think I fully comprehended the impact of this project until one night
a full week after school had ended for the year. The directors of the
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies needed help in defending a petition
to move their dock into deeper water. Each year our overnight trip across
the bay to this center always becomes a favorite of my students. Having
been asked to speak on behalf of the center at a community Planning Commission
meeting, I asked if it would be possible for me to bring a few students
to help represent the center. A resounding, “yes, if you think they’ll
come” bounced back to me.
Time passes quickly at the end of the school year and I was suddenly reminded
that the meeting was in just a few short hours. I called Paige, a student
who lives near the Borough building, to see if she would be interested
in speaking for the Coastal Center. Her response? “Sure, Miss Pfitzner,
I’ll do some calling to see who else might want to come.”
She was able to contact four interested students but due to transportation
issues, only two could actually make it.
With only an hour notice, two students met me at the Borough Planning
Commission meeting. Together we sat for 2 &1/2 hours before deciding
it would be nearly 11pm before our issue came to light. Rather than just
leave, these students volunteered to sit outside on the sidewalk with
borrowed pens and paper to write an essay as to the importance of the
Coastal Center and the specific need of their docks. These papers were
read as pieces of support during the meeting later that night. The Coastal
Center petition was approved despite opposition.
These students have helped me to feel that they truly have an investment
in our community. Through addressing real community needs these children
are coming to know themselves and learning to look beyond.
write to describe how they will continue to follow and help guide the
development of this parcel of land.
write a defense statement for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.
share their knowledge of salmon and their life cycle at a community
festival with residents and tourists.
school year not been so rushed, I would have had the students brainstorm
ways they could continue to have an influence over the development of
students projected in their essay that they would like to do a “Caring
for the Kenai” environmental project based on the park land.
students wrote about gathering friends once in high school to do a community
project related to the development of the land.