What’s Happening 12-9-19



Eligibility Grade Report
Connections Kids Climb
Winter Wednesday – SeaLife Center
Kenai Fjords Marine Tour
Geography Bee Toolkit
Food Bank Christmas Dinner Flyer
Food Bank Volunteer Form


Please note the new format, all Connections students and families are welcome to join and participate in all area activities.

Did you know Connections is active on Social Media? Please take a moment to “Like” our Facebook page, and if you get a chance to share it with your friends that would be great as well! Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/ConnectionsHomeschool/


  • 12/10 – MAPS Testing @ 1:00pm (more info below)
  • 12/12 – MAPS Testing @ 9:00am & 1:00pm (more info below)
  • 12/13 – Semester Reports Due
  • 12/18 – Food Bank Christmas Dinner Hosted By Connections! (more info below)
  • HOMER & SEWARD OFFICES CLOSED 12/23 to 01/05
  • SOLDOTNA OFFICE CLOSED 12/25 & 01/01
  • 01/22 – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Q & A Session (more info below)
  • 01/31 – Geography Bee (more info below)
  • 02/12 – UAA/Anchorage Daily News Creative Writing Contest Deadline (more info below)
  • 05/04 – Kenai Fjords Marine Science Explorer Tour – Please Contact Julie Lindquist for More Details jlindquist@kpbsd.org or (907) 224-9035 (more info below and see attached flyers for details)

Free Wednesdays at SeaLife Center: November – February! 12pm – 5pm (see attached flyer for more information)

MAP Testing:

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is currently using the MAP Growth test to assess our students.  During the month of December, your child will be able to participate in the MAP Growth test on a computer or tablet in your own home.  Below you will find the possible test dates available.  Please, select times when your student can test in a quiet environment when you are available to proctor the test.  We would like to register your student/students for a math session and possibly a language arts or reading session.  This test is only for students in the 3rd through 10th grade.

Test Session Dates and Time Options

  • December 10th, 1:00 pm
  • December 12th, 9:00 am
  • December 12th, 1:00 pm

Please contact Kellie Davidson or Wendi Dutcher at 714-8880 or email wdutcher@kpbsd.k12.ak.us to let us know which session/sessions you will be available for testing.  Testing sessions are untimed so please allow 2 hours as students progress at different rates.

MAP Growth test measures what students know, regardless of their grade level. It also measures growth over time, allowing you to track your student’s progress throughout the school year and across multiple years.  This test is a computer adaptive test, which means the test will adjust to each student’s learning level, providing a unique set of test questions based on their responses to previous questions. As the student responds to questions, the test responds to the student, adjusting up or down in difficulty.  If your child becomes frustrated at any time please reassure them there may be parts that are difficult or that they are unsure of but they should try their best.

Please see the attached document to help you prepare your computer and testing area prior to the test.  On the morning of the test, you will receive login information with the test session code and password.  If at any time prior to or during the test you have questions please contact the Connections office at 714-8880.

Thank you for your help in completing this formative assessment.

Food Bank Christmas Dinner Hosted By Connections!

We’re excited to announce that the Connections Homeschool Program has agreed to volunteer to cook, serve, and clean up for the Peninsula Food Bank’s Christmas Dinner on December 18th! This is a great opportunity for our program to connect with & give back to the community, and we’re very excited to help execute a wonderful dinner at the Food Bank. We are looking for families (students, parents, family, etc.) to volunteer to help make this happen. We’re also looking for musical individuals that might be willing to play holiday music or sing carols during part of the dinner, so let us know if you’re interested in that opportunity as well. Please contact Mark Wackler at mwackler@kpbsd.org to find out more info and/or sign up to volunteer for any part of this wonderful event.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Q & A Session:

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Connections Homeschool are partnering to provide an opportunity to visit about DVR services, answer questions, and fill out applications. Representatives of DVR will be present in the Soldotna Connections office on Wednesday, January 22nd from 10-12pm. We will live broadcast to the Homer and Seward offices so everyone has the opportunity to see and visit with the counselors. Students 16 and older with a disability and their families are encouraged to attend.

Connections Geography Bee:

Connections students grade 4-8! Come test your world knowledge by participating in the Geo Bee:

  • WHEN: Friday, January 31, 2020 @ 1:00pm
  • WHERE: Soldotna Connections Office (143 East Park Avenue, Soldotna)

Attached you will find a study guide to help you prepare. Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic GeoBee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society.  The contest motivates students to learn about the world and how it works.  Students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging competition.

There are three levels of competition:  School, State, and national.  To compete for advancement from the school to the state level, the winning student at each school must take the online qualifying test. The state GeoBee champion advances to the national championship in Spring 2020.

