are little moments in life that stick in a person's memory forever.
Keilani Burroughs seemed to realize that
Saturday afternoon was one of those snapshots in time as she traced
her finger over the lettering on a plaque she had just been handed.
Burroughs, a student at Axtell Park Middle
School, was one of 36 Native American students honored for their
work in schools.
"Getting this award today is knowing
that what I have done is good, helps me carry on and keep on doing
what I am doing," she said.
The Sioux Falls School District, United
Sioux Tribes, the Multi-Cultural Center and My Sister Friends' House
held a traditional wacipi, or powwow, for young people who have
made major contributions in their schools.
There are 722 Native American students
in the K-12 system of Sioux Falls public schools. The students were
chosen by a committee of teachers and counselors for special honors.
Honoree Christopher Traversie, a Whittier
Middle School student, said it was a reward for kids trying their
hardest to accomplish goals.
"I had teachers helping me. I got
student of the month honors," he said. "Having it now
gives me some perspective for the upcoming years. It helps me focus
on what I want to do."
The moment was a big deal for more than
just Christopher, said his mother, Tomi Walking Stick.
"This makes the family proud. He
has two younger sisters, and he is a role model for them. A lot
of people move here from the reservation and face obstacles in a
different way of life."
It's all about hope, said Ramona Burroughs,
mother of Keilani and four other children.
"It's hope that there is more out
there than drugs and alcohol. She's always been a high achiever
and I appreciate this community recognizing Native American children
for the attention they deserve," she said.
Sioux Falls Mayor-elect Dave Munson came
to watch the presentation and powwow.
"It's a pretty neat deal to recognize
them for their accomplishments. We need to become more inclusive,
say 'Yes we can,' build self-confidence," Munson said.
Quadir Aware, director of the Multi-Cultural
center, said this is something that will be done annually at graduation
"They look at leadership, community
service, art, academics and athletics in deciding," Aware said.
The top winners got plaques and those
graduating from eighth to ninth grade received a book bag and calculator.
The recognition is for those who demonstrate
a commitment and excellence, said John Derby, director of Indian
education for the school district.
"We know there are students who go
to school every day and are doing great. At the end of the year
we want to honor them for their hard work," Derby said.