News and Events of the Bering Strait School District
Saturday March 17th 2018



Academic Decathlon

Getting ready for the Super Quiz Relay.

Getting ready for the Super Quiz Relay.

By Adrianna Woodruff

Teacher, Unalakleet Schools

On January 22 and 23, twenty-eight Bering Strait School District students met in Unalakleet to compete in ten academic categories relating to this year’s topic: Russia. Academic Decathlon is an annual high school competition that focuses on the study of one topic per year from multiple content area angles. The ten tested events require the study of the pre-determined topic in many academic forms as well as tackling Boris Pasternak’s lengthy novel Dr. Zhivago.


Is it an A or C?

Is it an A or C?

Over the two-day period, students completed seven multiple-choice tests, assessing their knowledge in the areas of math, economics, language and literature, social science, art, music, and science. Students also wrote one timed essay, and completed two interview and speech events.  The quiz bowl event – known as the Super Quiz is a multiple choice event finale. This year, the Super Quiz tested students’ knowledge in all of the content areas.

Thinking hard about Art.

Thinking hard about Art.


Previous Academic Decathlon topics have included The Great Depression (2009-2010) and The Age of Empire (2010-2011). I know the question on my mind and many student minds is what’s next year’s topic?


Hmm… which answer to choose?


Over the course of many months students studied selected art slides, memorized composers of selected songs, learned about the space race, put up with the obscurities of Russian novelists all in order to win medals in each competitive category.


The top three decathletes in each category – Honors, Scholastic, and Varsity- will travel to Anchorage February 14-16 to compete in the state competition.


Honors: Nilson Mixsooke (UNK), Colin Corsetti (UNK), Svea Southall (UNK)


Scholastic: Talon Erickson (UNK), Laurel Katchatag (UNK), Allison Topkok (TLA)


Varsity: Nellie Okpowruk (SHH), Mariah Washington (WBB), Camille Katcheak (WBB)


Alternates: Morgon Lockwood (WBB), Molly Moses (GLV), Esau Sinnok (SHH)

Team Golovin – Coached by Daniel Dickey

Team Golovin – Coached by Daniel Dickey



Team Teller – Coached by Thomas Belleque

Team Teller – Coached by Thomas Belleque


Team Shishmaref – Coached by Mike Ripper

Team Shishmaref – Coached by Mike Ripper


Team Stebbins – Coached by Karen Beranek

Team Stebbins – Coached by Karen Beranek


Team Unalakleet – Coached by Adrianna Woodruff

Team Unalakleet – Coached by Adrianna Woodruff





Recycling in Savoonga


By Kristina Sieff

Teacher, Savoonga

Savoonga school has started a recycling program here in Savoonga. Here are a couple of pictures of a student working on packing up the cans and bottles. Our recycling program is called SAW- Savoongans against waste.


Student Wayne Rookok collecting and bagging recyclable materials. 


Whatever it Takes: Redefining Roles in Saint Michael’s Math Classes


By Megan Akaran

High School Math Teacher, Saint Michael, Alaska

When the 8th grade Pre-Algebra class struggled to understand the rules for special right triangles, their older peers stepped up to the task of teaching. The Algebra A class, which consists of tenth and twelfth graders, reviewed the concepts that were troubling their younger peers and developed a plan to teach them the necessary skills. They worked out examples to use with the students, chose teaching partners, and made sure they knew where ‘their students’ might struggle to understand.



Armed with a dry erase board, markers and a plan, the Algebra A students were ready to teach. The 8th graders, while already frustrated by not understanding the material, willingly accepted help from their peers, and within a very short time they were able to master skills that had stumped them during the previous two days. “ I felt very smart,” said ‘teacher’ Jake Shelikoff who helped his younger brother learn how to find the leg of a 45-45-90 triangle when given the hypotenuse.


After working on problems and answering questions in small groups, the 8th graders were given a quiz that their Algebra A ‘teachers’ graded. “He got 100%,” exclaimed Skye Shipton, one of the ‘teachers.’ “That makes me feel good because he learned that from me.”  When Courtney Lockwood and Diana Shelikoff reviewed the work of one of their ‘students,’ they were able to determine why the student had gotten the question incorrect and what the student needed to do to get the answer correct the next time. “I know what she did wrong,” Courtney remarked. They provided supportive and specific feedback on the quiz so that the student could learn from her mistake.  The 8th graders got a lot out of the experience as well. “It was really fun,” expressed Summer Myomick. “I actually learned,” said Gavin Martin.



