• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 59s

The changing landscape of ASD: Part 1

By Alexis Fernandez 7:04 AM February 26, 2014

Minorities now make up more than 50 percent of the student population.

ANCHORAGE - English, Spanish, Yup’ik, Hmong, Somali, Nepalese and Pidgin.

That’s only a fraction of the languages spoken across the Anchorage School District, making it one of the most diverse in the country, according to U.S. Department of Education.

Since the inception of Alaska’s statehood, the faces of our cities and schools have been changing steadily, with families arriving from all over the world.

To see and hear diversity at its best, you don’t have to travel far. Just walk the halls of Bartlett High School, where you’ll find students from all different backgrounds in one place.

Tina Bernoski, one of the counselors who oversees the English Language Learners Program, sees the change firsthand.

“That minority is becoming the majority, and so it’s great, it’s fabulous, I love it,” Bernoski said.

She says the Hmong, Samoan and South Sudanese communities have grown significantly, and it’s become a different landscape.

Bartlett is now one of the most diverse high schools in the country.

Nearly one third of its 1,500 students speak a second language at home. Across the school district, 93 languages are spoken.

The top two: Spanish and Hmong.

Minorities now make up more than 50 percent of the student population. But with that comes new challenges.

“The magnitude of issues — it’s not just about breaking up, which is a serious issue for many of these kids — but they saw a parent be killed in front of them, they’re homeless, there are drug issues, they’re pregnant, they have no food on the table,” Bernoski said.

Because of this, she said counselors are becoming crucial.

“They’re doing the best they can, sometimes don’t know how to do it, and we just need to help them find that better life,” she said.

So when did families start moving to Alaska and why?

It’s a question Virgene Hanna tries to answer each year. She helps publish a yearly data book called Kids Count about Alaska’s youth. Hanna said a wide range of people started migrating in 2008 when the country hit a recession.

“Economic opportunity — Alaska has jobs and people are coming, they want economic opportunity for themselves and their families,” Hanna said.

She believes it’s a change we should embrace.

“Different people bring different assets and different perspectives, and it broadens our society,” Hanna said.

It’s Alaska’s next generation.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Native art fair draws crowds to Dena’ina Center

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 23, 22:27

    The Alaska Federation of Natives convention brings Alaska Native leaders from around the state, but it also brings crafters and artisans. For many people, the Alaska Native Customary Art Fair is one of their favorite parts of the AFN convention. This year, the selection is better than ever. Hundreds of booths line the first floor […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Oct. 23

    by Carlos Faura on Oct 23, 22:22

    Kenai Peninsula – There will be isolated rain and snow on the Kenai with scattered showers from Anchorage north. Southeast - Expect rain to the south and a shower or two for the northern areas, with snow at pass levels. Interior & North Slope – It will be mostly dry with a flurry or two, […]

  • News

    Totem pole artist carves out a piece of history

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 23, 21:28

    A totem pole isn’t just a work of art for Tommy Joseph; it’s carving out a little piece of history. “That’s what a totem pole is all about is I’m telling someone’s story,” he said. “Everyone has a story.” On a warm morning in Sitka, he methodically chips away at a 10-foot cedar pole. He […]

  • Politics

    Show Me the Money: Marijuana Legalization

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 21:00

      Show Me the Money: Alaska’s Fiscal Future Four issues that could change the fortunes of Alaska… Four issues that have divided us… Four issues that will unite us as we go to the polls Nov. 4th… How can you prosper in the ever-changing landscape of living life in the 49th state?   Oct. 9 @ 9 […]

  • News

    Investigators focus on pilot error in deadly 2013 plane crash

    by Dave Leval on Oct 23, 20:22

    It’s been more than a year since two people died in a plane crash at Merrill Field. Rob Lilly and his girlfriend, Jessi Nelsen, died when they tried to land after taking off from Wasilla Aug. 24, 2013. The second phase of a federal investigation into the crash found no mechanical errors with the plane. […]

  • News

    Feds to bring indoor plumbing to Alaska village

    by Associated Press on Oct 23, 15:49

    A remote Alaska village where only half the homes have indoor plumbing is among rural communities nationwide to receive a share of more than $352 million in grants and loans for upgrades to rural water and wastewater systems. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Alaska’s $12.6 million share of the funding from the U.S. Department of […]

  • News

    Governor signs bill to recognize Native languages

    by Lauren Maxwell on Oct 23, 15:39

    The number of official languages in the State of Alaska has gone from one to 21 with a single stroke of a pen. Gov. Sean Parnell signed HB216 in front of a cheering crowd at the Alaska Federation of Natives convention Thursday morning. The bill recognizes 20 Native languages, and adds them to English as […]

  • Crime

    Police: Pit bull death ‘extreme’ animal cruelty

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 23, 15:17

    Police are asking for help investigating the death of a dog found hanging from a tree near the University of Alaska Anchorage earlier this month. A man walking in the woods near East 20th Avenue and Rosemary Street made the gruesome discovery Oct. 10, according to a Thursday afternoon statement from the Anchorage Police Department. […]