Paul Gutzler, Will Hubler, Jamie Dunn, Kim Kurzendoerfer and Michelle Bayes scramble to assemble bunk beds for Arctic Winter Games athletes at Kenai Central High School on Thursday afternoon. Volunteers worked at seven schools to set up temporary housing.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Where chemical formulas and laws of physics once strove to penetrate the craniums of Kenai Central High School students, the mechanics of bunk beds and the covering of mattresses fully occupied those same heads on Thursday.
Roughly 150 students answered the call to help convert many of the school’s classrooms into dormitory-style bedrooms for 298 Arctic Winter Games participants who will call KCHS home for the next week as they take part in sports and Native games competitions and cultural performances.
As at KCHS, student volunteers worked diligently at Soldotna and Skyview high schools, Soldotna and Kenai middle schools and Redoubt and Sears elementary schools where other participants are being billeted.
In all, 1,000 bunk beds will be set up for 1,800 guests.
“You get to know these pretty well after awhile,” said a smiling Kirk Lauthan, KCHS junior, after assembling 10 or so of the black-painted, tubular steel bunk beds.
Lauthan came to the task with no experience, other than having once received a bunk bed from his sister. No assembly was required.
He said he volunteered to help, “‘cause it was something to do.”
“It’s kinda fun. It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” he said about the Games coming to the Kenai Peninsula. “It’s a good thing for the community.”
A skier on the Kenai ski team, Lauthan also has volunteered to help with the biathlon during the week of the Games.
Heather Grisham, a sophomore, said she volunteered to help with the beds because she did not volunteer for any major part of the Games.
“I’ll be busy next week volunteering at (Central Peninsula General Hospital),” she said.
While putting mattress covers on the bunk beds, Grisham, who hopes to complete Certified Nursing Assistant training next year, said she has been a junior volunteer at the hospital for nearly one year.
“I’ve done everything from building the beds to putting mattresses on them to bedding and cleanup,” she said.
Another sophomore, Hunter Kautz, said he had been building beds “since fourth hour.” That’s about 9:30 in high school parlance.
Before that, he was involved with moving desks and bed frames and moving boxed mattresses, which had been delivered from Anchorage in individual twin-bed size cardboard boxes.
That work started at the end of second hour.
When asked why he volunteered, Kautz said, “Something to do.
“I’d rather be building stuff than writing stuff,” he said.
Classes at most central Kenai Peninsula schools ended early Thursday to prepare for the conversion from classroom to dormitory, and schools will be recessed for spring break beginning today and continuing through the duration of the Games.
Kautz said, to him, everything about the Arctic Winter Games is impressive.
“It’s nothing I could do,” he said.
Not personally active in sports, Kautz said he enjoys playing video games in his spare time, especially “Prince of Persia” and “Halo.”
If the KCHS basketball team gets back from Sitka early enough on Sunday, junior guard Dusty Ward will have a speaking role in the 11 a.m. Praise and Worship service for Games participants.
“I’ll be mostly talking ... giving some Scriptures,” he said.
On Thursday, he was building bunk beds.
Like the other volunteers, Ward was doing it because it was fun.
“I’m working with a lot of good people about 25 people I’ve worked with,” he said.
Ward said he is “a little interested” in the Native games that participants will compete in next week, as well as in hockey and indoor soccer.
Although volunteers at KCHS were expected to work until nearly midnight, clearing classrooms, assembling beds and getting ready for 300 house guests, Principal Alan Fields said it appeared the work would be done shortly after noon.
“It’s been absolutely phenomenal. I’m really impressed,” Fields said.
“Last night was a sleepless night. This morning, the kids have just blown us away,” he said.
Because the KCHS students were completing their tasks much earlier than expected, Fields announced over the public address system that volunteers were still needed to set up beds at Sears Elementary School.
“Oh, and come back Sunday the 12th to begin breaking beds down ... at 9,” he said.
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