Anchorage School District - Educating all students for success in life
Music in Our Schools Month students in orchestra play violins
ASD Connect March 2019
In This Issue
The Promise of Anchorage
Student Success is the Promise of Anchorage
In the Anchorage School District, our focus and goal is, "Educating All Students for Success in Life." ASD employees believe our students are the success of Anchorage because our students work hard every day to become intellectual, working, engaged community members. Everyday ASD employees witness students push themselves to become better athletes, readers, writers, mathematicians, friends, siblings, and so much more!

Each week, during our new campaign, "Student Success: The Promise of Anchorage," will highlight some of the awesome students and staff that believe in that promise. The new campaign is featured on our homepage so check it out! If you know a student or ASD staff member you think should be featured on our page, please recommend they contact to be featured on our website.

Need a Prom Dress?
Becca's Closet logo
Becca's Closet was created as a legacy to Rebecca Kirtman and the project she started. Becca's Closet provides formal attire to high school students who otherwise would not be able to attend their prom/homecoming.

Becca's Closet provides free, lightly or unused prom and other formal dresses for all high school girls in Alaska. High school students can look and try on dresses on scheduled Saturdays from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. (March 23 and 30, April 6, 13, 20, and 27.)

To schedule an appointment outside of these dates, or for more information, you can contact Becca's Closet at or at 907-360-3129.

Romig Student Wins State Spelling Bee
State Spelling Bee Champ Camden Armstrong
Camden Armstrong is an eighth grader from Romig Middle School.

Out of 190 student competitors from across the state, Camden Armstrong, a Romig student, earned the title of State Spelling Bee Champ yesterday at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Camden's winning word was "eucrasia" in the 13th round.

Congratulations to Camden! We look forward to cheering him on when he goes to the 92nd Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Baltimore at the end of May.

Bookmark Contest Winners
Bookmark Contest Winners
High School Winner - Alys Korosei, Grade 11, South High School

Each year, the Anchorage School District librarians organize a bookmark design contest for all ASD students, inviting them to use their creativity to symbolize the wonderful world of reading and libraries. This year's theme for the contest was "Adventures Await @ Your Library." Check out the winning bookmarks for this year.

State Battle of the Books Results
Battle of the Books State Competition

The Anchorage School District has a long-standing tradition of competing in the Battle of the Books. Students are required to read a number of books and then, as a team, they are tested on their knowledge of the books they have read. 

For 3rd and 4th grade, Eagle Academy took first place and Northern Lights ABC tied for second place with a school from Kenai. In 5th and 6th grade, Denali Montessori came in fifth place and Inlet View was right behind them in 6th place. Rilke Schule tied for second place for Middle School with a school from Mat-Su. Service High School tied for first place with a Mat-Su school.

State-Fish Art Contest
State fish art contest

The Alaska State-Fish Art Contest, Fish Heritage Award, celebrates the rich diversity of Alaska's cultural and traditional (subsistence), sportfishing, and commercial fisheries. Youth artists in grades K-12, participate by completing the Fish On activity guide and submitting a single piece of original artwork and essay by March 31st.

Winners will be eligible for awards, prizes and recognition. Winning artwork will advance to the national competition for additional awards and honors. Students should complete the entry form if they would like to participate.

Alpenglow in Scholastic News
An Earthquake Rocked My Town Scholastic News Story on Alaskan Student
Ada Burrup, a sixth grader at Alpenglow, wrote her own story about the Nov. 30 earthquake for Scholastic News. 

When Mrs. Petrie's third grade students noticed that Scholastic News had not published a story about Alaska's November 30 earthquake, they decided to take action. The students wrote letters to Scholastic News asking them to cover this important event. Scholastic News was clearly impressed with the students' persuasive writing because soon after receiving the letters, Scholastic News contacted Mrs. Petrie to set up an interview with one of her students.

Bailey Ledford and Ada Burrup were interviewed by Scholastic News about their earthquake experiences. With the help of her class and Mrs. Petrie, Bailey created a video that Scholastic News then edited and published for other students around the country to watch.

