VOLUME 10, ISSUE 5, December/January 2021/2022
2021 has been a challenging year for many, including me. So many things have changed in the past two years and that has been hard. But let me back up to long before COVID.
When I was growing up in high school in Michigan, I did not feel safe. Education was low on my priority list, and self-preservation was high. I did not have teachers that seemed to care about me or how I did in life or school. Throughout my teaching career I have worked in schools in very high poverty areas, with kids that had many ACES—life challenges that affected their ability to come to school and learn. What I took away from my own education, as well as my early years teaching, is that education is important, but people are more important.
At Homer High, I have been consistently impressed with the quality of students, teachers and staff. Their level of commitment and care amazes me and also humbles me. I hope our students feel the care and concern our staff has for their well-being. I feel so honored to be the principal of Homer High School. I work hard. People who know me, know what kind of hours I put in to try to make the school run smoothly, to make this the best educational experience for the students, to be a principal that supports the students and teachers.
So many events that have happened this year have been complex to manage. People are tired and stressed, focused on their own wants and needs and perhaps a little less gracious in giving others space to be who they are. People have expectations that can’t always be met. Confidentiality is a bottom line and sometimes others want to know things I cannot share.
In order to lead Homer High well, I need the support of the staff and students, parents and community, that I have the students’ bests interests in mind in my decisions. I do my best, day by day, through the challenges and also through all the joys, to allow students to feel safe as they learn and grow in our school. I know what it is like to not feel safe; I want everyone at Homer High to be in a place they can be themselves and to be free to learn and thrive.
We are a team—all of us. We are the Mariners. Our way is the way a good ship is run: teamwork, cooperation, respect, working hard and having fun together too. From students to principal, we are a community and we need to show the world our Mariner Pride—all the good things we are.
If you have ideas for making our school a better place, I would like to hear them. I cannot promise you I can make every change people share with me, but I do want to hear you.
Please, let's be kind and support each other in these stressful times. Let's make Homer High, our families and our community a place that comes together in tough times.
So what do you do when the studio had been closed all week due to a major plumbing issue, no school on Thursday, and then first day back in the studio on this Freaky Friday?
Throw blindfolded... of course!
The winners are:
3rd period blindfolded: Heather Shea
4th period blindfolded: Melanie Morris
4th hour foot throwing: Lucas Story
Homer High School student earns perfect score on AP computer science test
Spencer Kuan Co, now a sophomore at Homer High School, is one of only a couple hundred people worldwide to receive not just a score of 5 on the AP Computer Science exam, but also received every point possible on the test, putting him in the top .29% of people who took the test!
A long-time KPBSD student, Spencer attended Fireweed Academy and Homer Middle School. He is definitely on track to graduate from Homer High School with the Class of 2024.
What sparked an interest in [computer] science?
I’ve been interested in mathematics and engineering for a large portion of my life. I used to tinker a considerable amount with small motors and wires, and try to create little cars and machines. To me, creating something that can move or do something of its own volition is instantly rewarding. Computer science, and coding specifically, seemed like a natural extension of that. I became especially engrossed in coding after taking the programming courses on Khan Academy a few years ago. Once the pandemic hit, I found I had a large amount of time to myself, and I decided to use some of that time to further my programming abilities.
“It’s really rewarding to know that the time and commitment I put into studying computer science was recognized in some regard. Still, my perfect score was in a way simply a matter of chance. I’m sure that other students could have achieved the same, but had only missed a few questions.”
I would like to thank Mr. Spurkland, who was my Computer Science teacher at the time, for a large part of this honor. I went into his class with prior knowledge that covered many of the actual computing topics that were taught in the class. He understood this, and challenged me to go beyond the assignments, which forced me to continue to grow and develop. I could have left a similar class with little more than I knew beforehand, but instead the class served as a great opportunity to learn many new things.
Play and fun
I am an avid programmer. 3D graphics are particularly satisfying to research and create, and I enjoy making interesting programs that expand my understanding of mathematics. Aside from that, when I’m not doing schoolwork, I like to read, play with my dog, and of course hang out with friends. Additionally, I debate on the school’s Drama, Debate, and Forensics (DDF) team, which takes up a fair portion of time. I hope to be able to get out and do some skiing this winter. My favorite book is The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin, which is a really thought-provoking science fiction novel, and the first of a wonderful trilogy.
My advice to others is to simply stick with and study the topics that really interest them, because it often pays off in the end.
