Port Alsworth 7th grader names new Alaska ferry "Tazlina"

May 19, 2016

"I'm really excited, I can't believe I actually won," says 12-year-old Malea Voran, who learned from the Governor via Skype Tuesday that she'd written one of two winning essays to name two new ferries.

Malea Voran, a 7th grader at Tanalian in Port Alsworth, was surprised by a Skype conversation with Gov. Walker Tuesday. Walker told Voran her essay was one of two winners, an a new ferry will be named Tazlina, based on her recommendation.
Credit Tanalian School

The winners of Alaska’s name-the-new-ferry contest didn’t know about it until they got a call from Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott. Then, they learned two news ships will have the names they suggested – the Tazlina and the Hubbard.

KDLG:  A Port Alsworth 7th grader has helped name one of Alaska’s two new ferry vessels. Governor Bill Walker’s office said Tuesday that Malea Voran of the Tanalian School and Eagle River 10th grader Taylor Thompson submitted the winning entries for an essay contest, and the vessels will be named the Tazlina and the Hubbard. 

"I'm really excited, I can't believe I actually won," said 12-year-old Voran. She had a surprise Skype conversation with the Governor Tuesday, with much of the school and the borough mayor looking on as the Governor shared the news personally.

State statute requires each ferry to be christened after one of Alaska's 745 named glaciers. Voran suggested Tazlina, a 25 mile long glacier in the Chugach range near Valdez. The first paragraph of her essay sums up why.

"This is the proudest day of my career," said Voran's teacher Mr. Cameron Metzgar. He used the essay contest as a writing assignment, never dreaming one of his Port Alsworth students would win.
Credit Tanalian School

"The Tazlina" would be a great name for one of Alaska's new ferries. Imagine stepping out of your car amidst many other parked vehicles. Your heart rapidly beats with excitement. You are on a dock looking at a beautiful ferry in which you will be riding from Skagway all the way to Juneau. Your anxiety and excitement overwhelms you as you breathlessly whisper, "The Tazlina... I will be riding on the Tazlina."

Voran’s teacher is Mr. Cameron Metzgar. As part of his middle school language arts curriculum, Metzgar asked his students to write these essays for the Governor’s contest, never dreaming one of his students would win.

"It's really special, and I told her I've been teaching ten years, and today is the proudest day of my teaching career," he said. "It's been kind of an emotional today."

Voran and Thompson’s essays were picked from 448 entries. (You can read the winning essays here and here.)

The two ferries, now the Hubbard and the Tazlina, are being built in Ketchikan and will be completed in 2018. The vessels will provide service between Juneau, Haines, and Skagway, known as the North Canal region.

Governor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Byron Mallot spoke with the winners Tuesday by Skype.
Credit courtesy Gov. Bill Walker's office

A conceptual drawing shows what the Alaska Class ferries will look like.
Credit Image courtesy state Department of Transportation