As it turns out, Gavin was correct, he did learn, and so did all of his classmates. With just 20 minutes of instruction from their peers, the class average increased 46%! Great job teaching and learning, Saint Michael students!!


BSSD and Character Based Literacy

SMK_2013 F

By Leah Stanek

Saint Michael, AK

While people may not all agree on values or what is most important, rarely will people disagree that respect, responsibility, self-control, integrity, and effort are important values that shape our character and ultimately our destinies. BSSD has adopted a high school, language arts curriculum (Character Based Literacy) that combines classic and contemporary American, world, government, and Alaskan literature with a research-based framework that allows students to explore these values, thoughts, and skills in context with their own unique culture. Students are meeting the state’s grade-level expectations in reading, writing, speaking and listening, language, and social studies with this enriching curriculum.

SMK_2013 Fe

Saint Michael students at Anthony A. Andrews School have been enjoying using both art and technology to enhance their language arts learning experiences. After reading Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, high school students created brochures that showcased their research skills and understanding of the Great Depression and other social issues that they had been learning about.


Other students were simultaneously reading Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis, also a novel that is set during the Great Depression. Students created a word wall that highlighted the vocabulary that they were learning and a timeline that tracked the novel’s main events. Students listened to famous jazz musicians from the Great Depression and Harlem Renaissance and discussed poetry from Langston Hughes, all in context with one of the novel’s themes: Change Requires Effort.

SMK_2013 Feb

All high school students contributed to a rock-wall poster that they will proudly hang in their school hallway. Each student created 10-15 rocks of various sizes, shapes, and colors. On each rock students wrote a positive character trait that was being exhibited by a character in the novel that they were reading. They also added an example from their texts to support their findings. The lesson helped them to understand symbolism with a concrete example. The end result was a visual work of art that they created, and it will serve them as a reminder of symbolism as well as the value of character:



SMK_2013 Feb1

Watch your thoughts; they become words; watch your words; they become actions; watch your actions; they become habit; watch your habits; they become character; watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”  ~ Lao Tzu ~



NACTEC Career Preparation

ice fishing at NACTEC 3

Students fishing for tomcods on the weekend in Nome while at NACTEC.

By Nathan Pitt

If someone asked you what NACTEC does, what would you tell them? Most people paraphrase NACTEC’s mission and vision and come up with something like, “NACTEC prepares students for the world of work by developing academic and life skills, employment skills, career awareness, and work ethics.”

That is a pretty good summary. NACTEC does all of that, but all “while sustaining a healthy cultural identity” (which comes directly from the Vision Statement). This past Fall and Winter students participated in story circles through Kawerak Wellness where knowledge from elders and experts was shared during evenings set aside for the event. Students went to the harbor and fished for tomcods through the ice and then donated their catch to local elders. When Pamyua came to Nome, NACTEC students met the group backstage and got to enjoy the concert.


NACTEC students carve bone and ivory in the Native Arts/Business course.

But “sustaining a healthy cultural identity” isn’t just an extra-curricular. NACTEC courses offer a smooth blend of traditional skills and contemporary technologies, like the Native Arts courses where students learn how to carve or skin sew AND how to sell their works online or start their own businesses. Or Arctic Survival which draws on the collective knowledge of regional hunters and elders through a partnership with Kawerak and other guest speakers. This summer students will have the opportunity to participate in a business course or a construction course that will both leverage the expertise of a craftsman who specializes in building traditional kayaks and is also an experienced carpenter.

At NACTEC, students explore careers and prepare for life after high school through a variety of experiences. But they also grow in ways that keep them well-grounded in the heritage and traditions of the region.

2013 Inclusive Practice Award


By Christie Reinhardt

Program Coordinator
Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education

The Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education established the Inclusive Practice Award to recognize outstanding educators who work to ensure students with disabilities have the opportunity for an inclusive education with their peers as part of the general education curriculum. Nominations are made by parents, students and educators. The award is given each February at the Alaska Statewide Special Education Conference (ASSEC). This year’s award was presentedTuesday February 5, 2013 at a luncheon at the Hilton Hotel in Anchorage. It was attended by special educators, administrators, parents and advocates from all over the state.


