Alaska Biodiversity Art Contest – February 28 Deadline

Alaska Biodiversity Art Contest

Calling all inspired K-12 Artists! Our annual art contest is in its third year and moving forward in partnership with the Wild Postcard Project. The contest is open for youth across Alaska from Kindergarten to 12th grade. This year’s theme is Alaska Biodiversity.

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a sanctuary dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, research and quality animal care. Our partner, Wild Postcard Project, is a 100% volunteer run global initiative founded in 2016 to provide educational opportunities about biodiversity through art contests for K-12 students. This year we are combining forces to reach students across Alaska. Selected artist will be showcased in a virtual art gallery and some will be published on postcards or in AWCC’s animal adoption packets. The Who, What, When & Where are below:



Kids and teens (ages 5-18) who are currently living in Alaska.


Your artwork (whether you paint, draw, etch, screen print, etc.) should represent the biodiversity of Alaska in some way…whether you focus on a single animal or plant, or depict an entire habitat or landscape. Three dimensional pieces (e.g. sculptures, paper maché, collages, etc.) or other kinds of creative entries are also accepted! In addition to biodiversity at large, AWCC is looking for art representative of wildlife in our animal adoption program including; porcupine, Alaska birds, brown bears, black bears, wood bison, muskox, wolves, reindeer, lynx, fox, and beluga.

A digital copy of your artwork and entry form is preferred (take a photo with your iPhone, iPad, or any option that works!). Just make sure to hold on to the original copy of your artwork in case you’re selected as a winner and we need to do a fancy photoshoot of it (because we may need the original for printing purposes). Along with your photo, please also make sure to include the information as requested on our online entry form. Alternatively, you can submit the entry form information and artwork image via email at


Entries should be postmarked no later than February 28th, 2021.


Option 1 (preferred): Online entry form, here.

Option 2: By mail: Wild Postcard Project & Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, PO 949, Girdwood AK 99587

Option 3: By email here.

If you choose to email your artwork and entry form, you can print the PDF below, or make your own, but it should have all of the information listed on the entry form. The link should open a PDF file, ready for you to complete and send in with your artwork.

Printable entry form, here!


Artists will be selected in age groups with selected artist in each age category. Selection for awards by AWCC will be completed by our staff. Selection for publishing by Wild Postcard Project will be completed by a volunteer panel of biodiversity experts and artists. Selection of other artists being features in our virtual gallery will be completed mutually.


All Selected artists will be featured in a virtual art gallery shared with participants and their families across Alaska. Artists selected by AWCC to be featured in our animal adoption program will receive a $250 scholarship for art featuring animals in our adoption program.

Your art published on a postcard
Artists selected by Wild Postcard Project’s panel of judges will be published on postcards and receive postcards with their art on it to share with family and friends. Postcards will be sold on Etsy, the AWCC gift shop, and other shops around Alaska. Proceeds from the sale of postcards will return to the art contest program and be donated to Alaska biodiversity focus organizations.

Your art featured in our virtual gallery
Additional artists will be selected to be featured in our virtual gallery.

Kenai Masonic Lodge Scholarship – March 26 Deadline

The Scholarship Selection Committee and the Kenai Peninsula Masonic Lodges (KPML) Kenai 11, Sterling 22, Seward 6 and Homer UD are proud to announce the submission opening for the 2021 KPML Student Scholarships.

The Scholarships will be given out to qualifyingn graduating seniors.

  • One (1) $1,500 Billy Harris memorial scholarship
  • Six (6) $1,000 Student scholarships

Completed Scholarship packet due dates

  • Email submissions will not be accepted after March 26, 2021
  • Mailed submissions must be postmarked no later than March 26, 2021

If sending by email: 2021 KPML Student Scholarships to

If sending by mail:
2021 KPML Student Scholarships
36081 Spur Highway
Soldotna, AK 99669-7153

The Scholarship Selection Committee will announce finalists the first week of April.

