Saving Dena’ina language helps preserve heritage

What do a person, a dog, a shaman effigy and a crucifix have in common?
Nothing obvious, to most people. But to traditional Dena’ina speakers, all four are in a linguistic classification that categorizes them as sharing a similar essence — of being alive, in a sense, or having a soul.
The idea doesn’t quite translate to English. It’s a facet of culture embedded in language, as subconscious as the grammatical structure a baby learns as they absorb the dialogue around them. It’s the cultural equivalent of, “You had to be there,” when the humor of a story doesn’t quite land for someone who wasn’t witness to the event being described.
Without speaking a language, without knowing it to the point where it is language — the ability to create an infinite number of sentences without having heard them before — there’s a barrier to knowing the culture, as well.

Library offers ideas for ‘Raising a Reader’

Welcome to Raising a Reader! Each month, this column will feature information to help you include everyday literacy in your family’s daily routine, supporting your young readers. Here are a few tips for raising a reader by reading, talking, playing, singing and writing with your child. Early Literacy Tip: Reading with young children every day […]

Homer’s Waclawski named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist

This year, not only does Homer High School Principial Douglas Waclawski get to boast about HHS having the only National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist on the Kenai Peninsula, he also gets to brag about it being his daughter.
A senior at Homer High, Aurora Waclawski scored 213 points out of a possible 240 on her Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. According to the NMS website, some 1.5 million students take the required initial screening test, and students with the highest scores in each state become semi-finalists.

Garden store with deep roots in Homer changes hands

Walk into Wagon Wheel Trading Post this week, and things are much the way they have been for decades. Laying hens wander beneath tables filled with lettuce and broccoli starts, back rooms are atwitter with birds and hamsters, and a steady stream of customers leave with arms full of purple petunias and yellow marigolds.
But here and there, signs of something new appear. The store is a little shinier than it has been in recent years, and a high-tech digital cash register has replaced the old till.

King of Norway visits Alaska, stops in Homer

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway had Homer on his agenda for May 26, one of many stops on a visit through hotspots in Washington and Alaska. The King started out his journey through the two states in Seattle on May 21 and is scheduled to leave Anchorage on the evening of May 27.

The many ways AmeriCorps helps in Homer

Having spent years invested in PeaceCorps and Americorps, for VISTA volunteer Amanda Miller, service is a way to make sense of things; a connection to community, a conduit for strengthening culture.
Before winding up in Homer in the 2000s and again in 2014, Miller was born and raised in Minnesota. A correspondence during her undergrad years with a friend working with Peace Corps in South Africa sparked her interest in service.
“She would write letters, and I would send packages,” Miller said. “Then I went to grad school, and it just felt like the right time — like I had some on-the-ground experience; I was older.”

Ranger retires after lifetime in the great outdoors

For the past 30 years of his life, Alaska State Parks Ranger Roger MacCampbell, has done everything from nature guiding to horse patrol in Alaska’s wild backyard. So naturally, upon retirement, MacCampbell is looking forward to a little R&R; perhaps camping, he said, or a road trip.
Of course he would need just a little more time outdoors.
Following a childhood filled with outdoor activity and adventure, MacCampbell spent his early years in what is now Silicon Valley in Northern California. Taking excursions with his dad — a retired navy aircraft mechanic — weekend activities included camping, fishing and road trips to the Sierra Mountains.

Homer grad Morgan Stewart helps scoop up world record

Last week a record was set for the heaviest banana split ever recorded; but don’t worry, it was healthy.
Students from Johnson and Wales University in Denver, Colo., made a chilling 1,218-pound banana split that will go down in the Guinness Book of World Record. One of the eight students creating the masterpiece was Homer’s very own Morgan Stewart.
A student in the College of Culinary Arts at JWU, Stewart helped create the nutritional masterpiece as part of a class project.
“We’re still submitting it to Guinness, but it was 1,218-plus pounds of vegan awesomeness,” Stewart in an email to the Homer Tribune.
Some 3,000 pounds of ice carved into the shape of a boat kept all 16 feet of the frozen dessert intact.

Business owner hopes to take stress out of ‘yes’

Weddings in Homer are notorious for two things: The incredible scenery, and the challenge of finding the many different pieces of the puzzle to make it all work.
For new business owner Daphane Maxon, the mix was the perfect opportunity. Some might even say, it was “serendipitous.”
“I started doing this because of firsthand knowledge,” Maxon said. “Two of my kids were getting married to their significant others, one year after the other.”
The primary motivator, she explained, was the stress and time-consuming nature of the celebrations, and the fact that wedding necessities were only available up the road — in Sterling or Anchorage.

Angelica Haakenson takes first steps in new shoes

Angelica Haakenson, the 11-year old girl badly injured in a Christmas day accident, recently put on new shoes for the first time since December. “Angelica Strong” had her first fittings for prosthetics this month, and spent the morning before Valentines day getting adjustments made to a new pair of legs.
Father Matt Haakenson wrote an update to friends and family about Angelica’s progress on Facebook, explaining that the legs have manually locking knees and are fairly short, to make the relearning of balance a little easier.

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