School Board Picks Mork, Guevin for Seats

By GARLAND KENNEDY

Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka School Board voted Wednesday to appoint Tristan Guevin and Mitch Mork to fill the two vacancies on the board.

The two openings on the five-person board were created with the resignations of Amy Morrison and Andrew Hames. Morrison is leaving town, and Hames has accepted a teaching job at Sitka High School.

Guevin and Mork will hold the seats for just under four months, until the municipal general election Oct. 4.

All three of the active board members voted in favor of Guevin and Mork, who were among five applicants for the positions.

Mork, a retired engineer, said in his letter of interest to the board that his specialty is “challenging assumptions and coming up with hybrid ideas that often resulted in win-win solutions. This work experience will provide value in facilities related decisions… I have seen the outcome of a quality education and seek to promote an environment that allows the administration and teachers to maximize the potential of our kids.”

Mork also pointed to his role as a classroom volunteer at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary. 

In an interview conducted digitally at the special School Board meeting, Mork said he looks forward to working on the school budget.

“I see the value of education and if I can help I want to… (The role of a board member is) to help the superintendent create policies and make decisions on budgets; I think those are the primary things,” he said.

While Mork was interviewed remotely, the other four candidates were physically present.

Board member Blossom Teal-Olsen supported Mork’s candidacy as a way of getting someone deeply connected to Sitka onto the board.

“One of my aspects of being on the board has been trying to get more people on board who are Sitka High graduates,” she said. “He also was very involved within the community. And I say that because as a board member throughout this process… I have had numerous people come up and endorse Mr. Mork.”

Another board member, Paul Rioux, said he, too, had received favorable comments about Mork.

“We got a huge slate of wonderful people interested in this community to pick from. It kind of sucks to have to pick two,” Rioux said. “I’ve never met Mr. Mork. There’s certainly a lot of public response in favor of Mr. Mork. It sounds like he’s very active in a lot of youth activities and volunteering in the classroom. So there was kind of a little bit of a wave of support that I saw from different parents in the district and teachers. So that’s always a good sign as well.”

Board member Todd Gebler called Mork’s mindset “refreshing.”

“He doesn’t seem to be the kind of guy to look at a problem and just say, ‘Well, this is the way we’ve done it forever, so it must be right.’ He’ll challenge that and come up with a different perspective,” Gebler said.

In his interview with the board Guevin said he hopes to focus on educational equity.

“If you look at current data, historical data, and just talk to people, you realize that there are inequities in terms of access, in terms of opportunities, in terms of outcomes,” Guevin said. “And those are largely based on race, socio-economic status and for students with disabilities.”

He said he thinks public education plays a huge role in providing equity, “ensuring that every student has the same opportunities.”

He said his priorities were “academic achievement, graduation rates, supporting students’ mental health, ensuring that they’re ready for life after high school.”

Rioux said Guevin is especially qualified as a replacement for Hames on the board.

“One of the things that stuck out most to me about Tristan’s comments is that he took part in the strategic planning process,” Rioux said. “Andrew was our board member who had gone through that process and he was most familiar with it.”

Also in consideration for appointment to the board were Valorie Nelson, Laurie Serka and Sarah Harris.

Mork was not present to be sworn in, but Guevin took the oath of office and joined the board for the vote on officers for the year. Teal-Olsen was elected president, Gebler vice president and Rioux clerk. The four members hit a stalemate in choosing a vice president. After multiple votes, a majority of ballots were in favor of Gebler.

The board’s next regular meeting will be at Harrigan Centennial Hall on August 17, a few days before the school year begins.

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AK COVID-19

At a Glance

(updated 9-28-22)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:15 pm Wednesday, September 28.

New cases as of Wednesday: 546

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 282,928

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,329

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,955

Case Rate per 100,000 – 74.91

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "High.'' Case statistics are as of Wednesday.

Case Rate per 100,000 – 117.30

Cases in last 7 days – 10

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,358

Hospitalizations (to date) – 29

Deceased (cumulative) – 7

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.

 

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20 YEARS AGO

September 2002

Photo caption: Bus drivers Derrell John and Sabrina Smith stand next to the new Community Ride buses at Crescent Harbor bus stop, which serves as a transfer point. The two public transportation buses will run two routes, one along Halibut Point Road, the other along Sawmill Creek Road. 

50 YEARS AGO

September 1972

 Photo caption: Bill Willis, the new owner-manager of the Dip’n’ Sip in the Triune Building serves up another ice cream cone for a pleased customer. Bill and his wife Dorothy purchased the business from JoAnne Harris. Along with the ice cream treats, sandwiches and soups will be added to the menu.

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