ALASKAN FLAVOR – Young dancers Eloise Branch, Ella Haley Colliver, Maddox Dozier, Molly Hames, Maddy McDevitt, Aurora Phillips and Annie White emerge from the skirt of Mother Ginger, played by Jill Kisaka, during a rehearsal for “The Nutcracker” Wednesday. The Alaska-themed ballet opens 7 p.m. tonight at the Performing Arts Center. Tickets are on sale at and at the door. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Local School Teams Strong at DDF Opener


Sentiinel Staff Writer

Sitka High and Mt. Edgecumbe High drama, debate and forensics teams got off to a solid start to the season at a meet Saturday in Haines, coaches report.

“It’s looking like it’ll be a very strong season,” said Christian Litten, who, along with Amy Ainslie, coaches the SHS team.

The Sitka High drama, debate and forensics squad take a team photo Sunday following a successful meet in Haines, where they also visited the Hammer Museum. (Photo provided)

MEHS drama, debate and forensics team members Hannah McEwen and Sebastian Hadley compete in improv duet acting at the meet in Haines recently. (Photo provided)

“We literally had our first meeting for the season 11 days ago,” Braves coach Lynn Bastoky said. “So I’m very excited about where they will go from here.”

Schools in the meet were from Sitka, Mt. Edgecumbe, Haines, Juneau, Skagway and Metlakatla.

Sitka High School

Litten said both rookies and seasoned competitors logged solid performances at the first meet, where actors and speakers could use a script and were not required to recite from memory.

That will change with the next meet, which will be in Metlakatla October 13 and 14.

Aiden Lafriniere, a junior, was pleased with his performances, racking up a win in duo interpretation with Sally Everson, and another first place in solo. He also entered debate.

His solo piece is from a TV show, “The Bear,” in which he portrays Carmen, a restaurant owner, at a 12-step meeting talking about his brother, who died of an overdose.

“It’s a good one because it tackles brother relationships, and that kind of stuff,” Lafriniere said.

Commenting on why he thought it scored well with judges, he said he thought it was relatable on several points.

“There’s been a big ... drug overdose epidemic, with fentanyl being so widely used in a lot of jobs, and pretty easily available to a lot of people. I feel like that just hits a lot of people. The piece also hits a little bit on bad relationships and family.”

Lafriniere is also in duo acting with Everson, in a comedic piece about competitive geocaching.

It was the first meet for freshman Abbigail Mosley, who said she’s glad she turned out for DDF, even though it’s a new activity for her. She placed fourth in debate, with Francis Myers.

“I was really nervous about it at first, and it took a while for me to actually decide to do it, but I really have enjoyed it,” she said.

She described competing in debate as “scary but actually a lot of fun.” She was paired with a returning debater, sophomore Francis Myers, and also competed in duet and duet improv acting with Naomi Capp. She’s looking forward to preparing a solo for the next meet.

Mosley said the meet and activity in general exceeded expectations.

“I thought it was going to feel a lot more competitive, but everyone is so nice, and everyone encourages you,” she said.

SHS Results

Extemporaneous commentary: 1. Danica Majeski; 2. Isabelle Schmetzer; 4. Nadine Fikrah

Extemporaneous speaking: 3. Felix Myers; 6. Eliot Holloway

Informative speaking: 1. Matthew Pepper; 4. Olivia Skan

Original Oratory: 1. Isabelle Schmetzer; 4. Sarah Todd; 5. Enzo Germano

Dramatic interpretation: 1. Kylie Orlando; 2. Ben Hedrick

Humorous Interp: 1. Kylie Orlando; 3. Eliot Holloway; 4. Francis Myers; 5. Ben Hedrick

Duo interpretation: 1. Aiden Lafriniere and Sally Everson; 2. Caellum Wentzel and Zoe Trafton; 3. Matthew Pepper and Reagean Wingard

Duet acting: 1. Schmetzer and Felix Myers; 2. Holloway and Hedrick; 5. Fikrah and Skan; 6. Liam Laybourn and Lilac Newman

Solo acting: 1. Lafriniere; 2. Orlando; 3. Todd; 5. Skan

Readers Theater: 3. Laybourn, Newman, Pepper and Wingard

Public forum debate: 1 Schmetzer and Hawlet Cohen; 3. Laybourn, Wingard and Felix Myers; 4. Abbi Mosley and Francis Myers.

Mt. Edgecumbe

Coach Bastoky said every student in improv duet acting, extemporary commentary, extemporary speaking and dramatic interpretation advanced to the final round in those events.

“At the first tournament, the final debate is more of a showcase of good debaters than a true finals round,” Bastoky said. The student chosen to represent MEHS in the mixed team final debate was Cash Arrington, paired with a student from Juneau.

“They won a really rough debate, unanimously,” the coach said. “Cash received many, many compliments on his performance.”

In regular debate rounds overall, Hayden Raasch and Cactus Smyth took second. Four MEHs debaters ranked in the top 10 for speaker points: Cash Arrington in first, Atigun Pensley in third, and Hayden Raasch in fourth. Elliot Gill also made the top 10, Bastoky said.

The coach also collected some comments from students:

Cash Arrington (senior, Nome): “We all tried our best and did really well and MEHS as a team stepped up and owned this meet.”

Cactus Smyth (Golovin, junior): “The MEHS acted as a team and everyone, not just our team, was super supportive. It was pretty nice.”

Sage Martin (junior, Port Alexander): “It was fun.”

Kai Pelowook (junior, Wales: “It was short, but it was fun. I stepped out a bit more this time.”

MEHS Results

ExTemp: 1. Arrington; 2. Raasch. Also finaling were Atigun Pensley and Sage Martin.

Improv duet acting finalists: Camron Isaak and Eva Nay; Abigail Ayapan and Cactus Smyth; Hannah McEwen with Sebastian Hadley

Extemp Commentary finalist: Emily Hill

Dramatic Interpretation finalists: Emily Hill, Abigail Ayapan, and Hannah McEwen

Duet Acting finalists: Emily Hill with Cash Arrington

Pantomime: 1. Camron Isaak, and Hannah McEwen. Also finaling were Sebastian Hadley and Sage Martin

Original Oratory: Hayden Raasch

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

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 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






October 2003

Sitka’s new city engineer, Dan Jones, 51, says his nearly 30 years in the field has given him qualifications for all aspects of his new post. ... He replaces Milt Ludington, who has moved to a different position in the city public works department.



October 1973

One of the most active organizations around town this fall has been the Sitka High Drill Team, the Wolverettes. A spaghetti feed Saturday is the latest project.


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