Archive for the ‘Ole Steller Yeller’ Category

Steller Staff Corner April, 2011

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Know Your Alternatives!

“Student recruitment is essential for the continuation and growth of the Steller program and shall be a focus of school efforts.”

-Staff Goal Setting

The past two decades have witnessed an explosion of non-traditional educational programs within the Anchorage School District.  From home-schooling, charter schools, and smaller learning communities to language immersion and IB focus programs, the choices for families and students have grown enormously.  While Steller was the first and, for many years, one of only a few options, we now find ourselves competing for students who are looking for a more personalized, experiential type of education.

One of the early signs of the impact of these emerging programs upon Steller came in the form of smaller numbers of applications in the lottery, which translated into dwindling to non-existent wait-lists for enrollment.  Lower enrollment takes it’s toll on teaching staff and with a 7 – 12 program, Steller must maintain a critical mass in order to deliver both a middle school and an high school program of studies.  The Steller community decided to take action.

Over the past three years in particular, under the stewardship of Steller Counselor Linda Samorajski, with help from the parents, students and staff, the Know Your Alternatives Tour sprang back into action.  The mission of the Tour is to educate students and families about Steller and to encourage their exploration and eventual enrollment in our program.  Key components of the Tour include Steller student visits to elementary programs district-wide during which our students present a student produced movie about Steller, field questions from curious sixth graders and leave flyers and information about our school for parents; radio spots announcing our Open House and Ice Cream Social; the Open House itself where Steller students and staff highlight the unique aspects of our program; and the Shadow component wherein Steller students host interested kids for the morning half of their academic day.

The Know Your Alternatives Tour has lead to an increase of 25 lottery applications for the coming academic year and a growing community awareness of all that Steller has to offer Anchorage’s youth.   Kudos Linda!

Linda commented, “Our school was named after George Wilhelm Steller, a German naturalist who traveled with Vitus Bering on his voyage of exploration to Alaska, in 1741. He became the school’s namesake because of such personal traits as independence, love of knowledge, courage, and a pioneering spirit.   It’s so important to communicate these values to prospective sixth graders, and our students do a great job!   Every year this process evolves, and each year it has gotten better; for example, the panels are comprised of graduates from each of the elementary schools we are invited to visit, and these Steller students are thrilled to visit their former teachers and classrooms.


Each panel I take is comprised of graduates from that particular school—which is great since those Steller students visiting with me speak the “language” of their particular school.  Albeit complicated logistically, this has proven to be an unbeatable combination!  Moreover, every single item we bring with us to share with prospective students has been created and developed by Steller students.  This includes all of our marketing brochures! Our powerpoint presentation and our iMovie were created by seventh graders.  This is huge, because the elementary students immediately see how students are walking their talk—and literally driving their own education.   The impact of these presentations is so much greater than having adults talk at them.   It’s exciting to see these sixth graders in their school’s multipurpose room respectfully listening to, and then asking, our students lots of questions. Yes, there are trainings held for our students prior to the presentations, but these sessions are mostly to familiarize them with our materials, and give them an opportunity to share their own voices—which they do beautifully.  Most times, you can feel the energy and excitement actually growing during these presentations.   It’s amazing to watch, and our parents would be so proud to see their students taking charge, and coming into their own in front of interested sixth graders, staff, and sometimes even a few sixth grade parents, answering honestly and articulately about our strengths and weaknesses.


Sometimes a Steller student will say to the sixth graders, “Look, we chose to come here today to talk with you about Steller because it’s an amazing place and we think it’s really important for you to know about.  But while we have the freedom and have made the choice to miss class, we’re still responsible for making up the material that we missed.”  This gives them a tangible example of responsible freedom, the shared process of learning, and giving back to the greater community.