Listed here is the compiled list of what is required for the 2021 KPML Student Scholarship packet. This packet, assembled by the student, is an expression of their preparedness for life.
The Must Have qualification prerequisites are;

  • Must be a 2021 graduate of a high school within the Kenai Peninsula Borough Public School District or Nome.
  • Must provide the Admissions Address AND Letter of Acceptance from a College, University, or Trade school.
  • Must provide a Student Photo AND competed MEDIA AND PRESS RELEASE PERMISSION FORM

Submission Format: “2021 KPML Student Scholarship Resume”

Required Information:

  • Name and address of Student
  • The Students Alma Mater
  • The Alma Mater’s address, and student representative name & contact phone # and Email Address.
  • Provide the name of individual presenting the scholarship, contact phone # and Email Address.
  • Provide up to three (3) references, name and contact information

In the Resume, Student Scholarship Applicants should address:

  • Three (3) achieved goals?
  • Two (2) things the student could of done better in school and why?
  • One (1) future goal?
  • Where does the student see themselves ten years from graduation?

Grading: Points will be awarded or subtracted based on the following

  • Attention to Detail
  • Document Quality; Diction, Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation
  • Brevity; points deducted for having too much, or the lack of
  • Quality of the students academic vision and follow through
  • Student Photo Professionalism, Creativity and Artistic Expression
  • References

Selection ranking

  • Highest scoring selectee will be awarded the Billy Harris Memorial Scholarship
  • Six (6) other Students Applicants will receive Student Scholarships based on next highest scored

Alaska Daily News Creative Writing Contest – February 15 Deadline

The 2020-21 Statewide Creative Writing Contest opened for entries on November 16th and will close on Monday February 15th, 2021.

Winners are eligible for cash prizes ranging from $25-$50 dollars

Grant Prize $200 | Editor’s Choice $100

K-12 levels for Story, Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry

For rules and more information and entry link:

Sponsored by: UAA, Alaska Center for the Book and the Anchorage Daily News

HEA 2020 Scholarship – March 1 Deadline

Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) 2020 scholarship deadline is fast approaching.

Homer Electric Association, Inc. (HEA) scholarship program is an opportunity for us to give back to our communities by investing in tomorrow’s leaders. The 2021 Scholarship Applications are available to high school seniors and adults continuing their education. HEA Scholarship Committee will award a number of scholarships for an amount to be determined by the Board of Directors each calendar year.  The committee will select the winners based on the merits of the applicant.

The deadline for scholarship applications is March 1, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. Submissions can be made using one of three delivery methods listed below:

  • Email –; Subject: Scholarship Application
  • Postal Mail –  280 Airport Way, Kenai, AK 99611; Attn: HEA Scholarship Committee
  • Personal Delivery – 280 Airport Way, Kenai, AK 99611 OR 3977 Lake Street, Homer, AK 99603; Attn: HEA Scholarship Committee

For further information on the scholarship, please visit our website at, or you may contact me at 283.2305.  Thank you for allowing these applications to be distributed in your school. Tanya Lautaret

Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Scholarship – April 30 Deadline

The Alaska Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) will be offering scholarships to eligible students for the 2021-2022 school year.

In addition to the application, each student must also submit an official transcript.  The transcript must be sealed, officially certified by the school, and include Fall 2020 final grades.

Applications will be accepted via mail or email.  All applications must be received on or before Friday, April 30th, 2021. Late applications will not be considered.

Transcripts will only be accepted via mail. All transcripts must be postmarked on or before Friday, April 30th, 2021.

*Do not submit extra documents with the application.  Resumes or letters of recommendation will not be considered.

*Do not send transcripts requiring signature confirmation due to the SPE mailbox is not checked daily, and your mail will be returned.  You can email us to confirm that your transcript has been received.

Eligible applicants include:

Graduating Alaska High School Seniors who will be enrolled at an accredited university as a full-time college student for the Fall 2021 semester in a curriculum leading to an undergraduate degree in engineering, including petroleum, chemical, mechanical, electrical, environmental or civil, or an earth sciences field, and intend to seek future employment in the petroleum industry.

