At Paul Banks Elementary School’s first “Paul Banks Day,” Sept. 16, the K-2 students, faculty, staff and visitors celebrated the school’s namesake, the late Paul Banks. Having worked on the construction of East Homer Elementary School in 1964, Banks also was the school’s first custodian.
In 1981, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board changed the school’s name to Paul Banks Elementary School, at the request of teachers, parents and students. Banks also retired in 1981, but for the next seven years, until his death, continued to visit the school almost every day. It was his distribution of peanuts to the students that led to them being known as the “Peanuts.”
At the Paul Banks Day celebration, former Paul Banks Elementary School teacher Dorothy “Dottie” Cline presented the school with copies of her new book, “Paul Banks, Alaskan Music Man.”
“I felt the children at Paul Banks needed to know why their school was named for Paul,” said Cline, who worked at the school with Banks. “He was such an incredible person, had such a rich history. I wanted them to know the qualities he exhibited that led people to say this man was worthy of being remembered.”
Cline met Banks after she was hired as the school’s music teacher in 1979.
“The first thing one of the teachers said was, ‘You’ll want to get acquainted with Paul Banks. If you need help, he’ll even help you write your Christmas program,’” said Cline. “That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship for my whole family.”
Also recognized at the Sept. 16 celebration was “Limpy Chesterton,” a children’s book written by Dan Bunker, whose son, Caleb, attends Paul Banks. Not to be outdone, last year’s second-graders, working with teachers Sally Burns and Laurie Martin, published “The Serum Run to Nome, Retold by Second Graders.” Now third-graders at West Homer Elementary School, the youngsters returned for Paul Banks Day to be honored as authors.
The students’ 25-page book sells for $8 and is available on Amazon, at the school and at the school’s book fair on Oct. 30-31.
Cline’s 122-page book, published by Glen Erin Press, sells for $12.95 and is available at the Homer Bookstore. Proceeds from the book benefit Paul Banks Elementary School’s library.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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