Kenai Central High School activities director Jim Beeson, standing at right, addresses members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Student Council during a district-wide meeting at KCHS last week.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's Borough Student Council Meeting ended with what was, for many participants, the highlight of the day-long gathering of student leaders: Small groups of students from across the school district conducting informal discussions of ways they can make their schools better.
"The discussions between schools, sharing ideas, that's what I think made the biggest impact. You can learn a lot from other schools," said Israel Blatchford, a senior at Nikiski Middle-High School who attended the event at Kenai Central on Sept. 27.
The theme for the day was "Get Involved The School is the Community and the Community is the School," and the event featured workshops geared toward helping student leaders build school spirit within their own schools and in the community beyond the school walls.
"The community is a big part of the school," Blatchford said. "We need the community to have a successful school environment. It makes school fun, and the community can enjoy it, too."
To that end, several community members participated in the event. Mike Navarre, a Kenai businessman and Kenai Central graduate, gave the keynote address while Cherie Curry, representing the Kenai Chamber of Commerce, Kenai mayor Pat Porter, and Kathy Moore from the Arctic Winter games led workshops on community involvement.
District superintendent Donna Peterson, Mountain View Elementary principal Jim Dawson and Kenai Central teacher and activities director Jim Beeson, who organized the event, led workshops on involvement in the school. Kenai Central students Siri Larson, Hannah Watkins, Les Krusen, Kelsey Brewer, Adam Demello and Alee Rowley facilitated the discussions that ended the day.
"I learned a lot about organization, which is actually something we've been dealing with at Skyview a lot. I learned a lot about having contacts at other schools that can be useful for us making school-wide decisions," said Rachel Osterman, Skyview's senior class president.
Among other business attended to during the day, several students were elected to serve on various school district committees. Kenai's Adam Demello was voted to the calendar committee and Soldotna's Brittany Osland was selected for the instructional committee. Kelly King, a senior at Soldotna and the student government president there, was elected to serve as the student representative on the school board.
"It feels good to have all the peninsula's schools come together and help each other instead of just a rivalry all the time," Blatchford said. "It's good to know we can also help each other."
In fact, many of the participants said they got more out of the day than they expected.
"I really enjoyed ... learning what other people had done and learning that we're not the only school that doesn't have school spirit," said Trent Anderson, a junior and executive council vice president at Seward High School.
"I actually got a lot more out of it than I thought. I expected to listen to a bunch of people talking and get a lot out of it."
One of the topics that came up, in regard to school spirit, was finding ways to improve school spirit and community pride in its school beyond homecoming week and athletic events.
"Usually when you meet other people, it's because of sports," Anderson said. "It's nice to meet other people with the same interests who work with the same stuff you do."
Leadership was another topic addressed, and Soldotna sophomore class secretary Melissa Halama said the day inspired her to become more involved in things going in her school.
Madison Cheeseman, a freshman at Kenai Central, said the sharing of ideas was the best part of the event.
"I thought it was helpful and educational to let us know what other schools are doing. They can help us out with ideas they have, and we can help them out with ideas we have," Cheeseman said.
In his remarks wrapping up the event, Beeson said that if students who participated learned something about sharing ideas, then they got a valuable lesson about how the real world works.
"All the real world is about," Beeson said, "is begging, borrowing and stealing ideas from other people."
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