Sentinel Staff Writer
Students at Mt. Edgecumbe High School will have an
easier time turning ideas into objects next year thanks to a $25,000 grant
to pay for engineering programs and a new fabrication lab on campus.
The money will expand engineering and vocational
learning at Mt. Edgecumbe High School by funding equipment and software
that, in the past, students could access only by going to the Sitka High
Mark Nance, who teaches robotics at Mt. Edgecumbe,
said the grant “fell into our laps.”
“We got a notification from the superintendent
that Siemens, the people who are doing the boiler refit for our school, said
we’re qualified for a grant,” Nance said. “He put it out
to the general populace of the school and said ‘give me some
proposals, give me some ideas.’”
Nance, along with computers teacher Josh Arnold,
science teacher Michael Mahoney and math teacher Matt Hunter, is going to
use the new equipment to expand the school’s engineering program by
adding new equipment that will pique students’ interest by allowing
them to hold a finished project in their hands after spending time in the
classroom designing it.
Arnold teaches Computer Aided Design (CAD), and for
many years his students just designed the materials and then moved on, which
Arnold said doesn’t grab a student’s attention the same way a
tangible object does.
“This all started (when) Randy Hughey at Sitka
High got a grant funded to pay for a bunch of hardware,” Arnold
A few years after that, Mt. Edgecumbe teachers were
able to train on the equipment – which includes a laser cutter that
can cut laser designs in material and a 3-D printer that can print plastic
objects designed on a computer – and were then able to take Mt.
Edgecumbe students over to Sitka High to use the tools.
“The projects that you can do with this
equipment are just so cool and it gets students excited about math and
engineering and design and production,” Arnold said.
Arnold added that using the Sitka shop has helped grow
interest in the Mt. Edgecumbe program, and that getting a shop of their own
will only add to that growth.
“Really, there were years when I had a hard
enough time getting enough kids to keep the class. At one point in time I
think I had six or seven kids in the classroom and that’s not a
sustainable program,” Arnold said. “Last year was the first time
we were able to really use the Sitka High lab. I was bringing Mt. Edgecumbe
students over to Sitka High. I think I had 12 or 13 students last year so
the numbers are coming up. That’s good. That’s a sustainable
Nance said the funds will purchase some of the
same machines that are at the Sitka High fabrication lab, including a laser
cutter and a 3-D printer. In addition the money will cover some new robotics
kits, a vinyl cutter and some other shop tools like a drill press and a band
Nance said the engineering program, which is funded
through the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, is set up so
students can learn basics of engineering and systems in Nance’s class
and then move to Arnold’s class for design in CAD. After
Arnold’s class, students learn manufacturing in Mahoney’s class
and can continue on to Hunter’s class, where they can build a project,
such as a wind turbine, from beginning to end.
This year a team of students from Hunters’ class
won first place in the Kid Wind program for Alaska, and next year Hunter
wants to add some pedal power to the wind energy.
“We’re actually going to make a
bicycle-powered generator. I want to run some computers off human
power,” Hunter sai d. “It’s a neat way to show sort of the
chemical, as your body uses what you eat, to the mechanical to the
The 3-D printer will allow Hunter’s students to
fabricate their own wind turbine blades and allow for other programs at Mt.
Edgecumbe to take advantage and be more ambitious with their projects.
Nance’s robotics team has won the Southeast
regional championship twice in the last three years, and last year they were
able to employ the Sitka High 3-D printer to improve their project.
The class built a robot that could scoop up rings and
they made it through Regionals with a scoop built from Legos. The scoop
worked but frequently fell apart.
“We got back and we spent two class periods
designing a scoop in CAD and we printed it out so that scoop was the best
scoop in the state,” Nance said.
“It wasn’t a Lego product. It was a Mt.
Edgecumbe product,” Arnold said.
Now that Mt. Edgecumbe will have access to the
equipment on a more regular basis, Arnold said he can tweak his classes to
help support the extracurricular activities like robotics.
“I’m going to help the kids learn how to
use CAD as a support system for this robotics program, which is so cool
cause there’s engineering in action,” Arnold said.
Nance is always in the process of pursuing other
grants to grow the program and Arnold said that as the lab gets built he
would like to see the cooperative effort with Sitka High School expand
rather than end.
“Really, what I would like to see with this lab
is to build it up so that we have complementary equipment to what
they’ve got at Sitka High,” Arnold said. “Right now
we’re buying basically some of the same stuff, but I’d really
like to see both of these programs get to the point where they’ve got
equipment we don’t have and we’ve got equipment they don’t
have. We send our kids over there to do things they can’t do here and
they send their kids over here to do things they can’t do
Nance said the lab will be constructed over the summer
and will be open for students to use starting next fall.
Arnold added that the excitement among students and
staff is already building for what they can start doing next year with the
“This spring I’ve been telling the kids
we’re going to have this equipment here on campus. The kids are
excited and it’s an easy sell,” Arnold said. “It’s
very inexpensive. It’s very fast. Designing something on the computer
and getting it in your hands isn’t days or hours, it’s
The State of
Alaska has been experiencing an epidemic of pertussis (also known as whooping
cough) for over a year. Recently Sitka has seen an increased number of cases.
