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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 27, 2003 - Issue 103


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Celebrating the Gift of Sharing

by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer TC District Media

Credits: photos - Santa visits school, Kids in the Christmas show

Santa visits schoolTUBA CITY — It is difficult not to notice. There is holiday spirit in the air and it is coming from both students and staff members at Tuba City Unified School District.

Maybe it's the vacation coming up, finding presents under the tree or even just the idea of all the holiday food and being able to sleep late in the morning for two solid weeks, but the Christmas spirit in the air is thick. Everyone seems to be feeling a bit brighter and happier and most especially, more hopeful as the year is nearing an end and there is school break that will include spending time with family and friends, both on and off the reservation, which will give everyone time to show their love and caring for members of their immediate and extended family. But there is another aspect of this holiday spirit that is showing as well.

Instead of focusing on just getting presents or even just having that extra vacation time, this year TC students and staff members are thinking about sharing and showing appreciation for other members in the community, which seems appropriate since this year had a lot of high profile transitions, some of them tragic.

The focus of this TC District holiday spirit seems to be one of gratitude.

Gap Primary School, which is located the furthest north of all the Tuba City Schools had a Christmas program that focused on giving thanks to the elders in their community and presenting gifts to them in appreciation.

Another gift that the Gap Primary students gave was the chance to speak Navajo to their grandparents at the school program. They introduced themselves, named their maternal clan and grade level all in their own language. Theirs was the gift of culture and language.

Kids in the Christmas showBecause these students are so young—many are just 4 years old—this Navajo language introduction brought a lot of smiling pride to the faces of the grandparents and great-grandparents in attendance. Tuba City Primary had a Christmas program that featured student recitation and individual reading, which has been a special school project this semester. The TC Primary even had a special Santa who looked suspiciously very much like one of their own teachers, who read a list of names of students who had accomplished much academically during this first semester.

This particular Santa said these students were on a special good list, because this reading project included having their parents and family members participate in reading lessons along with them—promoting a positive family and educational activity in these television and video-game saturated times.

Even staffers at the TC High Alternative School have gotten the holiday bug and have been participating in "Secret Santa" activities for the past two weeks.

This "Secret Santa" involved a lot of sneaking little presents in and out of their main front office with little notes attached for the intended receiver that ended in the phrase, " a present for you from your Secret Santa." It was a chance to get to know fellow workers a bit better by finding out their likes, dislikes and special favorites, which allows better communication and working atmosphere through understanding throughout the year. Even office e-mails from individual TCUSD departments have expressed appreciation and heightened safety for the upcoming holiday driving, shopping and flying for a lot of teachers traveling home to other places for the break and bidding them a safe return.

It is a truly a time for genuine gratitude, proving that quality education is not just book or classroom learning but also teaching that kindness, caring and giving on a personal level is the big lesson this season.

(Rosanda Suetopka Thayer is Public Relations Director for Tuba City Unified School District.)

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