Volunteer Librarian Gave 30 Years to AJA
For more than 30 years, Gloria Oakes has volunteered as Anchorage Junior Academy’s librarian. When she first began, her three children were enrolled at AJA; they graduated and moved on, but Oakes has faithfully continued to maintain the library. Now that Bill, her husband, has retired, he accompanies her to quietly take care of whatever needs to be done around the school.
Bill and Gloria Oakes know much of the history of AJA. In 1941, before Alaska became a state and the city of Anchorage was a small town, a church school with eight students taught by Jackie Moody was opened in the basement of the "church," a remodeled store located on Third Street.
Near the end of World War II, a new church was built on Seventh and A streets for the growing congregation. At that time, Ninth Street was on the edge of town and Anchorage had a population of about 3,500 people. Once again the school moved into the basement, and there it remained for more than 20 years.
During the 1960s, the church acquired a five-acre tract of undeveloped forest land off O'Malley Road. A nice two-story structure was built and in 1968 more than 40 students and three teachers moved in.
For 65 continuous years many students have passed through the school doors. Children and grandchildren of original families have attended Anchorage Junior Academy. In some cases, the students have become the teachers. Linda Austermuhl Porter not only attended AJA but has come back to teach music.