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Learning in and out of the classroom in North Pole

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Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 12:00 am

School in the Spotlight

FAIRBANKS — Opportunities abound for students at North Pole Middle School — both in and out of the classroom.

Built in 1975, North Pole Middle is unique to the school district in that it is the only middle school to serve sixth, seventh and eighth grades. When the school opened its doors in 1976, it housed junior and senior high school students and quickly grew to an enrollment of 1,200 by the early 1980s.

After North Pole High School was completed in 1982, North Pole middle welcomed sixth-grade students from nearby elementary schools and became a middle school. The new grade levels at the middle school followed a national trend at the time of combining sixth through eighth grade and emphasized team teaching, cooperative planning, and further student-teacher communication. The changes at the school also facilitated new exploratory classes for students including aviation ground school, video production and sign language.

Today, North Pole Middle has an enrollment of approximately 688 students and continues to offer a rich variety of classes including art, orchestra, speech and drama, extended learning programs, and more. North Pole Middle students also have the opportunity to learn about government outside of the classroom each year as part of the Close Up program. In Close Up, music teacher Barbara Nore leads students to Juneau and Washington, D.C., to experience government close up and as Nore says, “learn what it means to become effective citizens.”

“My trip to Washington, D.C., was one of the best trips I have ever taken to learn about our nation’s history,” said student Briana Kurzenberge. “At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I found the name of my great uncle and I took many pictures, sent them to family, and did a rubbing of his name on the wall. It is a really emotional experience to have a family member up on the Vietnam Wall, even if you have never met them in person.”

Government and history are not the only subjects that students learn about from Nore. Throughout her tenure at North Pole Middle, Nore has taught a wide scope of classes including orchestra, band, French, technology and math. Additionally, Nore leads an after school hand bell choir and was recently named Alaska Music Educator of the Year by Alaska Music Educators Association.

The community can support the Close Up program by attending the Close Up Craft Bazaar on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5 in the North Pole Middle cafeteria. The bazaar features a diverse range of local artisans and sales of the vendor tables benefit students in Close Up. For more information, visit or call 488-2271, Ext. 9125.

This column is provided as a service by the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. Bill Bailey and Johanna Carson can be reached at

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