Contact your advisor or Wendi Dutcher (wdutcher@kpbsd.org) if you have any questions regarding this or would like to participate!

37th Annual UAA/Anchorage Daily News Creative Writing Contest:

We are happy to announce that the 37th Annual UAA/Anchorage Daily News Creative Writing contest is now open for submissions. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, February 12th at 5 p.m. Submissions are judged by panels of editors, writers, teachers, and librarians. First-place winning entries are published online and will have a congratulatory ad in the printed version of Anchorage Daily News.

For more information on rules, entry form, cash prizes go to this website:


If you have questions or problems, please feel free to email creativewritingcontest@adn.com


Check out our new link for Connections events! These are community events that Connections students may be interested in!


Battle of the Books:

Calling all readers to our annual Battle of the Books club! We are looking for readers to join our Battle of the Books team. We will start meeting in November but students can get a jump start and begin reading the books now. Competitive teams are grades 3rd-12th. Here is the K-12 grade list: https://sites.google.com/view/akaslbattleofthebooks/home

Books can be found at the public library, some Connections offices will have copies that can be checked out or you can purchase the books using allotment funds. Contact your advisor if interested in participating in Battle of the Books:

HOMER OFFICE: 226-1880

  • Derek Bynagle 5th/6th & middle school coach
  • Cathy Wilmeth 3rd/4th grade coach
  • Joanna Fonkert K-2 coach


Battle of the Books participants will be meeting on December 6 from 2:30-3:30.  Beginning January 10th we will meet each Friday from 2:30-3:30 until our official battle dates.

  • 5/6 Battle of the Books- February 11 at 9:00 am
  • 3/4 Battle of the Books- February 13th at 9:00 am
  • Wendi Dutcher 3rd/4th grade coach
  • Kellie Davidson 5th/6th grade coach

Kenai Fjords Marine Biology Tour:

The goal of the Marine Science Explorers Program is to provide students with an exceptional learning environment, to help students understand and appreciate the marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Alaska and inspire interest in Marine Science. During the five-hour cruise, we explore beyond the surface of the water. Students are introduced to sampling techniques and lab activities as they investigate seawater and plankton. Students observe marine mammals and seabirds in their natural habitat and consider their adaptations. In this living laboratory, students are encouraged to examine how these pieces fit together into an ecosystem concept.

The five-hour field trip will be divided between cruising Resurrection Bay and participating in four different learning stations. One instructor leads each thirty-minute station.

  • Length of Trip:  5 hours
  • Recommended ages:  Grades 3 through 8
  • Departure Information:  May 4th; 10:00am–3:00pm, Check-in 9:30. Board 9:45.

Please remember to: Bring brown-bag lunch, pencils and dress warmly.

For more information please contact Julie Lindquist jlindquist@kpbsd.org  or (907) 224-9035.


Homer Office – SPARC activities every Tuesday (NEW DAY ADDED) and Wednesday from 1:30 – 2:30

  • 12/12 –  HOMER: STEAM Challenge Paper Roller Coasters Finale (more info below)
  • 12/10 – Paper Circuits Project: Light Up House (more info below)
  • 12/18 – Paper Circuits Project: Light Up Greeting Cards (more info below)
  • HOMER OFFICE CLOSED 12/23 to 01/05

Paper Circuits Project: Light Up House

Join the fun in learning about how circuits work. Participants will make their own simple circuit to light up an LED light for their miniature 3D model house.

  • Who: Students 4th grade and up
  • When: December 10th at 1:30 PM
  • Where: Homer Back office

Paper Circuits Project: Light Up Greeting Cards

Join the fun in learning about how circuits work. Participants will make their own simple circuit light-up card.

  • Who: Students 4th grade and up
  • When: December 18th at 10:30 AM
  • Where: Homer Back office

STEAM Challenge Paper Roller Coasters!

Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? Have you ever wanted to design your own? In this project, you will make your own roller coaster out of paper and tape, and learn about roller coaster physics along the way! Families are invited to take part in a paper Roller Coaster Challenge. Students will learn about the roller coaster building process from building a foundation to building velocity. This session will allow students to make their own roller coaster to test on race day.

Race day Dec 12th: Competition will be at Islands and Ocean 1-3 PM

HOMER: Climbing at the Bay Club:

  • Who: Students in grades Kindergarten-12th grade
  • What: Learn to climb from certified belayers at The Bay Club Climbing wall. Climbing is a fun and exciting team-building sport that presents both mental and physical challenges. It offers many opportunities for positive growth—whether you want to overcome a fear of heights, foster a sense of exploration, or gain strength to reach new heights, you will find rock climbing a rewarding and joyful pursuit!
  • Where: Bay Club on Kachemak Drive
  • When: Mondays from 2:30-5:30 starting November 4-December 16th (6 sessions)
    • December 9
    • December 16
  • Why: A great way to get PE credits, stay fit, opportunities for positive growth, and learn climbing techniques
  • Cost: $13/session can be reimbursed after a session with student allotment. All costs include climbing shoes, harness, and chalk.