Symptoms of pertussis start off like a cold but can include a cough that
persists for over 2 weeks. People often experience coughing
"fits" that sometimes triggers gagging or vomiting.
The reason the
State is concerned is because it can make children under 1 year of age very
ill. So adults and teens do fine with the infection; they just feel sick and
take awhile to get better. Treatment is simple and just involves taking a
course of antibiotics. The concern is with people who are around young children
potentially infecting them. Most of the students at MEHS have had the
immunization that prevents them from contracting the illness. In fact our student population is one of the highly
immunized groups of individuals in the Sitka population.They will be coming home to you soon so we
want you to be aware of the potential concern.
The students were given the same information above with the addition
of encouraging anyone experiencing these symptoms to please go to the MEHS Health
Clinic to get checked out and the following practices were recommended:
washing your hands often
cover your mouth with your elbow
when you cough
throw tissue paper and Kleenex directly into disposal baskets
if you must spit, spit into a Kleenex first and the dispose of the Kleenex in trash
Use hand sanitizer often
Be respectful of those around you
For more information, you can go to the State of Alaska pertussis Q&A link below.
By TOM HESSE Sentinel Staff Writer A former Mt. Edgecumbe High basketball player from Hydaburg is getting a shot at earning his living on the hard court.
Damen Bell-Holter, who played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Mt.
Edgecumbe High School, just finished his senior season at Oral Roberts
University in Tulsa, Okla., and was invited to the Portsmouth
Invitational Tournament. The PIT brings the top 64 college seniors in
the country to Virginia for a 12-game tournament in front of
representatives from every NBA franchise as well as professional teams
abroad. Bell-Holter, who will leave from Tulsa for the
tournament on Wednesday, averaged 10.5 points and 6.7 rebounds a game at
Oral Roberts during his playing career. He said the foundation
for his basketball career was set during his first two years at Mt.
Edgecumbe High with coach Archie Young. “(Young’s) a great
coach. He’s one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today,”
Bell-Holter said in a telephone interview. “He kind of gave me the
building block of where I am to work from. He gave me that mentality of
how hard I have to work.”
Young, who has kept in contact with
Bell-Holter since he left for Ketchikan in his junior year and then
through his days at Oral Roberts, said Bell-Holter was a good athlete in
need of some post moves when he arrived on Japonski Island for his
freshman season. “When he came here as a freshman he was very,
very rough,” Young said with a laugh. “He was a 6’3” kid and weighed
about 190 pounds and we worked on basic drop steps and post moves and
trying to get him to be the post player we thought he could be.”
Bell-Holter is now a 6’9” forward looking to make his way as a
rebounding specialist who can run the floor. He said he’s been working
with his college trainer to master the parts of the game that require
more in the way of work ethic than a good first step in order to find a
way into a league where athletic scorers are a dime a dozen and
fundamental big men are in short supply. “My trainer just stayed
on me about rebounding. Everyone wants to try and do the big things
like scoring but I want to focus on the tough things,” Bell-Holter said.
“Things like running the floor because not a lot of big guys do that.
Everyone in the NBA can score but there’s also a lot of guys who are
making millions of dollars to rebound and play defense.”
Bell-Holter added that Young’s attention to detail and toughness are
part of the reason why Bell-Holter knows he can succeed doing the little
things. Young agreed that he asked a lot of Bell-Holter as well
as all his players. He cited his favorite memory of Bell-Holter when
the Braves were playing Anchorage East in Bell-Holter’s sophomore year:
“We were playing East Anchorage, which is the most storied program in
Alaska, and there were two times in about a four-minute stretch ...
where Damen, as this 6’6”, 240-pound kid got a bounce pass and went up
to dunk it and was rim-checked both times,” Young said. “And after the
second time I stood up and yelled ‘If you miss another dunk you will
never play for me again.’” Young said that particular coaching
insight remains a point of comedic fodder in conversations with
Bell-Holter and members of the Anchorage East High School coaching
staff. “I would venture to say that I was as hard on Damen as I
was on account of the potential I saw in him and it’s great to see that
he’s making the most of the talents he’s got,” Young said.
Bell-Holter said he’s hopeful to get a shot in the NBA but he’d be happy
to play professionally in Europe. After the tournament Bell-Holter will
sign with an agent and then wait for an invite to the basketball
combine in Chicago. After that he will hope for an invite to the NBA
summer league and a chance to work out with some professional teams.
“Honestly it wouldn’t even matter which teams give me a shot,”
Bell-Holter said. “You don’t really realize just how hard it is to get
into the NBA for so many reasons and I feel honored to have a shot.”
Young said Bell-Holter remains a presence in Alaska by doing basketball
camps for kids and staying in touch with basketball in the region. When
asked about how Bell-Holter’s potential playing career could impact Mt.
Edgecumbe’s need for a new scoreboard, Young quipped that the
scoreboard may have come up in conversation. “We’re always open to donations,” Young said.
Bell-Holter said he’s excited to be able to keep playing basketball and
that he’ll always have fond memories of where it all started.
“Basketball is huge in Southeast. Playing my freshman and sophomore year
at Mt. Edgecumbe was just huge,” Bell-Holter said. “There’s no place
like Southeast, Alaska, for basketball. There’s just so much support.
People from all over Southeast have been contacting me and supporting
me. It all started there.”