-- Architect Tammy Eagle Bull wanted to build a school that belonged
in its community. On Friday, during the grand opening of the $15
million elementary school she designed, Eagle Bull told the 182
students of the new Porcupine Day School that she wants them to
build a culture of respect around it.
the school, and respect yourselves. In it, you'll grow to be Lakota
men and women of tomorrow," Eagle Bull told the student body.
"Most of all, have fun here. But don't break anything!"
Brandon Pourier was having lots of fun Friday when the school welcomed
dignitaries and officials from tribal and federal governments.
Tim Johnson canceled his scheduled appearance due to the death of
his mother, Ruth, on Friday. Former Sen. Tom Daschle sent a recorded
message encouraging the students to find freedom through education
at their new school. And Oglala Sioux Tribe vice president William
Brewer told students, including his grandchildren who attend there,
that they should "take ownership of it, take pride in it and
take care of it."
"Home of the Quills" gymnasium, with its environmentally
conscious bamboo floor, was filled with students, school staff and
more than 100 community members during a morning of speeches and
honoring songs, followed by a traditional wacipi, or powwow. When
Emerson Eskeets of the Bureau of Indian Affairs asked the crowd,
"How do you like the new school?" people cheered and clapped
great," Pourier said as he showed a visitor around his new
school building. "It's bigger and brighter."
light floods the two-story, 75,000-square foot building that Eagle
Bull and her Lincoln, Neb., firm, Encompass Architects, designed
into the side of a hill in Porcupine, just a stone's throw away
from the old, deteriorating elementary school.
to be three schools in one, the building is divided into three "waunspe
tipis" or learning houses, for grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8.
were involved in the design process, which began four years ago.
"We wanted to get the essence of what the kids wanted into
the school," Eagle Bull said. Many kids told the planners,
in drawings and letters, that they wanted to feel like they were
coming home to a safe place when they came to school. So Eagle Bull
designed a "flex" classroom at the center of each tipi
that is used as a sort of family room for group activities, art
projects and other gatherings. And a secured student entrance is
open only to buses and keeps students safe from other vehicle traffic,
which is routed to a separate visitor's entrance.
exterior colors of the school reflect the reservation it inhabits
and allow the different grade levels to identify their areas from
the outside as well as the inside, giving them a sense of identity.
Three different bricks -- schoolhouse red, muted yellow and purple-hued
-- are complimented by muted greens, creamy neutrals and natural
stone that reflect the ever-changing tones of the sky, the cedar-covered
ridges and the distant Badlands.
there are subtle Lakota star quilt designs on the flooring and a
dream catcher motif on the media center's ceiling. The computer
lab has 24 student computer carrels, and another 25 wireless laptop
computers are expected. A life-skills room teaches cooking and kitchen
its many energy-saving designs -- including geothermal heating system,
low-water landscaping and environmentally-friendly roofing materials
-- the building hopes to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design silver rating for its sustainable design and energy efficiencies.
is integrated into play areas and landscaping that forgoes the usual
sod lawn and sprinkler system. A trike path and hillside climbing
area behind the K-2 section encourages the youngest students to
engage with nature, replacing the standard-issue swings and slides.
"They used to know the names of birds. They used to not be
afraid of bugs. That's how we mostly grew up, and we wanted to give
that back to kids. When the kids play outside here, they'll be playing
in nature," Eagle Bull said.
Bull grew up in Aberdeen, but her roots are in Porcupine on the
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where her parents live now. She earned
her undergraduate degree from Arizona State University and a master's
degree from the University of Minnesota.
School Board President Paul Iron Cloud said the young Lakota architect
is a proud role model for kids like Brandon Pourier.
wants to be an NBA basketball player when he grows up, but the educational
opportunities afforded by his new school just might help him find
a different career path, in case the NBA doesn't work out. Math
is his favorite subject, he said, and he thinks being an architect
might be cool, too.
Mary Garrigan at 394-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org