All participants will need to fill out a waiver EVERY session

Contact Joanna Fonkert with any questions jfonkert@kpbsd.k12.ak.us.


Soldotna Office – Our organized gym time meets at the Kenai Recreation Center every Tuesday from 12-2pm. All ages are welcome, this activity is free and please remember to wear non-skid sole shoes. If you have any questions you can call our office at 714-8880.

  • 12/10 – Open Gym @ Kenai Rec Center 12-2pm
  • 12/13 – Holiday Fun! (more info below)
  • 12/17 – Open Gym @ Kenai Rec Center 12-2pm NO ADVISORS AVAILABLE but the gym will still be open
  • 12/18 – Food Bank Christmas Dinner Hosted By Connections! (more info below)
  • SOLDOTNA OFFICE CLOSED 12/25 & 01/01
  • 02/11 – Battle of the Books 5/6 grade meeting at 9:00am
  • 02/13 – Battle of the Books 3/4 grade meeting at 9:00am

Soldotna Office – Free Tutoring:

We are very excited to have Rebecca Weaver, Assistant Professor from the Kenai Peninsula College, at the Soldotna office every Thursday from 12:00pm to 2:00pm to tutor students and parents in math, physics, chemistry, and science for free! If you are a parent or a student that needs help in any of these areas, please call us at 714-8880 to make an appointment. PLEASE NOTE: No tutoring on these dates:

12/12, 12/19, 12/26, 01/02

Connections Outdoor Club:

This month we’ve hiked Russian River Falls and learned about building campfires. Unfortunately, the icy weather is preventing outdoor activities at this time, but stay tuned for more exciting activities! All ages are welcome to attend.

Holiday Fun December 13th

Stop by the Connections office to turn in your semester reports and enjoy crafts, stories, and activities.

  • Elf Workshop – 10:30-11:30am for elementary students featuring fun holiday stories and activities as well as a little snack.
  • S.T.E.M. Time – 1:30-2:30pm for all students incorporating science, technology, engineering, and math practices to create a fun holiday project.

Kenai Watershed Forum:

The Connections Homeschool program has partnered with the Kenai Watershed Forum to provide some exciting opportunities for our students this year. Your student can participate in lessons revolving around the healthy aquatic habitats on the peninsula. Students will have hands-on experiences with dissecting fish, collecting water samples, and much more. Below is a schedule for the events planned for the 2019-2020 school year.

  • January 9th                   Elementary event (1-3pm)
  • January 23rd                Middle/high school event (1-3pm)
  • February 6th                 Elementary event (1-3pm)
  • February 20th               Middle/high school event (1-3pm)

Battle of the Books:

Battle of the Books participants will be meeting on December 6 from 2:30-3:30.  Beginning January 10th we will meet each Friday from 2:30-3:30 until our official battle dates.

  • 5/6 Battle of the Books- February 11 at 9:00 am
  • 3/4 Battle of the Books- February 13th at 9:00 am


Free Wednesdays at the Alaska Sealife Center (until February 27) 12pm – 5pm

  • 12/09 – Hour of Code 12:30-1:30pm (more info below)
  • 12/10 – Hour of Code 10:00 -11:00am (more info below)
  • 12/13 – Semester Reports Due
  • DATE CHANGE: 12/18 – Holiday Fun in the Seward Connections Office! Please join us for food, fun and holiday crafts! We will be making Christmas owls as well as putting together homemade soup gifts for charity. There will be two sessions, please choose one:  10:00 – 11:30am or 1:00 – 2:30pm

RSVP appreciated: Contact Laura or Julie at 224-9035 for more information

  • SEWARD OFFICE CLOSED 12/23 to 01/05

Hour of code:

Please join us in the Seward Connections Office for an Hour of Code! Learn about computer programing – no prior knowledge is necessary and all ages are welcome! Attend one session or both!

  • Students should bring their own laptop, tablet or phone, but one will be provided if needed.
  • Session 1: Monday, 12/9, 12:30pm – 1:30pm
  • Session 2: Tuesday, 12/10, 10:00am – 11:00am

Call Laura or Julie (224-9034) for more information.


About Richard Bartolowits

Principal of Connections Homeschool Program Rich Bartolowits was born and raised on the Kenai Peninsula. He has been a KPBSD educator for more than 20 years. Rich enjoys fishing and has recently taken up kayak fishing for halibut and salmon. Rich joined the Connections' team for the 2015-2016 school year and continues to be impressed with the many great things homeschool families do as they take ownership of their children's learning.
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