Top 12 selected for Caring for the Kenai competition

Twelve high school students from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have been selected as finalists in this year’s Caring for the Kenai competition.

A panel of eight judges from the professional community chose 12 finalists out of the nearly 400 proposals which answered the prompt, “What can I do, invent or create to better care for the environment on the Kenai Peninsula, or to improve the area’s preparedness for a natural disaster?”

The contest, which is sponsored by Tesoro, is in it’s 27th year and has participants from schools across the district, including Voznesenka, Homer, Nikiski and Seward, according to contest coordinator Merrill Sikorski.

“The opportunity that Caring for the Kenai offers our students to showcase their creativity and ingenuity is excellent,” said Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Sean Dusek.

This year, $20,000 in grants will be divided among participating schools dependent on where their students place in the final oral presentation competition. A matching $20,000 will also be awarded, sponsored by a grant from Kenai River Raven Lodge, Peninsula Community Health Services and Hilcorp, according to Sikorski.

Caring for the Kenai is also organized as part of the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska’s educational programs.

“I think it’s a great program, it gets kids to think outside the box and go down roads that they normally would not go down,” Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel said. Gabriel served as one of the eight judges who selected this year’s finalists.

“The whole process I was involved in was really neat,” Gabriel said.

The eight judges were split up into groups and were given a selection or submissions. They judged them and then compared notes with their group.

“Then we would move forward from there and see how they all shook out,” Gabriel said.

The names, teachers and schools of the 12 finalists are not released until after the oral presentations, which will be held at 6 p.m. on April 20 in the Kenai Central High School’s Little Theatre. The competition will also be live streamed online by Soldotna High School technology students.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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