Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A merry evening to you all,

I hope the September weather is treating you
just fine and dandy just like candy. Here in Barrow, the ground has frozen over (thank God, as it is not muddy and everything is much cleaner inside), the wind has picked up, and the price of milk is still the same.
I wanted to write this post explaining exactly what I do everyday in the city on top of the World. The day is full of activity and I am enjoying myself to a great extent. So, may I ever be so inclined to invite to read about a day in a
life of Mr. Bissen.

I wake up everyday,
Monday through Friday, at around 6:15 am and quickly take a shower, eat some hard-boiled eggs, an onion bagel with tomato basil cream cheese, and drink a large glass of peach iced tea. Then, I begin the short, windy, dark journey to Hopson Middle School.

I arrive at the school around 6:55 and get my room situated before the students barge in and wake me up. Just kidding...a nice cup of coffee does that!

I have a Geography class at 8:00-9:30 and 11:00-12:30, and a Language Arts class at 1:00-2:30. In Geography, the students just got done learning about the regions of Alaska. We are about to start constructing a huge model of Alaska. The kids seem pretty fired up about it all. In Language Arts, we are reading The Outsiders. It is quite splendid! Above are some pics of the school, below...some pics of the classroom, and the students working hard (or hardly working). There are also some photos of one of the students' grandfather who came in to talk about his home country of Guatemala.

After school, I hang out in my room for awhile, do some work, and get ready for the next day. There are many activities going on during this part of the year including intramural basketball, wrestling, choir, and cooking class. When these games and activities are not going on, I go to the high school weight room with the fellow teachers, Scott and Josh, and try to get in shape.

After working out, I come back to the apartment.

At this time, it is about 6:15 pm. I eat some food and go back to HMS for wrestling practice. It is quite fun to wrestle around with these students.

In the evening time, when nothing is going on, it is great to get out and walk around. So many students are out and about, and when they see you, they run up to you with smiling faces and stories to tell.

The students are great. I enjoy watching them learn and grow through their learning.
The time here in Barrow is great. Again, I hope you all are doing well, wherever you are. Please keep responding to the blog. I enjoy reading the comments.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hello all,

It has been almost a month since my last update. To tell you the truth, not so much has happened since my last post, but Barrow has been wonderful and the school year has gotten off to a fantastic start. Today, Saturday, September 12, is a gloomy day. I am sitting here in my living room watching Fresno St. and Wisconsin and the snowflakes falling outside. Yes, you read that correctly. It is snowing/raining here on top of the world. As I look outside, the snow does not seem to be sticking to the ground, but nonetheless, there are definitely flakes falling.

I have not seen the beach in awhile. Maybe I will take a walk down to it today. My days have been busy with school. When I get home after the day, I eat, do some work and go to bed. The weather has been gloomy for awhile, so I have not been going outside lately. Some fellow teachers and I have been going to the high school weight room the past few days, so I am able to stay active.

In regards to school, I am enjoying it immensely. The kids are great and they seem to like Geography. There are no discipline issues, only attendance issues. However, apparently there are cases of Swine flu going around so many kids have been gone. Of course, students will be out for subsistence leave. Many kids are out camping, hunting, fishing, etc. Here in Barrow, in this native community, it is an excused absence for subsistence leave. Interesting.

Sports are still rolling. The middle school football is over and the basketball is underway. Cross country is also still kicking. It is great to see all the students so involved. I am glad football is over. I am able to concentrate a little more on school. Soon, I will get a choir started. The students seem very excited about it. Hopefully, there will be a good turnout.

Yesterday, I called John Tidwell. He is a photographer who goes out and takes pictures of polar bears and other Arctic life. I heard that he charges people to tag along with him, so I went ahead and asked if that could be okay. He said that would be great, but it would not happen for another three or four weeks. The polar bears are way out away from land because they know that the scientists are collecting data. They bring helicopters out and sedate the polar bears to collect scientific information. So, the polar bears have not been out by the point lately. The snowy owls are out, though. I have yet to see them but they are out on the tundra. A few friends said they saw about three or four of them last weekend as they were out hunting. Apparently, the birds are huge. They feast on lemmings. But, people with small dogs tend to keep them inside because the owls will eat them.

Fall whaling will start soon. Maybe the bears will come around then. I understand that I need to be safe, but I really want to see some of this wildlife that the Arctic has to offer.

I hope you find this blog comforting. I am having a great time up here. It was great to be back home for the beautiful wedding of my brother and sister-in-law, Ray and Amy Bissen. God Bless you two. Congratulations. It was great to see all of you, my wonderful friends and family.

I will upload some pictures tomorrow. I left my camera in my classroom.

I love you all. Take care.