The inaugural Iceworm Festival began in 1961 and has had excited locals ever since. The beloved week-long event will begin on Jan. 28 with an abundance of activities for all. A time-honored tradition of the festival, the crowning of Miss Iceworm, will commence on Feb. 3. The Cordova Times chatted with the spirited candidates about their goals and dreams, what makes them happy and what it means to be crowned Miss Iceworm.
Sadie Fry, 14, freshman
Sadie Fry is a new Cordovan and moved here recently with her family. She is used to small community dynamics. “The village I lived in until I was 12 only had about 350 people. Then we moved to Nome before moving to Cordova,” said Fry, who shared she got to see an Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race finish while living in Nome. She is enjoying her first year of high school and meeting new people, she shared. Fry, an imaginative young lady, is an avid reader; she read 68 books last year. One of her favorite genres is children’s fiction and fantasy.
Fry loves to run and is on the cross-country team. “My dad in the village was the cross-country coach because both of my sisters did it.”
The title of Miss Iceworm is significant to Fry because it’s a big deal in town and just being nominated by the teachers is special to her, she shared. “I have heard there was a scholarship. That would be cool because it would help me accomplish what I want to do for college.”
She has thought about what she wants to do as a career and all options involve helping others — a nurse, a teacher or veterinarian comes to her mind. Fry also has dreams and goals for the near future and beyond. “Short term: this year I want to read 100 books, and up my game. Long term, I want to go to college and go on a church mission, that seems really cool. Eventually, I want to have a family.”
Some skills Fry would like to develop are becoming more patient and practicing being a little less stressed. Fry’s favorite things about living in Cordova are the school system, how involved the community is and the great teachers.
“I have a couple good quotes: ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.’ I really must remember that one. If you want to succeed you have to prepare,” said Fry.
Alayna Goss, 15, sophomore
Alayna Goss, born and raised in Utah, moved to Cordova in 6th grade with her family. The sporty sophomore and team player strives to leave it all on the court and plays with heart on the high school basketball team. “I wake up every morning excited to go to practice and be better than I was yesterday, and winning games. Even if I don’t win on the scoreboard, winning by doing better than I have done in other games is a win to me,” said Goss.
She thinks about her future and plans for the next step often. She aspires to become a veterinarian, and she hopes to get a sports or academic scholarship for college. For now, she helps take care of four pets at home, three dogs and a cat. “Going to college makes me excited. I want to go somewhere I have never been before,” said Goss.
Being crowned Miss Iceworm would be a “great honor,” she shared, and she believes her role model mentality can have a positive impact. “I play sports and I keep my grades up. I think I would be a good example and show other people I care about the community,” said Goss, the oldest of three siblings. Her youngest sister looks up to her, she shared, and she wants to be a good influence for her. Goss loves to write when she has free time. A skill she would like to hone is time management.
Her favorite things about living in Cordova are the community, her great friendships and seeing people she knows around town.
“There was a message from a video I watched, it said, ‘Life doesn’t get easier, you just get better at handling it.’ I think that is true. I think I should push myself and accomplish things rather then get over them,” Goss said.
Phoebe Tschappat, 14, freshman
Phoebe Tschappat, born in Valdez, moved to Cordova in 1st grade. She currently is immersed in her first year of high school and likes all her classes, including choir and French. “I always thought it would be cool to go to Europe and be able to speak the language,” said Tschappat. Things that make her over the moon happy are art, being close to her friends and spending time in the great outdoors, she shared. “I love to draw, play piano and sing. I also love being around my friends, snowboarding and skiing and being in nature.”
Being crowned Miss Iceworm holds great significance for Tschappat. “It’s such an honor because you’re representing a lot of the young women in Cordova,” said Tschappat. The sweet cheerleader shared that at high school games, little girls “want high fives and want to take pictures with us,” and she feels she is a role model and wants to rise to the occasion.
Some of her dreams include continuing to create art and pursuing a career in the medical field, she shared. Currently, Tschappat is working on illustrating her own coloring book. “I want to publish coloring books in the future, that would be really cool, and maybe pursue a medical career. I think being a traveling nurse would be so cool because you get to help people.” Some skills she would like to develop more are writing, singing and improving upon her artwork. “You can always get better, I feel. I have skills but I can always get better at them,” said Tschappat. She shared her favorite things about living in Cordova are being by both the ocean and mountains and being totally surrounded by nature.
“I am an older sister; I have two younger sisters and another sister on the way. It’s really important for me to always be a good role model. I feel like I’ve learned to be a good role model by being a big sister,” said Tschappat.
