Superintendent’s Corner

March 18, 2020

Dear GCSD Families and Community Members:

As Bob Dylan sang … “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The past week in particular has transformed the face of education (and many other aspects of life) in Alaska. With the World Health Organization declaring the spread of the COVID-19 virus a worldwide pandemic, our nation, along with many nations, is taking drastic measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. As I’m sure you know, Alaska’s officials mandated the closure of all Alaska K-12 public schools, including after-school activities, to students until at least Monday, March 30. Our GILA residential school students are being sent home as I type. School staff are spending this week and next week preparing to educate Alaska’s students remotely (which we do know that we’re going to be doing for our GILA students until the end of the school year) starting March 30 if State officials keep the schools closed for a longer period of time.

Please know that GCSD is doing its utmost to help society mitigate the spread (“flatten the curve,” is the phrase being used) of COVID-19. Thank you all for also practicing the recommendations of the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) such as frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds, social distancing with at least six feet between yourself and others, hands to yourself (no hand shaking), no touching of your face, etc. Please go to the CDC website for more particulars … on how to protect yourself and your family.

In these unprecedented times, I do want to spend some time reminding everyone of exciting recent news related to the amazing educational opportunities that occur within GCSD’s various programs. During late February, GCSD students competed in the Battle of the Books statewide competition.

  • GCSD’s high school team took 1st place out of 18 teams
  • GCSD’s middle school team took 1st place out of 26 teams
  • GCSD’s 5th/6th grade team took 5th place out of 31 teams
  • GCSD’s 3rd/4th grade team was took 9th place out of 31 teams

Additionally, during early March, GCSD students competed in the statewide Academic Decathlon competitions. Our Academic Decathlon teams performed extremely well. For large Division I schools, IDEA Team I took 2th place overall and IDEA Team II took 4th place overall. Our 19 IDEA competitors earned four gold medals, eight silver medals, and 10 bronze medals. For medium-sized Division II schools, our SHS/GILA Team took 3rd place.

While proud of our students’ accomplishments in the Academic Decathlon and Battle of the Book competitions, Team Galena also celebrates each GCSD student’s individual growth and academic achievement thus far this 2019-20 school year.

March is also a busy month for IDEA and GILA as each program prepares for our spring and summer advertising and enrollment campaigns. Recognized statewide as an innovative district, GCSD continues improving enrollment and advertising campaigns targeting cutting-edge social media platforms, especially Google and Facebook. We intend to provide prospective families more focused content regarding GCSD’s educational opportunities to help them choose the most appropriate GCSD program to meet their student’s needs.

In closing, GCSD delights to serve all of our new and returning families and students. Please contact me at the phone number above or the email address below if you would like to discuss any aspect of this letter in greater detail, or if you would like more information on any district initiative.

Thoughts and prayers with you all during these extraordinary times. Be well!

Yours in Education,


Jim Merriner, GCSD Superintendent