Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another Year Begins

It's the first day of school and excited face dot the halls around Meade River School. I've had the constant banging on my door for the past two weeks from kids ready for a new year to begin.

With a new year comes new teachers, friends, and something more to do for the students. I was lucky enough to be the female chaperone for the football tournament in Barrow this past weekend. We took fourteen students, six of which were girls. And boy, could they ever take down those boys. Despite the crummy weather (40 degrees and pouring down rain), I stood on the sidelines and cheered those kids on. It was a great thing to watch and even though we lost, the score was very close, 47-55.

They had a chance to play again the next day against the smallest school in our disctrict, Kaktovik. The Rams only had seven players on their team and had to take sixth graders just to have that many players. I was really impressed at the great sportmanship our students showed to that other team. There definitely was the cocky attitude that the team we had played the night before showed and when a player from Kaktovik was injured, we sent in some of our players to take their spot. Angela, the one chosen to play for the Rams from our team, showed no mercy toward her own team, playing to her fullest and even taking out our quarterback. It was great to see her play her all, even if it was going to cost her own team points.

I'm glad to be back at a school where everyone is a team. The feeling of being so close-knit makes a person really feel like they belong. You can see it in the kids too. They know the importance of being honest and lending a helping hand. I'm really looking forward to being back here for another year and ready for it to begin.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Great Return

It's been two wonderful months back in the lower 48, but I'm now back in Atqasuk ready for another year. This time I have returned with Neal, my boyfriend who will be teaching third grade, and a kitten, Izzy.

The trip up was fantastic. Neal and I spent three days in Anchorage, taking one of those days to take a trip down to Seward for a glacier cruise. As we took the two and a half hour drive down there, I was having thoughts that this might not have been an ideal day for a cruise. It was raining, dark, and windy. In Seward, we were told the boat may only do half of its cruise for the day because of the weather. I was okay with that if it meant I wouldn't be sea-sick for six hours straight.

We boarded the boat and headed out into the ocean. Some of the waves not far from our boat looked to be six feet high. I could already feel the nausea coming on, especially since they served lunch right before we got out into the open and the really choppy water. After that I spent most of my time sitting outside at the back of the boat. I'm really glad I did.

The trip was truly amazing. I've never seen that much wildlife before. We saw a herd of resident orcas, those that live nearest the land and stay there. They were coming up constantly and we even saw one breach, where it jumped completely out of the water. It was very neat. We also saw many porpoises, sea lions, puffins, murres, and even a few harbor seals. They looked just like Mom's dog Pierre, lounging around on the rocks.

Although we saw many animals, the hands-down, most awe-inspiring thing was the humpback whales. There were two whales playing around right near our boat. They kept surfacing and showing their flukes. Typically when a whale shows its fluke, it means that it's going for a deep dive and you won't see it again for a while. This whale was just putting on a show. It kept coming right back up. I've never seen anything that incredible in my life. It made me think of Grandma Bell the whole time we were there.

Rough seas and all, it was a great trip and I'm happy we got a chance to go before heading up to the village.

Neal is in Barrow for a week, doing a new hire inservice, so I have a whole week to get things organized before school starts. The first day we have kids isn't until the 19th, and there is plenty of time to get things in order.