Midnight Sun Elementary

Ryan Lash, a painter with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, hangs letters for Midnight Sun Elementary’s new sign on Sept. 6. The letters showing the school’s former name, Badger Road Elementary, were removed before the start of school in August.


FAIRBANKS — The principal at the newly named Midnight Sun Elementary School in North Pole said the name change has gone smoothly.

All of the school’s signs have been replaced, and Principal Joanne Vanfleteren said the words “Midnight Sun” fit nicely into the school song. A logo contest is underway, and an open house recognizing the renaming is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Vanfleteren said the school is keeping the same mascot, the brown bear, and the same motto, “Excellence and equity for all,” which also is the motto for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

“Everything is really positive,” Vanfleteren said. “Kids all knew when they came back in August we were going to be Midnight Sun. They are just going forward with it.”

In April, the Board of Education changed the name from Badger Road Elementary School to Midnight Sun Elementary School following a campaign by school board member Michael O’Brien, who sought to have the Badger name removed from the school because of Harry M. Badger’s dark past. The popular strawberry farmer in the 1900s was also a convicted child rapist, according to newspaper accounts of his crime.

Midnight Sun won as the new name, beating Ursa Major Elementary School and Tr’enyaxde Elementary School. Tr’enyaxde is the Minto Athabascan word for “Where we are growing.”

The old Badger Road Elementary T-shirts sold out soon after the school board adopted the new name, the school principal said.  

The school district set about replacing signs with the new name over the summer. The final signs were erected soon after school started in August. Vanfleteren added that the PTA purchased new Midnight Sun T-shirts as a gift for school staff.  

“They were very generous to start the year in the right frame of mind and the right name,” she said. 

Stamping books with the new name will be an ongoing process. 

“That was a project that we’re going to ask the librarian to work on during the course of the year,” Vanfleteren said.

The logo contest has prompted dozens of submissions. 

“They are as simple as the coloring of a brown bear to some really elaborate adult work,” Vanfleteren said. 

A flier was sent home with students to alert families of the contest, which is open to anyone living in the school attendance area. The deadline to submit a logo is noon Thursday. Submissions can be taken to the school or emailed to joanne.vanfleteren@k12northstar.org. Logo submissions will be displayed in the school gym during the open house, and Vanfleteren said attendees will have an opportunity to vote on their favorite. Other artwork, by students, will be exhibited around the school and there will be live music and refreshments. Families affiliated with the school are invited to attend. 

The principal said the new name hasn’t really changed the character of the school. 

“You walk the halls and everything is the same,” she said. 

Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter twitter.com/FDNMborough.