Thanks to the generally good behavior of visiting Arctic Winter Games guests and volunteerism from the community, schools in the central Kenai Peninsula were back in session as usual Monday.
“On Saturday, our football team, the Boy Scouts and community volunteers helped us take down the bunk beds, which allowed our custodial staff to come in and clean on Sunday,” said Todd Syverson, principal of Soldotna High School where about 300 Games athletes were housed last week.
“We had a great experience,” Syverson said.
“We had soccer players and figure skaters staying here,” he said, adding there were no problems during the week.
“I was very pleased,” he said.
Sharon Moock, principal of Soldotna Middle School, echoed Syverson’s view of the experience.
“I would say there were no problems,” Moock said.
“There was no vandalism of any sort. We did take out a lot of garbage. Other than that, it was a very positive experience,” she said.
Moock said boys stayed in the school building and girls stayed in portable classrooms not attached to the school.
“We took out a lot of shoe boxes from the portables, and Gottschalks and Fred Meyer bags,” she said.
Many of the athletes visiting from polar regions of Canada, Scandinavia, Greenland and Russia rode shuttle buses to local shopping centers, spending much of their free time purchasing shoes, clothing, cosmetics and other items more costly or less plentiful in their hometowns.
Moock said she was especially impressed by the honesty displayed during the week.
“We had reports of at least four or five wallets lost, and one coach’s jacket with a wallet in the pocket.
“We made an announcement (over the public address system) and every one of the wallets came back completely intact. Some had a lot of money. One had $1,200 in cash,” she said.
She also said she was impressed by the efforts of Soldotna police officer Tony Garcia.
“He built such a relationship with the kids. They just wanted to be with him, calling, ‘Tony, Tony, Tony,’” Moock said.
“Team Alberta North’s hockey team had to leave early (to catch their flight home) and he got on the bus with them and talked to them about who they are, and some of them got tears in their eyes,” she said.
Moock also found that many of the coaches are also educators, and she learned of many of the challenges they face, especially in more remote regions like Nunavut.
“They do volleyball, basketball and wrestling, but they can’t go to a lot of competitions because they must fly.
“They also said a lot of their kids go out to go to college, and many don’t come back ... just like here,” she said.
Syverson also commended his school’s student body.
“They unloaded two semi trailers of bunk beds in an hour and set them up in two hours,” he said, of the student effort prior to the athletes’ arrival before the Games.
SoHi also had assistance from Boy Scouts, Young Marines and the Soldotna Elks Club.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.
On Saturday after the conclusion of the Games, Syverson said members of the football team, the Scouts and others from the community put the last of the 150 bunk beds in the semi trailers at 11 p.m.
“Our head custodian, Dennis Spindler, and head cook, Ria Fandal, did a great job getting ready for school (Monday),” he said.
Following a two-hour delayed start, SoHi conducted a one-hour advisory period followed by school periods four, five and six.
The normal school schedule resumes today.
“We really learned a lot about who our kids are the future leaders of this country. We don’t need to be worried,” Moock said.
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