Members of the fish hatchery class at Skagway High School. under the direction of science teacher Mary Thomas, try to catch cohos from Pullen Creek to harvet eggs for the next crop. When this photo was taken, the class had captured some males, but were still trying to nab a female. The hatchery was not set up to take king eggs from Burro Creek earlier that week, so those fish were transferred to Juneau's DIPAC hatchery. A city council-school board work session was held later in the week to clarify responsibilities at the hatchery. Details will appear in the next issue. Photo by Dimitra Lavrakas
Skagway Students do well statewide
Exit exam scores show academic strength
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
The results are in.
In the statewide exit tests mandated by the state for graduation, Skagway ranked fourth with 91 percent in reading; second with 82 percent in writing; and second in math with 55 percent for sophomores who passed. That compares to a statewide average of 76 percent for reading, 48 percent in writing and 33 percent in math.
Very well, very high, said Richard Lee, Skagway School District superintendent. I dont have any data to necessarily connect and statistically connect what is happening, I cant support it with statistics, but in my opinion, it has to do with three things.
The staff has worked well together as a team, and staff development in teaching reading, writing and mathematics. The other thing is a couple of years ago, we started with a six-trait writing process, a schoolwide approach in teaching students how to write well.
Lee said the school saw the high-stake test coming up and started working on it right away with an after school program and a summer school.
School Board president Michelle Carlson said the teachers are really the ones that deserve the pat on the back. But while shes happy that Skagway students did well, shes still about the ones that did not pass.
Im proud of how the kids did, she said. Im concerned with how our students are doing, especially the ones who didnt pass. What does each individual student need?
Carlson said she has talked one-on-one with every student who took the test, and several said the tests took them off-guard particularly when it was a subject they havent had yet in class.
This years sophomores will take the test for the first time at the end of February, Lee said.
A team was sent to the Governors Summit in Education last month, and Lee said there would be a public presentation in November on the statistical data that came out of the meeting.
English teacher Cheryl May sat on the Cut Score Setting Committee for the writing part of the exit exam. She said they looked at every question to decide what information a student would need to know. The team looked at all of the standardized tests usually given to students and finalized the questions in three days.
The results from the 2000 Benchmark tests were also released by the school last week. These exams are given during a students academic career at grades 3, 6 and 8 to gauge how well they know reading, writing and math for their grade level.
In reading for grade 3, 11 percent were in the advanced level, 78 percent in proficient, 11 percent were below proficient and no student was found not proficient. In writing, third-graders scored 22 percent advanced, 44 percent proficient and 33 percent tested below proficient and 0 percent not proficient. Math saw no third-graders in the below proficient or not proficient category, and 56 percent were advanced and 44 percent were proficient.
Six-graders tested 57 percent in the advanced category, 43 percent were proficient, and 0 percent tested at below proficient or not proficient in reading. No students tested not proficient or below proficient in writing, 29 percent tested advanced and 71 percent were proficient. Twenty-nine percent were found advanced in math, 43 percent proficient, 14 percent below proficient and 14 percent were not proficient.
Eighth-graders improved the results on reading with 100 percent testing advanced. They also advanced in writing 50 percent were advanced and 50 percent, proficient. Math scores show a weakening over the years with 17 percent testing advanced, 50 percent proficient and 33 percent below proficient.
Carlson said she wants to look into why test scores decline as students go into the higher grades.
State election near the finale
Republicans say vote for a candidate in the majority
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
As the state election nears, the races for state senator for District C and state representative for District 5 are causing some sparks to fly.
With both Republican candidates Alan Austerman of Kodiak and Terrance W. Terry Pardee of Haines claiming in the news that a vote for them is a vote for rural Alaska because as part of the Republican majority in the Legislature, they can get more things done, it has caused some consternation.
Carl Morgan , a Republican from Tanana, was as mad as anyone else when he tried to stop cuts and he was in the majority, said Rep. Albert Kookesh, D-Angoon, from his home.
Kookesh, running for his third term, was criticized by challenger Pardee in the Juneau Empire for being on too many Native boards and therefore could not represent non-Native issues. Kookesh said comments he has heard from people have not been favorable to Pardees statements.
