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Students start off school year in unity

Posted: August 20, 2014 - 12:02am  |  Updated: August 20, 2014 - 12:12am
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Seventh grader Dylan Donham puts on his new sweatshirt during the first day of school at Skyview Middle School Tuesday. More than 400 students and 50 staff members were given the sweatshirt thanks to donations from the community. Students at Soldotna High School also received sweatshirts to start the year.  Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion
Photo by Dan Balmer/Peninsula Clarion
Seventh grader Dylan Donham puts on his new sweatshirt during the first day of school at Skyview Middle School Tuesday. More than 400 students and 50 staff members were given the sweatshirt thanks to donations from the community. Students at Soldotna High School also received sweatshirts to start the year.

The 400 students at Skyview Middle School in Soldotna received a gift from community donors intended to ease the transition of life in a new school Tuesday morning.

Each student was given a gray sweatshirt that reads Skyview Middle School with the logo of a panther, the school mascot. Likewise, at Soldotna Prep and Soldotna High School, every student received a Soldotna Stars sweatshirt. The list of community donors for the 500 Skyview Panthers sweatshirts and 500 Soldotna Stars sweatshirts is printed on the back.

With the reconfiguration of two Soldotna high schools into one, many familiar faces are in new places. The building that housed Soldotna Middle School has become Soldotna Prep while seventh- and eighth-grades have moved to the former Skyview High School building.

Skyview Middle School Principal Sarge Truesdell said with so many kids coming over from Soldotna Middle and other schools, the sweatshirts were a sign of unity to start over in a brand new school. While Skyview and Soldotna were once school rivals, now students can start off with something with their peers, he said.

“We tell kids all the time to get involved in their school and wear your colors,” he said. “I call it ‘get a shirt.’ If you go out for the wrestling team you get a shirt you are part of something and support school colors. A big thanks goes to the people in the community who took this on to raise money and provide everybody with a sweatshirt.”

Skyview eighth-grader Keith West moved to Alaska from Pennsylvania over the summer. He said he was nervous starting over in a new school. Knowing that everyone was starting fresh in a new school made for an easier transition, he said.

“Moving to a new state and new school is a big change,” he said. “It’s cool that everyone gets a sweatshirt to start the year.”

Amber O’Conner and Cecilia Stewart, both eighth-graders who attended Soldotna Middle School last year, said they were excited to see their friends and start school in the former high school. Stewart said she is looking forward to her welding class because her dad is a welder and she wants to learn the trade. O’Conner, who plays the trumpet, said her favorite class is band.

Truesdell, himself a Skyview High School graduate, said while the new school is a change of scenery, most of the staff and students are the same.

“I sat up last night thinking how this has been a three-year process just to get to today,” he said. “It seemed like a monumental task that would never happen. To know the building was ready and to see the smiles on kids’ faces at orientation is the most exciting thing.”

After all the students received a sweatshirt all the students gathered in the commons for a photo. Truesdell said middle school kids haven’t a commons area before to hang out with classmates.

“This is a beautiful venue at Skyview,” he said. “To look out my window and see the surrounding view it puts a smile to my face.”

 

Reach Dan Balmer at daniel.balmer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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