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The Grand Opening of the Lower Yukon School District’s Kusilvak Career Academy

ribbon cutting ceremony An ASD King Tech High School student and an LYSD student cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the Kusilvak Career Academy.

On Wednesday, November 7, surrounded by superintendents, school board members, and state representatives from both the Anchorage and Lower Yukon School Districts, students cut a black and orange ribbon signifying the grand opening of the new home for 42 Lower Yukon School District students.

Just over one year ago, the Lower Yukon School District (LYSD) and the Anchorage School District embarked on an innovative mission to expand Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities to students in the rural LYSD.

LYSD Superintendent Hannibal Anderson is committed to creating access to career pathways for his students and increasing their graduation rate, which is currently at 60 percent. Studies show that students enrolled in at least one CTE course have a graduation rate of 94 percent.

LYSD and ASD staff and board members celebrate the opening of the Kusilvak Career Academy Pictured: (From left to right) LYSD Director of Human Resources Gene Stone, LYSD CTE & Residential Director Conrad Woodhead, King Tech High School Principal Kern McGinley, ASD CTE Director Missy Fraze, Anchorage Respresentative Matt Claman, LYSD School Board member, LYSD Superintendent Hannibal Anderson, LYSD School Board member, ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop, ASD School Board President Starr Marsett, Anchorage Assembly Member Forrest Dunbar, ASD School Board Member Deena Mitchell, Anchorage Represntative Jennifer Johnston, and ASD School Board Member Alisha Hilde.

Concerned that they would not be able to attract industry instructors to their remote district, LYSD reached out to ASD last fall to form a strong partnership. With both school boards excited about the partnership and the program, LYSD purchased the Alaskan Long House Hotel in Anchorage and have been renovating it for its new purpose—student housing.

The LYSD students will be housed at the Kusilvak Career Academy for nine weeks at a time, taking afternoon industry classes at King Tech High School. LYSD students will take courses like carpentry, welding, criminal justice, cosmetology, aviation tech, and more at King Tech. Earlier in the day, they will take online courses at the Academy, receiving assistance from certified teachers and aids.

The current students are a week and a half into their first session. The second session will commence in January, and the third in March. LYSD juniors and seniors may apply for the program and can return as many times as they are accepted.


Morgan DuClos