Undergraduate College Students who will be enrolled at an accredited school as a full-time student for the Fall 2021 semester in a curriculum leading to an undergraduate degree in engineering, including petroleum, chemical, mechanical, electrical, environmental or civil, or an earth sciences field, and intend to seek future employment in the petroleum industry and meet one of the three following requirements: (1) graduated from a high school in Alaska, or (2) are currently enrolled in a college in Alaska, or (3) are a dependent of an SPE Alaska Section member.

Scholarships are only awarded for a one-year term. All students who continue to meet the requirements can re-apply and are encouraged to re-apply every year throughout their undergraduate college career.  A new application and transcript must be submitted every year to be considered for a scholarship. 

All applicants will be notified if they were selected to receive a scholarship by June 15th, 2021.  Scholarships will be paid directly to the school in the Fall of 2021, once enrollment is confirmed.

Applications can be emailed to

Applications and transcripts can be mailed to the following address:

Society of Petroleum Engineers- Alaska Section
2021 Scholarship Application
PO BOX 243812
Anchorage, AK 99524-3812

For additional information and questions email Ethan Plunkett at

?? 21st Century Skills ??

At the beginning of the century the term 21st Century Skills became one of the biggest drivers of change in education. This was fitting. The 21st century is very different from the 20th century in terms of society, industry, communications, and so many other areas.
“21st century skills” was used to denote needed changes in education to prepare students for the future. Unfortunately, as with many catch phrases, 21st century skills was widely adopted and applied to almost every product and practice used in education. The phrase is intended to elicit a feeling of forward thinking. News Flash: The 21st century isn’t coming, its been here quite a while.
Almost all of our K – 12 students were born in the 21st century. Most of our teachers and school administrators were hired in the 21st century. It almost seems that talking about 21st century skills as a catalyst for change is only admitting that we haven’t made the necessary changes in the first 17 years of the century. I propose changing our lexicon to refer to “current century skills.” This isn’t just semantics. Speaking of current century skills adds a sense of urgency. Our students don’t need these skills in the future, they need them now.
This isn’t a new idea. I’ve noticed an increase in the use of “current century” in articles and research. I will be using current century to describe the new skills that are identified as important and the old skills that have gained importance in the current century. What are those skills? I’ll talk about them in subsequent posts.

Is College Worth It?

Much can, and has been said about the changing value of a college education. This post is not an attempt to answer the question of whether or not going to college is worthwhile. Rather, this post is intended to share some information that may help you answer the question for yourself.
A recent study has shown that the unemployment rate for 25 to 34 year-olds with a 4-year college degree is significantly different than most people think. The unemployment rate for non-college graduates between the ages of 25 and 34 is around 7.2 percent. Most survey respondents assumed very inaccurate rates for college graduates. Follow this link (The One Question Most Americans Get Wrong About College Graduates) to see how accurate your estimate is and to learn more about the potential value of a college education.
One thing to note: this article does not differentiate between types of jobs or levels of pay.

Total Eclipse – Learn While it Happens

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is the ability to take advantage of learning opportunities presented by significant events as they happen. There are no artificially imposed calendar restraints. The upcoming August 21, 2017, total eclipse is a case in point. Just because the 2018 school year does not officially start for students until August 22nd does not mean students shouldn’t learn about the eclipse while it is in the news.
NASA has produced some nice instructional materials related to the upcoming (August 21, 2017) total eclipse. Included are ideas for family activities, lesson plans, and other resources. Interestingly, this is what appears to be a new NASA Homeschool web page available on their website. Also, be sure to read NASA’s safety page before you try to see the solar eclipse.
Another recommended site deals specifically with the total eclipse in Alaska. Spoiler alert, it will be a partial eclipse in Alaska.
I received these links from my friend, and former KPBSD science teacher, who currently works indirectly with NASA’s education wing.
Enjoy your learning.

Don't Forget Physical Activity

Americans are not active enough. I don’t expect any pushback on that statement. Childhood and adult obesity have been in the headlines for quite some time. More exercise and a healthier diet are things most of us strive for.

