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School Transition Information & Next Steps for Ben Eielson - Update from Superintendent | March 2024

Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2024
Subject: School Transition Info & Next Steps

Dear Ben Eielson, Salcha, Anderson-Crawford families and staff,

The school board made the difficult decision last week to close Ben Eielson Jr/Sr High, effective at the end of this school year. I know this is incredibly challenging for the students, families, and staff at Ben Eielson and it’s my priority to make sure our students are able to hit the ground running at the start of next school year and continue to excel as they continue their education journey.

Timeline

The following events are already in progress or scheduled, with more to come for North Pole Middle. More information will go out as event details are finalized.

  • March 25-29 - North Pole High registration at Ben Eielson during Advisory/Extension time

    • North Pole High Counseling Tech and Counselors are on-site at Ben Eielson to answer questions and assist with this process

  • April 9-11 - 10:00am - 12:30pm - Student tours at North Pole High

  • April 11 - 9:15am - 11:30am - Student tours at North Pole Middle

  • April 11 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm - Evening event at North Pole High

  • April 15-17 - Personal Learning & Career Plans at Ben Eielson - parents are welcome to attend

  • April 16 - North Pole Middle registration at Ben Eielson during the school day

    • North Pole Middle Counselors and Principal will be on-site at Ben Eielson to answer questions and assist with this process

  • Late April - TBD - Half-day retreat for Ben Eielson and North Pole High student councils to come together

  • Late April - TBD - Half-day retreat for Ben Eielson and North Pole High JROTC to come together 

  • May 3 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm - Evening Open House event at North Pole Middle

  • May 10 - Patriot Day - Ben Eielson students visit North Pole High

Parent Advisory Committee

Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools, Sarah Gillam, in coordination with base representation, is forming a parent advisory committee to provide input and support during this transitional period. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What options will there be for families with younger siblings who need after school care?

    The start and end times for Anderson-Crawford Elementary could be shifted later in the day, so that their dismissal aligned with the approximate arrival time of buses from North Pole Middle and High. This would allow older students to pick up their younger siblings from the elementary school.

  • Will this impact my junior level student receiving the UA Scholarship?

    The determination of UA Scholars is made at the end of students’ Junior year at their enrolled school. The current Junior class (enrollment of 40) would qualify for the UA Scholarship if they are in the top 10% of their Ben Eielson Junior Class.

  • How will JROTC options be impacted?

    Both Ben Eielson Jr/Sr High and North Pole High currently run Air Force JROTC programs and collaborate on many different activities throughout the school year. As they are both affiliated with the Air Force, their curriculum is aligned. Student leadership structure, these elections typically take place in the spring, but could be held in the fall to allow for the two groups to come together and make connections and determine the best plan for consolidation.

  • What options will my student who is currently involved in student government have?

    Similar to the JROTC program, student government is willing to wait to hold officer elections until the fall so that a broader conversation could take place to determine the best way to include and ensure representation of the Ben Eielson students. NPHS would also work with seniors so they can honor their school community throughout the year and into graduation.

  • What work based learning and internship opportunities will my student have at North Pole High?

    North Pole High also has a growing Work Based Learning and Internship program both in the North Pole and Fairbanks areas. Additionally, with the support of the school liaison at Ben Eielson Air Force Base, there could continue to be strong connections to maintain the established internships.

Education Options

With Ben Eielson closing, students’ attendance area school will shift to North Pole Middle and North Pole High. Both communities are already hard at work to make sure incoming Ben Eielson students are welcomed and set up for success.

The following options are also available if North Pole Middle or North Pole High might not be the right fit for your student:

  • Out of Attendance Area schools - Students may apply through the out of attendance area process to attend another school in the district.

  • Star of the North (grades 9-12 - lottery closes 4/17) - Star of the North creates small learning communities of youth in self-contained classes that emphasize positive learning experiences without the distractions found in conventional secondary schools. 

  • North Star College (grades 11-12 - waitlist open) - North Star College is a middle college partnership with FNSBSD and the University of Alaska Fairbanks for juniors and seniors. Participating students will have the opportunity to earn up to 15 tuition-free credits per semester that will apply towards FNSBSD graduation requirements.

  • BEST Homeschool (grades K-12) - Fairbanks Building Educational Success Together (BEST) is a school without walls where parents have the primary responsibility for the management of their children’s education. BEST supports student success with personalized options to meet families' unique goals and interests.

  • Hutchison High (grades 9-12 - waitlist open) - The premier career and technical high school in interior Alaska with five career clusters: Architecture and Construction; Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics; Arts, AV Tech, and Communications; Information Technology; and Health Occupations.

Next Steps
Please look for regular upcoming communications from both myself and Principal Bell with further information on the school transition process.

Sincerely,

Dr. Luke Meinert, Superintendent