Chugiak, Eagle River students take school spirit to heart

Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 14:42

By Matt Tunseth

Chugiak-Eagle River Star

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, high school students at Chugiak and Eagle River High are uniting to see who can help mend the most broken hearts.

In recognition of this year’s annual “Red Out” basketball games Friday between the two schools, students are selling t-shirts as a fundraiser for the American Heart Association. Although the event has become an annual tradition over the past few years, this year’s has a heartwarming touch – instead of competing against each other by selling red or white shirts, both schools are selling red shirts as a sign of togetherness.

“We would like to be able to come together as a community,” said Kyle Wisdom, the Eagle River student body president.

Wisdom said the idea is to raise as much money and awareness about heart disease as possible.

“It’s more impactful when you come and the stands are filled with all red t-shirts,” she said.

Students at each school have been selling the t-shirts for $10 each. The school that sells the most is the winner, but the real winner will be the 92 million Americans the heart association says are living with coronary disease or the after effects of stroke.

American Heart Association senior director of youth marketing in Alaska Sunni Danielowski said this will be the fourth year of the event. Last year Eagle River raised $1,500 and Chugiak raised $2,300.

“It’s gotten bigger every year,” she said.

The event will feature fun activities and information about heart health. That’s important to just about everyone, as 1 in 4 deaths per year are caused by heart disease, which costs the economy an estimated $316 billion in health care costs and lost productivity, according to the American Heart Association’s website,

Danielowski said the Feb. 3 event coincides with National Go Red Day, which raises awareness for women’s heart health. She also noted that February is National Heart Health Awareness Month.

Eagle River principal Marty Lang said the annual event is something that’s grown in popularity. The idea of having students from both schools working together is something that fosters community.

“It’s become a really good spirit thing between the two schools,” Lang said.

Lang said one of the things he likes best about the Chugiak-Eagle River rivalry is that it’s always been a friendly one.

“I’ve always appreciated as a principal that they can cheer back and forth, but at the end of the day they all come together and go have pizza together,” he said.

Danielowski said the joint fundraiser between the two high schools is the only one of its kind in Alaska.

“It’s really unique,” she said.

And completely driven by the students and faculty advisers at the two schools, she said.

“They meet and actually plan the event between the two of them,” she said.

The action tips off with the 6 p.m. girls game, with the boys to follow. Wisdom said there will be activities and prizes throughout, with the winner of the t-shirt selling competition announced during the boys game.

Lang praised the work of the Chugiak and Eagle River student governments and student bodies, and said the Red Out game is something he always looks forward to.

“It’s a reminder that we are all part of one bigger community,” he said.

He said he’s also heard lots of positive feedback from people who addend the games.

“They say, ‘Hey, this is what it should look like,’” he said. “It’s a great thing all around.”

Contact Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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