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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


July 27, 2002 - Issue 66


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Loneman Student Wins National Award

by Heidi Bell Gease Rapid City Journal
credits: art Mon Shon by Marianne Millar
OGLALA, SD - Jessica Lynn Janis of Oglala has been named American Indian Student of the Year for grades K-8 by the National Indian School Board Association.

Jessica, 14, recently graduated as valedictorian of the eighth-grade class at Loneman School. She will travel to St. Louis later this month to receive her award.

The Indian Student of the Year award is given to a student whose academic success, leadership, involvement in school and community activities, and self-improvement has provided a role model for other Indian students. One winner is chosen in the K-8 category, and one in the Grades 9-12 category.

One look at Jessica's "resume," and it appears the judges' decision was an easy one. An enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, she has received numerous awards for academics and athletics. They include Lakota Studies Student of the Year, Outstanding Academic Excellence and Achievement awards from the President's Education Awards Program and Oglala Sioux Tribe's President's Education Program, Lady Eagle Award (top female athlete), awards for most valuable player in volleyball and softball, and Most Improved Student award at In-Med, a University of North Dakota program for Indian students interested in careers in medicine.

Terry Porter, junior high school principal at Loneman School, said Jessica was active in Student Council, as a traditional dancer with the Isna Wica Dance Club, and as Mato Hand Game Team captain. She played basketball, ran cross-country, was a cheerleader and played on the Pine Ridge Reservation All-Star Basketball Team and championship softball team.

Through Loneman School's Talented and Gifted Program, Jessica helped organize a peer-tutor program for second-graders. She also raised money to buy books for second-graders.

Porter said Jessica has attended Loneman School since kindergarten. "Every single quarter she was on the 'A' honor roll," he said. She has only missed five days of school, including one-half day last school year.

"The half-day was because she went to buy supplies for the student council Halloween carnival spook house booth," Porter said, "and she bought that out of her own pocket."

That impressive list of accomplishments makes Jessica's Indian name seem especially fitting. It's Sitomni Waste Win, or "Good All-Around Woman."

Jessica is the daughter of Melissa Blacksmith and the late Glen Janis Jr. She will travel to the St. Louis awards ceremony with her mother, who is a reading teacher at Loneman School, and school officials.

Jessica will attend Red Cloud Indian School next fall. She plans to attend colege and medical school to pursue a degree in obstetrics.

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