Tanana History
  • The very existence of Tanana Junior High can be directly attributed in part of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline boom era. It was a time when money and humanity were plentiful. The combination of the two created the need for more schools to serve the burgeoning population of Fairbanks. School Board minutes from the period suggest there was both community and financial support to build not only an in-town junior high school, but also one that would serve Ft. Wainwright.  The 20-acre parcel in Hamilton Acres, off of Trainor Gate Road was suitable and selected! Choosing an official name for the school was the next major decision. The “Old Main” tag had been put on the school since a junior high had been housed in the downtown building since 1959, current site of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Office, but with the new construction it was time for a new identity! The students were allowed to nominate and vote on several names and “Tanana Junior High” was selected! Thus, Tanana is named after the river, the Alaska Native Culture, and the Interior Valley where Fairbanks is located. Tanana opened for classes in the fall of 1975. When the 86,000 square foot structure opened,  the building was not completed when classes began. PE classes were held in separate classrooms and students ate lunch in the Family Consumer Science room. Originally built to serve 800 students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, Tanana’s first year of enrollment was 774 students! The original school colors were orange and white. However, there were some black wrestling uniforms lying around the Old Main building and they were used by the Tanana Wrestling team. Since everyone liked the look, Tanana became more closely linked to the Halloween colors of orange and black! The final addition to Tanana, a second gymnasium, was completed in the summer of 1987 adding increased space for physical education, as well as, increased capacity for extra-curricular activities!