The Bering Strait School District is located in northwest Alaska in an area encompassing roughly 77,000 square miles and 15 communities surrounding Norton Sound and the Bering Sea. It serves about 1800 students from Kindergarten to 12th grade.
While each of the 15 communities in BSSD are isolated and remote, knowledge and respect for living off of the land, creativity, ingenuity, perseverance, and collaboration, are what have made the Inupiat, Central Yup’ik, and St. Lawrence Island Yup’ik people successful survivors of the harsh Arctic climate for thousands of years. Along with a deep knowledge of subsistence, our students have grown up in a culture revered for its artistry in skin-sewing, beading, traditional tool-making (ulu, harpoon, qayaq), ivory, whalebone, and driftwood carving, as well as its rich history of traditional dancing and drumming.
BSSD has a commitment to providing meaningful and engaging education to its students, and supports bilingual/bicultural instruction in each school as well as arts instruction, striving to integrate cultural and arts activities into the academic curriculum to make education relevant for students.
Arts Working Weekend- October 19th-21st, 2018
Twenty-two teachers from around BSSD came to Unalakleet to participate in the first Arts Working Weekend Workshop for the 2018-2019 school year. Participants had the special opportunity to attend the performance of ALAXSXA | ALASKA, a theatre piece that weaves together puppetry, video installations, recorded interviews, storytelling, and yuraq (Yup’ik dance) to tell stories of cross-cultural encounters in Alaska, as well as a community conversation following the show led by Kawerak's Lisa Ellanna and Colleen Reynolds. We then spent the weekend with three of the performers, teaching artists Ryan Conarro, Gary Beaver, and Justin Perkins, to extend teachers’ arts experiences and classroom arts integration tools, through: deepened reflection on the ALAXSXA | ALASKA production, learning skills for the classroom in puppetry, drama and personal storytelling, and yuraq and traditional performance practice, reflecting on, identifying, and articulating classroom applications and extensions for these arts skills, and sharing personal stories, puppetry, and yuraq in performance with each other.