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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Navajo Prep Celebrates $7.5M Student Center Displaying 'Vision Of Very Many'
by Alysa Landry - The (Farmington, NM) Daily Times
FARMINGTON, NM - A banner with the phrase "Yideeskáágóó Naat´áanii" hangs in the Shimá Sání Cafe at Navajo Preparatory's new student center.

Translated, the phrase means "Leading into the future." The banner hung prominently over the heads of more than 200 students, teachers, community leaders and financial donors Wednesday during a celebration called to commemorate completion of the student center.

The $7.5 million student center includes a new library, cafeteria, kitchen, science classrooms, a school-based health center and counseling and academic offices. The two-story, 27,000-square-foot building is named for Betty Ojaye, who since the school's inception in 1991 has served as Navajo Prep's executive director.

"This is a celebration, a celebration of a vision of very many, many people," Ojaye said Wednesday. "This, by no means, was accomplished by one person. It took a group of strong, dedicated people to get us here."

The new student center means better facilities for the school's 200 students who seek an education at Navajo Prep because of its heightened programs and 98-percent college acceptance rate. About 150 of the students, who are in the ninth through 12th grades, reside on campus during the week.

"A lot of children that went to school here went to prestigious colleges and universities," former board member Leo Johnson said. "That tradition is still here. Navajo children know that when they go here, they will succeed."

Many former board members still are involved in the school, and most of them have personal or family ties to the campus. Ojaye honored several past board members Wednesday.

The Betty Ojaye Student Center replaces crowded classrooms and small science labs formerly used and located in the old administration, which was built in 1935.

The new building also meets the design standards to be considered "green," according to information from the school. Its design calls for efficient water use, among other things. The cafeteria and library use sunlight for natural lighting.

Completion of the student center marks the $40 million point in construction and upgrades to the 84-acre campus in west Farmington. The upgrades, which are nearly complete, were developed in 1997, and the $40 million in capital funding came in three phases from the Navajo Nation, the federal government and state a private sources.

Still to come is a $3 million music and fine arts building. The school also hopes to find money for a baseball field and a maintenance and transportation building.

"We have reached our $40 million mark," Ojaye said. "So this is a celebration of our accomplishment, and we're still not finished yet."

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