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12/29/2012
Area students honored in 2012

By DANELLE LANDIS

Daily News Staff Writer

Students and educators from Ketchikan and the surrounding area jumped into adventures, earned awards and took on leadership roles in government, science and arts programs in 2012.

Notable accomplishments were made by many individuals.

Alec Pankow was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Pankow is one of only two Presidential Scholars from the Ketchikan area since the program’s inception in 1964, "to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors." The first was Amanda Davis in 1997.

Ketchikan High School’s Drake Goodson won first place in a Craig Academic Decathlon in early January, the second consecutive meet in which he had done so.

Jeanette Sweetman’s Kayhi Drama, Debate and Forensics speech, "Color," placed in the top three several times early in 2012, and was chosen twice as a "command performance" choice at meets. That speech also earned second-place at the state meet.

Emma Scott, Marco Torres and Charlie Klein each earned first places with speeches at the Sitka and Juneau meets. The team of Abbie Sweetman and Sam Ortiz won first place in spar debate in Juneau, and Wilbur Fisher garnered the most speaker points at that meet.

In a November Haines meet, Torres earned two first-place speech awards and Klein, a first-place speech award.

Kayhi’s Student Body Association invited District 33 House candidates to participate a formal question-and-answer forum at the Kayhi auditorium before the Nov. 6 election. Rep. Kyle Johansen, Rep. Peggy Wilson and Ketchikan City Councilman Matt Olsen attended, and SBA President Jackson Landis and Senior Class Vice-President Sara Gomez asked questions generated by government class students.

In the 2011-2012 school year, Dylan Christianson was nominated for admission to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska.

Kayhi’s Case Kuikhoven and Craig High School’s Luke Dinon were nominated to U.S. service academies during the 2012-2013 school year by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. Kuikhoven was nominated to attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. and Dinon was nominated to attend the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Revilla Alternative School student Brittni Tully-Dapcevich bested Kayhi Poetry Out Loud winner Landis in February, after Landis had won the Kayhi event. She went on to the state competition in Juneau.

Ortiz, Austin Ramsay and Austin Otos traveled to Washington, D.C., as part of the Close Up educational program. They participated in a mock Congress, viewed legislative sessions, participated in workshops and met Rep. Don Young.

Kayhi’s Brendan Stanton was selected to participate in the Foundation for Rural Education and Development Leadership Through Learning program early in 2012, and received a one-week trip to Washington, D.C. for an educational tour.

Three boys were in the headlines for projects that earned them Eagle Scout ranks: brothers Taylor and Cooper McLaren, with their Settlers Cove shelter and fence projects; and Gabe Creasy for the fire safety education house he designed and built for the South Tongass Fire Department.

Kayhi alumna Molly Ortiz volunteered for the Ghana Alliance for Community Transformations program for two months this past summer, teaching children and coaching them in sports in Ho, Ghana.

Kayhi’s Sarah Fitzgerald was one of 21 in the nation awarded the "Yes I Can" award from the Council for Exceptional Children for her singing accomplishments.

Metlakatla High School’s Tazia Wagner was honored by the National Association of High School Scholars for her high academic achievement this year.

The third Conference of Young Alaskans was held in Juneau earlier this month, and was attended by seven area youth who were chosen as part of the group of 55 delegates.

Jennifer Chaudhary, Sonia Christensen, Jodie Gatti, Drake Goodson, Beau Poppen, all of Ketchikan, and Jean Bennett of Craig, attended as delegates. Signe Englert of Thorne Bay was invited to attend as a clerk.

Joe Kelly, a 2011 Thorne Bay high school graduate, worked as a steering committee member and led sessions at the event.

Schoenbar Middle School’s Nate Fousel, Tongass School of Arts and Sciences sixth-grader Emilio Torres and Craig Middle School’s Liam Price qualified for the National Geographic Bee in Anchorage early in 2012.

Kayhi’s Amy Owings won the fitness and self-expression categories in the March Distinguished Young Women competition, garnering her two $500 scholarships.

Klawock City School junior Sophie Clark traveled to Juneau with fellow Alaska Association of Student Government delegates to lobby the Legislature in support of a bill, which later was approved, that requires suicide prevention education for teachers.

