Vol. 18

This Week at South Vol. 18


Good Morning South Students, Parents, Staff, and Community Members,


Please find the Weekly Bulletin for January 21st to January 25th (Also Attached)


Part I: The News


Girls Hockey Takes the Ice Amidst Below Zero Temperatures:


Last Friday the South-Bartlett Girls Hockey Team competed in the Outdoor Winter Classic where they blew out Chugiak-Eagle River 10-0. The thermometer registered -5 at the outset of the game. Despite the cold, Freshman Elizabeth Ramsey had a Hat Trick and two assists!  Seniors Laney Millar and Alyse Korosei added one goal each with Senior Alex Donald putting two more in the net;  Sophomore Zella Aspengren scored one goal; and Freshmen Isabel Goolie and Catherine Spangler added one more goal each. Here are the girls in a group photo as well as warming up by the fire. (photo credits: Amy Carman).


Boys Hockey Topples Bartlett:


Despite a valiant attempt by Bartlett’s small, but dedicated team, South Boys Hockey took an emphatic 11-0 victory over the Golden Bears at Ben Boeke on Saturday afternoon. They will face Kenai this Thursday at 4:30 pm at Ben Boeke. 


Boys Basketball Hosts O’Brady Invitational:


The Boys Varsity basketball team hosted the O’Brady tournament through the weekend. South got a strong start with victories over Thunder Mountain on Thursday, and Ketchikan on Friday to make it to the tournament championship game where they ultimately fell to West Valley on Saturday.


Boys JV Basketball Travels to Nikiski:


Departing last Thursday, the Boys JV Basketball team traveled to Nikiski for the 31st Annual Rus Hitchcock Tip Off Tournament. In the course of play both Chris Fuller and Luke Ivanoff were named to the All Tournament Team along with three of their peers from West and Houston high schools.  


Part II: Big Ideas & Their Application


This week I want to begin with a Big Question: What is School Culture? 


The simplest way to answer this question is to say that school culture is made up of the day-to-day, repeated actions and interactions between teachers, students, staff, and community members, and what larger purpose these actions fulfill. The title of Ben Horowitz’s book might capture this idea best.  His book on how Silicon Valley business culture is forged is entitled: What You Do Is Who You Are. In other words, what matters most is the collected actions of a school or business and how those actions communicate its priorities. So, to adapt the title, we might say that South’s culture is made up of: What We Do is Who We Are. 


Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, to which I referred in an earlier newsletter, is also the author of The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. The book is an in-depth study of how culture is created and sustained over time despite changes in group membership. 


In studying groups ranging from a comedy troupe to SEAL Team Six, Coyle found successful groups often have their own language that is embodied in catchphrases, and these catchphrases provide subtle reminders of the key actions each group member should take to sustain the culture.   


Looking back at Volume 16, I included some phrases that I hoped would provide common language and unite our intentions for 2020 at South. They are as follows :


  • Focus Positive
  • Reflect to Improve 
  • Practice Random Acts of Kindness 
  • Find Something for which to be Grateful Everyday 


If we translate these catchphrases to daily actions we might have the means with which to begin to build and sustain a positive climate that seeks continued learning while also building community through kindness and gratitude. In short, we can all:


  • Recognize others for their successes and thank them for their contributions.
  • Ask: What was our goal? How close did we come to achieving it? What worked well and what will we do differently next time? 
  • Help others in small ways when given the opportunity. 
  • Find something, large or small, for which to be thankful each day.


I hope to return to the ideas in Coyle’s book throughout this month during which we will be completing the Climate and Connectedness Survey, which will give us feedback on how well we are creating and sustaining our culture at South.


Have a great week South!