The last week of school! I can hardly believe this year is coming to a close. I know this sounds cliche but it seriously feels like just yesterday I was meeting my little kinder/firsties for the first time. We went through a lot together this last year- we watched our class tree through the seasons, learned how to make moose stew, had a gingerbread cause mischief throughout our school, traveled to different countries to see how they celebrate the holiday season, took a trip on the Polar Express, taped our principal to a wall (and left him there ;), cheered our girls basketball team on to a state championship, and learned all about superheroes, salmon, plants and flowers, smelt and belugas, and our community. Oh yeah, and we also made time to learn to read, write, count, add, and subtract. And how to play together, respect each other, and become kind, caring members of a classroom community. We were a busy bunch! I hope I instilled in each of my students a love of learning, an inquisitive mind, and a confident sense of self. I know big things are in store for each of my little Bristol Bay “Angels” and I look forward to hearing about their accomplishments in the future.
This being the last week of school (for the students – teachers will still be in meetings, cleaning the classrooms, finalizing grades, and about a million other things that must be completed before the school officially “closes” for the summer) we wanted to do something special with the kids. So, our amazing principal planned three days of field trips for the elementary students. It was an awesome experience to learn about so many of the industries that make this community what it is. On Monday we visited Silver Bay cannery. There we learned about the canning process and toured the facilities. They just finished up herring season and are gearing up for salmon. The students (and teachers) were in awe of the shiny machines used to process the fish. Although, I think the highlight for most was when we visited the mess hall and all got a hat, water bottle, piece of fresh fruit, and a giant fudge brownie. Don’t get me wrong- they thought the fish plant was cool but that brownie could not be beat in the eyes of a 5-year old. 😉
Fast-forward to Thursday, we went on a walking field trip and toured the businesses closest to our school. Across the street we have the post-office where students learned how our mail and packages are sorted and sent. Then we have the electric company where they learned how our power is generated throughout the community. Lastly, we visited Trident Seafoods where we learned about their “sea to table” philosophy and toured the facilities where many of the local fishermen’s catch end up. It was pretty cool to hear student’s as they excitedly exclaimed “this is where our family brings our fish!”
On Friday we had three more stops! This time we loaded the bus and headed for King Salmon (the school is on the Naknek end and it’s about a 20 minute car ride to King Salmon). Our first stop was the weather station. There we got to watch a giant balloon that reminded me of the movie “Up” as it was blown up and connected to device called a “radiosonde.” The students then took turns holding the huge balloon and touring the top of the station which holds a satellite. Finally, we joined hands and let the balloon fly into the sky. The weather station releases one of these giant satellite balloons every day at 3:00. Apparently they then use the “radiosonde” attached to the balloon to read the atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind speed. Worldwide, there are only 800 weather stations that release “weather balloons” like this – 13 are located in Alaska.
Next stop was the FAA control tower where we watched the controller radio to two different pilots during a take-off and landing. It also happens that the view from the tower is pretty spectacular. The tower is actually the tallest building in the Southwest region of Alaska. We walked up 90 steps to reach the top. Unfortunately, the FAA has strict policies about sharing photos of inside the control tower (I never did catch why…. pilot friends??).
We finished the week of field trips with a stop at the King Salmon visitor center where we learned about the salmon migration, dinosaurs that lived in this area back in Mesozoic Era, and the habitat of some of our local critters- birds, caribou, moose, wolves and bears. Then, to our surprise, one of my student’s dad greeted us with one of the Department of Transportation’s airport fire trucks. The kids got to get in and squirt water out of the hose, sound the alarm, and hang out in the drivers seat.
This week of field trips was the perfect end to a great first year of teaching out here in Bristol Bay. The experiences provided memories that will last a lifetime. It is moments like those we experienced this week that remind us how lucky we are to live in such a diverse and interesting region of Alaska.
Happy summer Bristol Bay Angels! 🙂
“The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.”
P.S.- My mom reminded me that if I’m going to continue on this blogging adventure, I should really bust out my decent camera. My apologies for the grainy phone pics. That’s what I carry on the daily! 😉