Grace Collins, 18, senior
Grace Collins, born in Palmer, moved to Cordova with her family when she was two years old. Her family has a cabin close to McCarthy that she enjoys traveling too, and the “area is really impressive,” said Collins. She is ecstatic about the future and seeing the vast expanse of the world. The musically inclined senior enjoys creating art, participating in choir and snapping photos, particularly of wildlife. “I am excited to travel and experience everything. What makes me really happy is being with friends and interacting with people. Art, music and photography and appreciating beauty. Sometimes I’ll write some lyrics and sing them over my acoustic guitar,” said Collins.
Being crowned Miss Iceworm is a highly anticipated event, and Collins is thrilled at the opportunity. “Everyone is wondering who is going to be Miss Iceworm. It’s a pretty big deal locally. It would be an honor to win. I think there are a lot of young kids that look up to Miss Iceworm, and it would mean a lot to me. The scholarship would be an added benefit,” said Collins.
She is pondering what college to attend and what she’d like to study, she shared. Collins wants to find something that makes her truly happy as a career. “I want it to be something that I can explore with and that I am passionate about. I am very open to finding new things to be interested in,” said Collins. A skill she wants to develop is her music. “You can always get better and practice.” She hopes to work on a more organized schedule.
Collins favorite things about Cordova is how much the community gives back and the scenery. “It’s nice to step outside and be in nature,” said Collins.
“Appreciate what you have. Now that I am going to be leaving Cordova soon for college or traveling, I realize how much I appreciate it and how lucky I am to have grown up here. Be thankful, tell your loved ones how much you love them,” said Collins.
Morgan Saiget, 15, freshman
Morgan Saiget, originally from Oregon, shared that her first year of high school has been busy. “There are so many more activities and things to be involved in,” said Saiget. Her classes include band, where she plays the important role of percussionist, and Spanish, which she shares is really interesting. “We have been cooking Spanish recipes every few weeks,” Saiget said. She also loves to play piano and takes lessons during her free time. The adventurous freshman wants to check out the Lower 48 more after she completes high school. “I really want to explore after I graduate, I feel like there are a lot of places to see in the U.S.,” said Saiget.
She really enjoys being around her good friends and contemporary and ballet dancing. “When you can feel comfortable with your friends and there is no pressure, I live for those moments. I really love dancing, I can relax and have fun with it,” said Saiget.
Being crowned Miss Iceworm, Saiget shared, would be a huge honor. “When you read the description, it says recognizing the talented young women of Cordova. The title is the appreciation of you representing that. It’s cool that the judges single you out, recognizing this person has a lot of potential,” said Saiget.
She wants to do something big and meaningful in the future, and she enjoys teamwork and problem solving. “I want to have a job that has an impact on a lot of people, a position where I work that’s making a difference, something that’s not inconsequential,” said Saiget. Some skills she would like to develop more are dancing and in-depth writing. Saiget’s favorite parts about living in Cordova are the location, having “everything we need,” and spending a perfect day in nature.
“For me one of the most important things is experiencing everything I want to do in my life. See everything I want to see,” said Saiget.
Aaliyah Tiedeman, 18, senior
Aaliyah Tiedeman, born in Anchorage, is excited graduation is on the horizon this year. “It’s been nice living here all my life, but I am ready to experience new things,” said Tiedeman. The active senior loves playing on the basketball and volleyball teams. “I think looking up to players when I was younger influenced me to play basketball,” said Tiedeman, who said getting into sports opened a lot of doors and helped her meet new friends. What brings her joy is creating all kinds of art: drawings, sketching and painting, and getting exposure to brand new things. Tiedeman shared she likes traveling to Wisconsin and Michigan in the Lower 48 with her family. Tiedeman feels Miss Iceworm highlights a person’s close involvement in the community. “It shows that you are a good piece of the community, and you represent the community with grace and dignity,” said Tiedeman. If she becomes Miss Iceworm, Tiedeman plans on using the scholarship money for academics — she plans on attending a community college to become an ultrasound technician. Tiedeman’s dreams include being successful and being open to new things. “And always choosing myself and bettering myself. Also choosing more than one source of income, and focusing on mental health, that’s a big thing,” said Tiedeman, who enjoys meditating and yoga. She would like to develop more people skills and “practice talking to people more often.”
Tiedeman’s favorite things about living in Cordova are the beautiful environment and the bond the community has. “Growing up it’s really nice to live in a place with nice air quality, and all these things you wouldn’t have if you lived in a city,” said Tiedeman, who shared she hunts and fish during the season.
“A word of advice: When you present yourself, always be nice to people because you never know what someone else is going through,” said Tiedeman.