A grass-roots coalition of Alaskans who advocate for public education launched a weeklong celebration of the state's schools Monday, with activities ranging from music to ice skating to a series of student speakers.
Deena Mitchell, a co-founder of the Great Alaska Schools coalition, said the group hopes to showcase students' stories and the everyday successes that happen in classrooms.
"It's really about focusing on the positives for a while and not always focusing on the negatives," said Mitchell, mentioning reports of low statewide standardized test scores and test scores that fall below the national average.
On Monday, people gathered into the historic Pioneer Schoolhouse in downtown Anchorage where Mayor Ethan Berkowitz issued a proclamation celebrating public schools week, and several students shared stories about what's happening in the city's schools.
Great Alaska Schools has also taken to Twitter to celebrate public schools, asking people to use the hashtag "#PublicSchoolsPublicGood" on Tuesday to thank those in schools who make a difference and to use the same hashtag Wednesday to thank businesses and other organizations that support schools.
Here's the schedule for the rest of the week:
• Thursday: Great Alaska Schools will hold a four-hour event starting at 4 p.m. at The Mall at Sears featuring student musicians and storytellers.
• Friday: A free 2 p.m. screening of the movie "Go Public" at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub. The Chugiak-Eagle River Branch Library will screen "Akeelah and the Bee" at 4 p.m.
• Saturday: Shuttles will run every 15 minutes from noon to 3 p.m. to and from Anchorage's Romig Middle School for ice skating at Westchester Lagoon.
Alyse Galvin, another co-founder of Great Alaska Schools, said she and others in the coalition paid for the Bear Tooth movie screening, while many items were donated like baked goods and a sound system. The National Education Association teacher union helped print fliers, while the Anchorage Education Association paid for the shuttle buses, she said.
Galvin said she hopes this week's events highlight schools' community partnerships, teachers and student programs, like the apprenticeships offered through the school district. She said she also hopes it boosts morale.