In 2015, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff began asking students, staff, educators, parents and community members to start telling their golden stories.
The tales have been told at events, among student leadership groups and posted the school district’s social media pages to increase transparency and illuminate the unique adventures happening around the school district, she said.
“Golden stories offer people a window into the wonderful and meaningful things that take place in our schools,” Erkeneff said.
She recalls one in particular about a soon-to-be second grader Sean Moonin in Nanwalek, who wanted him and his classmates to receive perfect attendance records, called “Eagle Days.” The year before, he had missed more than 30 days by himself, so to correct that for an entire class was quite a feat.
“He would arrive at school early, see who was missing, and then go to their homes in the village knocking on doors, to wake his classmates up,” Erkeneff said.
At the end of the year, Nanwalek School Principal Nancy Kleine awarded his class with Subway sandwiches and cookies.
Moonin’s story is only one of many.
“In February, at our first Key Communicator Collaboration event, we invited the 80 participants to reflect on a golden story that took place in the KPBSD, then share with one other person, then at their tables,” Erkeneff said. “For nearly 30 minutes smiles, laughter, listening, and appreciation for one another and our schools rippled through the room.”
Another story that took hold was the school district’s Unified Track Team Race between Soldotna High School and Homer High School students. Former student representative on the Board of Education Brian Dusek, also the head of Soldotna high’s leadership team, was one of the competitors. He and his teammate Malikhi Hansen took part in the 400-meter sprint, the shot put, long jump and a relay. Hansen’s photo ended up on the school district’s social media site and caused quite a buzz at the high school, Dusek said.
He shared the experience via videoconferencing with other leadership school district leadership teams, a common practice the groups took this year while collaborating online.
With a massive school district and school sites that are considerably spread out, it isn’t often students find out their peers, like those at Seward High School, held their prom on a boat this year for example, Dusek said.
“I think it really benefits everybody — in a way, globalizes us to our school district if that makes sense,” he said.
Erkeneff said she got the inspiration for the concept last summer when she saw a book reminding her of her childhood stories, called “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book.”
“Stories are happening every day in our schools and communities that illustrate learning, connections, care, and inspiration for our students, staff, and community,” Erkeneff said. “There are little things that happen every day in our schools that people rarely hear about.”
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org.