Alan Austerman, as much as Im not going to support him and hes a good guy, told me Al, theres not a district in this state that doesnt have Native and non-Natives in it. It just doesnt make it fly, said Kookesh.
Kookesh sees the real issues coming up in the Legislature as being school funding, fast ferries, keeping the Malaspina as a day boat, revenue sharing and municipal entitlements. A big issue in rural Alaska has been the state mandating certain programs and not helping to fund them. Pardee agrees with him on this point.
The only unfunded mandate that ever worked was when Jesus said Go forth and multiply, he said.
He doesnt think the recent municipal vote on whether to have improved marine service or a road from Juneau to Skagway will make the issue go away.
Pardee said he was surprised Juneauites voted against the road.
We in Haines are not in favor of a road, Pardee said when he was in Skagway recently. In order for a city to progress and develop, you need roads. Its a matter of time before we have a road.
Pardee does agree with Kookesh that the 1999 education funding bill (SB36) was unfair to rural schools.
I thought it was short-sighted, Pardee said. Clearly Anchorage and Fairbanks benefit from economy of scale. It just makes sense that it takes more money to operate in smaller communities.
Children were our future and you have to make sure they have everything they need.
Another issue Pardee is working on is a solid waste management plan, something Haines is having problems with. Pardee said it was an issue he felt Kookesh didnt help support.
He thinks tourism is an important economic boost for Haines.
A lot of people say, We dont want another Skagway, but I look around and all I see is a lot of money being thrown around, he said. If you dont have timber, mining or fishing or a combination of all three, you need something else. Skagway is hardly over-populated, in the gold rush you had 20,000 here.
Haines Democrat Tim June said he was in the middle of a hot campaign when contacted in Kodiak. June and Alan Austerman are vying for retired Sen. Jerry Mackies seat. Austerman has been the state Representative from Kodiak for six years.
June, who beat Skagway Mayor John Mielke and others in the Democratic primary, said he will focus on rural school funding, protecting the Permanent Fund for all Alaskans, putting a rural priority for subsistence on the ballot, and increased support for the Alaska Marine Highway.
June said Austerman voted the wrong way when he voted for SB36, the school funding bill.
Its not important what Austerman thinks or says, the question is what the Republican majority will do to hurt rural Alaska, said June. Most Alaskans mistrust the Legislature on how the equity of these funds would be applied. They fear it would go to urban Alaska.
The biggest fear though, said both June and Kookesh, was the talk of redistricting in the Southeast. The region could lose a Senate and a House seat, said Kookesh.
Thats something to be feared in the future, said Kookesh. Thats why I didnt run for Mackies seat and have the district pulled out from underneath me.
He said it would have been hard for him to reach out to the vast Kodiak area. But June felt differently.
Kodiak is the largest community in the district, but Im getting good reception here, June said. The fact that Im a commercial fisherman is a natural identifier here. The issues are pretty much the same from one end of the district to the other.
The News tried to reach Austerman several times this week for this article but he was busy campaigning, his office said. He visited Skagway earlier this month.
Jaime's most excellent adventure
Skagwayan takes to Atlantic high seas in tall ship with Alaskan past
For the truth is that I already know as much about my fate as I need to know.
The day will come when I die.
So the matter of consequence before me is what I will do with my allotted time. I can remain on shore, paralyzed with fear, or I can raise my sails and dip and soar in the breeze.
(This was the crews creed while at sail.)
By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
As much as he loves the Chilkoot Trail, he loved the sea more.
Thanks to a Boy Scout troop in Franklin, Tenn., Jaime Gagnier realized a long-time dream this summer: he crewed aboard an 1894 schooner.
The Scouts contracted our troop to guide them over the Chilkoot Trail our Boy Scout troop had been doing that for years, said Gagnier. Their troop invited us to take part in Operation Sail 2000, a world Millennium celebration with sailing ships from all over the world coming to the East Coast to visit major cities.
OPSAIL was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to promote international goodwill, further sailing training and other educational goals.
