So it is now March first! I can't believe it is already March first. After an incredibly long time with cold weather that was just hovering around -50 to -60 degrees Fahrenheit sometime in February we warmed up dramatically. We had a temperature increase of almost 90 degrees in about 24 hours! That of course was from -60 to +30. I don't think there are too many places where the temperature can increase by 90 degrees and still be below freezing! The warm up was so dramatic that we were all expecting the temperature to drop spectacularly again at any moment, but it held for weeks! It was amazing. Unfortunately, I think it also unconditioned us a bit. As it has gotten colder it feels colder than it did before. As I left my house this evening to come back to school it was -12 and falling. Since midnight we have gon from -39 to +18 and are working our way back down again.
On a related but somewhat different note, the sun is definitely back. We're approaching the equinox, something I am looking forward to because after the equinox we will have MORE daylight than most everyone else (except the few people who in fact live further north) rather than less.
So now to give a brief synopsis of all that occurred in the brief (albeit one day longer than 3/4 of the months of February) month of February. I traveled to Kiana with my middle school basketball team for four very long and tiring days. We were scheduled to leave Kobuk at 12:20, but left around 1:50. That meant a lot of waiting around. Matter of fact it started with a rush because we were in my room and heard a plane land at the airport. The kids went hurrying out only to learn that rather than being our charter flight, it was a cargo plane (not a big Everret's one, but a smaller one from Ryan Air - these are the two companies that fly cargo out to Kobuk). We waited outside for a while, then left our stuff at the airport and went back into the school until I talked to the Bering Air Agent and learned our plane was 14 minutes out. At that point we went out and stayed out until the plane arrived. We got to Kiana and had to chill in the school library because there was still about an hour left to the school day. After that we got our room assignments (for things like this you sleep in the classrooms, usually two schools in one room with the boys on one hall and the girls on another). The nice thing in Kiana, was they had beds for the coaches and chaperones - either chairs that folded out into beds -what I had - or air mattresses). I always take an air mat that actually fits into my sleeping bag, but the chair/bed was much better so I let one of my players use it instead. That afternoon at 4 the games began. We had our first game against Kiana at 6 and it was a slaughter! These kids were bigger, faster and just totally out-gunned my students (it didn't help that we lost three of our players in the last week before the tournament for behavior issues). We lost 67-8! The kids were okay out it though.
The next day we had to wait around all day while the Kiana kids were in school. I had brought math work and we also got permission to use their computer lab so the kids did math and keyboarding in the morning. We challenged the Selawik team to a math competition and were crushing them (my students really were the better math students), but the last question was a wager question and my students got it wrong and Selawik managed to pull out a win. It was so sad! In the afternoon we went around town and having seen how outclassed we were I bought some ice cream at the store for my students for after the tournament ended to cheer them up.
In the afternoon we teamed up with the Selawik kids to play an exhibition game against the Kiana girls team (the was the co-ed league tournament and neither the Selawik coach nor I wanted our kids too worn out from an exhibition game). We lost (somewhere in the neighborhood of 38-20), but the kids had a fantastic time and really loved teaming up. It worked well too because both schools jerseys were blue and white so we just meshed them together. Heather (the Selawik coach and also a friend from new teacher orientation) and I also worked well together.
That evening we played Kivalina. That was a shocking game. Remember, this is middle school basketball. They had girls on the team who had to be taller than me and at LEAST 50 pounds heavier than me, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it was more. They crushed us. The final score was 90-6. One of my players got injured in the game and I had to put my sub into the game. She was 10 and in fifth grade. She also had started playing basketball on Wednesday (remember it is Friday). She was trying so hard, but the player she was playing defense against could simply shoot straight over her outstretched arms like she wasn't even there! I'm afraid that defeat hurt me more than the kids.
By this point it was obvious that the two worst teams at this event were Kobuk and Selawik. The tournament was scheduled as a round-robin followed by the top 4 (of 5) teams playing in the championship round. I knew that the next morning's game between Kobuk and Selawik would determine which team played and which team was out. I went to Heather and suggested that we team up for that game. Whichever team won the Kobuk-Selawik game that coach would get to coach, but we would play both sets of players. She agreed. We spoke to the head of the tournament and he spoke to the Kivalina coach (because they were clearly going to be in first and first would play 4th). I hyped up the Selawik game because I knew this was the one game that even if we lost it would be a close game and I wanted the kids to be really into it (and I wanted to win). It was a great game. Much more along the lines of what I was expecting for middle school basketball. We won 24-19 and the kids were so psyched. The game had been at 9 am with breakfast not being served until after the game, so at breakfast we call our principal and put him on speaker phone. He went tot he school and made an announcement on the radio. The kids all called their parents. It was great.
Around noon we played Deering and they were great. My team was very much outclassed, but Deering let them play. They lost, but they came out feeling good.
At 4 the championship round began. Heather and I told the kids there was no way they would win (if they did Kivalina would have been mad, but we all new it was impossible) and to go out and have fun. They tried there three-pointers and any moves they wanted. We were crushed, but they had fun and that's what counts. After it was all over we had our ice cream and I think the kids had a very positive experience.
Since getting back there have been many other things going on as well. Last week when we still had some warmer weather and so on Monday I road in Corrine's dog sled and on Tuesday we played Muk Ball out on the lake. It was so much fun! Muk ball is kind of like soccer. Everyone is supposed to wear mukluks, but a lot of people don't have them so many people (including myself) played in boots. The problem with that is bruised shins. There were goals set up on either end and everyone from young children to elders played. The game starts (and after each goal) with one person from each team holding onto each other and picking the ball up and kicking off. Then the teams run from near their goals and start trying to kick the ball into the other goal. There are no out-of-bounds nor any fouls. Pretty much anything goes. People slip (the ice was covered in many feet of snow), especially where the snow is looser and fall. They also kick each other. I fell at one point near the end of the game and hit my head REALLY hard! I ended up with a headache for about 36 hours and I think I had a mild concussion, but nonetheless after sitting out for a short while I got back into the game at the last point and kicked the winning goal! It was so much fun.
Well. my battery is about dead. I have many other stories including some that I can post the pictures of (you may remember I don't post any pictures that have student in them), and I will try to post again soon.