Ketchikan High School hosted over 50 schools Wednesday at the college fair. The goal was for students to talk with admission counselors and receive more information about the colleges. Senior Verona Kamberi said that having the college fair every year is very helpful. “I think it is a great opportunity, especially for seniors that are still looking for colleges,” said Kamberi. “There are so many representatives that are trying to get you to go to their college, all you need to do is just go up to their booth and ask the questions.” Director Amy Potter from Alaska Pacific University said that having a college fair is a great idea for high schools. “I think it’s really helpful to get exposure to lots of different types of colleges and universities,” said Potter. “Everyone is unique and finding a good college is important.”
Kayhi students and parents will have an opportunity to learn how to apply and prepare for college tonight at Kayhi’s annual Explore Night from 5:00 – 8:15 p.m. Explore Night consists of workshops that specify in teaching students about a certain area of the college application process. There are 10 workshops that will be available: Applications, Admissions, and the Selection Process, How to Survive College without Going Broke, Quality Educational Opportunities in Alaska, Preparing a Winning Scholarship Application, Application Essays, Finding the Right College, Making the Most of Your School Visit, Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), Organizing your Senior Portfolio, and Are you Ready for Tomorrow’s (Today’s) World?. Admissions representatives are leading the workshops. Explore Night will take place in Kayhi’s science wing.
Sarah Campbell was awarded the 35th Peace Education Elgin Heinz Award yesterday at Kayhi. She received the award at the first annual Kings for Peace assembly which was held to commemorate International Peace Day. Campbell was recognized for promoting peace and education in addition to her leadership on a national and local level. Campbell said she believes that students are a key factor in obtaining peace. “Through friendship and connection students can serve as a powerful catalyst for change.”
Senior year has its expectations, anticipations, and the dreaded “senioritis”. With all the excitement that comes with senior year, there’s also a lot of stress that comes with the idea of college. Applications, scholarships, essays, and admissions are all just stepping stones in the beginning of a college career. Senior Keri Thomas believes the stress of senior year can be hard to handle at times. “It’s like being enrolled in two different schools at once,” said Thomas. “You’re doing scholarships and early applications at the same time you’re writing essays and doing homework for your high school classes.” Although the demands of college can take a toll on the seniors, Thomas points out the traditions and special events that will relieve some stress for her and her classmates throughout their last year at Kayhi. “There are a lot of things worked into senior year to make it fun for us; like senior float and senior carnival,” said Thomas. “It’s the little fun things that come with being a senior that helps with the stress of college and the year ahead.” Every Class is Unique Math teacher Jennifer Karlik believes this class has a special quality that is not always as prominent as years past. “The class of 2018 is exceptionally kind,” said Karlik. “I have specifically paid attention to how this class seems to treat their peers and they are so kind and accepting; it’s really something special to see.” Karlik said that this senior class is very involved with each other. “The closeness is what’s setting them up for success,” said Karlik. “If they work together and help each other out academically, they will do great.” Being a Senior in the 21st Century Science teacher D Jay O’Brien said he notices some major differences between when he was a senior (1980) versus today’s seniors living in the 21st century. “I think it’s more stressful now,” said O’Brien. “When I was a senior, we only had to worry about getting accepted into a university. Seniors nowadays have to look at if they can afford going to the school before anything; you have to make a lot of decisions based on the costs and not the wants.” O’Brien recalls hearing “We Are the Champions” at every single pep rally and only worrying about maintaining a high GPA. “If you had the grade point average that colleges required, you got in,” said O’Brien. “The scores on the state tests (SAT and ACT) weren’t even a qualifier to get in if you met their GPA requirements.” Kayhi provides students secondary education in preparation for the ideal goal of students continuing on to college. O’Brien acknowledges that is the one thing that hasn’t changed since he was in school. “This place has the lights on and the hot lunch all for the benefit and growth of the students to eventually be in this senior position,” said O’Brien. “It’s all about you guys, and that’s never a perspective to lose.” Senior Roles Senior second baseman Michael Starr said there are some perks that come with being a senior on a sports team. “You have more authority and your opinion definitely carries over to the rest of the team along with the coach,” said Starr. Starr points out that those perks don’t mean seniors can slack off.
