They said, “Yes!” then EJ told them, “We found it!” We asked them where they were from and found out that they are from Port Heiden in southwestern Alaska.

Students standing at the location the boat was found.

Students standing at the location the boat was found.

They told us that they only have 90-something people in their village. The people who set the boat out were an Aleut couple and they just wanted to see how far the boat would go, and it came all the way to Unalakleet. Anyway, that is how we found the boat.

Shaktoolik Gets New Mural

By Steve Sammons
Principal
(Photos by Emily Bena and Paul Taylor)

Artist Neal Nichols Jr. putting the final touches on the Shaktoolik mural.

Artist Neal Nichols Jr. putting the final touches on the Shaktoolik mural.

Neal Nichols, Jr., known around Norton Sound as the “Geography Guy”, is using his artistic talent to paint several murals in Shaktoolik School.  One mural will be in the gym (“Home of the Wolverines”) and the other is in the MPR, which depicts the buildings at Old Site.  The murals are part of the construction funding for art at the newly remodeled school.

Neal Nichols Jr. focusing in on the mural.

Neal Nichols Jr. focusing in on the mural.

Neal Nichols Jr. displaying his skills as an artist.

Neal Nichols Jr. displaying his skills as an artist.

Neal Nichols Jr. showing a student his mural of the buildings at the Old Site.

Neal Nichols Jr. showing a student his mural of the buildings at the Old Site.

Teacher Abby Kerr posing with students in front of the new Shaktoolik mural.

Teacher Abby Kerr posing with students in front of the new Shaktoolik mural.

 

Neal has traveled throughout the region and visited most of the schools over the last eight years. He is anxious to get back to some of the schools again if the opportunity arises. For more information on Neal’s work, go to : www.geographygameshow.com.

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BSSD Media Center News

By Joan Martin

A Little Diomede student enjoying a library book.

A Little Diomede student enjoying a library book.

We are proud to announce that every school library in the district will be receiving approximately 75 new books to get the school year off to a great start. We are also retiring classroom sets of books used in the previous reading program. These will be sent out to schools and given to children to expand their personal home libraries.

There is a new media specialist in town. Just to warn you….her mission is to get you hooked on a book and addicted to reading. So, stop into the district media center and say hello to Joan Martin. I am sure she will try to push a book into your needy hands.

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Events at Little Diomede

By Pamala Potter

Kenneth Soolook collecting sour greens for science at Diomede.

Kenneth Soolook collecting sour greens for science at Diomede.

Diomede students studying owl pellets.

Diomede students studying owl pellets.

 

Hat Day at Diomede.

Hat Day at Diomede.

 

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Connecting the Dots

By Keith Carroll
Gambell

Apaay and Spencer's work connecting the dots.

Apaay and Spencer’s work connecting the dots.

 

Apaay Campbell and Spencer Fackler are Pre Calculus students in Mr. Keith Carroll’s Class at John Apangalook School in Gambell. They are discovering recursive and explicit formulas in sequences. They looked at the problem of how many handshakes it would take x people to shake hands with each other once. Apaay and Spenser made models with dots to represent each person, and then connected the dots to represent handshakes. After a few models {(I,0), (2,1), (3,3), (4,6),(5,10)}, they were able to discover the recursive formula Un = (Un – 1 + (n – 1). So three people shake hands = U3 = Un – 1 + (n-1) = U2 + ( 3 – 1) = 2 + 1 = 3. Then they discovered the explicit formula, which was more difficult to find.

Apaay and Spencer used the fact that a circle has 360 degrees to evenly space the dots around the circumference. The two models pictured represent 15 people (105 hand shakes) and 20 people (190 hand shakes).

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