'Tis the season of Holiday traditions, and for the last two decades residents of the Central Peninsula have looked forward to the joyful sound of the youthful voices from students at Cook Inlet Academy (CIA) spreading the spirit of the season. "One of the exiting parts of teaching at CIA is taking the preschooler's, as well as kindergarten through 2nd graders, Christmas caroling each year," says Beck Dwinnell, a teacher at CIA. affectionately known as "Miss Becky."
"When Cook Inlet Academy first started I was in 6th grade. My Dad, Tom Dwinnell, along with others on the Kenai Peninsula talked about starting a private Christian school in the area. They got Chuck Crapuchettes, Mr. C, to agree to be the principal for the one-teacher school. We had 35 students in the school at the time and we met at the old Soldotna Bible Chapel building in Ridgeway. Little did I know that I would graduate from CIA and return to teach there," said Dwinnell - who is known by many simply as: Miss Becky. Today Cook Inlet Academy has 15 faculty members for grades pre through 12, with 165 students and several state basketball championships to their credit.
"I have taught here for now going on 22 years and love every minute of teaching the preschool classes. It's hard to believe that it has been that long but every year is as exciting as the first time we did it. Christmas caroling is such a blessing just to see the children's faces light up when they are singing for people and then to have folks sing along with us and feel the joy. Sometimes people ask us where we are going next so they can follow us to our next stop," she said.
Without the aid of a school bus to transport her students, Miss Becky coordinates 40 some carolers from venue to venue. "I cannot say enough about the parents that help us by volunteering their time to help us do this field trip. They interrupt their busy schedule during the Christmas season to take us from business to business for the whole day! They are the best and we couldn't do it without their help!" added Dwinnell. Local CIA caroling venues have included Beemun's Variety, CPH, Heritage Place, Veronica's, Soldotna Senior Center, Kenai Peninsula Borough offices, and the Forget-Me-Not Care Center. "Again, I cannot say enough to these businesses for opening their doors for the children to come in and sing. Thank you to all, and to all a very Merry Christmas!" concluded Miss Becky.
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