Hearing from Steller students about independent studies, peer-taught classes, community involvement and even all school Hugs—just some of the vessels in which our students creatively journey–gives them a sense of wonder and excitement about navigating their own educational journey.   By the end of our presentation, most sixth graders have a sense that a Steller education is uniquely different.   The students do a terrific job conveying  the idea that a Steller education is not merely preparation for life, but life itself, as they generously share their own creative journey, navigating the sea of learning in vast adventure, like George Steller, where the only limit to achievement is their own individual expectations.”


Creative Commons

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Creative Commons is planning its final celebration of the arts for Tuesday, May 3rd from 6 – 8 in the MPR. This meeting not only marks the years end, but also the final Creative Commons for this year’s senior class. In turn, seniors are encouraged to donate art and perform. So, whether you be an audience member, an artist, or a performer, please come along and enjoy the festivities!


Nurse’s Notes – April 2011

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Spring Intensives & Travel

If your student is participating in travel or an overnight intensive, the health office will need updated medical and medication information.  Please check with your student as he/she should have paperwork for you to review and return to the health office prior to intensives.


Student Medication

Medications cannot be left in the nurse’s office over the summer.  It must either be returned to the parent or discarded.  PLEASE PICK UP MEDICATION IN THE NURSE’S OFFICE BY 11:00am, Wednesday, May 18, 2010.  Per ASD policy, any medication not picked up will be turned into ASD Health Services and destroyed.


Prom and Graduation Parties

Prom night and graduation are soon approaching.  We want this to be a time of fond memories and not a reminder of a tragic event.  Please take the time to remind your sons and daughters about the safety issues and consequences of drug and alcohol use.  Remind them that it impairs judgment, lowers inhibitions, and can cause alcohol poisoning/overdose, all of which increase the risk for motor vehicle accidents.  Lets work together to keep our students safe.


Immunizations Due

Many students will need immunization boosters before the end of school and over the summer.  The immunization must be received and documentation provided to the school prior to attending classes.  The State of Alaska has a strict “NO SHOT, NO SCHOOL” policy.  Reminder letters are mailed out monthly and several months prior to your students immunization due date.  Letters for immunizations due over the summer will be mailed in May.  Free immunizations are available at a variety of locations; please contact me with any questions or concerns.


Nurse Wendy



Steller Staff Corner – March, 2011

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Freedom, individuality, and responsibility

Students who think and act for themselves gain the opportunity to take personal responsibility for their individual potential and for their obligations to others.” – Steller Core Values

One of the tenets of the Steller program is that young adults are capable of, and expected to, exercise responsible freedom. It was our pleasure as staff to participate as observers at the recent All School Meeting where this was very much in evidence.
Initiated and organized by senior David D. and sophomore Wright F., the meeting took place Monday morning at 8:45 until 9:20. During that time, David and Wright addressed their fellow students, explaining that they had called the meeting to discuss the recent concerns expressed by parents and students regarding the use of profanity in the student lounge – both in the music played on the stereo and in the words written on the table. The boys outlined the concerns concisely, reminding students that it is their shared responsibility to monitor the use of the stereo in keeping with Steller values and to treat our property with respect as well.

After outlining the problem, David and Wright suggested a plan of action and solicited comments from the student body. It was gratifying to see the mutual respect with which the emcees and the audience treated one another. Our students maintained an atmosphere of respect for one another’s opinion and their right to express it. Everyone listened quietly to the comments offered, by seventh and twelfth graders alike. The mere fact that they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts in such a large forum speaks volumes. The leadership of both David and Wright is an example of those same qualities we strive to help each of our students attain.

After the serious discussion came to a close we were treated to an original film produced in the Movie Production class, taught by seniors Corey P, Evan R, and junior Alex M. and starring senior Taran H. The students’ desire to share their creative talents for the enjoyment of the community was the perfect ending to a well-organized, thoughtfully presented and skillfully orchestrated gathering. It was a proud moment for all of us.

Ole Steller Yeller – March 2011

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Here is the March, 2011 edition of the Ole Steller Yeller.  We apologize for the delay in publication due to the transition to a new editor. Please click the image to read.

