Cutting up with Desiree Hagen

In late January as Homer artist Desiree Hagen worked to finish her installation at Bunnell Street Arts Center, she sat surrounded by a tsunami of paper scraps. While many artists add media to create things — paint to canvas or clay to throwing wheel — Hagen, 31, is like the sculptor who looks at a block of marble and takes away pieces to reveal the art within.

What a kiss

Paul Banks Elementary School Principal Eric Pederson kisses Guinevere, the pig, at the end of the school’s month-long Wild West-themed Read-a-Thon on Feb. 3. The story that went along with this year’s theme stated that Guinevere was stolen by bandits and in order for her safe return, the students would have to read 130,000 minutes. Pederson agreed that if they students reached their goal, he would kiss Guinevere upon her return. Students read 200,000 minutes during the four-week
read-a-thon, a new school record.

Homer schools place in district’s Battle of the Books competition

Homer students competed with others throughout the Kenai Peninsula in the school district’s Battle of the Books. The competitions took place via telephone or videoconference. The winners go on to state competition Feb. 22.

Students in different grade levels compete in four different categories: third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grade, middle school and high school. Students in the elementary school categories read 15 books, while the middle school and high school categories read 12 books.

HMS mathletes take seventh place in southcentral Alaska competition

Homer Middle School Mathletes competed in the MathCounts chapter meet Feb. 13. Eighth graders Jonathan Raymond, Marina Carroll, Ruby Allen and seventh grader Larry Dunn played on the official HMS team and took seventh place in the team round. Marina Carroll and Larry Dunn led the Homer team with the best individual scores. 

The unofficial team consisted of seventh graders Parker Lowney, Ben Coble, Katlyn Vogl and Emmet Wilkinson.

All HMS students placed rank 50 or above.

You’re famous, Dorian Murray

Sixth graders in Kris Owen’s class at Fireweed Academy and Deadliest Catch star Captain Johnathan Hillstrand pose with a sign telling 8-year-old Dorian Murray of Rhode Island that he is famous in Homer, Alaska. Dorian Murray has battled rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of pediatric cancer, since age 4 and learned recently that his cancer was no longer treatable. He told his parents that he wanted to be famous before he died and a social media campaign that began in January has accomplished just that.

West Homer principal leaving in May; search on for his replacement

Raymond Marshall is leaving the principal post at West Homer Elementary School after the completion of the current school year. After spending six years in the position, Marshall is looking to pursue other opportunities outside of Alaska, he said.

Resigning earlier in the year gives the school district more time to fill the principal position, Marshall said. Likening it to the NFL draft, Marshall said that West Homer should attract the cream of the crop of applicants.

School Events

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Public budget meeting
to address school funding

Feb. 23: Homer High School Library, 5:30 p.m.

Parents, staff, students, business partners, community members and elected officials are invited to attend the public meetings. The district budget perspective, expenditures and revenues will be discussed, and the public will be able to have questions answered.

Chapman School

Mariner DDF team places across several categories at Service

Homer High School’s DDF (Drama, Debate and Forensics) team competed at Service High in Anchorage on Jan. 29-30 and placed in several categories. They will next compete at the state tournament in Anchorage on Feb. 18-20.

1st Place, Solo Acting: Lindsey Schneider

2nd Place, Duet Acting: Ciara Jones and Patrick Hannan

2nd Place, Duo Interpretation: Lindsey Schneider and Landon Bunting

2nd Place, Extemporaneous Commentary: Nolan Bunting

Fun for all at Bingo for Books event

The annual Paul Banks Elementary School Bingo for Books was a fun evening for the 250-plus students, parents and staff who attended the event. It was the best-attended Bingo for Books in many years. 

The majority of students left with at least four brand-new books. Bingo for Books’ focus is putting books in the hands of children and Paul Banks gave out more than 450 books at the event on Thursday, Jan. 28. 

School Events

Chapman School

Feb. 4-5: Conferences, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m., no school. 

Feb. 5: Wrestling at Homer, 10 a.m. 

Feb. 8: 7th/8th grade Battle of the Books.

Feb.  1-12: First session swimming lessons:  10 lessons, 1-2 p.m., Mon. - Fri.

School Events

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Chapman School

Jan. 28: Volleyball at CIA, 4 p.m.

Jan. 30: Cabin Fever Variety Show at Anchor Point Public Library, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1: First Aid/CPR for 7th and 8th grades in Mr. Crocker’s room, 12:20-2:15 p.m.


Feb.  1-12: First session swimming lessons:  10 lessons, 1-2 p.m., Mon. - Fri.


The Jan. 21 school pages contained errors:

• In the story headlined “Superintendent, principal learn all about pie in the eye,” Brian Dusek was incorrectly identified. He is a student at Soldotna High School.

• In the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court story, not all of the students recently sworn in were from West Homer Elementary School. Alana Houlihan and Beatrix Strobel are Fireweed Academy students.

The Homer News regrets the errors.

District, associations schedule arbitration

The next time the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators and the support staff and teacher associations meet for negotiations will be in the presence of an advisory arbitrator.

A hearing with Gary Axon, an Oregon-based arbitrator jointly selected by the three teams, is scheduled for June 1-2. On that date it will be nearly 14 months since collective bargaining began for contracts that were supposed to take effect July 1, 2015.

School district faces increase in class sizes

Budget constraints might mean all but two of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s 44 schools will have more students and fewer teachers in the classroom next year.

Administrators are recommending the board of education raise the pupil-teacher ratio at all sites other than Kenai Alternative and Homer Flex high schools through the preliminary fiscal year 2017 budget, which Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones presented at the Jan. 11 board meeting. 

Other factors would compound the changes.

Superintendent, principal learn all about pie in eye

Two Chapman School students covered the faces of Chapman School Principal Conrad Woodhead and Kenai Peninsula School District Superintendent Sean Dusek in whipped topping on Tuesday, January 19 — without being reprimanded. 

Fourth-grader Harley Boon and second-grader Lynnzi Stout won the opportunity to stick pies in the educators’ faces in a random drawing during a school-wide celebration of a successful fundraiser.

School Events

Chapman School

Jan. 21: Volleyball at Homer Middle School, 4 p.m.

Jan. 26: Volleyball at Chapman v. Ninilchik, 3:45 p.m.

Jan. 27: 5th and 6th grades field trip, Challenger Center, all day. 

Jan. 28: Volleyball at CIA, 4 p.m.


Parents talk teen sex ed

Parents of Homer teens listened attentively, and some a little anxiously, as three teens and two adults broached the awkward topic of discussing sex with their kids. 

The night’s goal, however, was to make this topic a lot less scary and uncomfortable for everyone.


Subscribe to RSS - Schools