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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Grand Opening For New Meskwaki High School Addition
by John Speer, Editor - Tama (IA) News-Herald
credits: News-Herald photos/John Speer
Blends Technology Curriculum With Native American Tradition

TAMA NEWS-HERALD - The fulfillment of a long-envisioned advancement for education will be celebrated during a day-long grand opening of the new Meskwaki High School addition to the Settlement school this Friday, Aug. 21. The Meskwaki Tribal Council and Board of Education will be joined by federal and state government and educational leaders in ribbon cutting and other activities.

Meskwaki School Superintendent Jerry Stephens told The news Herald earlier this year, “I see this as a great opportunity for the (Meskwaki) Tribe to control their educational destiny and have students learn what’s needed to be successful in the world at-large and within their own culture.” He said last week first-year enrollment is expected to be about 100 high school students in grades 7-12. Elementary enrollment hadn’t been determined yet, he said.

The 108,000 sq. ft. two-story building has been two years in the making. Knudson Construction, Iowa City, was the general contractor. Belle Plaine Nursery was the landscaper.

Tours of the building will be offered and viewers will see cutting-edge educational features blended in design with Native American customs and traditions. The $22 million addition was financed with 80 percent Tribal funding and 20 percent from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The original school building at this site opened in 2001. Since then, there have been high school graduating classes in 2008 and 2009 with high school age students sharing the building. The 2001 building replaced the 1937 wooden frame Sac and Fox Day School.

The new addition features 18 new classrooms with advanced learning technology built in and an aim for teaching and preserving Meskwaki culture.

Stephens said there is a “cultural focus” on custom, tradition, regalia, tribal government and language. Display cases scattered in the educational wings are stocked with both items relating to Meskwaki history as well as school spirit and sports teams.

Just some of the features are adjoining metal and wood crafting labs, computer-aided drafting (CAD) classroom, technology and science labs, cultural classroom and life skills classroom.

Stephens said curriculum additions this year are a business program and woods and metal technology. “Enhanced science and math programs are in the future,” he said.

A 1, 000-seat capacity gymnasium with stage and a varsity sports program are also part of the new high school. The gym features a college-regulation size floor, Stephens said.

The Meskwaki Warriors eight-player football and the girls volleyball teams have a full slate of games scheduled for this fall.

The volleyball team is competing in the Iowa Star Conference with home and away games scheduled. The football team will play an all on the road schedule in the opening year of competition.

School statement of purpose: “The Meskwaki Settlement School exists to prepare students to be responsible, independent life-long learners, preserving the language and culture of the Meskwaki Tribe. By working together in a safe environment, students will grow culturally, intellectually, emotionally, physically and socially.”

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