Denali Elementary School is Fairbanks' oldest operating school. Built in 1951, Denali replaced the original K-12 school in Fairbanks, Main School, which remained a high school for many years - eventually becoming the school districts administration building.
Time For a ChangeEdit
Voters approved a bond issue to replace Denali with another building to be built in the baseball fields adjacent to the school. The new school, also called Denali, was built during the summer of 2004 and completed in May of 2005. It will continue to serve the Denali school community.
Preparing to MoveEdit
The month of May was hectic for teachers who had to have their classrooms boxed up, ready to vacate the building two days after the last day of school. Teachers have many administrative duties at the end of each year. Teachers worked late into the night one Friday evening in order to get books and supplies boxed up and labeled for the move.
Students were intrigued with the prospect of beginning a new year in a brand new building. They heard that it has an elevator, and all of them want to ride in it even though it only goes up one floor. On the day before students left for their summer break, they were all photographed as a group standing in front of both buildings. The new building is bright and colorful, but it lacks the mature landscaping that graces the original. After the photo was taken, students were asked to each bring an item from the old building into the new one. They went on a brief tour of their new school, and were generally impressed with how bright and colorful it is. Several of them noticed that the new classrooms are smaller than their old rooms.
Looking BackEditThe community held a memorial service for the school on May 20. Tim Doran, the principal, gave students and visitors permission (that day only) to "leave their mark" on the walls of the school. Several hundred people attended a brief performance in the gym which included a slideshow of the school's history and music by the school choir and band. Teachers joined the band in singing "If These Walls Could Talk." After the presentation, the crowd dispersed throughout the school. Sections of the building walls were reserved for alumni from the various decades to leave tributes to the school. It was interesting to walk around the school and observe the groups. It was crowded where the 1950's &60's folks congregated. They clearly outnumbered the people from other decades. And they didn't want to leave. After they were done writing, they stayed to visit with each other. It was a spontaneous class reunion of sorts.
The Beginning of the EndEdit
Demolition on Denali began on June 10, 2005. A large backhoe began demolishing the school gym. A water hose was used to keep the debris wet and prevent the dust from being carried to nearby residences. Red barrier tape was strung around the perimeter of the entire block that the school is on. The street in front of the school was closed to traffic. Progress on the demolition was steady, and the building was completely gone by the end of June, 2005. In the middle of the day all the students put their name on the wall. Now in front of the new school there's a rock of the school.
A New StartEdit
This is what some Denali fourth graders have to say about Denali.
The old Denali was a awesome school and I wish I could still go there but now we have a new school to go to with new people and with different discovories.
I miss the old Denali. My third grade teacher Mrs. Stredny she was a really nice teacher. Now we have a new school with lots of new people and lots of new discoveries.
Denali was a great school. Now there is a denali 2.