• Changes, upgrades, gardens to greet returning students
By Naomi Klouda
Students will see a few changes in their schools when they return on Tuesday to get a new school year underway.
At Homer High School, the biggest news is the long awaited running track set to be done by Sept. 8, in time for the first home football game hosting Sitka.
“The final process is to bring in the rubberized surface and everything else has been prepped for that,” Principal Alan Gee said. The high school also saw upgrades to the swimming pool that prepares for the Region 3 Diving and Swimming Tournament in October.
Homer High has five new teachers this year: Bruce Rife, science; Monica Stockburger, special education-intensive needs; Kyle Schneider, choir; Cindy Bedingfield, half-time special education; Alayne Tetor, half-time art and Trina Uvaas, the school psychologist.
Students returning to Little Fireweed Academy will find a new Yurt on the school grounds. Administrator Kiki Abrahamson said the school needed a large open area for special projects, movement, lunch and presentations. To purchase it, Fireweed Academy spent money left over from last year’s operating budget, money that would go back to the school district if unspent.
The largest Yurt made by Nomad Shelter Yurts of Homer will provide about 900 more square feet of activity space. It joins the playground equipment recycled from Karen Hornaday Park and a People’s Garden planted in May prior to the close of the school year.
The students will be able to harvest greens, cabbages, carrots and other veggies from their People’s Garden. These are numerous raised and boxed gardens containing veggies and flowers the students planted last spring and parents tended over the summer.
Paul Banks Elementary School got a new roof and energy efficiency upgrades this summer. “We know that will be a plus this winter,” said Principal Benny Abraham.
Another big change is the new preschool.
“This year will mark the first time we’ll have our preschool program. These are four-year olds registered last spring who will start at the regular half-day program. We’re looking forward to that. We’ve had a special needs preschool for a number of years, but this will be the first year we’ve had a title one program,” Abraham said.
The PTA has taken care of the garden behind Paul Banks this summer. Carrots and other vegetables will be harvested when the students get back. They had the opportunity to plant some of that before they left this spring.
School started last week in the Russian Villages. Voznesenka, Nikolaevsk, Razdolna and Kachemak Selo begin earlier and end later to accommodate holy days in the schedule.
At Voz, an eight-man football team had been the norm the past few years, which limited what teams they could play. But this year, Vozneskena has a 12-man team.
“This means we can play larger teams. We have new football equipment, practice has started and this is a big thing for us,” said Principal Mike Wojciak. The public is invited to their first home game at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at Homer Middle School against Nikiski.
A new “first” this year are the additions of vocational construction and home economics classes.
“We’re starting by building a shed for our school,” Wojciak said. The construction class is open to enrollment from other Russian schools as well.
Other information on school openings:
• Homer Public Health Center offers back-to-school immunizations, with extended clinic hours prior to school’s start on Aug. 21.Call for an appointment at 235-8857.
Recent changes in the funding structure requires that fees are assessed for all clinic services. However, they are adjusted on a sliding scale according to family income. Contact the center to clarify any specific situation and note that no one will be denied service due to an inability to pay. “We are still here to consider any special circumstances or needs,” a spokesperson wrote.
• Watch for a new bus stops and schedules in some areas of town. The school district has been working with bus transportation on safety campaigns. To locate a bus stop or time, this searchable database is the most reliable and up-to-date with current information: http://bit.ly/BusStopSearch
• At the Homer Middle School, there will be an 8th Grade Open House and 7th Grade Orientation Friday 5-7 p.m. All students and their parents are encouraged to come. Join staff in the gym for a short assembly, followed by handing out class schedules and locker assignments. The 7th graders will then meet in the library where they can enjoy pizzas and meeting their teachers.
• West Homer Elementary holds an open house for students 2-3 p.m. Monday. Students are invited to come meet their teachers.
• Homer High School Principal Gee makes a presentation to freshmen registering at 6 p.m. Thursday. Registration is open from 5 to 8 p.m. that evening for all incoming freshmen. It’s an open house night for grades 10-12 to meet their teachers.
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