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Supporting student travel

Travel is a great teacher, and many Ketchikan students continue to benefit from school activity travel that’s possible only through a great amount of community support.

Ketchikan students aren’t alone in benefiting from travel opportunities to participate in sports, music, debate, Academic Decathlon, National Ocean Sciences Bowl and other activities. Students from schools throughout Southeast Alaska have had similar opportunities.

It makes this region rather unique across the United States. Southeast Alaska student travel usually entails more than getting on a big yellow bus for a quick trip across town or over to the next community and back again on the same day. More often, it’s travel by ferry or flight, and a single trip involves multiple days.

In addition to learning and practicing for the activity in question, students learn how to budget their time to keep up with other schoolwork. They also learn how to travel. They get a first-hand education about the communities they travel to and stay in.

For many Ketchikan students, Juneau, Sitka and Petersburg — even Anchorage and beyond — are not abstract spots on a map. These are places that Ketchikan students have seen and experienced, and in which they’ve met people and made friends. It’s a tremendous opportunity. And it’s not cheap.

Over the years, Ketchikan has been blessed by the support shown for school activities by the Ketchikan School District and Ketchikan Gateway Borough.

That support has been augmented by many generous businesses and individuals that have bought ad space on banners and programs, participated in raffles and auctions. and made other donations of resources and time. Parents and the student participants themselves often are involved with fundraising.

The combination of local government support and fundraising by other individuals and entities makes these activities possible here in Ketchikan.

Ketchikan isn’t alone. A story in Sunday’s edition of the Juneau Empire highlights that community’s fundraising efforts to keep its activities budget afloat.

The story, “Thinking outside the raffle ticket: How Juneau sports teams get by with less school district dollars,” describes the state of activities budgets there and what some of their sports teams are doing to help keep programs running.

Ketchikan can empathize. We wish the capital city success in their fundraising efforts. Ultimately, the opportunities for Ketchikan students to travel and participate in activities depends in part upon the capabilities of other Southeast Alaska communities to fund participation by their own students. We go there; they come here. Fewer opportunities for one can affect the opportunities for others.

Looking ahead, it’s difficult to predict exactly how the bigger pictures of state education funding and local school support will evolve. Based on previous experience, we know that the Ketchikan community will strive to keep activities programs viable for its students. We appreciate that support, and the opportunities it provides.