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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 1, 2002 - Issue 62


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Native American Preparatory School Graduates its Last Class

by Christina Boyle The New Mexican
FireworksFor the graduating seniors at the Native American Preparatory School, commencement was a bittersweet affair.

Because of financial difficulties, the Rowe school is closing, and this was its last graduation.

Twelve seniors, representing seven different tribes, approached the campus stage, set up under a shade canopy, on the arms of friends and family to accept their diplomas from Arthur Scott, head of the school. Some wore traditional dress, others draped their caps and gowns with pueblo and tribal beads, turquoise belts and silver jewelry.

They think of themselves as survivors.

"We're proud of our children and we're grieving," said parent Sheila Burns. "(Closing) creates a void in the dreams and hopes of the students who don't get to graduate from this school, and makes it impossible for us to give back to it."

This fall NAPS graduates will head for some of the nation's elite private colleges. And Native American Prep School - the country's only privately funded, intertribal college-preparatory school - helped make it possible, they say.

"I'm not sure those opportunities are available at the public school or on the pueblos, for future students," said Sonja Berthrong, who said she came to the ceremony to support the students.

"The Native American Preparatory School didn't just help my college dreams come true," said Burns' daughter, Faith Rosetta of Santo Domingo Pueblo. "It, most importantly, made me dream."

Rosetta is beginning pre-med studies at Yale University this fall.

Her older sister, Caitilin Elmer, said Rosetta once hated school, but attending NAPS seemed to change her attitude. "She was home-schooled through junior high, but she's going to Yale now," Elmer said.

Dale Michael Trujillo of Taos Pueblo will attend Occidental College in California in September to study archaeology or political science.

Katerí Aguilar of the Santo Domingo Pueblo is going to Columbia University.

And Concetta Ray Tsosie, from the Diné Nation, plans to attend Georgetown University. Standing at the podium, she said she had mixed feelings knowing she's part of the last class to graduate from NAPS. "This is a place you find yourself," she said. "I always thought I would stay on the 'rez'," Tsosie said. "Now I'm going to Georgetown, thanks to four years here."

MaDonna Lee Analla from Laguna Pueblo plans to study criminal psychology and forensics at Occidental College.

Her grandfather, Robert Analla, missed his own mother's funeral to see his only granddaughter graduate. "We love MaDonna so much, we had to be here - we came a long way, but we wouldn't miss it," he said.

Analla's brother was a freshman at NAPS this year. "We're looking around for another school for him. He hates to have to leave here," said their father, Emmett.

Nani Brandow, a residential adviser and administrator with NAPS since its establishment in 1995, tried to look on the bright side. "It isn't all that bad," Brandow said. "You can make something good from this and move on. We've already placed all of our students in other prep schools and they will follow through - it's always about their energy and the people who supported them through the years."

Laura Jagles, a former NAPS teacher and residential adviser, hopes the school - founded six years ago by publisher and philanthropist Richard P. Ettinger to boost college opportunities for American Indian youth - will be reborn some day. "Obviously, Ettinger had a great vision. I hope some day that dream will come back to life," she said.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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