I don’t 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.

  • Students write to describe how they will continue to follow and help guide the development of this parcel of land.
  • Two students write a defense statement for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.
  • Two students share their knowledge of salmon and their life cycle at a community festival with residents and tourists.

  • Had the 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 this land.
  • Some students projected in their essay that they would like to do a “Caring for the Kenai” environmental project based on the park land.

  • Many students wrote about gathering friends once in high school to do a community project related to the development of the land.



Video: the students read a letter received from City Council and discuss the impact of the project and their continued investment in it.
(High Speed Connection/ Low Speed Connection)