“Honestly, being a senior means you have to work twice as hard because the rest of the team is looking at you for leadership while you’re carrying your weight on the field as well,” he said. In addition to being a big part of the baseball team this season, Starr is also the SBA president of Kayhi. “As the SBA president, I want this senior class to buy into being a senior,” said Starr. “Try your hardest to walk into everything with an optimistic attitude, because this year is the year that you will get out whatever you put into it. So make the most out of being a senior and you’ll get nothing but positive energy and good times out of it.”
Last Wednesday marked the beginning of the new advisory period at Kayhi. The advisory class was created for the purpose of preparing and helping students set and achieve goals throughout high school and after. Kayhi senior Carlos Orta initially believed the class was going to be pointless. After the class, Orta’s perception changed. He sees the potential of the class. “I thought it was going to be a waste of time, but once we got into it, it wasn’t that bad,” Orta said. “It will be helpful in planning our future, especially since the careers class was removed. This seems like a replacement for that type of class and should be useful for seniors.” Advisory classes are split by grade, and each grade has a specific lesson plan. For the seniors, the lessons are going to be focused on teaching them skills to succeed after high schoolーeven if they don’t choose to go to college. While for freshman, sophomores, and juniors, the immediate goal is to teach them skills to succeed in high school. Kayhi senior Nolan Meyer believes the seniors who plan to attend college, have the most to benefit from advisory. “The studious student who actually wants to go to college and further their education will reap the most rewards,” Meyer said. “They will realize the timeline they have and get going on scholarships, applications, and that type of stuff.” While Orta and Meyer see the value of the class, Orta also sees a couple of factors that might limit the success of advisory: lack of student engagement and the short class duration. “I think advisory is a good idea, but I think the students will come in with a negative mindset,” Orta said. “That combined with the short duration of the class might make it hard for it to succeed.” Principal Bob Marshall had those concerns at first, but laid them to rest after the first class. He chose to make the class 30 minutes because the lesson plans don’t need more time than that. Marshall enjoys dropping in on classes and seeing what they are up to, and what he saw during the advisory hour pleased him. He saw students actively engaged in their lessons. “The first advisory class went really well,” Marshall said. “I visited the classes and was pleasantly surprised with the level of engagement from the students, especially the upperclassmen.” Marshall is confident in the advisory class. He has seen the success of the program at his previous school district in Washington, and hopes to see those same results at Kayhi.
The freshman and sophomores at Ketchikan High School took the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools test these past two weeks. This was the first year PEAKS testing was done at Kayhi, and everything went perfectly fine according to counselor Natasha O’Brien. “PEAKS testing went smoothly,” said O’Brien. “It was well organized, students knew where to go, and the computer systems worked well.” The tests are given to measure students in the subjects of English Language Arts and Mathematics. Knowing that the test doesn’t affect their grades, the majority of the students don’t take the test as serious as the teachers want them to. “The students know that the test doesn’t affect them at all,” said Cole Maxwell. “So they don’t take it serious, it’s like giving a test in class and telling the students that it doesn’t count as a grade, obviously some are going to try while others won’t.” Freshman Tacoma Coronel agrees with Maxwell adding that the whole reason behind the tests is to make the school look better. “These tests aren’t really important to the students, but they are important to the teachers,” said Coronel. “The teachers want the school to look good in the eyes of other schools, so they definitely want their students to do good.” Even though the the test scores don’t affect the student’s grade, science teacher D Jay O’Brien still tells everyone to try no matter what.