Ole Steller Yeller

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The February issue of the Ole Steller Yeller is now available online.  Click the image to read.

From the Principal

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Last Week ASD Memorandum # 219 Proposed Financial Plan (First Reading).

The board passed the proposed budget on first reading.  We heard lots of testimony from people concerned about four issues.

  1. The change in middle school sports from a competitive team model to an intramural program;
  2. The reduction in high school secretary positions;
  3. The reduction in library assistant positions; and
  4. The career guide positions in middle school.

The administration proposed about $13 million in spending reductions. Of that, there appears to be board concern over about $2 million of those changes, and based on the testimony, the community is concerned about a slightly smaller amount of reductions.  That suggests that the administration has done a very good job of listening to the views of board members and the community, and has aligned the budget with those views.

Although the board didn’t make any changes at this meeting, there will likely be some changes at the second reading. The District will continue to receive e-mails and other comments. E-mails can be sent to  There was extensive discussion about possible changes.  There seems to be support for restoring summer school, high school secretarial support, and possibly the library assistants.  The career guides are proposed to be in the budget, and the board seems to be supportive of that as well.

What is less clear is whether there is support for making changes that would free up money to pay for adding anything back to the budget.  Some board members are willing to consider some increase in average class size.  Others are very much opposed.  Most board members seem willing to use some additional fund balance, but not enough to pay for everything the District would like to put back in the budget

Some new costs this year include:

New fees for rental of the Anchorage Football stadium
New fees for rental of municipal trails and picnic shelters
New fees for helping pay for property tax collection
Full cost of the School Resource Officers who spend about 70% of their time on ASD work.

I will keep you informed, as more information is available.

In addition we have just learned that Steller is not immune to the effects of retirement.  At the end of this school year our beloved Nina Bonito-Romine is retiring.  Sad but true, Nina has been a fixture in the hall’s of Steller for 28 years.  She will be missed by one and all.  Her wisdom, leadership and enthusiasm  for teaching and her support for the Steller way will leave a void that will be difficult to patch.  But, patch it we shall!

The enrollment projection for Steller next year is a bit down from previous years [see chart below].

Although we were slated to have 271 students this year we were significantly under that.

If you know of anyone that wants to come to Steller, please tell them to fill out an application and get it to Elizabeth Wood no later than March 24 by 3:00pm.  In an effort to up our enrollement we authorized a radio ad with KSKA for 12 spots on the morning drive advertising our upcoming Open House.  Depending on the results of this radio blitz-  will determine if we do the same for lottery.  Hopefully, we will have success with this strategy.  In addition Linda is working hard with the Know Your Alternatives and we are all set with our Elementary Ice Cream Social that we are hoping will bring in elementary parents to see what we are about.

Also, I’ve authorized our MPR for evening use to Winterberry.  This should create goodwill and positive rapport with another segment of the community.  The hope is by Winterberry having some events here the parents will inadvertently see Steller as a welcoming place to be.  The hope is we will draw some new support through this effort.

For those of you with Seniors and Juniors you should find this very helpful.  I have attached the link to the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and Alaska Student Loan Corporation [APS] website for frequently asked questions.  I have received some questions regarding the funding of the program—this is how the question has been addressed on the APS website:

“Funding has not yet been appropriated for the Alaska Performance Scholarship. It is expected that funding will be considered in the 2011 Legislative session. The Governor’s office has announced that the Governor’s proposed FY 2012 budget will include $8.2 million for the first year’s awards.”

Our Own Svetlana

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Our Own Svetlana Participated in the 15th annual Ski for Women at Kincaid Park on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.

Way to go Svetlana!!

2011 ASD Climate & Connectedness Parent/Guardian Survey

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

You may complete this 2011 ASD Climate & Connectedness Parent/Guardian Survey form by printing it.  Afterwards you may turn it back in to the Steller or you can mail it to:

Anchorage School District

Assessment and Evaluation

5530 E. Northern Lights Blvd Ste 16

Anchorage, AK  99504-9986

We also have forms at school which are already prepaid with postage.  You may stop by Steller and pick one of these forms up at your leisure or you can pick one up during Parent/Teacher Conferences on Feb 16 and Feb 17.

