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Sitka Pioneers' Home to house Mt. Edgecumbe honor students
Home had available rooms, students will stay until new school
dormitory is completed...


August 06, 2004

Sitka, Alaska - The Sitka Pioneers' Home, in the Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) July 30 with Mt. Edgecumbe High School (MEHS) to house 30 honor students during the upcoming school year. Because the Sitka Pioneers' Home is not at full capacity and currently has no active waiting list, using the home for temporary housing for Mt. Edgecumbe students will not impact the Sitka Pioneers' Home services. No current resident will be asked to move from the home, and no services for prospective residents will be delayed.

"This is really a unique and great opportunity for the Sitka Pioneers' Home and for students coming to Mt. Edgecumbe High School for the first time," said John Vowell, Director of Alaska Pioneer Homes. "I know of no other residential facility anywhere that has the potential to bring together two of our state's greatest resources - our elders and our young people."

Thirty female sophomores, juniors and seniors will arrive at the Sitka Pioneers' Home on Aug. 13, where they will live in a consolidated set of rooms until December 2004. Their stay may extend through the school year, to May 2005, depending on completion of the new Mt. Edgecumbe High School dormitory. "I think this is a win-win for the Sitka Pioneers' Home and for Mt. Edgecumbe High School," said Bill Denkinger, MEHS Superintendent. "I look forward to the students interacting with the Pioneers' Home residents. Although they will only be there for a few months, they will be able to make some valuable connections with elders. The students are absolutely excited about their upcoming residency at the Sitka Pioneers' Home," said Denkinger.

Last year, Governor Frank Murkowski signed legislation enabling Mt.Edgecumbe High School to increase enrollment. However, the increase was not possible because the school needed more dormitory space. "The Governor's Office proposed that some of the available space in the Sitka Pioneers' Home could be used as temporary housing for the students while the new dormitory is being built," said Vowell. "We moved ahead with the plan, and just signed a MOA with Mt. Edgecumbe High School."

Georgina Dapcevich, Sitka Pioneers' Home Administrator, said the new students are all honor students. They will stay in a separate area from staff and residents, and be supervised by staff. "It really makes a lot of sense for us to use available space in our facility and help another state agency who needs space right away," said Dapcevich. "It fits our philosophy to ensure that elders are not segregated from the community, and to bring young people into the Pioneers' Home for intergenerational activities." Dapcevich said that the Sitka Pioneers' Home already houses a Headstart program and that interaction has been beneficial for all parties.

"There's a lot of support for this project in the Sitka community," said Joel Gilbertson, DHSS Commissioner. "There's an auditorium at the Pioneers' Home, and other facilities and resources contributing to unique sharing opportunities for the students and the residents. I commend Mt. Edgecumbe High School Superintendent Bill Denkinger, the Sitka Pioneers' Home staff, and the Division of Alaska Pioneer Homes staff for their collaboration."


Source of News Release:

Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
Web Site


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