“There were a few individuals that had a cavalier attitude about the tests,” said O’Brien. “But I tried to tell them that everything that is done in this place is to help them.” Sitting down for hours and testing can be rough. Freshman Leah Call couldn’t have moved on to the second session if it wasn’t for snack break that helped boost her energy after session one of testing. “Staying focused was very difficult for me,” said Call. “But having snack break helped me get through testing .” Sophomore Donald Rayner thought the test went great, but doing the test on the computer was something that bothered him. “Having the test online was something that I struggled with,” said Rayner. “Next year I think it would be better if they revised their strategy on how they gave the test out, and giving the students time to study for it would help.” So is there going to be a next year for PEAKS testing? According to O’Brien, the PEAKS are going to be an every year thing at Kayhi. “We don’t have a choice on whether or not we want to do this next year,” said Natasha O’Brien. “It’s state mandate and it has taken the place of the SBAs.”
A study done by professor Herb Schroeder at University of Alaska, sparked conflict recently when he found that 71.5 percent of students graduating from Kayhi, take at least one remedial class at UA even though many had passed a similar class in high school. This study was used in several publications which lead to the misrepresentation that Kayhi graduates are ill-prepared when moving on to further education. Schroeder said the study was intended to better understand why students coming from Alaskan high schools were so underprepared when arriving to a university. “There is a disconnect between the grades students earn in high school and the knowledge that they acquire,” said Schroeder. “If a student earns an A in trigonometry that should mean they understand trigonometry. The study showed that for most students, this is not the case.” The study has become a controversial topic between Kayhi’s teachers and staff members throughout the high schools mentioned in Schroeder’s study. “Our school is listed as one of the top five schools that are needing the most remediation,” said Principal Bob Marshall. “It bothers me because I’m curious to know more about his study because it seems like where he chose to use his data and facts don’t add up to what we know about our students that leave here and go to universities.” Schroeder’s study has left many questions regarding the validity of the data. The small sample size in his data left people concerned because it would go on to make the percentages look more substantial than they really are. “I don’t think he has enough numbers to draw conclusions,” said counselor Robert McClory. “If he is saying that we have one kid up in Anchorage that’s taking a remedial math course that certainly doesn’t sentence anybody to failure at any university.” Though some might believe the study suggests Kayhi, among other schools, are failing their students, Science teacher D Jay O’Brien strongly believes that the teachers go out of there way to help the students learn the material. “That data contradicts this study to some degree,” said D Jay O’Brien. “It would be unfair to say that Kayhi as a whole is unprepared, because we have a whole lot of data to show that our students are doing very well in the universities.” According to many staff members at Kayhi, the University of Alaska doesn’t attract the majority of our top students. Traditionally top students at Kayhi go on to pursue further education down south where more opportunities are presented. “Knowing that we have students that aren’t just qualifying for University of Alaska, but have major universities down in the lower 48 that are accepting our students shows a lot,” said Marshall. “It’s easier to point to the one or two that are going to Harvard or West Point Academy, but the fact that we have students that continue to go to good schools across the country says something about the program that we have here at Kayhi.” Superintendent Robert Boyle, is concerned about the misinterpretation that the study has provided and hopes people don’t get the wrong idea about the quality of education at Kayhi. “I have spoken with other people that are associated with the University, and they don’t feel that way about our students,” said Boyle. “Instead of me thinking it is a flaw within our school, I see it being a flaw within the University of Alaska system. It doesn’t matter what grades you have or how good you did academically, if you enroll they will make you take the Accuplacer test, which you must score above a certain score, or else you will be placed in a developmental class.” Most colleges don’t use the Accuplacer test for student placement because the classes students take in college would then depend on a single score rather than previous grades and academic achievements. Though the study was intended to raise awareness of potential unpreparedness, some are concerned about the misrepresentation of these high schools. “I feel he has insulted you as students, he’s insulted our former students, our school board, all our administrators, and clearly me by saying I have not been doing my job, all of that based around an alleged study that he’s done on a very small sampling of students from our schools,” said Boyle. “We have had countless incredibly successful students graduate from our school, and to suggest that our teachers are not doing their job well, I think that shows he has a very narrow mind in terms of what happens in the public school system.”