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School board candidates state positions before election

During every municipal election, the high school journalism class asks candidates for the Galena City School District Board of Education about their thoughts concerning why they are running for office. All questions were created by students in the class. The candidate answers are provided here in the order in which each name appears on the ballot. The election is Tuesday, October 1.

School board members seat D

Katrina Huntington

What’s your vision of what the school should look like?

My vision for our school is to develop confident and responsible individuals who hope to achieve their dreams/goals. I would like to do this by providing a welcoming, happy, safe, and supportive learning atmosphere in which everyone is equal and all achievements are noticed.

What’s your first priority for the school?

First, I’d like to get familiar on what is currently happening within our school district. After that, I’d have clearer priorities.

How involved would you be with the students?

Well, I have four kids who are all in different grades, and a sister at GILA. I’d like to a part of an afterschool/work group or help with events hosting.

What made you want to run?

I’ve been asked by many people to run over the past few years. I decided to because I really care about the education of my kids and their peers.

What would you do if someone in public asked you about the school board?

I would first make sure it’s acceptable to listen to someone by addressing the handbook. If it’s something serious, I’d get on it. I feel like I’m a person someone can talk to if they have any concerns.

What motivates you to run for school board?

I really want to be a part of my children’s and sister’s education. I’ve seen the school from a student view, and I’d like to be that voice that can help make better changes.

Karin Bodony

What’s your vision of what the school should look like?

I love this question. One of the best things about being on the school board is that we get to dream about what we want the school to be like, make priorities, and try to work with the resources available to make the dream a reality.  I want our schools to be filled with students and teachers who are inspired about learning. I want students at our schools to find academic success, life skills, and life-long friendships that will equip them for their lives as adults. I believe our students are the future leaders of Alaska (and beyond).

What’s your first priority for the school?

Academic achievement is my highest priority — after all, that is what school is all about, right? But there are a lot of things involved in helping students learn. These include having teachers who are qualified, enthusiastic, and well supported by the administrators and students. They also include safe, functional and beautiful facilities, and food that is healthy and tastes good. All of these things come with a cost, and unfortunately we are facing some challenging times with low funding from the State of Alaska. I think one of our biggest challenges is to make sure we continue to have a fantastic school district, and make improvements, even when we have less money to use.  

How involved would you be with the students?

School Board members are rarely closely involved with the students. (That is what the teachers and staff do.) However, Tara Kirk is the new student representative to the board, and she will be a voice for the students. There is also a student government forming this year. Sharing your concerns and ideas with the student government or with Tara are great ways to bring your ideas to the board. You are also welcome to attend board meetings and share during the community comments portion.

What made you want to run?

I was on the school board several years ago. I am excited to see that some of the ideas that the board had then are beginning to gain momentum. One example is bringing cultural awareness and celebration into our school.  Another is a focus on academics and standards.  I would like to serve on the board again to help keep these positive changes going.

What would you do if someone in public asked you about the school board?

It depends on their question. Sometimes we get questions about things that really should be asked of teachers, principals, or the superintendent. In that case I would suggest that those people be contacted before the board is asked. Sometimes people have questions or ideas that really should be brought to the board, and the best way to do that is to come to a meeting so that everyone on the board can hear the information at the same time. No person on the school board can work alone — we are a team.

What motivates you to run for school board?

Education has been a high priority for Galena for many, many years. I want to do everything I can to help the Galena City School District continue to succeed, for my own family, for the community of Galena, and for families throughout Alaska who choose to educate our students through our programs.

What do you think you will change or make better?

As I mentioned before, the school board works as a team. Those of us who serve on the board represent our students and our community as we work together to keep our school district moving in positive directions.

Tiffany George

What’s your vision of what the school should look like?

When I picture the ideal/perfect school, I see staff and teachers that choose to be able to stay for an extended period amount of time. I do understand that it is difficult for some to live out in rural Alaska, but I believe that having a consistency of teachers will greatly benefit the students. In the recent years, there has seemed to be a great turnover in teachers and staff, I would like to problem solve this and figure out what are the main leading factors to this, and try to address them with the current school board members.

What’s your first priority for the school?

Of course, my first priority of the school are the students. Alaska already has a low attendance/absent rate for rural students attending college, this is most likely due to students feeling like they are unable to go because of restraints such as; how costly it is, being afraid to fail/drop out, or not knowing how college works. I believe if the school was able to offer more college courses for students, this will help jump start them to get use to the idea of college classes. Also, being more active in announcing possible scholarships with deadlines will help keep students on track and help take the burden of the financial costs off of them.

How involved would you be with the students?

I would say that I am already very involved with the students, health science especially, by giving frequent presentations to classes and letting them know of the dental services that are available to them. Also, for those interested in the health field, I offer my time to work with them one-on-one to complete applications for the DHAT Program and scholarships for other health related fields. For the younger students, middle school & elementary, I believe that they are doing great with the previous “high performance award”, but I would like to continue to that with more options of after school programs, activities, etc., with other parents to try and get everyone more involved.

What made you want to run?

What has made me want to run for the School Board was my motivation to help the children here in Galena and the students at GILA achieve their career goals. Because if we are able to make a good educational foundation for them now until they graduate high school, they would be able to continue to secondary education and be in professions such as teaching, health careers, and other vocational trades. If we are able to set that for the students here, this can ultimately benefit the state of Alaska by having more culturally competent people in the work force that are able to possibly return to their home communities, and provide services in professions that have a high turnover rate.

What would you do if someone in public asked you about the school board?

If I were approached by someone in public about the school board, I would answer any questions that they may have that are related to public information. As being on any other board/council, I do understand that there may be confidential information and I would make it clear to anyone who may ask about it; that I am unable to share such info, but I can help them with any other public related questions that they may have about the boards current projects.

What motivates you to run for school board?

I believe that I have a lot to offer if elected to the school board being that I recently graduate from the Sidney Huntington High School in 2015, so I have somewhat recent experience from what the school has to offer; what was beneficial and what needs improvement. Also, I believe that I am very outspoken, and have experience from being on other boards/councils so I believe that I would be able catch up very quickly with the current old/new business that the school board has of right now.

What do you think you will change or make better?

I actually believe that I alone can’t change or make things better, but by working with other members of the school board, I can definitely change/make things better by problem solving solutions for current problems. A change for the better that I would like to see if the involvement of parents in school activities. I know that there are already some awesome parents that jump to help teachers and at school related activities, but having all the parents be more active is something that I would like to see.

School board member seat E

Fred Huntington Jr.

Nicole Gregory

What’s your vision of what the school should look like?

I would like it if the high school stayed on this side of town, and would like our school to continue to flourish by adding more electives and advanced placement classes.

What’s your first priority for the school?

My first priority for Galena City Schools is that we work to have teachers stay longer instead of the high turnover rate so that they can build relationships with our students.

How involved would you be with the students?

I am very involved with my son and his activities.

What made you want to run?

I chose to run just to try it out. I already sit on the Louden Tribal Council, the Yukon Jamboree committee, and the Galena Sports Authority.

What would you do if someone in public asked you about the school board?

I have not been following the school board and its progress, so I wouldn’t have much of an answer.

What motivates you to run for school board?

What motivates me is to see our school continue to flourish and bring back more programs to the elementary and junior high classes. I would hope that they spend more money to fix up our school instead of dropping all this money on 100 year old military buildings.