Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Retired teachers scholarships

Scholarship recipients Sydney Barker of Lathrop High School, Oljanna Kind of West Valley High School and Zeber Kahn of Ben Eielson High School visit with Judy Rae Smith, who spearheads the scholarship program for the Fairbanks Retired Teachers Association. 

Three college-bound students attended the Fairbanks Retired Teachers Association luncheon Monday to thank the group for scholarships they were awarded for their continuing education.

This year, teachers bestowed five $1,500 scholarships upon graduating seniors from Lathrop High School, West Valley High School and for the first time, Ben Eielson High School. This money is raised by donations into jars at the group’s monthly meetings and at the annual Christmas bazaar at Fairbanks Lutheran Church. This year, that bazaar will take place 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Here are the scholarship winners:

Sydney Barker graduated from Lathrop High School and is headed to Northern Arizona University where she intends to study global marketing with a minor in civil engineering. She is a longtime volunteer at local events supporting cancer and heart disease research to honor family members who have suffered from those diseases.

Oljanna Kind is a West Valley High School graduate and will attend Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She plans to study mathematics. She has a long history of volunteering. Working with Fairbanks Lutheran Church, she established a weekend food program for students at Joy School. Another program she was active in provided gloves and mittens for young students. She coached Mathcounts at Watershed School and worked at Joy School’s after school program as a tutor and instructor in their coding class.

She hopes to become a secondary STEM teacher.

Zeber Khan graduated from Ben Eielson High School and has lived his entire life in Alaska. He recently joined the Air National Guard where he intends to become an aircraft hydraulic systems mechanic. When he returns to college, he will study engineering.

“He will be the first deferred scholarship we have offered, and we’re proud to be supporting someone invested in our military,” said Judy Rae Smith, who spearheads the scholarship program for FRTA.

Two other recipients were unable to attend the special luncheon. They are Erika Bennett of Lathrop High School and Ethan Raygor of West Valley High School.

Bennett will attend Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. As a young child, she was severely injured in an automobile accident. The experience of that accident and the after effects of coping with recovery led to her career goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

Raygor is a scholar-athlete who is currently at Boise State University for preseason soccer. He suffered an injury that required physical therapy. He found the results so beneficial that he now intends to become a physical therapist himself.


Gardening classes

September may not seem like the right time of year to take a class on gardening, but for a beginner like me, it is perfect.

Registration is open now for an eight-week gardening class taught by master gardener Terry Reichardt. The class meets 6-8 p.m. Mondays at First Presbyterian Church, beginning Sept. 30. Participants will learn how to successfully grow all kinds of vegetables and how to cook and store them. The church is located at 547 Seventh Ave.

UAF Cooperative Extensive Service sponsors the series of classes. Fee is $20. For more information or to reserve a spot, call 452-2406.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.