JUNEAU (AP) -- For the first time in nearly six decades, students in the far Southeast community of Hyder will not have to cross into a foreign country to go to school.
Hyder parents convinced the Southeast Island School District to open a school for their children in the Hyder Community Association building. The two-story building is in the middle of the 10-block town, next to the library, basketball court and jungle gym.
Paul Larkin, administrator of the Hyder Community Association, welcomes both the $1,500-a-month rent the school district will pay and the regular use of the building.
''Most of the parents are very excited about having a local school, and I think the kids are looking forward to it also,'' Larkin said.
Since 1941, students from the 140-person border town had been attending school in Stewart, British Columbia. The school bus route included a stop at Customs each morning and afternoon for a head count.
In Stewart, the Hyder students learned Canadian history, French and metrics. They took Canadian holidays and automatically were excused for American holidays.
Alaska paid extra so the Hyder students would be taught some American history as well, but the seniors graduated with Canadian certificates of education, said Sharon Bishop, one of the Hyder parents who pushed to have an American school for her three daughters.
Amy Bishop, 9, knows the capitals of all of Canada's provinces, but can't name all 50 U.S. states ''because I haven't been taught them,'' she said.
For the past five years, Hyder has sent 15 to 20 students to Stewart for school each year. But the Southeast Island School District warned that the state will stop funding the Hyder school if enrollment drops below 10 students.
Thirteen students are expected to attend the new Hyder school this fall, including one senior, Jimmy Simpson. The town librarian, Caroline Gutierrez, is prepared for his graduation next June.
''I have a cap and gown here already,'' Gutierrez said. ''When any of our kids graduate from any school -- home school, GED -- they get 'Pomp and Circumstance' played on kazoo and they get to wear the cap and gown.''
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.