By: John Robbins
Toksook Bay, AK – Michael Robbins, a Thiel College alumnus that graduated in 1996, is the current principal of the Nelson Island School in Toksook Bay, Alaska. The idea for a school-based radio station came to mind during the height of the pandemic in the spring. “We had found out that in the Spring it had become difficult to communicate with families because over 90 percent of our families do not have access to internet. The radio station that is housed at the school would help us to connect to our families and community,” said Mr. Robbins.
The radio station serves more than just a purpose for the school. It also provides information for the community at large. Besides the help for school, Mr. Robbins hopes that “[The radio station] communicates to the people school updates, Yugtun stories, and have assignments attached to those stories. This helps our students who need support in a dual language school, and we wanted to bring Islander sports to the community if they weren’t able to come to the school on a Friday night.”
The start of the radio station created national interest. Mr. Robbins was shocked by the attention it got stating “I was really surprised that it became a national story. All we were trying to do is make a connection with our students. That is the most important thing.”
Michael Robbins credits most of his real-world success to what he learned at Thiel in and out of the classroom. “Thiel taught me that connecting with people is essential to all things that you do in life. The connection with our students has been broken because of the global pandemic, however, the radio gives us a chance to talk to them every day in some form,” said Mr. Robbins. “I hope we will be out of this current state [in a couple years] and we just want to bring Islander sport and stories to our amazing community.”