The idea for a boarding school in Galena came from the community, with the powerful backing of Sidney Huntington, a Athabascan elder respected throughout the state who served on the board of fish and game. Mr. Huntington and others saw the closure of the Galena Air Base as an opportunity to use the facilities as a site for students living in rural Alaska to get the best possible education.
The school started in 1997 as Project Education Charter School with 40 students working on project-based education. When the school changed its mission and its charter status, vocational training and enrichment became the focus of learning with a new name, Project Education Residential School.
To avoid confusion with the state retirement system (PERS) of the same name, the school took on its present name. The Galena Interior Learning Academy (GILA) now offers vocational training in automotive technology, aviation, cosmetology, and culinary arts joined to a rigorous academic curriculum, with 117 students signing up at the start of this year.
We are proud that GILA is considered a school of choice. We are moving forward with the creation of a health curriculum which will offer students the chance to become a certified nurse’s assistant.
As the school has expanded, it has been turning the Air Force buildings into classrooms, student facilities, and residential living quarters. The entire base officially became the property of the school with a ceremony in September 2008.
The school envisions someday teaching and housing 300 students in Galena using the impressive array of facilities left over from the Air Force. We are proud to be an integral part of our community and strive for excellence among students and staff.