Wasilla High School

One of the most interesting tidbits I picked up from ABC’s Charlie Gibson interview with Sarah Palin was the chance to see the interior of Wasilla’s high school.

My first thought was “Wow! What a cushy high school! Looks like something you’d expect in a rich Chicago suburb, what with that fancy indoor track and all!”

Then a few mitigating factors did occur to me:

  1. The weather is pretty bad up there in the winter, so if you want to have your kids running, an indoor track is the thing you need.
  2. It was obviously implemented as a multi-purpose facility, since it served as plain old hallway as well as being the indoor track.
  3. Wasilla has experienced lots of growth over the last decade or so, so it’s not really surprising that they’d have needed a new high school building.

Nonetheless, the optics were that this was not your typical small town (as I recall it, having grown up on a farm 3 miles from a village of 300, and bussed to high school 15 miles away in a town of 6,500 — almost precisely the size of Wasilla), but a small town in a state that has literally millions of dollars in money that can be spent on building lavish public facilities. Alaska is simply not a normal state, and this means that the citizens of Alaska are accustomed to a much higher level of public services and investment in fancy infrastructure (like high schools with indoor tracks) than most of the people in small towns around the country.

However justifiable and understandable that indoor track may be, it still serves as a visible symbol of just how enormously different from the rest of the country of Palin’s hometown actually is.

Addendum: Matthew Yglesias makes an observation on another aspect of Palin’s past that shows how odd Alaska really is.