Posted: Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Hi, neighbors.

Thanks to Connie Ferguson for submitting a grant application for Sterling Elementary School, which has been selected for an Artist in Residence grant. That means that they will host Mike Morgan for about two weeks at the school this spring. As part of his residency, they are expecting to present an evening concert with Mike and the students. This is something for Sterling neighbors to look forward to.

Connie submitted the grant request with the assistance of Debbie Clonan and Christine Ermold, our new principal. Their persistence and efforts have helped bring this opportunity to the community. Thanks to these three for their efforts.

Thanks to George and Jan Elser, the Sterling Senior Center has two new executive chairs in the office. I think some of the workers backs will feel better in the future. The Elsers also have donated a microwave to be used at the new housing in the community room. Their donations are much appreciated by the seniors and staff.

Thanks to Bob Oaks and the Community Club, you should be skating on our outdoor rink by this week. Bob said if the weather holds, we should have had good ice by the tiume you read this. You may skate from daylight to 10 p.m. daily. The rink is on Sterling Highway next to Sterling Elementary.

The Sterling Masonic Lodge will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the senior center.

Don't forget the PTA bingo for books night at the Sterling Elementary at 6 p.m. Thursday. You can call the school for more information if you missed my column explaining it last week.

The senior center is having a fun night with entertainment by Dudley Abbott on Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be a fish fry. Fish is high on the list of good things to eat for good health, so be sure to show up.

I looked at the calendar and, sure enough, my good friend Phyllis Bolz has a birthday today. Others with birthdays to celebrate this week are Jerry Kincaid, Robert Barrett, Rickie Bowen and Margaret Moseley. Alice Card and Glenda Graham will enjoy birthday cake Saturday. Happy birthday to all these Sterling neighbors. I hope they get lots of birthday cards.

I have to brag a little today because my daughter, Laura Pillifant, who teaches at Soldotna Middle School, completed a marathon in Phoenix last weekend. I went along as support, but she breezed right through the 26.2 miles. The weather cooperated for an Alaskan and wasn't too hot. She qualified for the Boston Marathon. Congratulations to Laura.

In other news this week, Allan Miller's class at Sterling Elementary will team up with a fellow "almost astronaut teacher" Dan Wray of Warsaw, Ind., and his eighth-grade class to simulate the problem-solving that took place during the Apollo 13 almost disaster. The two classes will communicate by video conference.

Students will use some supplies from the International Space Station to build a containment or insulation unit that will protect a battery from the heat or cold of space at 400 miles above the earth's surface. That's about minus 170 degrees and plus 200 degrees.

At that point, each team will switch to the role of astronaut and try to duplicate or synthesize what they have learned from each other's tests to make a solution that can handle both hot and cold.

Dan and Allan have been invited to the Johnson Space Center in Texas on Feb. 6 to share their classes' experiences with more than 1,000 teachers at the Space Exploration Conference.

Congratulations to Allan and his students. I wish them good luck in their problem-solving experience. Also, I hope Allan's trip to Texas is fun, and he brings back good stories to share with his class and our neighbors.

Lois Pillifant can be reached by phone at 260-3111 or by email at

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