YPS enrollment, card parties, volunteering

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Just as the Yukon Chamber of Commerce will soon celebrate reaching the 500-member plateau, will Yukon Public Schools plan a gala when 9,000 students are enrolled?

At the end of the 2019-20 school, YPS enrollment was 8,982 so it seems likely the 9,000 mark will be eclipsed soon. I can recall when Yukon school district enrollment surpassing 6,000 students made headlines.

Susie Grimes, a retired teacher who was president of the Yukon Community Education Advisory Council when I served 20 years ago, told me she recalled when reaching the 1,500-student enrollment mark was a huge deal.

I saw Susie at last Friday’s biannual Compassionate Hands’ Card Party at Town & Country Christian Church.

KNOWLEDGE TEST: What is the difference between biannual and biennial?
ANSWER: Biannual means “twice a year” while biennial means “every two years.”

While I was on an extended sabbatical in New Jersey, Compassionate Hands’ annual card party became a biannual event.

I can see why! The room was filled with about 100 people playing all sorts of card and table games. This friendly competition, which supports Yukon’s non-profit helping ministry, requires little promotion.

Susie was sitting at a table with three other esteemed retired Yukon educators, Charlotte Lopp, Barbara Fowler and Eleanor Harris. We had a great visit and they recalled yesteryear when I’d come out to the schools daily to take pictures of the many activities that occurred.

I remember each school had us take a “Student of the Month” picture … and all those spelling bee winners! This was before e-mail and digital cameras, when we newspaper reporters put a lot more miles on our cars. But I think it was better back then, when we’d stop by the schools regularly to cover student accomplishments first-hand.

I recall one week when I went to Lakeview Middle School every day to take pictures. How did I have the time?

During the 1990s and much of the 2000s, I got to know many Yukon teachers and principals well. One was Principal Carla Smith, who is starting her 25th year in Yukon. As the editor/reporter for a great community newspaper, I looked forward to sharing school stories with our readers.

As our society has evolved and social media has taken over so many people’s lives, we have lost much personal interaction. It has negatively affected our business and that is a shame.

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Well, the 2019-20 school year is right around the corner. St. John Nepomuk Catholic School starts classes next Monday, three days before Yukon Public Schools and Southwest Covenant Schools.

Recent talk of parents buying school supplies got me thinking about my favorite annual purchase as a kid – the Trapper Keeper. I miss those.

Anyway, yesterday was the annual New Teacher Luncheon presented by the Yukon Chamber of Commerce. It made our new teachers feel like royalty.

Almost 150 new teachers received goodie bags. I guess the term “goodie bag” is no longer in vogue; having been replaced with “swag bag.”

I gladly volunteered my services Monday alongside about two dozen Yukon Chamber volunteers stuffing those 150 bags with goodies, er, swag items.

We made an assembly line and managed to complete the task in about 20 minutes. Strength in numbers. Sherry Poage said it used to take several hours because only a few people would help.

It took several minutes for me to get the hang of it. It was tough keeping up with speedy bag stuffer Lynn Cook, who almost lapped me around the table.

Lynn was among several chamber ambassadors who were there to help stuff the new teacher bags. Ambassadors Lynn North, Marsha Pederson, “Mr. Eagle” Otis Davenport, and many others volunteer at many chamber events and spread “goodwill.”

The new teacher swag bags are like “Yukon Gold” for Yukon’s new school hires. They demonstrate appreciation from the business community and are proof positive that Yukon supports our educators.

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Back to last Friday’s Compassionate Hands’ Card Party:

The event was attended by the wives of two late Yukon grocery store legends. Players included Pat Snyder, who was married to longtime Yukon grocery store founder Jim Snyder and Margaret Albrecht, whose husband was Jim’s longtime manager Emil Albrecht. Jim and Emil were truly “Yukon Gold.”

I fondly recall doing my grocery shopping at Snyder’s IGA at 10 W Main. There was a human cashier checking you out at every lane and you had your groceries carried out to your car. Wow.

In recent years, the old Snyder’s building was converted to a business/event center. One occupant is the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, which has its luncheons in the banquet hall.
Another player at last Friday’s card party was Carol Schweitzer, who was instrumental in starting the Compassionate Hands’ “Care-A-Van” 25 years ago. Carol worked with the late Anton Yanda III and Alberta French to bring this wheelchair-accessible van service to Yukon.