Letters to the Editor

Student writing was excellent

I so enjoyed last week’s “Point of View” submissions by Aiyana Cline and Owen Glasman. These two Homer High graduating seniors have clearly crossed the line from kids/teenagers to young adults. They’re also better writers than most adults I know. Just saying.

But also a shout out to Mr. Campbell (which I assume is how students still address their teachers these days), who encourages his students to express themselves on KBBI and the pages of the Homer News, to name a couple. Sean (oops! Mr. Campbell) is going to be one of those rare teachers that students remember long after they have young adults of their own.

Marylou Burton

Schroer grant support appreciated

I would like to thank the Homer Foundation and the David and Mary Schroer grant for supporting Homer High School’s positive behavior program. With these funds, we were able to continue our positive referral program to celebrate students who are doing well, and our positive behavior intervention system to support wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

We have been able to rewards students for volunteering to tutor a struggling student, standing up for a student who was being picked on, volunteering to clean the ceramics room, exhibiting positive leadership in class and cleaning up after someone else’s mess. We were also able to support over 100 students who followed the HHS mitigation plan with fun and exciting gifts.

Thanks for supporting HHS.


Douglas Waclawski, Principal

Thank you for a great graduation

I want to thank the community of Homer for a great graduation ceremony again this year. I want to thank all the parents who supported their students and Homer area schools for 13 years. I want to thank the students for wearing masks for an entire year without complaint or issue. I appreciate the entire community for supporting HHS and keeping our COVID-19 numbers down and for wearing masks while on campus. Thanks for the senior parents for decorating the stage and field for graduation. A big thanks to both Chief Roble and Chief Kirko from the Homer fire and police departments for supporting the senior parade and the City of Homer for loaning traffic cones and other equipment. The Church on the Rock and over 20 other Homer High staff and volunteers all worked hard to make the HHS outdoor graduation a success. It takes a community to raise a child, and it takes a community to put on a first class graduation ceremony. Homer is a great community, and you provide it again by coming together, even in a pandemic, to support our students and Homer High School.

Douglas Waclawski, Principal

Second Star building origins

Second Star venue in the news. It was built around the original 7,200-square-foot house we built for Ron and Susan Drathman in 1983 – the largest mansion around Homer then. Four owners later, it was bought and doubled in size by Andrea and Gene Anaya. The original structure abides within. The Fritz Creek Carpenter’s Co-Op engineered and crafted the large timber frames to the Drathman’s grand design in 14 months from conception to completion with an extraordinary crew. Half the main crew was thanks to Kim Post. Recently graduated from the School of Fine Crafts and Arts in Boston, she brought her schoolmates Lee Trent and husband Stewart Wurtz, cabinet and furniture makers, plus her Anchorage High School pal Brad Rice, a wooden boatbuilder. Sam Hill and I rounded out the post and beam crew. Tom Maloney made the timber trusses. Sitka Spruce logs were sawmilled for us in Jakalof Bay.

Kim and her girlfriend, Lee, did beautiful millwork in my shop. Owner Ron Drathman said, “Big timbers are masculine,” and he would not have those slender women on site. Brainy tool users that that they were, they also invented a butterfly hinged wheel to buckle around 12-by-18 inch beams so the joiners could easily roll these 1,600 pound monsters. Bents assembled, along came Ben Mitchell with his Homer Boatyard crane with Bill Smith doing rigging and signalling, and up she rose. Bill also created the mechanical system. Jerry Frederick should be singled out for being there from foundation to the roof, taking care of the light frame work that encloses all post and beams. No architect, no engineer, no contractor: in those days we built as we found ‘em. (To be continued)

Larry Smith, old bull carpenter

Driver, watch where you’re going

Hi Everyone,

My housemate was walking his bike on Sunday, May 23, through the Cosmic Thai Kitchen about 7 p.m. He was caught unawares by a woman talking on her cell phone who backed into him. He threw the bike aside and banged on the rear of the car with his hands and then fell again on his hands. The woman was heard to say into the phone, “I just hit someone,” and then she sped away. Neither the observer that stopped to help or my housemate got a look at the woman or car.

His hands will heal, but it put another crack in my heart. I know this town is filled with wonderful people because they fed and soothed us for five-and-a-half months when we were wounded to the core and are still doing so. We hope this woman and the one she was talking to were from out of state. I can’t imagine an Alaskan doing that, especially not a Homerite.

Shame on you woman. Put your cell phones down and watch where you are going, but mostly be responsible for your actions. People we love are out there.

Thanks for listening,

Sara Berg (Duffy’s Mom)

Editor’s note: Eigth grade students at Homer Middle School in Jennifer Booz’ class wrote the letters below to inform the public about driving dangers. They also wrote the letters as part of a unit on Newton’s Laws of Motion. One student also did a graphic.

