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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Rename East

  • Author: Darrel Hess
    | Opinion
  • Updated: October 15
  • Published October 16

I join with countless Anchorage residents, the Alaska Black Caucus and Anchorage NAACP Unit 1000 in supporting naming East Anchorage High School for the late Senator Bettye Davis (Bettye J. Davis East Anchorage High School). The name recognizes and honors a trailblazing woman of color, who served our community and state for over 30 years, and it honors the history, traditions, and historic place name of the school. Sen. Davis was a tireless advocate for our children. She lived in East Anchorage for decades, served East Anchorage in the State House and State Senate, and was elected to the Anchorage School Board from East Anchorage. High schools and middle schools should be named for individuals whose achievements transcend neighborhood boundaries.

I support naming Fairview Elementary School for Dr. Etheldra Sampson Davis (Etheldra S. Davis Fairview Elementary School). The name recognizes and honors a trailblazing woman of color and honors the history, traditions, and historic neighborhood name of the school. Dr. Davis was hired as the first female African American on-contract teacher in the Anchorage School District in 1959 and was appointed as the first African American principal in the District at Fairview Elementary School in 1969. Dr. Davis owned property in Fairview, lived in Fairview and raised her family in Fairview. Dr. Davis helped found the Neighborhood Watch program in Fairview and was active in the organization. Neighborhood schools should be named for persons who have a connection to the school and neighborhood.

As someone who has been active and engaged in Fairview, who has lived in Fairview for 33 years, more than anything I believe that consideration for naming a neighborhood school should include robust, inclusive neighborhood engagement. The school district needs to re-start the conversation regarding Fairview Elementary, with real neighborhood engagement.

The Anchorage School Board should do the right thing and honor and recognize two strong, trailblazing women of color, who shattered the proverbial glass ceiling. Seeing their names on two Anchorage schools will provide an education moment for generations of students. Sen. Davis’s achievements deserve better than being contained within the infamous housing redlines of our past.

Darrel Hess


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