West Homer Elementary

January 2021

A Message from the Principal

VISION: The learning community of West Homer Elementary inspires and supports all students to be lifelong learners with the courage and confidence to make positive contributions to the world.

MISSION: The mission of West Homer Elementary School is to build strong connections among community, families, staff, and students in a safe, healthy, nurturing environment that challenges each student.


Dear Parents, Guardians, and Community Members,


2021 comes with the promise of a little more normalcy. The district will decide on January 5th if we will return to in-person learning January 11th or January 19th. Either way, we will get back to in-person instruction with additional mitigation strategies in place – please review the revised WHE SMART START plan HERE. We also ask that each student bring at least 2 masks as they will be wearing them at PE and recess and will likely need to change them out.


When students come back to us in-person (either on the 11th or the 19th) our focus will be on supporting every student. Many will be concerned about how far behind students have become on the traditional measures we use to track academic progress. While this is likely, if that is all we focus on, we will have missed the mark given the worldwide pandemic we are experiencing.


Access to traditional education has been a challenge this past year, but students’ minds have not been off and they have been learning many things outside of school this year. They may be focusing more on how to deal with conflicting messages, how to make a decision with changing information, how to show they love someone when they cannot be near them, how to protect their grandparents while fulfilling their own needs for socialization, how to deal with the disappointment of not being able to play with friends or experience a sports season, figuring out how to care for a sibling while at the same time accessing their own studies, how to cope with the changes that come from a parent losing a job or a family member becoming ill. They have been watching us, figuring out through observation how to cope with adversity.


When students come back to us in person, they will come with the history of enduring nearly a year of disruption to their daily lives the likes of which we have not seen in our generation.


As educators, we know that without reflection, there is no learning. I am reminded of the classic Alaskan legend Two Old Women by Velma Wallis where the nomadic Athabascan Gwich’in tribe must decide during an unusually harsh winter to leave behind 2 elders or risk the death of the entire tribe. Miraculously the 2 elders survive through grit, resilience, and determination. The following winter, the tribe is on the brink of starvation again and encounters the 2 Old Women where they must all come to grips with betrayal, forgiveness and a shared understanding of what it means to be a community. We have faced challenging societal decisions this year, and there are powerful lessons to be learned through this most unprecedented of experiences in modern times. “Within each individual in this large and complicated world there lives an astounding potential of greatness. Yet it is rare that these hidden gifts are brought to life unless by chance of fate,” Velma writes in her introduction.


When students come back to us in person, we will listen and provide opportunities for them to share their stories of this time. We will not be frantically trying to “fix” their deficits. The time they have been away from the building has not been “lost” time. This time has been spent in shaping their understanding of how to survive a previously unimaginable experience for all of us, in grappling with what it means to put community needs in front of your own. We will listen to their experiences and sacrifices and help them process how their lives have been changed by forces outside their control. There are stories from throughout history like Velma Wallis’ that can help guide us and them to make meaning of a most chaotic experience. No standard assessment we give can help measure this. Sure we will asses where they are academically on the measures we traditionally use and we will support their growth and development in these areas. But the real knowledge, the real value will be in helping them understand how this experience has shaped them so they can respond and act accordingly when they are the ones in charge of making the difficult decisions.


When students come back to us in person, it will not only be like the first day of school again, it will be like the first chapter in how to live in a post-pandemic world.


Looking forward to embarking on this journey together and helping every child’s hidden gifts surface!


Eric Waltenbaugh, Principal

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Dates to Remember

January 4th - First Day of 3rd Quarter

January 7th - Spelling Bee - Final @ 1:30pm

January 11th - Board of Education Meeting @ 6pm

January 18th - Vacation Day - No School

Geography Bee: Stay tuned for an upcoming school-wide geography bee.

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Get It and Go Sign-up Instruction - *NEW*

GET AND GO SIGN UP INSTRUCTIONS

To get meals starting Jan 4 you MUST sign up between 12/26 and 12/31.

If a pre-order is entered before that week they will be disregarded as an error.

Starting in January, if you don’t sign up online between 12/26 and 12/31 then no meals will be available for pick up on the 4th or 6th.

Online sign up will be mandatory for all students in order to receive remote lunches.

https://www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/communications.aspx?id=42125

If you do not have access to the internet, call KPBSD Student Nutrition Services at 907-714-8890.

3rd Grade Santa Play

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Winter Cityscapes

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Spelling Bee

Congratulations to the following Spelling Bee finalists:


6th Grade:

Tristan Overholt

Reid Rauch

Bryce Hagge

Lily High


5th Grade:

Christabelle Minke

Mason Forinash

Carter Davis

Catherine Davis


4th Grade:

Micah Bunker

Leo Willison

Kameron Rogers


3rd Grade:

Laela Dunlap

Hadley Darr

Brendan Driscoll

Maria Hernandez

Sophie Williams


These students had to spell words like inexorably and soleil! The final round will be held on January 7th @ 1:30pm via Zoom!

3rd/4th Battle of the Books

5th/6th Grade Battle of the Books

Movie Making during Remote!

Hello West Homer students,

Would you be interested in making your own, simple, homemade movie? If so, please click on the link below. It could be a lot of fun!!!