The Scoop

Chugach Optional Elementary's Monthly Newsletter

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Message from Joel

Hello Chugach Families,

I want to take this opportunity to welcome all of our new and returning families to our school. As your new principal it is important to me that you know a little about me. I am a lifelong Alaskan and Anchoragite; having attended Turnagain Elementary, Romig Middle School, and West High School. I am also a pilot, and have enjoyed flying myself and my family all over this wonderful state. My wife, son, and I enjoy the ability to fly out to our cabin near Skwentna year round to enjoy the peace and serenity of being in a truly remote location. Prior to coming to Chugach I taught third and fourth-grade Language Arts and Social Studies in the Bowman Open Optional Program for 10 years and was the instructional coach at Bowman for three years. At the end of last school year, I was the Assistant Principal at William Tyson Elementary School.

As we enter the 2022-2023 school year, it is my personal goal, as well as the goal for the Anchorage School District, to return back to a year filled with more “normal” routines. What does this mean? It means that I will be encouraging Family Groups to move back to working with each other as much as possible without having to have contingencies for COVID. It means that some of the traditional Chugach Optional events may be able to return, and that our students are now able to return to eating in the MPR. You can’t imagine how powerful eating with your friends from other Family Groups can be.

If you haven’t already, I hope all of you take the opportunity to introduce yourselves to me.

This is going to be a fantastic year!


September's Important Dates:

Friday, September 2 - Early Release Day*

Monday, September 5 - Labor Day (NO SCHOOL!)

Wednesday, September 7 - Running Club Begins & CHUGACH OPEN HOUSE (6pm)

Saturday, September 10 - Running Club: Coyote Classic @ Kincaid Elementary (Optional)

Monday, September 12 - Running Club Practice

Wednesday, September 14 - Running Club Practice and Community Assembly Meeting

Friday, September 16 - Early Release Day*

Monday, September 19 - PICTURE DAY!!! and Running Club Practice

Wednesday, September 21 - Running Club Practice

Friday, September 23 - Upper Group Geology Field Trip

Wednesday, September 28 - Running Club Jamboree @ Bartlett High School

Friday, September 30 - Early Release Day*

*On Early Released Days, students are dismissed at 11:15am. Students that are eating lunch at school may be in the building until 11:45am.

Chugach Optional Clubs


The Garden Club would like to say a special THANK YOU to Julie O'Malley for managing the care of the Chugach Chickens over the past summer! We appreciate you!

@ our library

Welcome to our library!!!

For almost 50 years, our library has been the heart of Chugach.

I am honored to be a part of our Chugach philosophy and history.

When I say ‘our library’, that is exactly what I mean.

If you would like to open a library account for you or a younger sibling, please come and see me!

My Checking Out Books Philosophy

I feel strongly about having books in students’ hands. When students ask how many books they can check out, I ask them what they think is appropriate for them and their family plan. Each family is different so each student has a different plan. Please talk with your child(ren) about your family library plan – how many library books can be checked out at a time, how library books travel to and from school (in a bag is really important with all of this rain!), where the books are kept at home and if a book is lost or ruined, how it will be replaced. I honor your family decisions. Please feel free to share these plans with me. Thank you for talking about this responsibility with your child(ren).

Chugach Library Revamp!

The library is about to get messy! We are diving into the nonfiction collection and reorganizing how the books are grouped, labeled and shelved. Students will be directly involved with the decision making as it is our community library. My goal is to reconnect students with books and the love of reading, especially after the past two years of life with covid. I invite you to come and check out our progress throughout the next few months!

Any questions or thoughts, please feel free to connect with me in the library or email me:

Many thanks!


From the Nurse's Office

COVID Update and ASD Sick Policy

The Anchorage School District (ASD) is following pre-pandemic guidelines regarding illness. Please follow this link for details on When to Keep Your Child Home from School.

ASD will not be doing COVID testing at schools this year. If a student or staff tests positive for COVID we ask that you follow these guidelines:

  • day 0: 1st day of illness or test date

  • day 1-5: stay home

  • day 6-10: can return to school, must wear a mask

No nuts/peanuts policy in the classroom

Our classrooms are peanut and tree nut free, please ensure children have appropriate snacks.

