The idea for a boarding school in Galena came from the community with the powerful backing of Sidney Huntington, an Athabascan elder respected throughout the state who served for nine years on the Alaska Board of Game. Mr. Huntington and others in the community saw the closure of the Galena Air Base as an opportunity to use the facilities as a place for students living in rural Alaska to improve their education.
The school opened in 1997 as Project Education Charter School with 40 students. When the school updated its mission and its charter status, vocational training and enrichment became the focus of learning along with a new name, Project Education Residential School.
The school changed its name to the Galena Interior Learning Academy in the early 2000s. GILA offers vocational training in automotive technology, health sciences, media and information technology, welding, woodworking, cosmetology, and drone aviation, along with a rigorous academic curriculum. Our students have come from many communities throughout the state, from Southeast to the North Slope.
Galena Air Base officially became the property of the school with a ceremony in September 2008. The Galena City School has been improving and updating buildings on the base to better serve students, including a new student union building, upgrades to residential housing at Ptarmigan Hall, and the opening of eight new classrooms for science and math in the rehabilitated Headquarters Building.