Monday, September 24, 2007

School Improvement Plan by Kendra Krenz

The Dick R. Kiunya Memorial School held their first monthly School Improvement meeting last Thursday. The School Improvement Team is made up of the principal, three teachers and four community members. Our school is required to organize this team because we didn’t make Adequate Yearly Progress last spring.

The principal put together a school improvement plan showing graphs and data on how students did in their assessment tests. We made some improvements in Language Arts and Reading, but our school had difficulty in Math. The district has been given funding to have an extended day for students who haven’t passed the state assessments. Students are required to stay a half hour longer, four days a week. Two days are specifically devoted to Math due to the low testing scores.

A community member will host a family learning and education time once a month at the school. Students can only attend if they have an older relative accompany them to the event. Adults will be engaging in educational activities during that evening.

At the next community meeting, our superintendent will give an update on the possibilities of Kongiganak getting a new school. Community members will be encouraged to attend the meeting and express their feelings on matter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

After School Program by Kendra Krenz

For the past week and a half Dick R. Kiunya Memorial School inKongiganak has been holding an extended day tutoring session for students in grades 4-12 who didn't pass all of the SBA tests given last spring. Students are required to stay an extra 30 minutes after school. The subject matter taught by the teachers includes Reading, Writing and Math. Students are separated by their grade. It is up to the individual teacher to come up with the lessons for the day. In the near future teachers will have access to various tutor programs on the computer. These computer programs can be used for the classrooms.
Attendance at the extended day has been excellent. Generally 85% - 95% of those required to attend, actually come to the tutoring. Thosestudents missing the tutoring have either been sick, out of town orsubsistence hunting. If a student deliberately skips the session, their name will be reported to the principal and he will contact the parents.
The elementary students seem to be enthused about coming for the after school help. Part of the motivation is they receive a snack and sometype of juice towards the end of the session. Another motivation was the school set up a “Student Movie Night” last Friday at the school gym. It was open to all students who attended the after school program for grades 4-12. They also get to be with a teacher from another part of the building that they didn't have that day. I'm assuming most students want to get better in their academic work and that is extra motivation as well.
The junior high and high school students who haven't passed the SBA'sare required to come after school. If they don't show up they will notbe eligible for other extra-curricular activities during the year. TheAdministration is hoping to have funding through April.

During last week’s community meeting, the subsistence activity was addressed. The students are not allowed to miss more than two days of school a semester for subsistence activities. I feel students should be given more than two days, because I think students will have more unexcused absences.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weekly Blog by Kendra Krenz

On Monday I attended another community meeting at the school. The meeting, hosted by our school principal, dealt with several topics that are facing our students. Our principal discussed the results of the SBA tests and the need for after school tutoring. The after school tutoring started on Wednesday and it will run four days a week for students who preformed poorly on the tests. There was a discussion about the dangers of some students playing around and underneath the school after school hours. It was suggested that the VPSO do a better job of patrolling the area. Also the school is looking into fixing the fence that is under the school.

There was a discussion about the subsistence forms that are currently being used in the classrooms. Parents are required to have the student’s homeroom teacher sign off on the sheet before the student goes for their subsistence activities. In the future there may be a change to this procedure. It will be addressed at the next school board meeting. A district-wide policy has been put in place requiring that adults using the gym pay a $20 per hour fee. Exceptions will be made for community feeds, weddings, etc.

A drawing was held for five gallons of gas. Some other surplus food was given to those in attendance. There were about 30 people at the meeting.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Women’s Throwing Party by Kendra Krenz

Last Friday my high school classmate had a women’s throwing party which is called “uqiquq” (ooh-gee-gook) in Yupik. She hosted the party in honor of her foster child who picked his first berries. I wanted to share this event on my weekly blog for those who aren’t familiar with this event. It is one of my favorite village traditional activities. It was the first one I’ve been to since coming back to the village this fall. There are usually several throwing parties throughout the summer. We have two new women teachers, in our village and I invited them to the party as a way of sharing the Yupik culture and getting them involved with the community.

The women’s throwing party is generally held on a day when the wind is blowing and the weather isn’t too cold. Once I remember a woman had her throwing party on a warm sunny day in December. The woman who decides to host the throwing party announces over the VHF an open invitation to women. They are invited to come to the outside of her house. The VHF is the main way that local people communicate in the village. It’s a quick way to let the entire community know when a public event is taking place.

There are several reasons for having a throwing party. Many times subsistence activities are celebrated in this way. Basically anyone can host a throwing party for whatever reason they want. A child finding his or her first eggs on the tundra during egg-hunting season, a young man’s first seal hunt or a special village experience are some of the reasons people will host a party.

Sharing is very common in this community and everyone is well connected to the traditional lifestyle. Women start gathering their throwing party gifts over time, since money is tight. Usually this event is for ladies and elder women only, but little girls and boys always show up. Kids usually take part because they know they will walk away with candy. If you catch something, it is yours to keep. Some women get aggressive when going after items.

Usually the grand prize will be thrown at the beginning. There are variety of gifts the woman will throw in her party such as kitchen utensils, bowls, cups, individual trash-bags, zip-lock bags, tupperware, towels, wash cloth rags, rags, tissue, clothes pins, plastic bucket for berry picking, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, candy, and various household items.