HHS Can Drive
HHS Students Rock AP Computer Science Principles Exam
Of the 19 students enrolled in Mr. Spurkland’s class last year that took the AP exam:
- 16 (84%) scored at a 3, the passing mark that earns 3-4 college credits at most U.S. universities.
- 5 (26%), including 4 freshmen, earned the maximum score of 5.
- Spencer Co received every point possible on the test, placing him in the top 0.29% of students who took the test worldwide! See more on Spencer’s feat in this article.
DATES TO REMEMBER
12/1 - First day of Basketball practice
12/2 - Mariner on the Move Awards Ceremony
12/2 - Hockey vs Juneau Douglas 7:00pm
12/3 - Hockey vs Juneau Douglas 7:00pm
12/4 - SAT Exam 8:00am
12/6 - Big Booster Club meeting 6:00pm
12/7 - Site Council meeting 4:10pm
12/11 - Cheer Clinic 8:00am in the green room
12/13 - HHS Winter Concert 7:00pm
12/16 - Candlelight Carols & Desserts Choir Fundraiser 7:00pm
12/20 - 12/31 - Winter Break
1/3/22- Teacher In-Service day/No school for students
1/3 - Big Booster meeting 6:00pm
1/4 - School resumes
1/5 - Grade Check
1/6 - Girls C-Team Basketball vs Kenai 4:00pm
1/6 - Boys C-Team Basketball vs Kenai 5:30pm
1/8 - Boys C-Team Basketball vs Ninilchik 11:00am
1/11 - Girls JV Basketball vs Soldotna 3:00pm
1/11 - Boys JV Basketball vs Soldotna 4:30pm
1/11 - Girls Varsity Basketball vs Soldotna 6:00pm
1/11 - Boys Varsity Basketball vs Soldotna 7:30pm
1/13 - Hockey vs Bartlett 7:00pm
1/14 - Hockey vs Dimond 7:00pm
1/15 - Hockey vs Chugiak 12:30pm
1/19 - Early Release Day 2:20pm
1/20 - Hockey vs Palmer 7:00pm
1/21 - Cross Country Ski vs Colony 1:00pm @ Ohlson Mtn.
1/21 - Hockey vs Houston 7:00pm
1/22 - Cross Country Ski vs Colony 10:00am @ Ohlson Mtn.
1/28 - Hockey vs Soldotna 7:00pm
1/29 - Girls JV Basketball vs Seward 31200pm
1/29 - Boys JV Basketball vs Seward 1:30pm
1/29 - Girls Varsity Basketball vs Seward 3:00pm
1/29 - Boys Varsity Basketball vs Seward 4:30pm
1/31 - Grade Check
1/31 - Girls C-Team Basketball vs Nikiski 4:00pm
1/31 - Boys C-Team Basketball vs Nikiski 5:30pm
Become a Substitute Teacher
If you have questions about becoming a substitute teacher with KPBSD call Kristin Metz at 235-4600.
DDF Rocks Their First Competition
Congratulations Homer High DDF team!
Homer High Drama, Debate, and Forensics (DDF) rocked their 1st ASD tournament held at West High School in Anchorage November 5-6.
* Alex Franklin, Hayden Mullikin, Poppy Smith, Raiden Skorski-O’Donnell- 2nd in Reader’s Theater
* Zach Marley - Finalist in Lincoln Douglas debate - 2nd place
* Thea Person - 3rd place Dramatic Interpretation and 3rd place Humorous Interpretation
* Hayden Mullikin and Poppy Smith - 1st place Duo Interpretation
* Spencer Co - 2nd place speaker points Lincoln Douglas debate
Want To Know What is Going on At HHS? Use Facebook!
In these uncertain times it is important to know what is going at at your child's school. Homer High School uses Facebook to communicate with parent and the community about events, emergencies, school closures, sporting events, Covid-19 details and more. Go to https://www.facebook.com/HomerHS/ and be sure to follow us.
Don't be left out about news and information you need. Like us on Facebook today.
Volleyball Excels at State Tournament
Best Hitter - Gracie Gummer
All Tournament - Gracie Gummer
Counselor Corner - Paul Story & Lisa Fellows
Holiday time is also application time.
Winter Breaks aren’t just for eating, recreating, and binge watching. They’re also for seniors and their families applying to post-secondary schools (college and trade schools) and for applying for financial aid by filing the FAFSA (fafsa.ed.gov).
Underclass students can also use the break to explore summer opportunities, some of which have looming application deadlines.
