Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Open house kicks off new school year


School is back in session for the borough's students, after classes resumed last week.

To mark the occasion, Wrangell High School and Stikine Middle School hosted their open house Tuesday evening, welcoming parents, students and faculty to mingle a bit over light refreshments.

The evening also gave them a chance to acquaint themselves with some new faces at the school.

Wrangell School District has a new superintendent, Patrick Mayer, most recently the principal of Delta High School in the Delta-Greely School District.

It also has a new secondary principal, Colton Barnes, who took over last month following the retirement of Monty Buness. Barnes was previously the itinerant principal at Kokhanok and Igiugig schools in the Lake and Peninsula School System.

“It's been a good week,” he said. “The students have seemed excited to be back in school,” as well as the teachers.

The week before school started, faculty and staff underwent in-service training to better understand new education standards adopted by the state of Alaska.

“It's good to see the literature and how that's going to work,” Barnes explained. As Wrangell schools have already kept students to higher requirements than minimums previously mandated by the state, he said a majority of the new standards were not big changes.

There were only a few major differences from the previous standards, such as a greater focus put toward required nonfiction reading.

“It creates some opportunities,” Barnes agreed, better preparing students for technical training and research needed for higher education.

In all, he felt the training session helped and that staff and faculty are prepared for the new year.

“I thought it went pretty smooth,” he said, with the information assuaging some of the nervousness. “More comforting than panicking.”

It's not just new standards, but new activities the schools are trying out this year as well. For instance, the middle school has started its new Girls on Track program, and art teacher Anne Luetkemeyer is leading a new community arts program this year.

Her high school students learn how to get a project started, from collaboration and decision-making to design, material selection, budget and location.

“I'm going to let them get more of their ideas going,” Luetkemeyer said.

Together they will use these skills and come up with a project to work on that will benefit the community. In past projects, students have painted Bearfest's wooden bears, brightened up the crossing shelter outside Evergreen Elementary, and made some refurbishments at Muskeg Meadows Golf Course.

School sports are also underway. Wrangell's cross-country team had its first meet in Juneau on Saturday, with a new coach holding the whistle, Jenn Davies.

“It went really well,” she said, with the girls team taking first in 1A and 2A.

Individually, Reyn Hutten came in second, Amy Jenson in third, Kimberly Cooper and Bryce Gerald in fourth, and freshman J.D. Barratt took tenth.

Wrangell has 16 students in cross-country this year. Davies said the girls team is looking strong, and has hopes the boys will perform well this season.

“If they work hard they can do it,” she said.


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