Awards night inspiration from old coach, new coach

Jeff Kasler speaks to the students, and Superintendent Michael Dickens presents the Student of the Year award to Erica Harris.

Erica Harris named student of the year

Retired Skagway teacher, coach and activities director Jeff Kasler came home to give students some sage advice at the annual Awards Night, but it was the surprise resignation of boys basketball coach Mark Jennings that drew the biggest response from the audience.
Sophomore Erica Harris, a top student and member of the award-winning Drama Debate Forensics team, won the Student of the Year Award. Harris also received the Victor Marshall Award with C.C. Hahn and Caroline Botman for the best grades in school, while junior Lary Martinez took the Principal’s Award as the most improved student.
Top athlete awards went to seniors Trevor Cochran and Michelle Harris, and the George Thiel Award for the best student athlete was given to sophomore student body president Teslyn Korsmo.
Kasler, who has been in Oregon the past three years volunteering as a coach at his sons’ high school, quoted from the great John Wooden. After their top-ranked Hidden Valley basketball team lost in the opening round at State last year, the coaches started reading Wooden and instilling a different approach for the kids. Instead of worrying about their statistics, comparing themselves to other teams, and reading websites and newspapers stories about them, the team focused on Wooden’s basic philosophy for success: The peace of mind that comes with self satisfaction in knowing that you did the best that you knew you were capable of doing.
That change in focus took them to this year’s championship, he said, but it also applies to teams like Skagway that had a rough season.
“It broke my heart to see what happened this year,” Kasler said, referring to the girls team having to merge with the boys team. But even with just winning two games, “if you can look at yourself and say we did all we were capable of doing to be the best players you are capable of being,” then he would call the season a success.
“You beat Klawock on their home court,” calling that a high point for any team. “Don’t judge your season as a failure because of wins and losses.”
Later in the evening, Jennings echoed the same tone, saying he had seen remarkable improvement in the team, believing that they had finally turned things around and urging them to work even harder because some quality freshmen would be coming in to shoot for their starting positions.
He called the season and the fact that a girls team could not be formed for whatever reason “a good lesson in communication” for the junior high kids coming up.
“We had these two (region championship) banners with Savannah (Ames), and we will never know if we could have hung another one without her,” he said. “If you’re a team, you’re a family. You don’t have to like each other, but you have trust out there on the floor.”
Then he shocked everyone by announcing he would be stepping down after three years as boys coach. “It’s a tough decision, but they need a new voice,” he said.
Jennings said he plans to be involved as a referee with “the best seat in the house.” After praising all the kids for their hard work, the kids and parents in attendance gave him a standing ovation.


Academic Awards
Attendance: Perfect- Makeah Twitchell; Near-perfect (3 absences or less)- Tylor Forester, Lachlan Dennis, Erica Harris, Ryan Forester.
Honor Roll (first 3 quarters): John Doland, Jestine Ellis, Monica Harris, Bryce Jones, Kaylie O’Daniel, Michael Brown, Kayla Henricksen, Emily Herbig, Amanda Jensen, Mickey Wilson, Meredith Hisman, Shelby Surdyk, Cody Burnham, Jake Henricksen, Nate Herbig, Teslyn Korsmo, Yasmin Corbi, Ryan Forester, Emily Jashki, Aygerim Karabayeva, Makeah Twitchell, Brandy Wilson, Trevor Cochran, Candi Ketterman, Tiffanie Potter.
Superintendent’s List (first 3 quarters): Brandy Mayo, Kaitlyn Surdyk, Elise Doland, Thomas Etue, Paige Hahn, Samantha Welch, Ali Doland, Cierra (C.C.) Hahn, Erica Harris, Caroline Botman, Michelle Harris, Brittany Hess.
Math: Brittany Hess
Spanish: Gloria Blanchard
Social Studies: C.C. Hahn
English- Aygerim Karabayeva
Technology- Trevor Cochran
Yearbook- Brandy Wilson (creative award); Candi Ketterman, C.C. Hahn, Ali Doland, Liana Stegall, Tom Littlefield, Audrey Neitzer, Teslyn Korsmo
Principal’s Award (most improved student): Lary Martinez
Victor Marshal Award (best GPA): C.C. Hahn, Caroline Botman, Brittany Hess.
Student of the Year: Erica Harris

Activity Awards
Drama Debate Forensics: Most Valuable Player (MVP)- Emily Jashki; Most Improved Player (MIP)- Erica Harris.
Student Government: Teslyn Korsmo (president), C.C. Hahn (v.p.), Tom Littlefield (sec.), Brandy Wilson (treas.), and class reps. Shelby Surdyk, Ali Doland, Trevor Van Houten, Candi Ketterman.
Cross-country: MVP and inspirational award- Candi Ketterman; MIP- Michelle Harris.
Wrestling: MVP- Michelle Harris; MIP- Josh Cotton
Cheerleading: Captain- Candi Ketterman
Basketball: MVP boys- Trevor Cochran; MIP boys- Josh Cotton; co-MVP girls- Tiffanie Potter and Michelle Harris; co MIP girls- Sierra Moran and Teslyn Korsmo.
Female Athlete of the Year: Michelle Harris
Male Athlete of the Year: Trevor Cochran
George Thiel Award (Best Citizen Athlete): Teslyn Korsmo