• 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

    Summer school students get their diplomas in special graduation ceremony

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 22:52

    Eighteen Anchorage students received their high school diplomas Tuesday at a ceremony at East High School. The group of teens from eight local high schools was part of the summer school program, which allowed them to complete their graduation requirements. One of the graduates, Bartlett High School’s Isaiah Alston, said it was a relief to […]

  • News

    M/V Susitna ready for sale to the Philippine Red Cross

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 21:23

    The Matanuska-Susitna Borough got good news Tuesday about its ferry, which never transported any passengers and is in the process of being sold. Crews in Seattle have been working to repair the M/V Susitna‘s four water damaged engines. On June 23, the boat passed sea trials with representatives from the Philippine Red Cross and Mat-Su […]

  • Lifestyle

    FDA approves first pill to treat all forms of hepatitis C

    by Associated Press on Jun 28, 20:41

    Federal health officials on Tuesday approved the first pill to treat all major forms of hepatitis C, the latest in a series of drug approvals that have reshaped treatment of the liver-destroying virus. The Food and Drug Administration approved the combination pill, Epclusa, from Gilead Sciences, for patients with and without liver damage. The new drug’s […]

  • News

    Young gardeners grow food for children in need

    by Shannon Ballard on Jun 28, 20:12

    Some Anchorage kids are exploring nature, playing in the dirt and growing a passion for helping those less fortunate than themselves. Education specialist Patrick Ryan said most children would love gardening if simply given the chance. He teaches the Junior Master Gardener day camp each summer at the Alaska Botanical Garden. “I just want them to […]

  • News

    JBER Fisher House expanding to meet the needs of military patients and families

    by Bonney Bowman on Jun 28, 19:59

    The Fisher House on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson offers veterans, service members and their families a free place to stay if they have to travel to Anchorage for medical treatment. The house opened four years ago, but need has been so high, the organization is now planning to expand. House manager Jenny Hall said they can […]

  • Crime

    Driver charged with murder, kidnapping following Monday night crash in East Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 17:00

    Last updated at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28 The Anchorage Police Department says a driver involved in a collision late Monday night is facing charges of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault, among others. At 11:40 p.m., police responded to the scene of a crash on the 2800 block of Debarr Road. A Subaru, driven […]

  • News

    Governor appoints Jahna Lindemuth as Alaska attorney general

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 16:30

    Gov. Bill Walker named Jahna Lindemuth as Alaska’s next attorney general Tuesday. She will take over for Craig Richards, who resigned June 23. “I am pleased to welcome Jahna Lindemuth as a member of my cabinet and the new leader of the Alaska Department of Law,” Walker said in a statement. “Jahna was one of […]

  • News

    Alaska to receive $2.5 million from emissions-cheating settlement against Volkswagen

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 15:30

    More than 1,200 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles with emission test-cheating technology have been sold in the state of Alaska, prompting the state’s Department of Law to join more than 30 other states in a settlement against the company. The settlement requires Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million to the participating states for the marketing and […]