I spent last Sunday evening, Monday, and Tuesday at the Manokotak school. I was chaperoning three girls from our student council at the district’s first student council retreat. I would chaperone those three girls anywhere. It was probably the easiest chaperoning job I ever had to do. I tried to stay active and involved in the activities they were doing, while at the same time writing finals and reviews for my classes. Drew, one of my students, asked me why I was ALWAYS on my computer. I just told her it takes a lot of work to keep up with all the questions she asks me every day. It was fun to see another village in our district and to see another student council at work. The only thing I would have changed about the trip was the air mattress. Tim had our good one at wrestling regionals. Since he returned a day late he never had a chance to hand it off to me. This left me with the old air mattress that had a couple holes in it. I brought along some packing tape, thinking I could just tape them up really well . . . that doesn’t work. One night I went to bed at 11:00 pm and was on the floor by 11:15 pm. In case you didn’t know, the floors in Manokotak school are pretty hard.
Tim students must think he abandoned them. Am I doing the same?
I was tired when I came back from Manokotak, but happy to get back to my classroom. Having a substitute is so much harder than just teaching class yourself. I went straight to the school on Tuesday afternoon to see what got accomplished when the sub was there and to set up for class the next day. Wednesday morning I woke up to a VERY dark room. You never realize how many little lights are on in your house until the power goes out. I was a bit confused when I woke up. I wasn’t sure if I was in Manokotak or at home. It finally hit me that I was at home and my power was out. I got up and realized that I had slept in an hour (no power, no alarm). I quickly went to the shower but found that we also had no water. Wonderful. When you sleep at someone else’s school for two nights, you don’t get to take a shower. I was overdue! I grabbed my towel and bathroom bag, shoved it in my backpack, and headed to the school, hoping that I would have enough time to shower there and prepare for class even with my sleeping in.
The school also had no water or power. After about an hour of no success getting the power back on, my principal informed us we were on an hour delay. We teachers couldn’t do anything but wait. It’s hard to work in your rooms with no power, especially when the sun doesn’t rise until after 10:00 am. Finally at 9:40 am, we got an official word that school was cancelled. I couldn’t have been happier. I really didn’t want to see my students with 3 days of grease built up on my body. To make it even better, my friend Heather told me her water was working and it was hot! To Heather's house I went.
Day 3 of the week had come and gone and I had yet to see my students. Thursday came and, because of icy roads, school started an hour late. I was able to teach a couple classes and then had to have a substitute again because I had a meeting to attend over distant delivery with all the science teachers in the district. (My students were quickly getting untrained with all these substitutes!) Finally, by Friday I got to teach my own classes. I swore to myself that I’m never having a substitute again . . . until January 13th when I have my next science teacher meeting.
I guess I made up for the all the time I was away from the school at the beginning of the week. On Friday, the student council hosted an all night lock-in. The doors were locked at 11:00 pm and the students were not released until 6:00 am on Saturday. This means that I arrived at school on Friday morning at 7:00 am and, with the exception of an hour and a half to get dinner, I didn’t leave the school until Saturday morning at 7:00 am. 22.5 hours at the school in a 24 hour time period: that was a long day! The lock-in went fairly well. We had a lot of support and help from the teachers and the students were well behaved. I hope they all had fun. Activities included movies, video games, board games, food relays, basketball tournaments, and open gym time. We also had a great concessions stand and some free food. My body is still trying to recover from staying up all night long. Maybe by Monday I’ll be back to normal.
State wrestling was held in Nikiski, near Kenai. Unfortunately, I can’t report much on how it went and what’s been going on with Tim the last week . . . as mentioned before, I haven’t seen him for 10 days. I do know that his wrestler is spending every spare minute in the hotel pool. (There are no pools in Togiak.) I also know that he didn’t win his matches. Tim was supposed to start flying home today and make it as far as Dillingham, but bad weather rerouted them to Anchorage. I hope they get home tomorrow, but you never know in bush Alaska. At least he gets to see roads and big stores while he’s out. That’s always a treat for us.
Dangers of “Warm” Weather
I used to think that the weather here was not that bad because it really didn’t get that cold. We had way colder winters in Rexburg. I’m learning though that sometimes cold is better than warm. The last couple of weeks here have been in the low 30’s. This means freezing rain. The roads have been so icy that many days you can’t go anywhere and if you do, you have to drive extremely slowly. Last week I went down the hill at about 10-15 mph and was still fishtailing on my 4-wheeler. On Saturday afternoon I went to the school. (Yes, right after I had spent the entire night there; you’d think I can’t get enough of that place.) It was really icy and really windy. As I stepped off my 4-wheeler, the wind starting blowing me across the parking lot. Because it was so icy I had no traction to keep me in place. I grabbed for my 4-wheeler to anchor myself and it just blew across the parking lot with me. I quickly let go and struggled in an attempt to get back to it to retrieve my bag. Finally I realized the only way I was moving anywhere was to crawl. So here is Mrs. Phillips on a Saturday afternoon crawling across the empty school parking lot. I made it back to the 4-wheeler, retrieved my bag, and stood up to head toward the front doors of the school, but it was hopeless. The wind just kept blowing me away from the front doors. It was too icy for me to try to walk against the wind. So I finally just concentrated on keeping my balance. The wind blew me about 50 feet away to a patch of snow where I could finally get some traction. As soon as I made it into the building I texted Heather (who lives in the school parking lot) and warned her that she had to wear her ice cleats to make it the 100 feet from her doorstep to the school. Maybe -20 F wouldn’t be that bad.