Many classrooms have students with allergies, please check with classroom teachers before bringing in birthday treats or any snacks that will be shared with students.

Student Health Screenings

During the course of the school year, the school nurse will be checking height, weight, vision, and hearing. The extent of the routine screening depends on the grade. However, any time a teacher or parent has a concern they can reach out to the school nurse.

Keep us informed

Please get in touch with Maya if your child starts a new medication, has a new diagnosis that teachers or staff should be aware of, or has an injury that may affect their abilities at school (for example: in a cast and using crutches). Having up to date health information on our students helps us support student needs and ensure their safety.


School Picture Day for Chugach Optional is Monday, September 19th. Lifetouch will be taking both individual student pictures and family group class pictures. Students will be bringing home flyers with order information. Pictures can be ordered via the paper orders or online at The Student School ID is EVT6G3VZ2 (use for individual student picture). The Picture Day ID for family group pictures is EVTKHGRVW.

Message from the CEC President

Here we are in another school year! I'm honored to be the Chugach Educational Cooperation (CEC) President. Chugach Optional has always been a community that thrives on parent and family involvement. I know that this year will be an amazing rebound after the struggles and challenges we've faced the last few years. I'm confident that the students at our school will not only be taught by an incredible, and immensely capable staff, but will also experience life learning through friendly, familiar faces volunteering and being involved. Be sure to join us for our monthly Community Assembly Meetings in order to shape what and how we as a community move forward!

Tim Kacillas

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Big Simple 2022-2023

It’s September and time to kick off our Chugach Community Fundraiser!

The Big Simple is a once-a-year fundraiser for Chugach Optional. Contributions collected are divided equally among Chugach teachers/classrooms. Teachers use these funds to pay for field trips, performances, special projects, theme studies and classroom subscriptions such as Scholastic News. Please feel free to ask your teacher specifically how they use their Big Simple funds. All money collected is used solely to pay for classroom needs. By contributing once, at the beginning of the year, families are not asked throughout the year for money towards classroom needs and teachers and staff are able to budget for their highest needs.

At our spring 2022 Community Assembly meeting we funded a budget with a goal of raising $26,000 for the Big Simple, which makes our suggested donation $112 per child. We also know not all families are in a position to contribute this amount so please donate what you can and help support Chugach Optional. We know we can get there!

Chugach Educational Corporation is organized under IRS code section 501(c)3 as a tax-exempt public charity. Your donations to the Big Simple fundraiser are tax deductible to the extent of the current tax law.

Don’t forget to ask your employer if they will match your donation!

The Chugach Auction needs you!

We are excited for the return of the Chugach Auction this year!

This is a key fundraiser in maintaining our school’s annual operating budget and also doubles as a fun parent’s night out! This year’s auction is scheduled for Friday, November 4 at 49th State Brewery.

Right now, the auction committee is seeking donations for items to be auctioned off. Past examples have included experiences, cabin stays, gift cards, photography sessions, art, child activities, etc. If you own a business, are connected to a business, or think you can support the collection of donation items, please contact Auction Chair Jackie Savina at

Be on the lookout as we get closer for more details about how you can attend this fun night!

Friendly Reminders

  • If your child is going to be out of school for the day please contact the office before 9:30 am at 907-742-3730
  • All students arriving after 8:15 am must sign-in at the office
  • More details on Attendance can be found here

Parent/Visitor Sign-in

  • All parents, visitors, and volunteers who are going to be in the school after 8:30 am need to sign in at the office.

Parking at OEM (Neighbor to the South of our parking lot)

  • The Office of Emergency Management want to remind parents that they are welcome to park in the OEM parking lot in any unmarked spots along the wooden fence (north) and the chain-link fence (east). Any marked spots must be left open for OEM staff and visitors.


  • We are still in need of several Noon Duty attendants and a Cafeteria Manager at the school. Please go to the ASD website to apply if interested in these positions.

About Us - Chugach Optional Elementary School

Chugach Optional Elementary began in 1973 and is the oldest optional program in Anchorage. For more information about our school and the philosophy of Chugach Optional Elementary, visit our website.

NEW: Chugach Office has a new email address that will reach both Yuki and Carrie at the same time. This is super helpful when one of us is away from the office for the day! The new email address is: