Blue or Red?

Juneau students weigh whether to become Falcons or Crimson Bears

Posted: Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Decision time.

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Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Juneau-Douglas High School offers endorsements. Thunder Mountain High School offers strands. Both offer specific foci, or areas of study.

JDHS offers small learning communities in ninth grade; Thunder Mountain offers small learning communities in ninth grade and academies that focus on math and technology or the humanities after that. JDHS is focusing on Japanese and phasing out Russian; Thunder Mountain is focusing on Russian and phasing out Japanese.

Then there also are Yaakoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School and HomeBRIDGE home school to consider.

Groups of eighth graders from Floyd Dryden Middle School and Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School toured Thunder Mountain and JDHS on Tuesday, hearing from the schools' principals, counselors, students and others about the schools' academic programs, electives, support services and more on what's offered in each place.

JDHS Principal Jim Kuhlmann and Thunder Mountain Principal Patti Bippus said they're working together to present information about the schools. They made a joint presentation during parent night at Floyd Dryden Tuesday night, and will make another one for Dzantik'i Heeni students next week, Bippus said.

Academic programs and offerings, support services, proximity to the student's home, friends' choices and sports are all factors that come into play.

Some students said their decision is already made.

Dzantik'i Heeni eighth grader Kaitlin Fagerstrom said her parents went to JDHS.

"When you think of Juneau, you think of JDHS, not Thunder Mountain," she said.

Her friend Eliza Walker said she's also planning on going to JDHS; Walker said it's the school that's closer to her house, and she's interested in running cross country there.

Others, however, said their decision was more up in the air.

Eighth-grader Daniel Martell said he thought before Tuesday he was going to go to Thunder Mountain, but some of the offerings presented at JDHS caught his interest. Then, later, while touring Thunder Mountain, he found himself drifted back.

Middle school students have to make their decision by March 10.

"Both buildings have parts of it all," Kuhlmann said. "It's like the choice for college - it has to feel right."

"There are differences, and we hope kids ... can make a decision about what matches their interests and needs the best," Bippus said.

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.



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