Weaving With Winterberry Charter School
Winterberry Students show off their handiwork
Winterberry Charter School's eighth grade class has been recognized in a 3-page article by an international magazine, Twist.  Not only was the class featured, but one student was highlighted for the creation of a new pattern in weaving. Winterberry's handwork teacher Sarah Robicheaux wrote the article for the magazine featuring her students' impressive and skillful work.

Ms. Robicheaux wrote of one student, 'This year Grant Wattenbarger undertook the basic Ram's Horn pattern and, in the process, he discovered a new pattern! Perhaps in the world of tablet weaving as a whole his work should be described as "rediscovered," but for him it was brand new. Not only did he make this discovery, he accurately recorded the pattern so it could be successfully woven by others!  He called his pattern "Set Hooks."'

June Nelson Scholarship
June Nelson Scholarship

The Anchorage School Board is proud to invite students to apply for the June Nelson Scholarship Award where the AASB will award fifteen $1,500 scholarships to apply toward post-secondary education. Thirteen of these scholarships are available for graduating seniors and two may be awarded to returning college sophomores.The scholarship may be applied toward the student's choice of a business, trade, or a college institution. For more information about the scholarship award or for information on how to apply, visit AASB's website The deadline to apply is March 25, 2019.

Bernard Harris Scholarship Program
Bernard Harris former NASA astronaut

The Council of the Great City Schools and The Harris Institute are awarding four scholarships, with a value of $5,000 each, to two African American and two Hispanic students currently completing their senior year of high school. Applicants must be accepted for full-time enrollment at a four- year college or university in the next academic year, and pursuing a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM).  The deadline to apply is April 12, 2019.

APD Youth Academy
APD Youth Academy

What does law enforcement do? How do men and women protect an entire city? Do you know a student who has thought about becoming an officer or working at a police department? The Anchorage Police Department is hosting a four-day Youth Academy to expose teenagers to the field of law enforcement. In this academy, students learn from the experts and participate in activities that will show them what it's like being a public safety leader in this community. There is no cost to participate in the APD Youth Academy.

For more information or to apply, click here.

Future IT Preventative Network Maintenance Schedule 
Regular Scheduled IT Maintenance on Saturday March 23
During one Saturday a month, there will be regularly scheduled network maintenance that may prevent all users from accessing ASD systems, including Q ParentConnection , beginning at midnight Friday and continuing through midnight of the designated Saturday. Here is the Network Maintenance Schedule for 2018-19. Please plan accordingly.
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Saturday, June 15, 2019

Upcoming Events  

March 1 - 31

March 1 -31

Women's History Month
March 1 - 31

Thursday, Mar. 21

Saturday, Mar. 23

School Library Month
April 1 - 30

Month of the Military Child
April 1 - 30

Monday, April 1

Tuesday, April 2

Week of the Young Child
April 8 - 12

Monday, April 15

Anchorage School Board

Starr Marsett, President
Deena Mitchell, Vice President
Alisha Hilde, Clerk
Elisa Snelling, Treasurer
Mark A. Foster
Dave Donley
Andy Holleman

Email all board members


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A Message From Our Superintendent
Hello ASD Families and Community Members,

I hope you enjoyed spring break! Can you believe we only have 46 days until the end of the fourth quarter? In fact, it's already time to think about graduation, summer programs, and registration for 2019-2020!

Every spring, we discuss and review our budget in anticipation of the legislature and governor settling on the state's budget, which determines our funding. The budget process can be confusing and intimidating in a public school district. It's important to know that we have not had the discussion of what reductions in ASD personnel or programs would look like if the Governor's proposed budget passed (which would result in a 25 percent reduction to our revenue), or if there were a 5 percent reduction, or even a 1 percent reduction. Our present budget is based on current state law supporting a $5,930 base student allocation (BSA) and additional funds through House Bill 287 which was passed last year.

