HATS OFF – Sitka High School graduates toss their mortarboards in the air after receiving their degrees Monday night in the Sitka High gym. This year 74 seniors graduated in a ceremony that included addresses by teacher Howard Wayne and class representative Nai’a Nelson, a performance by the symphonic band and a video of graduates. A car parade was held after the ceremony. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Sitka DDF Coach Named To Alaska Hall of Fame


Sentinel Staff Writer

One of the state’s winningest high school coaches was inducted into the Alaska High School Hall of Fame in a ceremony earlier this month in Anchorage.

“I was just so honored,” said Stacey Wayne, the Sitka High School English teacher who coached the drama, debate and forensics team for 25 years, and led the team to multiple state titles.  

Sam Woolsey presents the hall of fame award to his mother, Stacey Wayne. (Photo Provided)

Wayne was the sole activity sponsor inducted – the others were athletes, coaches, a referee, a donor and a “lifetime achievement” recipient. The ceremony was held May 7 at the Lakefront Anchorage hotel.

Wayne also was the keynote speaker introducing the other award recipients. Her son Sam Woolsey, an Anchorage teacher, introduced her and presented Wayne with her plaque.

She said she was moved by the letters of support and the nomination, which not only honors her coaching work and the team’s achievements, but the culture she created among team members and the way she provided an activity that was welcoming to all for more than two decades. 

“And I really do feel so proud of the work I did with the DDF team,” she said. “I think back on all the kids I worked with and what DDF was to them, kind of like a family for them in school, it was a place to belong. It gave them acceptance.”

Her fondest memories with the team were the team building traditions they created together, games they played on trips, Secret Santas and Valentine’s Day parties.

“I always think of those as more memorable than a competition,” she said.

One of the letters of support came from the current Sitka High DDF coach, Christian Litten, who was on Wayne’s team as a student. In his letter, he noted Wayne’s impacts on students and the lasting legacy of the team.

“She engaged in a way I hadn’t known other teachers to do and helped push me to be a strong actor and public speaker when I was a student,” Litten said.  

Wayne, 59, is the youngest of three children in the Wayne family. Her brother, Howard Wayne, teaches social studies at Sitka High; her other brother, Dan, is an attorney in Juneau. Both of Stacey’s children are teachers – daughter Caitlin Woolsey at Sitka High, and Sam at East High in Anchorage.

Wayne was born in Santa Barbara California, where her dad taught and ran a theater program. After moving for a short time to Colorado, mom and dad (Kathy and Phil Wayne), found teaching jobs in Alaska, where mom was a reading specialist and dad taught elementary school in Wrangell.

Stacey was active in sports, playing basketball, volleyball and softball. Her brothers played baseball.

“I was a pretty mediocre athlete,” she said. “I’m pretty small but I love being an athlete and love the competition. If they had DDF, that probably would’ve been a strength for me.”

She graduated from high school in 1982, and went on to Stanford University where she earned an undergraduate degree in English, and a master’s in teaching. With a shortage of teachers at nearby Los Altos High School, she was hired as a part time English teacher while earning her master’s.

Did she want to come back to Alaska?

“Desperately wanted to come back,” she said. “I missed the water and the mountains and the small towns. ... I was excited to get home.”

She received job offers in her hometown of Wrangell, as well as Sitka. She thought Sitka might be a better fit, since she wouldn’t be working with teachers who had taught her. Part of the job here was coaching the drama and forensics team, and running the theater program. Initially there was no debate program, but later Sarah Bell started one. Over the years, Wayne worked also with debate specialists and co-coaches Randy Hughey and Cheryl Hedden.

Wayne started small with a few members the first year, 1988, and ended up taking two to state. 

“It wasn’t long before the team was huge,” she said. “I’d have 40 or 50 showing up for practice, and we’d take 15 to state at the end of the year, so it was competitive.” 

But she also noticed early on that the draw was not as much being a part of a state champion team, but the social component. 

“I liked the team aspect,” she said.

After retiring in 2013, she stayed involved on the DDF scene, serving as tournament director for the statewide meet when it was hosted in Juneau. She also keeps track of her former students, some of whom are building on their DDF experience and enthusiasm to become coaches.

Besides Litten, other Sitka DDF alums are SHS co-coach Amy Ainslie; Ashley (Howey) Snookes, who coached at Thunder Mountain High School; Owen Fulton and Chaya Pike, who started a DDF team in Metlakatla; and son Sam Woolsey, who coached at West High and is currently a coach at Bettye Davis East High School. 

During her years at Sitka High, Wayne taught English, drama, debate and speech, and started the mock trial team, encouraged by her brother, Howard. Both of her kids became competitors in high school and were members of state championship DDF teams.  

Wayne has been active on the theater scene, while teaching and since then after retiring. She and her friends organized their children into a theater company Sitka Children’s Theater, and put on plays for the public. She directed “Moon Over Buffalo” for the Greater Sitka Arts Council’s Sitka Community Theater.

Wayne has stayed busy since retiring. For the past five years she has served as a mediator for the state court system, working mostly on cases involving families.

“I’m learning a lot about family law, which is interesting to me, and I feel it’s really vital work because you are helping people in really one of the most difficult situations in their lives,” she said.

She and her husband, Bart Meyer, have two commercial fishing permits, and Wayne has become active in fish politics, serving on the Fish and Game Advisory Committee.

Wayne said she was honored to have been selected for this rare honor and says she owes a lot to those who contributed to the DDF program.




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May 2004

Dr. Arthur Cleveland, a former dean at Columbus State University in Georgia, was named the new president of Sheldon Jackson College, SJC officials announced today. He will be replacing C. Carlyle Haaland, who has held the position for four years.


May 1974

Coaching and managing the Little League teams this year are John Abbott and John Calhoun, ANB; Dale and DeWayne Vilandre, Alaska Federal; Walt Barker, Elks; Frank Simmons and Frank Vilandre, Lions; Leo Bacon, Pat Ness, Cliff Robards and Bob Edenso, Moose; and Everett Webb, Sportsmen. Head umpire is Carl Karpstein.


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