Rashae Ophus Johnson

After being spared from state budget cuts that would have shuttered CCS Early Learning center in Chugiak, preschool is back in session for a 48th year in the little red schoolhouse on the Old Glenn Highway. But the 15 vacant seats remaining to be filled are a new issue in the center, which historically has reached maximum enrollment every year.

“Take me to a mountain.”

Going up is how Susie Smith gets right. Immediately upon discovery of cancer in her rib, fleeing up an Arctic Valley trail was like a primal “flight” instinct. Her epic “fight” response mobilized later and again led up — 19,341 feet up, to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

“The mountains are just my place,” Smith mused. “It’s where I find peace. It’s where I go to regulate. It is what fills my soul.”

Garcia’s Cantina makes muchas margaritas. In fact the Eagle River restaurant moves more Jose Cuervo tequila than any other establishment in Alaska, a distinction that earned its owners the perk of crafting their very own special edition tequila.

“We have an ultra premium tequila you can’t get anywhere else, a signature tequila of Garcia’s Cantina,” co-owner Jason Hemphill said. “So it’s a big deal.”

The Bear Paw Festival parade Saturday morning stretched nearly as long as the parade route along the Old Glenn and Business Boulevard, with 117 entries and roughly 20 more applicants turned away for lack of space.

“We have to make sure the beginning doesn’t catch up to the end,” laughed Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce executive director Debbie Rinckey, noting that the traditional limit is set at 100 entries.

Stunned by the combined loss of five students to suicide in the past year, Eagle River and Chugiak high schools are teaming up to bring the subject of suicide into the light. Hundreds are expected to gather the morning of Saturday, April 21, at Town Square Park for Eagle River’s first annual Out of the Darkness Walk to raise awareness, funds and hope for suicide prevention.

After some debate and much speculation, both Gruening and Mirror Lake middle schools will be returning to a seven-period school day next fall.

This year for the first time, middle schools across Anchorage School District squeezed eight 40-minute class periods into each school day.

The eighth period was incorporated at the recommendation of scheduling consultants to accommodate the “multi-tiered system of support”, a district-wide early detection and intervention effort targeting students’ individual academic, social/emotional and behavioral needs.

Wrestling often comes in last to mainstream sports in most places, and not just in alphabetical lists. The crowds, funding and press coverage tend to trail more popular sports like hockey and football.

But in Chugiak and Eagle River, wrestling boasts a rich history and a thriving community rooted in the Chugach Eagles Wrestling Club, which has cultivated a line of Alaska state champions and Division I collegiate wrestlers dating back a quarter of a century.

Seventh-grader Josh Saylor had never encountered the word “pompier” before he was challenged to spell it as the winning word in the Alaska State Spelling Bee last week.

But the Mirror Lake Middle School spelling whiz was undaunted. He requested the word origin (French) and confidently spelled P-O-M-P-I-E-R to secure the statewide spelling championship for the second year in a row.

“I would have spelled it wrong if I didn’t know it was a French word,” Saylor said demurely.

The theft of around 50 Anchorage municipal election ballots from Chugiak mailboxes in a theft spree last week has triggered an ongoing investigation by federal postal inspectors and Anchorage police.

After months of reports about Amazon packages, passports and birthday cash swiped from Chugiak mailboxes, neighborhood crime watch apps and social media pages were abuzz with mail theft reports starting early Friday morning, March 16. Residents posted photos of entire clusters of emptied mailboxes left agape as well as patches of discarded mail and ballots littering various streets.