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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

An Exploration of Experiences and Outcomes of Mt. Edgecumbe

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 09/01/2006
End Date 06/30/2007
Funding Source Policy Research Internship Awards, ISER Understanding Alaska's Choices (UA Foundation) funds, The Rasmuson Foundation
Funding Amount 36,000
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 07/05/2008 01:25AM
Keywords Alaska Native, Education, Boarding School


  Diane Hirshberg

Student Researchers
  Brit DelMoral


Mt. Edgecumbe High School is a State-operated boarding school located in Sitka, Alaska. Originally established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in 1947, Mt. Edgecumbe was the only public secondary school within Alaska available to rural children from 1947 to 1965. The BIA closed Mt. Edgecumbe in 1983 after educating more than 9,000 Alaska Native children over a time span of thirty-six years. The school was reopened by the State of Alaska in 1985, in response to lobbying from Alaska Native leaders, and has since provided several thousand youths from all throughout Alaska a quality secondary education in a residential setting. Today, Mt. Edgecumbe High School looks drastically different than it did thirty years ago. Despite its growing size, the student body is much smaller in number than it was while under BIA control, and is much more diverse though still predominately Alaska Native. Mt. Edgecumbe offers many students a broader curriculum, more specialized teachers, extracurricular activities, and better preparation for postsecondary education than might be available to them in their home communities. Most importantly, Mt. Edgecumbe High School is now a school of choice, whereas prior to 1975, attendance was mandated by the BIA. Currently, Mt. Edgecumbe High School has a student body of over 400 students, representing more than 100 Alaskan communities. Through surveys and interviews with recent alumni of Mt. Edgecumbe High School, this study attempts to capture the educational, social, and cultural experiences of the students, and how it has affected their lives. Our research identifies the aspects of the boarding school that have made it successful in educating Alaska Native students, and will help policy makers and Alaska Native education leaders make informed decisions regarding Alaska Native education options as well as rural secondary school alternatives.

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