Let your voices be heard, fill out a form.

Ole Steller Yeller December 2010

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Webmaster Note:  While reviewing the Flash I realized that in the end of school rush I missed posting the December Ole Steller Yeller and a few of the articles.  I apologize.  Today’s e-mail should bring everything up to date.

Click image to read.

From the Principal

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

H. Green

On behalf of Steller staff, we all wish you a safe and happy holiday season.  May the New Year be one of peace and joy that you share with friends and family.

As we prepare for the up coming break keep in mind that attendance now is never more important.  As the semester ends students will need to complete and turn in any missing assignments, they will need to study for their final exams as well as prepare themselves mentally for full participation in whatever Intensive they signed up for.

I had the pleasure of working with 3 committees that worked on our school’s SAP [School Action Plan] and the PIP [Parent Involvement Plan]. The three committees consisted of a staff contingency, a parent contingency and a student contingency.  Each committee worked very hard to produce what we think is a quality document.  I have place copies of this document on the FLASH and the Steller School Website as well as publishing a copy in this newsletter.

If you are a Junior or a Sophomore be aware that the WorkKeys exam results should arrive in January sometime.  Please keep watch on the FLASH for announcements of work sessions hosted by John for the purpose of interpreting each of your results.  For any Seniors that are interested in taking the WorkKeys the District is offering a onetime opportunity to take the WorkKeys for free on January 27th.  See John if you are interested in taking advantage of this great opportunity.  For our Seniors it is worth noting that if you plan on attending a career and technical program after graduation you may qualify for the new Alaska Performance Scholarship with a score of 5 or better on the WorkKeys.  I have published an informational sheet on the Alaska Performance Scholarship, which contains information that outlines SAT/ACT score minimums and GPA minimums for qualifying for this scholarship if you plan on attending college after graduation in this newsletter.  If you have additional questions please see John.

Also, please keep in mind that December 16th is the last day of school for the first semester, please help your child to remember to turn in any missing assignments or projects prior to this date.

Finally, I would like to thank Steller teachers for a wonderful and productive first semester, to acknowledge our parent volunteers for all of their hard work supporting our school, to praise our Building Plant Operator, JayBee for an amazing job of keeping our building in top condition, Elizabeth for an absolutely superhuman job in our front office, our Special Ed TAs for their hard work and Ferny for making our building sparkle.  To all of you I wish the merriest of holidays and the happiest of New Years.

Library News

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Thanks to Sara Klever for  donating a set of Harry Potter books.  Our first set was worn out or disappeared.

The ASD adopted a new library computer program this year and we are  slowly learning how to use it.  Many students have overdue books, and I’m asking your cooperation in returning them to the shelves.  There is no penalty for overdues, but if the book is lost, it must be replaced.    In January overdue notices will go out and we will locate books from first semester.  If you would like to check your account, log on to the Steller library site,

click on the Steller library Catalog, and set up an account using your student number and pin which is the last 4 digits of your student number.

If you are using the library during intensives,  please thank the volunteers making this possible.  Karen is out of town, and these parents care enough to give extra time and keep the library open. Regular volunteers, Beth Rademaker,  Chris Lutes, Danni Koenig, Dionne Wills,  Jamie Fernandez,  Jennifer Straub,  Michelle Meyer,  Rebecca Johnson, Sara Klever and Sue Nitisaporn, with special morning helpers,  Jacqui Bohlken, Jeannie Bench, and  Dawnell Smith and another unnamed person…I hope, we have openings at the time of publication.  I also want to thank several people who rise to the occasion and sub on short notice when openings occur.  Sue Monsen, Andromeda Lax, Lori Ostrosky and Alice Meyers are some of them, if I have forgotten someone, please forgive me.  Steller is blessed with wonderful involved parents who give so many hours to the library.