Whether you’re applying for admission, for financial aid, or for enrichment programs, deadlines are coming and going every week. So get out your calendars, make a spreadsheet, or otherwise get organized so you can set your priorities and avoid missing a due date.
OneStop Scholarship Database
The KPBSD OneStop page lists many local scholarships for seniors, as well as other contests and programs open to 9th-11th graders. December and January are the months when the listing of such opportunities starts to really take off as organizations start to promote their awards. So check back often so you don’t miss anything. Here’s a random smattering of what’s available as of now:
- HEA Scholarship (due 3/1) – This borough-wide award is quite competitive, but HHS seniors have been pretty prolific winners over the years. PLUS, as one of the local scholarships that makes its application available the earliest, applying gives seniors the opportunity to get their scholarship materials in order for other applications that have similar requirements: personal and financial statements, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, etc.
- Knight Essay Contest (due 1/31) – State and national competition for 9th-12th graders who submit an essay related to the founding of the USA. See OneStop for more information.
- Free Speech Essay Contest (due 12/31) - $20,000 scholarship competition for juniors/seniors who submit a persuasive letter or essay on why free speech is a better idea than censorship.
Pre-college and summer programs
There are a dizzying number of these types of opportunities. It seems like every university in the country offers summer programs to interested high school students. Some are general summer terms where students can pick from a variety of classes. Others are targeted to specific subjects like writing or engineering. There are way too many to list. So using the internet and any outreach you or your student may receive from having taken the PSAT is a good way to go. Here’s another random smattering:
- U. of Chicago summer session – a residential opportunity for credit at one of the premier universities in the country
- Fir Acres writing workshop – two-week creative writing program for 10th-12th graders at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR.
- Carnegie Mellon U. Pre-College – offers paid and no-cost opportunities in a variety of creative and academic disciplines in Pittsburgh, PA.
- Outer Coast – a unique, low-cost educational opportunity in Sitka, AK emphasizing self-governance, academics, and service/labor. Application period not yet open.
October PSAT results should be emailed to students December 6th-7th. The email should also contain information on how to link your results with Khan Academy for personalized SAT practice. If you’d like help interpreting your scores and understanding what they mean, contact the counseling office!
2nd Semester schedules available in PowerSchool
To see what classes you’re scheduled to take starting January, log into PowerSchool. If you have questions or want to request changes, contact the counseling office! J
· Click “My Schedule” under Scheduling on the left side, then the “Matrix View” tab.
Paul Story, grades 10-12 – email@example.com or 235-4685
Lisa Fellows, grade 9 – firstname.lastname@example.org or 235-5716 (am), 235-4691 (pm)
College & Career Planning
College and Career Plannnig
We’re going into 11th and 12th grade classrooms this week to work on post-secondary planning. We’ll show students some tools to search colleges, the military, and trade schools. Students need family support to realize any of those options. So at home, please keep up that dialogue about life after high school and contact the counseling office for help.
Figuring out how to pay for college or trade school is a big challenge that requires both students and their families to be “all in”. Here is how I’d recommend you prioritize:
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid becomes available October 1st for the 2022-2023 school year. It is the key for seniors to access need-based grants, work study, loans, and the Alaska Performance Scholarship.
2. Institutional Aid
The vast majority of scholarship money comes directly from the school to which a student ultimately attends.
Some schools integrate their scholarship application within their admission application. Others have a separate scholarship application. If you’re not sure or if you just want to verify you’re being considered for all eligible institutional scholarships, visit the school’s web site or contact their financial aid office.
3. KPBSD OneStop scholarship database
This site lists scholarships that have been vetted by KPBSD counselors in an attempt to highlight those regularly won by our district’s students, including state and local awards.
4. Scholarship Search Portals
Web sites like Going Merry, Fastweb, Scholarships.com, and the Sallie Mae Scholarship Search lists thousands of awards. The challenge is sifting through the many promotional scholarships, which are essentially marketing tools, to find the awards that are legitimate and worthwhile. Use your judgment and contact the counseling office if you have questions.
Alaska Performance Scholarship – The APS is worth up to $4,755 per year at virtually any college or trade school in the state. To qualify, students must take additional academic coursework and meet minimum GPA and test score thresholds. Click the APS Scholarship icon in PowerSchool to see whether or not you’re on track.
Western Undergraduate Exchange – Through WUE, students from the Western U.S. pay 150% of in-state tuition at participating public institutions. This can represent significant savings compared to paying out-of-state tuition. Different schools/majors have different eligibility criteria and application processes. Cross reference the WUE web site and the individual school’s.