Four years ago, the Arctic sea ice melted so much that the man-made gravel islands, upon which the drilling pads sit,
became too unstable to use.
The escalating warming temperatures and the melting permafrost of the tundra caused the pipeline to buckle and ice roads to be unbuildable.
Production of oil on the North Slope stopped immediately.
Class sizes tripled: 50 students in each class for elementary school. More than 100 in some classes in high school. Thousands of teachers across the state were immediately without a job. I was high enough on the seniority list that I was one of the lucky ones.
I continued to teach in Alaska primarily because of students like John. How could I leave them when their world was disintegrating around them? Their families had no money, they were getting less attention from teachers at schools. They needed the teachers they knew and loved to be their stability. So I stayed.
Then the day came. The schools were closed. The school board was disbanded and it became the responsibility of each family to figure out how to pay for their child's education. School was no longer free in Alaska.
We had not listened.
John somehow always knows when I come to the empty school building. I meet with him and a few other students here twice a week and we read the novel sets I own. Although not an education, I'm trying to do my best to help those students who cannot afford to pay for private tutoring or online classes. Today is no different, he's at the school.
John is sitting on the old bench in the playground with the view of Lazy Mountain and Pioneer Peak waiting for me. I gather my computer and headset out of the car and walk over to him. Today is the day. I know it has too be. He's eleven now and should be attending middle school. He's too old to believe in the fairytale of "school opening again."
Created with images by Unknown - "Free photo Bronze Listen To To Listen Sculpture The ..." • Banter Snaps - "untitled image" • Roxanne Desgagnés - "untitled image" • dalibro - "ice glacier north" • Michael James - "untitled image" • hpgruesen - "oil port sea bridge conveyors" • asoggetti - "untitled image" • Mahkeo - "untitled image" • Jonathan Mast - "untitled image" • NeONBRAND - "untitled image" • stux - "black board chalk traces" • Feliphe Schiarolli - "untitled image" • Counselling - "child education fear" • Unknown - "Free vector graphic: Diversity, Ethnic, Global - Free ..." • Anthony Ginsbrook - "untitled image" • Nitin Mathew - "untitled image"