When I released an infographic depicting the impact to ASD with decreased revenue, it was to show a "big picture" assessment of how potential reductions to education funding could affect ASD, not an example of specific or planned reductions. If reductions are necessary based on the state budget, there is a complex process we follow to determine programs and staffing. This process will keep our students and classrooms the focus. Students are the core of our mission.

It is common to panic in the face of reductions, but at ASD, we must remain focused on our duty - our mission - to educate all students for success in life. We will keep our eyes on that goal and continue our work for the success of students. To that point, it is important to clarify that the measure of success is a matter of degree, the world is not binary, and not "all or nothing." It is too simple to think individuals grow up to be either "successes" or "failures." More students are graduating than ever before and our students are engaged with more opportunities to experience varying degrees of "success" by exploring interests and challenges.

We are determined in our efforts to make ASD a great place to be. While we are committed to enhancing our students' success, that success makes us eager for more. We will continue to learn so that we can perform and achieve greater victories for our students and, ultimately, for our entire community.

As the news progresses on the state's budget, I will continue to communicate the facts and possible outcomes, both internally and externally.

Thank you,

Dr. Deena Bishop 
Dr. Deena Bishop

Government Hill Elementary Selected for Empower Humanity Project 

Government Hill Elementary students create mini satellites
Students at Government Hill Elementary create mini models of a satellite.

Government Hill Elementary is one of six schools chosen, worldwide, to participate in OneWeb's Empower Humanity campaign. The other five schools chosen to participate are from Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Ecuador, and Honduras.

According to engineer Katelyn Sweeney, OneWeb's mission is to bridge the digital divide by 2027 and connect every school to the internet by 2022 no matter where they are in the world.

The launch of the first satellite was on February 26, 2019. 

Clark said the process for the school's involvement started in the fall when former Alaska State Senator Lesil McGuire approached the school about putting their name in for the opportunity to participate.

"I thought it would be an amazing opportunity for our students, and it would be an educational opportunity that would open up doors that they wouldn't have otherwise," Clark said.

Learn more
ASD Partners with Lower Yukon School District 

Lower Yukon School District logo     

Human resources in rural Alaska are largely untapped. The Lower Yukon School District (LYSD) and Anchorage School District (ASD) are developing a plan of Career and Technical Education (CTE) that will bring resources together to provide students with workforce ready skills. This model can be used throughout the State to build a robust workforce development plan and bring opportunities to young people.

Watch our video that outlines the new partnership between Anchorage School District and the Lower Yukon School District.

Learn More
Junior Youth Symphony Concert
Junior Youth Symphony Concert     
The Anchorage Junior Youth Symphony (JYS) Band and Orchestra provides an opportunity for outstanding music students to rehearse and perform in an auditioned performing group. In addition, students in the JYS Band or Orchestra also get the opportunity to perform in a symphony orchestra setting. The group usually has two major performances a year, but their fall concert was cancelled in light of the Nov. 30 earthquake. That being said, the students were thrilled to have the opportunity to perform last night in a more professional setting.

ASD staff were there to host the concert and conduct the students. Megan Schmidt, Senior Director of Staffing and Operations in HR, was emcee for the concert - her first ASD concert - and was truly impressed by the talent of ASD students.

Megan said "I can definitely see the level of parent involvement and the dedication that these students have been undertaking during this past year to get to this stage."

Gabrielle Whitfield, conductor of the JYS orchestra and the orchestra teacher at West High, is appreciative of the students' consistency, saying that this group would stick out in her memory because of their, "amazing focus, great attitude, and it didn't matter what was going on, we had an earthquake, and snow days, an ice day. But they would come back and we would just go on and that's pretty rare for middle schoolers."

Students seem to delight in JYS as much as the adults who work with them do.  Zachary, a student who plays the cello and is in his first year with JYS says, "It just feels, I don't know, even more professional. Of course, Ms. Whitfield is such a great conductor and we're really lucky. It's just so much fun, being with people from different schools that share the same love, it's just great."

Learn more
World Language Declamation Competition
Wold Language Declamation Competition photo of student finalists  
Students from ASD and other school districts participated and placed in the World Language Declamation Competition.