There are  new chairs and computer tables in the library.  Soon we’ll get new round tables and a bookshelf as well.  They will brighten the room, and everyone now has a comfortable place to sit.

Staff Corner: All Community Meeting Review

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

The ACMtg took place on the 18th of November.  Participants took part in three 20 minute, rotating sessions themed on the topics below .  Here is a brief summary from each committee:

Senior Projects: Senior Projects/Passages: Past, Present and Future

Family Communications:

There were several reoccurring themes:

  • create a survey for parents to fill out.  How are you feeling about Steller.  What is right what is wrong. Parent group to select and create the questions. Survey to be given twice a year.
  • Short Advisor positive phone call to parents a few times a year.
  • assign homework that requires students to talk to family members
  • have a joint advisory meeting with students and parents, this would allow parent to meet their child’s advisor.
  • Parent orientation, explain everything about Steller.  What is a parent group meeting, an advisory, all school?  give descriptions of all of the events and special programs.

Advisory Handbook: Jen and Danielle gave a bit of background on the development of the Advisory Group Handbook. Parents and students were able to review the handbook and give feedback on particular topics, including credit counting and communication. Jen and Danielle will consider the feedback from the three sessions when they revise the handbook next semester.

Teacher Recruitment: Ideas generated to recruite teachers include advertising on public tv/radio; posting pertinent, educational materials on our website; collaborate with the preservice teacher programs within the state university system and APU; develop a marketing plan for recruitment!

Strategic Plan Update: How far have we come and where are we heading?

People who dropped by to check in on strategic planning heard that an ad hoc committee of parents, teachers and our principal began to meet in October to do an informal review of the progress made on the Steller 2006 – 2010 Strategic Plan.  Participants heard that more parents and students are needed and welcome at the meetings that are being held about once a month on Friday afternoons.  They also got to check out the plan, hear about the review, how it had been developed initially and discuss some of the ideas for developing our next five-year strategic plan.  These future focus areas include:  student retention, parent/family communication, senior projects, advisory groups, teacher recruitment and retention, exit surveys, and facility enhancement.

Please feel free to contribute ideas, time and energy as we deal with these issues throughout the year.  Your participation at Advisory Board, All Community Meetings and Parent Group is vital to our growth and continued excellence .  We look forward to working together with you!

Second Semester Registration

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Registration for 2nd Semester

January 3, 2011              8-11:00 AM


8:00–8:20am 8th/12th graders meet with advisor

8:20–9:00am 8th/12th graders register

9:00–9:20am 7th/11th graders meet with advisor

9:20–10:00am 7th/11th graders register

10:00-10:20am 9th/10th graders meet with advisor

10:20–11:00am 9th/10th graders register

Click here for the Second Semester 2011 Course Schedule

End of Day Pick Up

Monday, December 6th, 2010

One item that continues to be at the forefront of everyone’s concerns is supervision of students.  As you all know classes are done at 2:05.  At 3:30 teachers leave for the evening.  Yet we still have kids that have not been picked up by that time.   After 4:00 there is no one that can maintain a modicum of supervision for students. There is just too much that can happen with unsupervised kids.  We need the students to be picked up between 3:30 and 4:00pm.

If you absolutely cannot pick your child up by 3:30 or 4:00pm give them an alternate location to rendezvous with you.  This is the best way to deal with that issue.  Barnes and Nobles is one space a lot of parents use, one of the nearby eateries is the next logical choice.

If you have an alternative place in mind please talk with you child about being picked up there.  But regardless, for the safety of your child we ask that you pick them up between 3:30 and 4:00pm or designate a secondary pick up sight.  At  4:00 students will be asked to leave the building.

The exception would be if the students were in an after school activity. Then of course we would ask that you pick them up after the activity- should it go beyond 4:00.

Thank you for your cooperation with this very important issue.