2016 Fat Bike Experience in Homer

Something many people might not realize is how important physical activity is for learning. Yes, physical activity can lead to improvements in reading and writing. A recent article I read describes a study in Finland that linked sedentary behaviors in 1st grade to fewer gains in reading in the 2nd and 3rd grade. (See: Boys Who Sit Still Have a Harder Time Learning to Read) Physical activity is important for all children, and it seems that boys benefit even more from such activity.
Much research supports the findings of this study. A Fit Body Means a Fit Mind details how some schools found increased gains with students struggling in language arts and math when those students were given PE immediately before their study sessions. Exercise before standardized tests also seem to correlate with better results.
In addition to academic gains, exercise can also lead to a happier life. Exercise lowers anxiety, reduces stress, and decreases your odds of getting sick. (Check out Being Active:  The Facts for more benefits of exercise.) With all these benefits, remember to build regular exercise into your children’s schedule. Also, remember to teach by example. By showing your kids that exercise is important to you, they are much more likely to adopt exercise as part of their healthy lifestyle.
Homeschool Open Gym – Tuesdays

If the winter weather is making it more difficult for the kids to get out and play, consider the home school open gym Tuesdays from 12 till 2.

Is College for All?

avtec-tourLast Friday, we joined a group of students and parents on a tour of Alaska’s Institute of Technology (AVTEC) in Seward. ( Our tour guide, Rachel, gave us a whirlwind tour of most of AVTEC’s programs, showed us the dorms, the cafeteria, and student recreational facilities. One common message heard from all the AVTEC personnel was the importance of being on time, and showing up ready to work. I think everyone was impressed and most thought how nice it was to have a facility like AVTEC as close as Seward.
The AVTEC experience made me think of a series of articles/reports I recently read, “The Path Least Taken” from The Center For Public Education. Greatly simplified, the takeaway from the reports is that high school graduates who complete rigorous high school math and science classes, and obtain a career certification, earn higher wages than four year college graduates. Click this link to read The Path Least Taken.
None of this is to say that college is not a good option. For many people, college is an appropriate step toward success. Still, the idea of “college for everyone,” might lead some to pass up great opportunities. Many people are successful without going to college. Plumbers, electricians, welders, and other skilled professionals, are always in demand and provide well for their families.  Students should be encouraged to explore all their opportunities. Learning a skill, like the skills taught at AVTEC, can be a great path to success.

Homeschooling – Ahead of the Trend

I just read an article about how “student-centered” learning is the future of education. Imagine that!
I prefer using the term “personalized learning,” but the idea is the same. Provide students with learning opportunities based on their interests and passions, at a time and place when and where the student is ready. Effective learning is not limited to classrooms, lectures, formal research projects, and other activities typically associated with “school.” Learning happens everywhere, all the time. This concept is gaining momentum among educational thinkers.
Homeschool parents are ahead of the trend. Many homeschool families have recognized the diverse learning opportunities avaialable to students. I often refer to an infographic from KnowledgeWorks’ Forecast 3.0:  A Glimpse into the Future of Learning. This glimpse of the future makes many predictions:

  • “School” will take many forms.
  • Learning will not be defined by time and space.
  • Learners and families will create individualized learning playlists.
  • Radical personalization will become the norm.
  • Geographic and virtual communities will take ownership of learning in new ways.
  • “As more people take it upon themselves to find solutions, a new wave of social innovation will help address resource constraints and other challenges.”

As an educator, I see these ideas coming to fruition. Working with homeschoolers, I see the incredible things students accomplish when the above ideas are put into action.
Here is a link  to the article that spurred this post:  Student-Centered Learning Can Modernize Schools:  Our education system isn’t broken; it’s outdated.