This spring marks the 40th anniversary of the World Language Declamation contest. What started as a small ASD foreign language poetry recitation contest has grown into a statewide event sponsored by ASAA (Alaska School Activities Association). The World Language Declamation Contest has provided an opportunity for world language students to compete in a variety of events, showcasing their language skills and providing a venue in which to "perform," much as a concert allows a musician to perform. The contest is open to high school students of Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish.

Students have the opportunity to compete in the following events:
  • Poetry Recitation
  • Cultural Trivia Competition
  • Impromptu Speaking Competition
  • Dialogue Competition
For the poetry, impromptu speaking, and dialogue competitions, students compete in front of a panel of judges, many of whom are native speakers of the respective language.

This year the regional competition, held on February 2, had 856 participants, and the statewide competition, held this past weekend (March 2), had 620 participants. All eight ASD high schools participated in both regional and state. The state competition also had participants from the Mat-Su, Fairbanks, and Unalaska. Both events were held at West Anchorage High School.

Congratulations to all of the students who participated and who placed! Also, a very huge thank you to all of the teachers, UAA professors, and community members who volunteered to judge these events in multiple languages.

Learn more
Letters to Kenya
Dr. Ashley brings ASD students letters to Kenya classroom
Dr. Ashley brings letters from STrEaM Academy students to a sixth-grade classroom in Kenya.

After the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Alaska on November 30th, STrEaM Academy teachers planned a wide range of lessons and activities designed to allow students to explore and process the event. In 6th grade Language Arts, Ms. Twiford's students wrote letters which told their personal accounts and experiences. She was looking for an audience to receive these letters and started a conversation with Dr. Don Ashley, a Wayland Baptist University professor. Their collaboration would end up connecting and positively impacting students on separate continents, providing deep and valuable learning experiences. 

Learn More
ASD Students Get Fast Lesson in Careers and Business
Speed Mentoring student being interviewed by employer
Highland Academy Charter School student Aidan Jackson takes part in the Speed Mentoring Event Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at Hilton Hotel in Anchorage.

Connecting students with companies and mentors that have years of experience is what Wednesday's Speed Mentoring event is all about said Chip Abolafia, Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator for the Anchorage School District.

More than 250 students from Anchorage and the Matanuska Susitna Borough School District sat across from 78 different mentors in eight-minute increments and learned about different careers, interview techniques and walked away with the information needed to dive into their postsecondary planning with real-life insights and advice from the people who have stood in their shoes.

"That is important," said Abolafia, "because so often we have students who are juniors and seniors, parents and other people say, 'hey, what are you going to do with your life? What do you do for college? What do you want to be?' The kids, all of a sudden, they come up with either a lie, or they get red faced, and they simply just don't know. So that's a real challenge."

Abolafia said the idea with the Speed Mentoring event is to provide some clarity, some insight, some information, and hopefully some direction.

Learn more  
Vote By Mail Deadline is April 2
Vote by mail is as easy as 1 2 3

This year's municipal election will be conducted by mail. Learn more about how the school bond proposal will repair local schools and keep them in service to our community. 

Thank you voters! In 2017, voters passed ASD's bond proposal to repair damage sustained to West High and Romig Middle School's library during the 7.1 earthquake on January 1, 2016. The repairs included structural upgrades, the addition of five classrooms, and improved flexibility for the shared library. Thanks to these repairs, the library maintained its integrity during the earthquake that caused major damage to some of our other schools on November 30, 2018.

Bond Proposition 1 includes funding for earthquake recovery dedicated to Chugiak and Eagle River schools. Both schools sustained enough damage from the November 30, 2018 earthquake that they will require major repairs including seismic improvements, recommended roof replacement, and other repairs required in order to reopen in the future. Both the Gruening Middle School and Eagle River Elementary School facilities will both be offline during the 2019-2020 school year.

For more information on the Anchorage School District's Bond Proposition 1, click "Learn more."
Learn more  
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