Checkpoint Checkup: Anvik to Grayling


“Life is a journey that gives you the liberty to draw your own map, and choose your own route.” – Dennis E Adonis

Last week Regret, Ken Anderson’s lead dog, led us to Anvik, the first checkpoint on the Yukon. This week we will have a short 18-mile journey to Grayling where we will find out what it is like to be a student at the David Louis School.

Students of GraylingWe are finally on the Yukon River, known for strong winds and bitter cold temperatures. Even though this is a short trip, those harsh winds and extremely cold temperatures can make this section seem like a long trip. The mushers and dogs will run on the Yukon for about an hour and a half to two and a half hours before arriving in Grayling.

The checkpoint is located in the community center near the school. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the teachers at the David Louis School. Rose teaches 2nd-4th grades at the K-12 building in Grayling. Since the Iditarod only comes to Grayling every other year, they are getting very excited. Rose’s class has been watching videos, reading books, following musher profiles, and preparing their classroom map for the race.

Rose and the students shared some of the activities their school has been up to this year. The kindergarten and first grade students have been out in the village collecting leaves as part of a leaf unit. They learned to identify leaves and created artwork using their leaves they collected. Second through fifth grades use iPads and computers to work on geography and math skills. The sixth grade through seniors have been very busy. Early in the year they hiked up Blueberry Hill and harvested blueberries while enjoying a beautiful view of Grayling. Next they took an adventure to Fish Camp in Holy Cross. Fish Camp is where students have an opportunity to learn the traditional methods of harvesting and preparing fish for food. At the end of their first quarter the students were involved in the Tanana Chiefs Conference. At the conference students were exposed to protocols and procedures of the Tribal Government. Wow, what an adventurous first quarter.

After talking with Rose, I realized that we take a lot of things for granted here in the lower 48. The fuel that the village uses must be delivered to Grayling by boat. If we want a pizza delivered, we typically have to wait only about 30 minutes. Imagine having your pizza delivered by bush plane.

After spending some time in Grayling the mushers will have a 62-mile journey to Eagle Island. They are getting closer and closer to Nome.

406 miles to Nome! Next stop, Eagle Island.

To read more about Anvik to Grayling read Don Bowers Trail Notes and Virtual Trail Journey.

Ideas for the classroom:

If your school was an adventure learning school that teaches the traditions of your town, what would students learn?

What is the temperature in Grayling today in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Compare Grayling’s temperature to your temperature.

What is the state fish of Alaska? What waters can this fish be found in?

Research more about fish of Alaska.

All pictures courtesy of Miss Rose, teacher at David Louis School.

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