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Story Last modified at 9:59 p.m. on Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Begich in Anchorage to tout "STEM" education

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich was in Anchorage this week to continue what he calls an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind Act. To better prepare Alaska's students for the future, Begich on Feb. 21 announced he is reintroducing his education legislation designed to promote science, technology, engineering, and math – or STEM, for short. Speaking to the Alaska Society for Technology in Education at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Begich emphasized that No Child Left Behind does not work for Alaska.

"The one-size-fits-all model of No Child Left Behind needs to be overhauled," Begich said. "In too many cases it has tied teachers' and principals' hands and punished schools when they needed help the most."

Instead, Begich is proposing The Effective STEM Teaching and Learning Act, or STEM. Designed to prepare American students for a global economy, the STEM Act establishes competitive grants to help states develop comprehensive STEM strategies, he said in a press release. Only 16 percent of America's undergraduate degrees are in STEM-related fields, which compares poorly to other nations. China has 52 percent, Japan 64 percent and South Korea 41percent.

"Graduating from high school prepared for college and careers in this new economy means having a solid grounding in STEM," Begich said. "But those subjects are not just for future scientists and engineers. A STEM education is essential preparation for all students – in order to help them succeed and keep our nation competitive."

Festival of Music to give Young Alaskan Artist award to aspiring classical musician

Anchorage Festival of Music announces its 13th annual Young Alaskan Artist Award competition. This award provides a solo, professional, debut recital in Anchorage and money to a young, aspiring classical musician pursuing a music performance degree in college.

Young artists previously selected for this award are ready to transition to the professional world and include Jaren Philleo, oboe, from Fairbanks; Audrey Solomon, violin, from Anchorage; Jennifer Bacon, soprano, from Willow; Damian Primis, bassoon, from Eagle River; Evan Drummond, classical guitar, from Anchorage; Pamela Harris, French horn, from Fairbanks; Christine Keene, soprano from Anchorage, Molly Emerman, violin from Anchorage; John Plucker, French horn from Haines; Kate Emerman, soprano from Anchorage, Megan Bledsoe, harpist from Anchorage, Christopher Hopkins, cellist from Fairbanks, Sydnee Waggoner, soprano from Anchorage, Elena Bird, soprano from Kenai, and Patrick Hopkins, cellist from Fairbanks.

Any Alaskan pursuing a college degree or program in music performance at an accredited institution is eligible. Applicants must be at least college freshmen to apply. They must also submit two letters of recommendation, a completed application form, a minimum of a 30-minute recording and the $25 application fee. Applications must be postmarked no later than May 16, 2011, and are available at

Chamber hosts luncheon for outstanding educators

The Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and the Chugiak-Eagle River Foundation will present the 2011 Excellence in Education Awards at a luncheon at noon March 2 at the Eagle River Elks Lodge, 17111 N. Eagle River Loop Road. Superintendent Carol Comeau will be on hand to do the presentation. The cost is $14 for Chamber members, $16 for nonmembers and $3 for coffee/tea. Reservations are requested. Contact 694-4702 or

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, February 23, 2011.