The 2013 winner of the Inclusive Practice Award is Earl Jeffrey who has taught History, Shop, Scuba Outdoor Ed, PE and Senior Seminar at the Jr High/Senior High School in Hydaburg, Alaska for over 20 years. The Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education would like to commend the other 2013 Inclusive Practice Award nominees:

  • ·         Bowman Elementary, Anchorage
  • ·         Daniel Brown,  Huffman Elementary, Anchorage
  • ·         Christine Foster, Mercedes Brady, Antonia Penayah, Steven Diaz,  John Apangalook High School & Hugo T. Apatiki Elementary School , Gambell AK
  • ·         Ron Harper, Watershed Charter Fairbanks
  • ·         Amanda Miller, Fireweed Academy, Homer
  • ·         Paula Niedermeyer, Bristol Bay Borough School District, Naknek and King Salmon
  • ·         Marti Rookala, Eagle’s View Elementary, Unalaska
  • ·         Jeanne See, Inlet View, Anchorage
  • ·         Tina Filman, Zita Spann, Kristin Sisneros, Soldotna Elementary, Soldotna

If you know any of these great educators please be sure and congratulate them on their amazing job of educating children of all different kinds of abilities!


5th Grade Classroom Coho Salmon Aquarium

By Melissa Towarak

Unalakleet Schools

On September 17, 2012 Mr. Busk took the Unalakleet 5th Grade class to the Little North River to meet with local NSECD and Regional Fish and Game members to initiate our classroom incubation for local Coho (Silver) Salmon.  The students were able to observe how to fertilize, dissect, and incubate the Salmon eggs. After lunch, the students were able to create fish-print shirts instructed by local artist, Gary Eckenweiler.


About 2 weeks later, the 5th Grade class took a field trip to the local incubation center, located at our old Post Office.  There, they learned about the incubator and how the NSEDC members combined the milt and eggs to become fertilized.  They then were able to see the bright, orange- colored, fertilized eggs.  Another 2 months later, NSEDC placed the “Eyed” eggs (eyed meaning the eye is visible in the egg) into our classroom aquarium.  The eggs remained in our aquarium until they hatched as Alevins prior to Christmas Break.

Upon returning from Christmas Break, the students were able to see all the Alevins that survived the fertilization process (approximately 200 out of 1,000).  Mr. Busk then returned to the classroom to teach the students the daily routine of caring for the aquarium and how to keep track of how many “degree days” old the eyed-eggs are.


As the students maintained the aquarium, they were able to observe the egg sac being absorbed (main source of food for the Alevins) to change into fry.  Once the fish had no source of food from the egg sac, the students began to feed the fry along with their daily maintenance.

As of today, February 1, 2013, approximately 100 to 150 Fry are feeding on fish food.  We will continue to have the fish in our classroom until NSEDC is ready to release the smolt into the wild this spring.

Prior to our great field trip adventures and excitement of fertilizing, hatching and observing the salmon eggs; the 5th Grade students learned about the life cycle of a salmon, the internal and external anatomy of a salmon, and the ecology/habitat needed for the salmon to survive.  We look forward to continuing our knowledge of local fish.



Elim School Newsletter


This semester in our 4th hour class we had five different electives: homework club, aviation, Response to Intervention (RTI), food prep, and guitar class. I chose guitar class because I wanted to learn something new. The teacher for guitar class was John Lindula. I had two classmates, Demi and Amanda, and we started class at the beginning of the school year. In the beginning, I couldn’t get a handle on playing, but as we started practicing more I got better. We played a couple of songs on the guitar for the Christmas program for the Headstart and Kindergarten/1st grade students. They improved on their singing as we practiced together. I really enjoyed guitar class and think it has been a good opportunity for students to try something new.

-Gladys Saccheus


In the beginning of Aviation class we had to read books about the engine and ailerons (which help the plane turn) and

other important background knowledge.  We had to write about what we read and answer questions. We looked at the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules, maps of Alaskan runways, and maps of VOR radio towers, which help planes navigate. We studied a book of runways in Alaska which told the length and width of each runway, as well as its frequency and direction.

After all of the reading we started working with the flight simulators. The simulators we practice on are the best, and they have a yoke with a throttle, mixture control, and rudders. The program we work with is X-Plane 10, which I think is much better than the Microsoft Flight Simulator. On X-Plane 10 we can see the lights on the sides of the runway, also known as visual approach slope indicators (VASI), and the precision approach path indicators (PAPI), another visual guide on a runway. It also shows the weather, and we can set the wind and visibility. Our teacher, Noel Frisbie, has us working on flight plans and right or left hand patterns. At the end of each week, we are tested on flying left hand patterns.

 -Lincoln Saccheus





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