Homer High-Lights

VOLUME 11, ISSUE 5, December 2022

Principal's Corner

According to the article Gratitude and the Brain: What is Happening, the more we think positive, grateful thoughts, the healthier and happier we feel. There is research that shows being grateful can help students and adults with their social and emotional wellbeing.

In this same article they found "that gratitude causes synchronized activation in multiple brain regions, and lights up parts of the brain’s reward pathways and the hypothalamus. In short, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine." Dopamine is our brain's pleasure chemical." You can read the entire article at Brain Balance.

I am very grateful that I get to live in the wonderful community of Homer and that I get to work at one of the best schools in the state of Alaska. While Thanksgiving was technically last month, I have a lot to be thankful that I want to share with you.

  • I am grateful to our caring and supportive families. I know the last couple of years have been tough dealing with COVID mitigation, but Homer made the best of it and our kids are now thriving.
  • I am grateful that we were able to hire wonderful new teachers and staff this summer. They have done an excellent job this year and you can see who they are in our August 2022 newsletter.
  • I am grateful that we finally won a football state championship. (The coach is our new Athletic Director!)
  • I am grateful that our students work hard and are always the top in state on standardized tests.
  • I am grateful to the improved school spirit and participation in activities this year. (We have over 70 athletes going out for basketball alone!)
  • I am grateful for a community that supports the arts, creative expression, entrepreneurship and so much more.

There is much more that I am grateful for, but there is not enough room for everything. I look forward to the upcoming months and everything our teachers and students do in the 2nd semester.

If you have any suggestion or comments about these aspirations or have concerns about any other issues at HHS, please email me at dwaclawski@kpbsd.org, call at 907-235-4600 or set an appointment through Kristin Metz at that same number.

Positively yours,

Douglas Waclawski




HHS Prints

Upper level art students learned about portraits and the use of images to elicit responses. They chose their own figure and decided how they wanted the viewer to feel about that figure. They designed three layers of reduction printing though tracing, sketching, transferring, coloring, and making their own printing register. Students then printed their figure in three layers. The reduction printing process requires printing colors from lightest to darkest and carving away the block between layers to keep any of the color that was previously printed. After critique, students chose which of their 8 prints to keep and designed a presentation method to hang them in the hall at school.

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Carley Nelson Earns Two State Swimming Championships

Homer High School swimmer Carley Nelson earned two state championships.

You can read about it in the Peninsula Clarion and in the Homer News.

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Enrichment FOL's (Focus On Learning) at HHS

Homer High School tries to provide a variety of fund, yet educational opportunities during FOL. FOL is our time for intervention and enrichment. Last week our Librarian had Julie Engebretsen (Economic Development Manager for the City of Homer) here for an FOL that was fantastic. We had 15 students in the library very engaged in a discussion with Ms. Engebretsen regarding the City of Homer's Transportation Plan.

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Mariners On The Move

Here’s the latest installment of Mariners On the Move with pictures of the winners and Holli Elkington-Wood’s beautiful carrot cake (see inset). Thanks to everyone who made it happen!

Mariners On the Move

Each Homer High faculty member selects one outstanding student per year based on scholarship and character. Honorees, their families and the nominating teachers attended a November 16th celebration. Fall winners were (left to right):

  • Owen Pitzman – nominated by Lisa McCutcheon
  • Elias Allen – nominated by Walter Love
  • Dani Burge – nominated by Winter Marshall-Allen
  • Brooke Shafer – nominated by Suzanne Bishop
  • Dani Stiles – nominated by Matt Stineff
  • Eryn Field – nominated by Douglas Waclawski
  • Chloe Gall – nominated by Paul Story
  • Charity Martin – nominated by Erin Brege
  • Julian Kuzmin (not pictured) – nominated by Vicki Lowe
  • Thea Person (not pictured) – nominated by Michelle Borland


12/3 - SAT exam 8:00am

12/6 - Site Council meeting 4:10pm

12/6 - Winter Band and Choir Concert 7:00pm

12/9 - Early release day @ 2:20pm

12/10 - Lil Mariner Cheer Clinic 2:30-4:30

12/15 - Swing Choir Candlelight, Carols and Desserts 7:00pm

12/16 - Basketball vs Redington: Girls JV@3:00, Varsity@6:00, Boys JV@4:30 & Varsity@7:30pm

12/19 - 1/2/23 - Christmas & New Year break

1/3 - Teacher In-service/No school for students

1/4 - Second Semester begins - students back to school

Supporting Youth Health: Vision and Hearing Screenings

Every year school nurses screen for hearing and vision in certain grades. The purpose of the screening is to ensure that vision and hearing are within the normal range. In high school, 10th grade students receive hearing and vision testing and 12th grade students have vision screening.

High school student’s vision is expected to be 20/20 when using both eyes. When one eye is covered, it is expected to also have 20/20. If your student wears contacts or glasses, we complete the test using their glasses or contacts, and only test both eyes together, as they are already seeing an eye doctor. For hearing, normal range is hearing 20 decibels at 1000, 2000 and 4000 hertz. When a student’s hearing or vision does not fall in the expected range, the school nurse refers the parent or guardian to an eye doctor or audiologist for evaluation.

