Students Talk About Life in White Mountain
|A group of White Mountain students. (Photo: Courtesy Hannah Moderow)|
During a recent visit to White Mountain, musher Hannah Moderow had the opportunity to meet students in grades 4 to 6 at White Mountain Elementary School.
Several students shared their thoughts about life in White Mountain:
I am a full-blooded Eskimo and I have lived here in White Mountain my whole life. One thing I love about living in White Mountain is going fishing.
When I go fishing, I try to catch salmon, grayling, humpies and humpbacks. I try to catch these fish because I can cut them up to make dry fish. Also I can boil them or smoke them.
Some of the places where my family and I fish are upriver at camp, downriver toward Golovin or at a place called Council. To catch the fish, we usually try to snag them or wait until they bite. Another method we use is to fill a bucket with fish eggs and try to get them to swim into the bucket. One time my brother caught Dipuk, a white fish, by throwing a knife into the water like a spear.
Sometimes I help my mom seine for fish. We do this by taking a really big net and dragging it through the water, trying to trap the fish inside. Then we drag the net onto the beach to take the fish out.
—Cheri I., fifth-grader
The Oldest School House in Alaska
I am from an Inupiaq village called White Mountain. This village is located on the Seward Peninsula in Alaska. I live here, and have grown up here all my life, along with 200 people.
White Mountain is unique because our elementary school is the oldest building in Alaska. The building was built in the year 1930 for teacher housing, and then it was an orphanage. Now it is our school.
Currently, grades K to 6 attend school in the elementary building. Although the building is 77 years old, it is in great condition.
—Rayna B., fifth-grader
A Newcomer’s Story
I have lived in White Mountain almost three years. I like living here because there are many fun things to do like snow machining and hunting.
Hunting in White Mountain is great because you can hunt all year-round. For example, during the winter we hunt musk ox, otters and caribou. During spring we hunt for caribou, ptarmigan, seals, brant and geese.
In the summer we hunt for walrus. Lastly, during the fall we hunt for seals, ptarmigan, brant, caribou and moose.
My favorite animal to hunt is moose. When I go moose hunting, I usually go with my dad. We snow machine or boat upriver to where the moose like to hang out in the willows that grow along the river.
Moose like willows because they like to eat the leaves that grow on them. I use my 1-gauge shotgun to kill a moose. When I aim at a moose, I try to shoot the front shoulder. Once we shoot a moose, we have to cut it into smaller pieces to bring back home. My favorite thing about hunting moose is getting to shoot it and eat it.
—Adrian B., White Mountain Elementary School
Fun in the Summer
I am 12 years old and I have lived here in White Mountain for 11 years. The two things I like to do in the summer are berry picking and biking.
During the summer we go berry picking either upriver or downriver. We start to pick berries around August because that is when they are ripe. Sometimes we use berry combs that people have carved out of wood. They look like combs used for brushing hair, but with a cup attached to catch the berries.
If we don’t have a berry comb, we usually just use our hands to pick the berries and then we store them in a bucket. The berries we pick are blueberries, blackberries, and salmonberries. I usually go berry picking with my auntie Doris, or cousins Bob and Curtis.
Also during the summer, I like to go biking around town. Usually I go biking all day, except on stormy or rainy days. I enjoy biking with my best friend, Yo-Yo, and some of my classmates like Asa, and Cheri. Just about all of the kids in town, except for the little kids, like to bike.
—Tiffany L., sixth-grader
Online in Alaska
I am 12 years old and in the sixth grade. I like all kinds of sports and activities. Some of those include basketball, wrestling, skiing, running, volleyball, NYO (Native Youth Olympics), spelling, and Battle of the Books. I have a lot of friends from Golovin, Unalakleet, and Koyuk, here in White Mountain, and some from Nome. I have three brothers and one sister.
Here in White Mountain, at the school we have our own computers. Having our own computers helps us because we can all work on things at the same time. With our computers we can check our e-mail and play games with each other. We also play with pictures, making them look cool and/or funny.
Most of the time we come in on weekends and finish work that needs to be done or play games and check our e-mail.
During the first half of the school year, some of us participated in Battle of the Books, so we would read or practice answering questions from the books during the first hour and then we checked our e-mail or played games. Sometimes we are at school on the weekends from around 1 p.m. to about 5 or 6 p.m. Then we go home and eat or go visit someone.
—Asa B., sixth-grader
Sleeping at My Teacher’s House
I am 11 years old and I have lived in White Mountain all my life. Unlike in most places, kids in White Mountain get to have sleepovers at their teachers’ houses.
At my teacher’s house, we like to play in the loft, watch movies, do each other’s hair, bake cookies, and much more! She is so cool! That is why she is the best teacher ever!
—Precious L., sixth-grader
Fourth Grade Population: 1
I am the only fourth grader at White Mountain Elementary. Here are a few things I like about my school.
One thing I like about my school is the free breakfast and lunch. I like having free breakfast and lunch because my family doesn’t have to spend money on those meals. Plus our cooks always make the best type of food like pizza, spaghetti, biscuits, and coffee cake.
—Shone Sleeper, fourth-grader
Watch Out for Bears!
I have lived in White Mountain, Alaska, my entire life. Two things I like to do in the summer are swim in the river and play games outside with friends.
During the summer when it’s really hot outside, we like to go swimming in the river (Fish River) that is in front of the village. We also like to swim in the river that is behind White Mountain Hill. Usually, I go swimming with my friends and a couple of teenagers, just in case there are bears around. We like to swim because sometimes it is too hot and we need to cool down, or we swim because we’re bored.
Also, during the summer, we like to play games. Some of the games we play are hide-and-seek, hopscotch, kick the can, and tag. We play these games because they are fun and because they keep us entertained.
—Venessa K., fifth-grader