FIRST DAY – Baranof Elementary School paraprofessional Brooke Rivera helps kindergartner Andrei Kyrie Joaquin find his class as children line up for school this morning. Today was the first day of school for a third of the kindergarten class, which was divided into three groups. The final group of kindergartners begins school Monday. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

August 19, 2015 Community Happenings

Parks, Recreation

Committee Meets

The Sitka Parks and Recreation Committee will hold a public meeting regarding the future of Halibut Point Park 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 26, at the Sealing Cove Business Center, 601 Alice Loop. Public input on management options for Halibut Point Park will be sought.

For more information, call Lynne Brandon at 747-1852.


Artist to Make Her Point

With Film, Improv Dance


Ellie Schmidt. (Photo provided)

In 2013, Ellie Schmidt hung porcelain sculptures of coral from a gallery ceiling and projected colorful video onto them.

It was her senior thesis project for the studio art program at Carleton College, and it was designed as an awareness-raising artistic response to the coral bleaching crisis, whereby coral reefs turn white and die as the oceans warm. When people walked through the gallery, they stepped between the projection and the sculpture, blocking the video and stripping the color from the coral sculpture. Soon after completing this project, Schmidt read a report that even with a reduction in warming-causing carbon emissions, the impact of humans has already doomed the world’s coral reefs to a slow death in the next 70 years. 

For a time, she was too sad about this fate to make art. 

In her words, “It was this idea that… what can one hopeful student artist do about it? It was almost like I was kidding myself. What if you can’t make a difference at all? I spent a lot of time looking at corn fields in Minnesota because they’re pretty and will never disappear since they feed humans. I painted them.”

Recently, she found inspiration in Alaskan composer John Luther Adams’ piece ‘‘Become Ocean,’’ which is a musical reflection on the changing climate. Schmidt heard an interview with Adams where she says he expressed that “art doesn’t have to provide a stance on climate change or solve climate change, but can provide a space for deep thought and critical thinking that you don’t always get in our black and white world.”

Now in town through the Sitka Fellows Program, Schmidt has spent much of the summer exploring as she develops her next project. She has been collecting footage of underwater and above-ground landscapes around town, which she will use to produce a film that will “deal with the implications of climate change in a way that is honest but not sad or defeatist.” 

Learning about John Luther Adams’ work, she redefined the role that she wanted to hold as an artist, saying “I don’t feel more hopeful about climate change or the degradation of nature, but I do feel like as artists and as storytellers and as people of our generation, it is almost our duty to collect and tell and remember stories.”

This Thursday at 7 p.m. in the yellow dance studio in Allen Hall on the SJ Campus, she will host “an introductory lesson on improvisational dance, which is to say a type of moving meditation that should be fun and relaxing rather than scary.” In explaining the title of the workshop, ‘‘Dancing With Sea Lions,’’ Schmidt recounted, “Once in the Galapagos a sea lion came over when I was snorkeling and it started swimming around like it was trying to dance… Remembering my lessons in improvisational dance I responded to the sea lion. We kind of danced. I almost drowned. It was so much fun. It was the best moment of my life.”

The workshop, which will incorporate music and Schmidt’s underwater film footage, is open to all regardless of age and experience level. Schmidt recommends comfy clothing, and describes the dancing as “Soothing and calming and fun. You just use your body in a way that you’ve never thought to use it before, but it feels awesome and natural.”

The Sitka Fellows Program, now in its fourth year, is a multidisciplinary group residency program which offers time and space to six emerging artists, thinkers, and entrepreneurs from across the country and around the world to develop their personal projects.

Each week features a workshop by one of Fellows, and the program will culminate in an Open Studio event on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. in Odess Theater, during which the fellows will demonstrate their work. The program is coordinated by the Island Institute in partnership with the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, and is made possible through donations from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works program, David and Marge Steward, Sea Mart Quality Foods, and many individual donors. For more information, visit or call 747-3794.


White E Shop:

No Textbooks

The White Elephant Shop staff requests that textbooks and other curriculum materials not be donated as there is not a market for them.

Volunteers end up having to take them to the recycle center. 



Reception Aug. 22

Dave Tonkin and Shannon Callahan’s wedding reception will be held 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Halibut Point Recreation Area.

The couple asks that no presents be  given; however, attendees can take a dish to share and favorite beverage.

‘‘We would like our friends and Sitka family to join us for this wonderful life event,’’ the couple said.


MEHS Meeting for

Students, Parents

New and returning Sitka students enrolled at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, and their parents and guardians, will meet 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, in the cafeteria on the upper campus.

Attendees will be informed of new and existing policies.

Academic Principal Bernie Gurule, Residential Principal Andrew Friske and Residential dormitory contractor Tracy Dupee will discuss their respective programs – the school’s instructional/educational expectations and daily attendance, the after-school and evening tutorial program, recreational opportunities, procedures pertaining to dormitory living and the health, safety and well-being of each student, the school said.

A question-and-answer session will follow. An academic and residential school and campus tour will be available. Call 966-3202 or 966-3228 with questions.


Benefit Concert

Set for Aug. 22

A benefit concert is planned 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, at the Bayview Restaurant and Pub. All proceeds will go directly to those affected by the landslides.

Live music will be from Luke Abbott, Meathead MC, SlackTide, Dirty Skeeze, the Apollo Stone Band and others.

A $20 donation is suggested.



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