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Arctic Light Elementary School Recognized as National ESEA Distinguished School

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is pleased to announce that Arctic Light Elementary School has been named a National ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) Distinguished School by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development.

Arctic Light was selected as a Category 3 of the ESEA Award–a school that has shown excellence in serving special populations of students. Arctic Light received recognition for excellence in serving their English Language Learners (ELL) students. Arctic Light is one of up to 100 schools throughout the country being nationally recognized. Only two schools per state can be named each year.

The National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program publicly recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for positive educational advances and the outstanding academic achievements of their students. 

“This award is an especially prestigious honor for your school, staff, and students. Congratulations for the hard work put into increasing student achievement and providing opportunities for all students to succeed,” said Dr. Deena Bishop, Commissioner of Alaska Department of Education & Early Development.

Arctic Light is located on Fort Wainwright. The school serves approximately 460 students in pre-K through 5th grade, with 97% military-connected students. This is Rachel Blackwell’s first year as principal at Arctic Light Elementary and she has been a teacher and administrator in the district for 10 years.

“At Arctic Light we serve a unique population of students that come to us from all over the world. Our students are almost all military-connected and they bring diverse experiences that make our school amazing,” said Principal Blackwell. “We are proud to welcome and serve all of our students as they come to us. Our staff works hard to make every student and family feel welcome and accepted at our school and we love building relationships and connections with our students and their families to help ensure their success at school. We are so pleased to receive this recognition and I deeply appreciate the contributions and efforts of every staff member that has made this possible for our Arctic Light community.” 


The last time a FNSBSD school received National ESEA recognition was in 2022 when Denali Elementary received the ESEA Category 2 award.

Learn more about National ESEA Distinguished Schools.