Getting Ready For the New School Year

Yes, the new school year is nearly here for most students on the Kenai Peninsula. I hope everyone reading this had a great summer. While I don’t like the idea of losing the ability to go fishing anytime, or just sitting out and enjoying the sun, I am looking forward to the opportunities this new school year brings.
I’m a big believer in the continuous growth mindset. Essentially, this means we should always look for potential areas of growth (improvement), then actively seek out ways to improve.  This is a three step process. The first step is to identify an area for improvement. For me, one area identified for this year is communications between Connections and the families we work with. The second step is to identify action items that can lead to improvement. We will be trying a few different things at Connections this year to improve our communications. (Specifics will be forthcoming.) Of course, the third (and most difficult) step is actually performing the action items identified in step 2.  Part of the growth mindset is realizing that what we try might not work. If not, then we reevaluate and try again.
A student getting ready for the new school year can follow the same process. A high school student might identify staying current (not getting behind) in classes as a growth area in which they could improve. Many students start a new school year with such a thought. The next step, and the one often overlooked, is to identify an action item (or items) that can move the student in that direction. Perhaps scheduling specific times to work on different classes would help a student stay up-to-date. Parents can play a huge role in facilitating the development and adherence to a growth plan like this. The adherence to the plan, step 3, is the key to success.
Here’s to a new school year. May our growth efforts be successful.

Preschool – Get Out and Play

I recently came across an article I found quite interesting.

Free-range kids: Nature-based preschools growing in the Duluth area

by:  Jana Hollingsworth
The article exposes the growing popularity of outdoor preschools in Duluth, MN. The premise of these programs is that young children learn best from unstructured, outdoor play. This is not a new concept. Homeschool/unschool author John Holt and others have bemoaned the loss of unstructured play for quite some time.
One of the things mentioned in the article is the value of children playing together in an unstructured way. The most difficult thing for adults can be to stay out of the kids way. Also interesting is that these programs don’t go indoors when the weather turns cold, although they do go in to avoid lightning. Their motto, when it comes to weather, is “no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
As you consider preschool opportunities for your children you might want to think about building in plenty of time for unstructured, outdoor play.

Graduation Night

Graduation is a special time for students, families, and teachers. Last night, at the Soldotna High School Auditorium, we celebrated the completion of high school for some of our Connections’ students.
Connections’ graduation ceremony is a unique event. It is special, and fitting, that parents have the opportunity to share in the awarding of diplomas and congratulations. As principal, it is very rewarding to be able to say a little about each graduate. When you hear all those stories at one time it is hard not to be somewhat awed by the amazing young people graduating into the “real world.”
As Valedictorian, Autumn Baker, pointed out in her speech, commencement is a congratulatory celebration for graduates. However, commencement is also the beginning of something. As we congratulate our graduates for competing high school, we are really celebrating the potential they have to achieve success in the future. After hearing the graduates stories, I think it is safe to say that the future will be bright for the Connections’ Graduating Class of 2016.

When do you study math?

244px-3_Colour_Flowers_Problem.svgBelieve it or not, research shows some times of day are better than other to study certain subjects. You might be surprised by some of the findings.

According to the research, students who took math classes in the morning had higher grades and performed better on standardized tests than students in afternoon classes. Students taking English classes in the morning had higher grades, but did not show better results on standardized tests.
Click here to read the article.
We (the Connections team) always recommend setting a schedule for your home studies. Learning to follow a routine is an important skill for students to learn. Having a schedule is one of the common factors we recognize as a “key for success.” When you make your schedule consider what subjects will be studied first, and which will be last. The above mentioned research indicates that you might want to put math near the top of list. It is also a good idea to not schedule a “least favorite” subject as the last subject of the day. Scheduling something fun at the end of the day promotes finishing on a positive note. Now, if math happens to be your students favorite class, that leaves you with a bit of a quandary. I’d love to hear how you solve that one.

Welcome to The Principal's Office

While getting sent to, or going to, the principal’s office might carry some negative memories for those of us who grew up in the brick-and-mortar school system, this principal’s office is different.
I’ve spent a good portion of this first  year as principal of the Connections Homeschool Program trying to figure out how to better communicate with our home school families. The first thing I wanted to do was find a way to share student achievements. We’ve got students doing amazing things. I want to focus a spotlight on those students. There have also been times I’ve wanted to reflect on an event, share and article, or review a book that home school families might find interesting and useful.
The Principal’s Office will be my attempt to share with the Connections’ homeschool community. I’m not a seasoned blogger. I will be learning as I go. I’m also not trying to become a blogger that will gain fame or fortune with my prose. My goal is to provide information for Connections’ families. I hope you find The Principal’s Office a useful, friendly place to go.
Rich Bartolowits
Principal, Connections

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