Be aware driving at sunset

When driving after sunset, drivers should be more aware for many reasons. Reason number one is, when driving at night, there is less visibility. Even though you have headlights, it’s still dark, and something could emerge from the dark quickly. If you are driving 55 mph and slam on the breaks, on dry roads you will slide about 300 feet, so the faster you are going, the further you will need to stop. If the conditions are bad, you need even more distance to stop before hitting the animal or object.

Second, 70% of mammals are nocturnal. Drivers should be more aware of mammals at night because your headlights can only see 350-400 feet with your high beams. If a mammal comes out of the dark, you might not have time to stop before hitting it.

Third, most drowsy-driving crashes occur between midnight and 6 a.m., meaning at night you should be more aware of sleepy drivers on the road. After researching the habits of people in Homer, Alaska, the majority of the people drive after sunset every day or frequently. Also, about one-third of Homer drivers say that they are more tired when driving after sunset.

So, Homer drivers, when driving after sunset, you should make sure your lights are working properly and the lenses are clean, wear sunglasses during the day to keep your eyes in good condition for the night and drink as little as possible (alcohol). When planning on driving at night, don’t look in the “hot spot” of the approaching cars headlights, and make sure you have plenty of sleep.

Kaiden Sims

Be careful driving in darkness

Driving is something that everybody looks forward to, especially we young people; however, many people don’t think about the many dangers that arise when driving. These dangers include, but are not limited to, speeding, seatbelt misuse, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drowsy driving, distracted driving, inexperienced driving, nighttime driving and lastly, straight-up reckless driving. From what I’ve seen, many people don’t understand the dangers of night time driving, as most people see it as nothing more than a darker road trip. On the contrary, I am here to tell you that you shouldn’t think of driving at night as it is way more dangerous, and you should be much more careful at night.

I recently surveyed whether or not people felt as safe as they did driving or being driven at nighttime, and to my surprise, only about 60% of people polled said they didn’t feel as safe. As a result, this means about 40% of people feel just as safe driving at nighttime, which is a bit worrying. Now, I’m not saying those people can’t feel safe driving at night; I’m just saying that many variables are unpredictable when driving at night, which are more predictable during the day, such as visibility and being aware of your surroundings.

Up here in Alaska, we often have icy or snowy roads. The different road conditions change the stopping distances of cars dramatically. As many of you may not know, the average reaction time for humans is 0.25 seconds, and the standard range of a car headlight is about 500 feet. Now let’s assume that two cars are driving toward each other in the middle of winter. The posted speed limit outside of my school is 35 mph. While the roads are icy, that means it will take about 416 feet to stop, which doesn’t seem like very far, but remember the average headlight range is 500 feet, meaning by the time two cars see each other, they won’t be able to stop in time to avoid crashing. They can swerve, but that also is a very high risk in and of itself because of the icy and slippery roads.

The easiest way to avoid the danger of nighttime driving is to simply not drive at nighttime. If you must, be sure to stay alert, clean your headlights and get plenty of sleep.

Adgel Chandler

New drivers should be cautious

In 2019 alone, 4,356 people died in car crashes that involved a driver who was under the age of 17. This number has gone down from the higher numbers that have occurred in the last few years, but over 12 people dying every single day because of inexperienced drivers is still way too many. When teenagers get their permit, they can drive just fine, but there are things that you come to learn with time and experience.

Adults gain a feel after driving a car for years and years, compared to the teenagers who have been driving for very small amounts of time and have not seen everything. Especially in a place like Alaska, there are moose, bears, pheasants, rabbits, porcupines and all sorts of other animals that run across the road, and of course factoring how icy the roads get. It takes around two to three months for something to become an automatic behavior; however the same things don’t happen every day for those three months. One day it could be sunny and perfect conditions and then rainy with moose running everywhere the next. With all this being said, make sure to practice where there is not a lot of traffic or bad road conditions to ensure the safety of your own children and others.

Einar Pederson

Drowsy driving is a big risk

I am a student at Homer Middle School, and in my science class, we got to pick an aspect of safe driving to research. I chose night time driving. So, let me tell you about the dangers of night driving. Drowsy driving is one of the big risks of night time driving. According to the NSC (National Safety Council), 13% of people say that they fall asleep at the wheel once a month and 4% people say that they have caused an accident due to drowsy driving.

If you only have five hours of sleep, you have the same reaction time as if you had a 0.08 blood alcohol level (legally drunk). But, drowsy driving isn’t the only danger of night time driving. Not being able to see is a big problem, too, with many thousands of people dying every year for this reason.

Some things you can do to make driving at night safer is always using your high beams, never drive if you feel even a little tired and sleep more.

Elias Robinson

Homer Middle School 8th-grade student Brightly Thoning drew this illustration as part of a project in teacher Jennifer Booz's class to inform people about driving dangers. (Illustration by Brightly Thoning)