All the 10th grade hearing and vision are complete, except 5 students who had upper respiratory infections at the time of their first hearing test. These kinds of infections can interfere with hearing, and I will finish their hearing tests before the winter break.

Almost all HHS 12th grade students vision testing is complete, and I have referred parents to eye doctors as needed. There are just 4 seniors that are left to complete.

Some common eye issues that come up are related to screen use. When we bend our necks to look down at screens for long periods of time, both eyes and necks are affected. Here are some eye and neck suggestions.

  1. When you are looking at a screen, your arms should be in an L shape not a V shape. When they are in a V, the screen is too close, and it can affect your eyes.
  2. Keep your neck straight for prolonged screen use. This decreases strain on your neck.
  3. Look away from you screen for 20 seconds, 20 feet away, every 20 minutes and blink 20 times
  4. Blue light from a screen can make it hard to fall asleep. Ideally screens would be put aside an hour before you fall asleep.

The most common hearing concern for students is loud noises. There are little hairs behind your ear drum that once they get knocked down with loud noises will not stand back up. Hearing protectors decrease this exposure to loud sounds. To protect your hearing, it is recommended that you use hearing protectors for any activity that is over 80 decibels. In Alaska this is a lot of activities—snow machines, guns, chain saws, and other power tools. For students, this also includes earphones with loud music.

If your student is in 9th, 11th grade or Connections and you would like me to complete a vision or hearing screening, contact me by email or my office phone. I am at HHS Monday-Wednesday, 8:30 am-4 pm. sgorman@kpbsd.k12.ak.us or 235-4626.

Here are some interesting articles:

How too much screen time can affect kids eyes.

Hearing Loss Protection

Nurse Gorman

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Draper Sunset - Cyrus Wood

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Silence - Talli Dalke

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Untitlted - Sameah McGhee

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Want To Know What is Going on At HHS? Follow Us On Facebook!

Lots is happening! Homer High School uses Facebook to communicate with students, parents and the community about events, emergencies, school closures, sporting events, and more. Go to facebook.com/HomerHS/ and follow us to stay up to date!

Counselor Corner

Rotary International Youth Exchange

Our local Homer-Kachemak Bay chapter is accepting applications for both students interesting in studying abroad next school year and for local households interested in hosting an international student for a 3-month stint this school year (for our awesome Tunisian exchange student, Bibo!) or in the future.

OneStop Scholarship Database

The KPBSD OneStop Scholarship 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. Check back often, as new opportunities will continue to appear through March and even April!

The Homer Foundation is the organization that administers the most local scholarships, and it recently listed the 14 scholarships they administer on the OneStop site. Most are due March 24, 2023, but applying soon presents a great opportunity for seniors to get their scholarship materials in order for other applications, too. Most have similar requirements: personal and financial statements, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, etc.

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.

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.

Local STEM internship opportunity

HHS alumna Kalie Petska-Rubalcava is looking for a current HHS junior, senior or recent graduate for a paid summer STEM internship at her local civil engineering firm that specializes in wastewater treatment. More details and instructions on how to apply are available here. Applications are due Jan. 15, 2023.


October PSAT results should be emailed to students December 5th- 6th. 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!

Middle College and JumpStart

11th and 12th graders interested in dual high school/college credit next semester can view course offerings HERE. There are two options:

  • Kenai Peninsula Middle College
  • Free for students who test into college-level math or writing.
  • Apply by Dec. 6, 2022 HERE.
  • KPC JumpStart
  • Discounted tuition
  • More info HERE.
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School-wide Art

Entry level art students proposed their own sketches for school spirit murals. Kai Bush St. Louis and Addison Grimes won the votes for best sketch to translate to large scale murals. All entry level students then practiced painting the selected sketches and a combination of Thea James’, Lily Stover’s, and Charity Martin’s Painting plans were voted on as best painted versions. Students helped stretch, grid, and sketch the designs onto their large canvases. Students then picked the squares they would paint through a random lottery. Students painted in their squares, responsible for a base layer, tints, shades, tones, and texture. Then we collaboratively painted the squares into a cohesive image.

These large paintings will be posted around the school when they are completed.

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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.

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Senior Yearbook Requests

Seniors! Always open emails from the yearbook class. These e-mails will include requests and deadlines. They will include requests for memories, quotes, and wills. In April, we will ask for five photos to be included in the graduation slide show.

HHS Yearbook Class

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Job Center & South Peninsula Hospital FOL

Homer High School continues to bring interesting, informative and career related presentation to HHS during FOL or Focus on Learning. On Thursday October 13, Mrs. De La Cruz arranged an event (hosted in the library) for National Apprenticeship week. There was a representative from the Homer Job Center as well as South Peninsula Hospital. They presented about jobs available to student for the summer and apprenticeships students can walk into right after high school. Over 30 students signed up and attended this FOL.

SAT & ACT Dates

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