October 23 marked the first time Kayhi’s maritime students had commercially fished in 15 years. The eight students and their teachers went fishing on the district’s FV Jack Cotant, and had a permit to catch 173 pounds of halibut. They kept two of the 10 they caught, among several other bottom-dwelling fish.

Several students earned honors for their musical achievements in 2012.

Kayhi’s Jilliane Fazakerley and Pankow were chosen to perform in the All Alaska Jazz Band in Sitka.

A dozen Kayhi students were chosen to attend the October Southeast Honor Music Festival in Haines by the strength of their auditions.

Students Wyatt Anderson, Ada Castle, Sarah Gucker, Micah Long, Geralyn Lovell and Natalya Truitt won the 2012 Sam Pitcher Music Scholarships to attend arts programs.

Many of the area’s teams and youth organizations also created landmarks and offered new experiences for members.

Annette Island High School scuba students cleaned up "ghost nets" snarled under Metlakatla’s state dock to make the harbor safer for swimmers and sealife.

Metlakatla’s Academic Decathlon team garnered a small-schools-division state championship early in 2012, with Craig taking second-place in that category. Kayhi, in the large-schools division, won a second-place award in the Super Quiz event at the state decathlon event.

Kayhi’s Rotary Interact Club won the Spirit of Youth award in the service-to-community category for its various projects.

The Charles Leask Middle School robotics team from Metlakatla competed virtually in the Fairbanks First Lego League Open Championship meet in Fairbanks early in February. Alana Williams, Cameron Commack, Collin Williams, Cassie Hudson, Faithe Gray and Kailee Smith made up the team. They won third place overall, among 32 teams, as well as winning the final champion exhibition and the "gracious professionalism" award.

The "Kayhi Tech" robotics team of Ryker Dial, Gates Failing and Tyler Mecham earned second place at the First Tech Challenge robotics Southeast Alaska qualifying tournament in Sitka early in 2012.

Youth Court Director Glenn Brown; board member Phil Benning; representative to the United Youth Courts of Alaska, Otos; Youth Court Bar Association President Landis, and Bar Association member and Kayhi senior Chandler Grace traveled to the Alaska Youth Court conference in Sitka this past spring.

Student teams from Fawn Mountain Elementary and Tongass School of Arts and Sciences, respectively, won the district third- and fourth-grade, and fifth- and sixth-grade Battle of the Books competition in February.

Kayhi’s Construction Academy students constructed a bench for Ketchikan Garden Club’s Blue Star Memorial garden, on Tongass Avenue in front of the Alaska Marine Highway Terminal parking lot, in early spring.

About 13 Kayhi shop class students made wilderness living a bit more luxurious for visitors to the State Parks Grindall Island cabin about 20 miles northwest of Ketchikan this past spring when they tore off a small, aging deck and replaced it with a much larger one sporting a sturdy railing.

The Kayhi senior class hosted a "Senior-Senior" prom for the community’s elders at the Sunny Point Conference room after its own prom.

Area schools also had notable moments in 2012.

Two, Point Higgins Elementary School and Tongass School of Arts and Science, earned National Blue Ribbon Schools awards.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the 30-year-old award program recognizes public and private elementary, middle and high schools.

Point Higgins was nominated in the category "exemplary high performing," and Tongass was nominated in the category, "exemplary improving."

Schoenbar Middle School, Tongass School and Ketchikan Charter School students received visits from Canadian Inuit culture and art researcher Judith Varney Burch this fall. She coached them through the creation of their own Canadian Inuit-style wall hangings.

Ketchikan School District hired 12 new teachers for the 2012-2013 school year, three new principals and two new counselors. New Schoenbar Middle School Principal Casey Robinson previously had been principal of Ketchikan Charter School; new Revilla Alternative School Principal Kurt Lindemann previously had been principal of Houghtaling Elementary School.

Ketchikan High School, Fawn Mountain Elementary School and Point Higgins Elementary School all installed biometric finger scanners to streamline the lunch-purchase process this past year.

Houghtaling Middle School’s fifth-grade teacher Mark O’Brien was one of 33 Alaska teachers selected as a "Teacher of Excellence" this past spring by BP Alaska.