His ship, the Ernestina, started on Long Island, New York and sailed into Manhattan, to Atlantic City, Chesapeake Bay, and then took part in the Parade of Sails 100 tall ships that sailed up the Delaware River to Philadelphia.
This vessel is a National Historical Landmark, so when its open to the public, theyre taken on a two-hour sail, Gagnier said. It is also a training ship and did marine biology work with the Scouts on board.
Gagnier found the experience exhilarating.
The job in a nutshell was the hardest and most rewarding, most difficult job Ive ever had, he said.
For instance, the ship has no mechanicals, that means all the sails had to be hoisted by hand, something that took a first try of 56 people, 45 minutes just to raise the main boom. But with practice they whittled it down to 16 people at 30 minutes.
We just didnt work well together at first, Gagnier said. We realized why sailors chant.
He also came to realize why sailors barf.
We called it paying tribute to King Neptune, he said. Thirty-five miles off the Atlantic Coast, we were in really rough seas for 48 hours. Everybody was sick, except for one person, and he was the one who took the bucket around...
I never thought Id get sick, because I was a helicopter pilot. But when the seas came up big around us the bad ones at seven feet and regular ones at five feet...
He ended up missing a watch. Lasting four hours, the crew all did two watches a day, one on, one off. He was at the helm for one watch and then on lookout right out on the bowsprit.
Only one watch was logged in the crows nest where he stood barefoot on the crossbar. Very hard on his feet, he said.
His bunk was right next to the table in the galley, making sleep an impossible dream.
Id just roll over and grab a cup of coffee, he said. He ended up sleeping in two-hour increments.
In dense fog for seven hours on lookout, he made sure to keep alert because hed always wanted to shout Land ahoy!
Little did he know that all along the captain was communicating with an oil tanker. Suddenly, it appeared out of the fog.
Scared the crap out of me, Gagnier said.
Jaime Gagnier stands on the deck of the Ernestina as she sails under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City this summer. Photo courtesy of Jaime Gagnier
The Ernestina has an interesting history, some of it in Alaska. Shes had some close calls herself.
The schooner was in the century storm in 1991 portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm, while out on one of those infamous three-hour tours.
With 50 senior citizens on board, the Ernestina took off from Miami and sailed smack into it. The captain tried a run to the Bahamas for safety, but 10 days later, the ship found itself in Puerto Rico.
Owned by the state of Massachusetts, the ship usually sails the Grand Banks off Nova Scotia as a training vessel.
Built in 1894, it was one of the 4,000 fishing schooners produced in Essex, Mass., in the James and Tarr shipyard. It was christened the Effie F. Morrissey after the skippers daughter.
Built as a fishing vessel for the Gloucester dorymen working off the Grand Banks, it was designed for speed and stability.
In 1924, Capt. Robert Bartlett bought the vessel. Bartlett had won worldwide acclaim as the Ice Navigator as the skipper for Admiral Pearys ship, the Roosevelt, on an expedition to the North Pole.
Two years later, Bartlett found a patron to fund an expedition to Greenland. The ship began two decades as an arctic exploration ship. With her hull sheathed in greenheart, a Central American hardwood, and her first diesel engine in place, the Morrissey sailed north.
When Bartlett died in 1946, the vessel was sold to two brothers who wanted to outfit her as a yacht and sailed to Tahiti. But she caught fire and was scuttled to put out the fire and sank.
Raised and towed for repairs, she began a new life as a packet schooner in the Cape Verde inter-island and transatlantic trade. The name was changed to the Ernestina, and her service ended in 1965.
After a severe storm in 1976 that dismasted her, she was restored by the government of Cape Verde and given as a gift to the United States. The state of Massachusetts has given more than $1.5 million for further restoration.
Gagnier was also blessed with donations for his trip, which he figures cost over $4,000.
When word got out that I was involved to go along, I just got donations from people in town, but the fee was too great for that, he said. Between the Eagles Auxiliary, the Emblem Club and the Elks, the expenses were fully covered.
The ships log, hourglass and photos are available at the Elks Lodge for anyone to see, Gagnier said.
Theres another trip planned for 2002. Call Gagnier at 983-2092 if you want to sail along, he said.
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