Day in the Life of an Alaska Native
by Kyle Barril
(Kaa yik du aaxích)
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Riinnngggg.........SMACK!..... I'm up! Itís 5:00 A.M and I get out of bed, sluggishly getting on my clothes. Sleepy still I get all of my homework and shove it into my pack, while I am also getting dry towels and putting them into my swimming pack. Then I sprint out the door and hop into the car where my father drives my little brother (Shane) and I to the swimming pool. This is where I start each day - Augustus Brown Swimming Pool. We finally get there around 6:30 A.M. We walk into the lobby and the cashier tells us (Shane is with me) and all of the "old" people that they can go in. After the locker room ritual of dressing and showering I hit the pool for 16 laps - heís only sophomore in school who starts his day off with a swim!
After I am done I make myself pretty, (itís not hard, believe me) and walk next door to the school. I walk into the bottom back entrance, then I walk down the bare halls to my locker. I shove everything into my locker and walk up to the commons, where people are just starting to arrive on the busses. Once all of my friends get to our usual table, all of us are talking about anything, and some of us are even arm wrestling. As always it seems a short time until the bell rings, Ding....Ding.....Ding.........
For me it is time to head to class. For most of my friends it is time to hit the streets. I get up and tell them "see ya later," then about half of my friends leave to get in their last minute cigarette before class. I trudge my way into the halls to my next class through all of the masses of kids trying to get to their next class. As I walk into the band room I grab a seat and a stand and grab my music to get set up. We have a flex schedule but most days I have band first. I open up my monstrous case and grab out my tuba, and my bell. I fit the bell into the body and tighten the knobs. Just as I sit down and start to warm up Ding........ well class has started, and here comes the teacher. He is standing on the podium reading the bulletin. As kids around me start to talk the teacher screams, "SHUT UP!" It works and the room goes dead quiet. Once he is done reading the bulletin, we start playing, getting ready for music fest. Every song we play we have to stop about every 10 measures because we didn't do it right. Ding..... Finally class is over. I go back into the storage and put away the monstrous beast that I play. After it is put away I go and talk to all of my "White" friends, because there are no natives in my class. I grab my bag and trudge my way to the commons where I meet up with all of my friends. We say our Hi's and Bye's, and then I wade my way through the crowded halls to my next class.
Once I finally make it to my next class BOOM! I get run down by one of my "girl" friends, whose name is Hein. After recovering from the blow, I go over to my seat and sit down. Just then the bell rings, and my English teacher comes in and takes roll. When she finishes with the roll everyone gets comfortable as she puts in the movie Julius Caesar. We watch the movie for the whole period and then the bell rings, I get up and grab my things, and proceed to slowly walk my way up to geometry. Once I make it to my next class, I have about half of the class asking for answers to some of the problems. Once the bell rings the teacher asks us to turn in our homework,. As for the rest of the period we sit there and get lectured. Then finally the bell rings. Now it is time to go to lunch. Once I finally make it through the thick forests of students I go to the commons where all of my friends are getting ready to go outside to smoke their cigarettes. Then I sit there and eat lunch with my best friend Christina. Once we are about done all of our other friends come back in. In the commons we sit in our own little spot, this is where all of us Natives sit and hang out. After a little while all of my friends go out to have another cigarette before the bell rings to go to class. Once they leave, Christina and I go to our next class and talk with our favorite teacher, who is Miss Dybdahl. When the bell rings everyone rushes into their seats - this is Early Scholars Class and we cannot be late. If we are Dybdahl makes us sing in front of the class - and no one wants to do that!
Early Scholars is an important class for me because it is a class / program for Native students who are college bound and want to succeed. It is a small class and staying in it is based on your grades. I think it is one of the only classes that I know of that is for native students in high school, and hopefully it will help me get ready for college and a career.
Today, we are presenting group projects, and in my group of four I am with three of my friends, who are Christina, Tia, and Richae. Our project is on African tribal music. For a lot of native students presentations are hard becuase often native students are quiter, Iím lucky because our group does not mind speaking in front of the class. After all of the people finish presenting, the bell rings and everyone leaves the class. For a lot of people this means a break because Ms. Dybdahl has study hall for us after school in her room. We try to tutor each other to make sure our class can stay on track with grades. Today I cannot stay because I have after school plans.
After I leave, I go over to the bus that takes me over to Super Bear. Once I get on the bus, another one of my friends, whose name is Jasmine, come over and sits down in the seat across from me, and we talk. Once the bus finally makes it over to the store, I get out of the bus and walk over. Once I get into the store, I go into the warehouse, and there I meet my mother and I put all of my school things back there. Then I walk over to Riverbend elementary, where I help out at the culture club. Culture club for elementary kids is an afterschool program. Some days we do arts and crafts and other days we make food. Today we are making fry bread. What I do is help with the kids - giving instructions and spending some one on one time with them. I stay there until 4:30 and then I leave to go to my momís work - back to Super Bear.
The last thing on my crazy schedule is dance practice, another
one of my favorite things in the day. Our typical practice goes on for about
two hours. During this time we practice all of our songs, and we get ready for
any performances that we might have. Today our dance group is being interviewed
for a documentary that is going to be on TV. When the interviewer asked me why
I danced, I told him it was because I didn't want to see the culture die out,
and the only way to keep our Tlingit culture alive is through the language,
and our song and dance. That is true - our culture is dying and for me it is
very important to preserve it.
Once practice is over we all go home where my dad has already made dinner. After dinner I then go and do my homework. I am just starting at 8:00pm, and I have a lot to do. Once it is finally done, I go and feed my Bearded Dragon, frog, and rats. Then I take my dog for a walk. His name is Bandit. Now that I am finally back, I put my dog in his room, and got upstairs to brush my teeth and wash my face, ending my day much like it started. It is around 11:00, and then I finally go to bed. For me, the life of an Alaska Native student is hard and a lot of the time we are looked down on because we are different, and we are all considered the "bad" people. I work each day to try to chage that and to make my life different from a lot of lives before me.
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