In November 2018, a Palmer High School (PHS) student, Zoe Nelles, was struck by a realization that her peers may not have weekend food security. Zoe took the initiative and reached out to a PHS teacher for help, and from there the PHS Sandwich Project began. In the beginning stages of the project, Zoe would make PBJ sandwiches in her home and used donated non-perishable food items to fill the bags. The first week 7 food bags were delivered to students on a Friday afternoon. Zoe continued to spear head the program for 2 years, through the spring of 2020, when she graduated.
Students and staff have been under increasing amounts of stress, from the pandemic, social media overload, and a myriad of other causes. This year, the Lighthouse Room was installed in the Valdez High School library (a central location within our building) to help students manage their stress and other mental health challenges.
Imagine this: It’s Monday morning. Over the weekend, one of your students, Gabe, challenged his classmates to post sexual images as a dare. Ana responded by posting an image of a faceless nude female to a group chat of 5 kids. The parent of a recipient in the group chat is calling the office looking for a response. What are you going to say?
I often use scenarios like this in workshops I facilitate for teachers demonstrating the need to proactively plan and implement a positive digital culture instead of just being reactive. Educators commonly respond to this scenario by stating they would talk to the students, call the families, involve counselors, and/or notify administrators. Some say they would involve law enforcement. When asked how long it will take to contain the drama and repair the impact of the student actions, nearly all raise eyebrows and shake their heads.
For the most part, life in King Cove is very peaceful. It’s a calm, good hearted community ground in deep family ties and traditions, an outdoor lifestyle, and culturally rich values. Being the principal of our small school of 70 students is largely the same. Our students are pleasant and hard working, the staff is professional, caring, and dedicated to student success, and the building and surrounding land it sits on is national park status beautiful. The City of King Cove is home to Peter Pan Seafoods, one of the largest by volume fish processing facilities in the state.
Nick Hanson is on a mission. He wants to motivate every kid in Alaska to know who they are and to know their purpose in life. In 2015, Nick became the first person of Inuit/Inupiaq background to compete in the NBC TV show American Ninja Warrior (ANW). Since then, he has used his fame to connect with kids across the state and encourage them to choose a path of positivity and health.
Any place where children and youth gather, work or socialize provides an involved community with an opportunity to provide guidance, perspective and help reinforce safety. Digital environments are now part of that landscape of where students gather. Teachers, parents, elders and caregivers are critical partners in helping children and youth navigate the opportunities and liabilities of the digital world. Continue reading Empowering Communities through Teaching Digital Citizenship by Sam Jordan, ASDN