Sequoyah robotics team 49th in world competition

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
05/24/2011 07:06 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After passing qualifying rounds in November, four robotics teams from Sequoyah High School participated in the VEX Robotics Design System World Championship in March where one of the teams placed 49th.

“It didn’t kick in until the second day, but I finally remembered that this was world and there were teams from all over the world,” said Sequoyah junior LaDonna Ballard. “There were teams from China and Indonesia, pretty much everywhere. So it was a really big thing. It was a really big experience.”

The VEX Robotics Design System offers students a platform for learning about areas with career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math. Beyond science and engineering principles, a VEX robotics project encourages teamwork, leadership and problem solving among groups.

“We added the VEX component because we found that our robotics students needed to practice their skills and have the opportunity to learn more hands on in the fall because first robotics only takes place in the spring, and so we had all of this down time in the fall where the kids could be learning,” said Daniel Faddis, Sequoyah robotics team leader.

This was the team’s first year participating in the world competition, which took place in Orlando, Fla. There were 15 students on the Sequoyah team that participated, along with a team from Claremore.

Sequoyah’s team consisted of Alia Willie, Jerilyn White, Shelbi Blackman, Martha Hardbarger, Shadow Hardbarger, Christie Tiger, Ballard, Shannon Orcutt, Patricia Sourjohn, Hope Harjo, Stacie Campbell, Taylor Goodrich, Dennis Chewey, Keiron Marshall and Laramie Fixin.

“We had a design period of about two weeks of just coming up with ideas and brainstorming,” Ballard said. “The actual building and working on it was about three or more weeks.”

For scoring in the competition, the teams had to design a robot that was able to grab tubes and place them on pegs at different levels and heights. Extra points were given during a bonus period if the robot was able to climb a ladder and stay there.

“As far as the competition is was what we are used to except a lot larger,” Faddis said. “One of the key things I think we did while we were there was we got to carry the Cherokee Nation flag in to represent us as a sovereign nation, and it was pretty moving to the kids because we were behind Canada and in front of China, and so when you’re in between two major countries of the world like that it’s pretty impressive.”

The robotics team started at Sequoyah four years ago. The team has participated in different competitions in Oklahoma and won several awards.

“One of the reasons we started the robotics program at Sequoyah is that it is a hands on way of learning,” Faddis said. “It’s not just a text book. It’s not just papers. The kids are in there and it’s hands on and they actually learn through actually doing things. There are a lot of statistics and stuff out there that show that the kids comprehend I, but one of the things I find neat about it is that the fact that the way our Cherokee elders used to teach their children and stuff. It was a hands on way of teaching, and so to me robotics brings traditional teaching methods to a modern science.”

During the offseason when the team isn’t building for competitions, members meet two days a week. During the building season, they meet four or five nights a week.

“For VEX, it’s in the fall from starting around late September through the beginning of December, and for first robotics it starts in January and goes for six weeks and we mingle in stuff in between. The competition is usually around spring break,” Faddis said.

Along with Faddis, coach Jacob Tanner Jr., Debra Nelson and Dr. Calvin Cole lead the Sequoyah robotics team.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org?• 918-453-5000, ext. 6139

About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
TESINA-JACKSON@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.

Education

BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
08/25/2015 12:00 PM
LOCUST GROVE, Okla. – To help continue her education after high school, Cherokee Nation citizen Megan Baker recently received the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association John Marley Scholarship. “As a Cherokee woman, continuing my education is important because I want to be an example to other women in my tribe,” Baker said. “I want to help them see that it is possible to get an education and give back to the Nation.” Baker, who previously served on the CN Tribal Youth Council, is one of six who received the OIGA scholarship in May. In 2008, the OIGA established the John Marley Scholarship Foundation to provide education opportunities for OIGA member employees and their family. The foundation provides scholarships for eligible individuals to attend accredited colleges, universities and trade schools in Oklahoma or other states. The OIGA was established in 1986 where the common commitment and purpose is to advance the welfare of Indian peoples economically, socially and politically. The foundation provides scholarships for OIGA member employees and members of their families who meet certain minimum requirements, who complete an application and who are selected by the Foundation’s board to receive a scholarship. Baker, 18, said her father, who works at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa brought the scholarship to her attention. The John Marley Scholarship is a $2,000 award that can be applied to any part of college costs. Applicants must be enrolled in Career Tech, a community college or a four-year college or university, and any student is eligible. Baker will be attending Oklahoma State University this fall and studying psychology. “I plan on majoring in psychology and in the future hopefully either becoming a criminal psychologist or a criminal profiler,” she said. “I’ve just always been interested solving, sort of like, puzzles and I decided that it was something I would be interested in to try to help people who have been affected by a crime of some sort. Kind of just like a little bit of me wanting to save the world I guess. I’m just really interested in how people’s minds work.” To be considered for the John Marley Scholarship, applicants had to submit their transcripts, a copy of their acceptance letter, two letters of recommendation, their fall class schedule, a completed application and a 1,000-word essay on the topic, “If you could have dinner with anyone- past or present- who would it be?” Baker said she also received several community scholarships and received the CN Valedictorian-Salutatorian Scholarship and the tribe’s undergraduate scholarship.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Senior Reporter
08/24/2015 04:00 PM
VINITA, Okla. – Native students at Vinita Public Schools have someone in the school who understands and appreciates their cultures. Along with taking care of their records, Johnson-O’Malley Liaison Jennifer Henderson shares Cherokee history, language and culture with those students in an after-school program. The Cherokee Nation citizen coordinates the program for students of all ages in which they do schoolwork using her teaching methods that includes Cherokee history, culture and language. In 2014, she said a teacher informed her that students were not retaining multiplication, so Henderson created a lesson plan that included how Cherokees traded with Europeans. She included multiplication in the plan based on the how trading was done between Cherokees and Europeans, and the students retained their multiplication lessons better, she said. Henderson said the students also learned communication skills and Cherokee history and language. She has received help from the CN Co-Partners Program to learn how to teach Cherokee culture, history and language and has completed the program’s Cherokee Teacher Enrichment and Cherokee Teaching Language Methodology courses. “It has been tremendous. If it hadn’t been for those programs I would have struggled,” she said. Beginning her third year as the school’s JOM liaison, she said at first not many of the faculty knew what she wanted to do for the students. It’s her belief that she passes on the cultural knowledge that was given to her to her three children so it is not lost. She said she’s glad more students have become interested in what she has to share. She had 10-15 students her first year and now has 60-80 students who attend her after-school class regularly. “My numbers tell me that I must not be very boring or they’re just interested,” she said. Also, because students go home and share what they’ve learned, more families are becoming interested in learning about their Native cultures, she said. Her students represent about 15 different tribes, with many of them coming from tribes concentrated in the northeastern part of the state near Craig County, in which Vinita is located. She also takes her students on field trips to CN museums in Tahlequah and the Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill where students can see up close how Cherokee people lived in the 16th century in the Diligwa Village. This school year she hopes to take her students to the Spiro Mounds in LeFlore County where an ancient civilization once thrived. “I can find things they are interested in and spark some interest. I can sit there and preach to them, but it’s better if I can physically show them...especially the village Diligwa. That’s such a remarkable thing for me to be able to talk about, the different ways that we lived and how the lifestyles were, and for them to actually go out there and see it, it kind of brings it all together for them, ” she said. After she got to know her students better, she said she realized some of them regularly attended stomp dances with their families and were members of ceremonial grounds. “They didn’t have anybody to talk to about what they did over the weekends. They’d say, ‘I stomped all weekend. I’m a little tired,’” she said. “I grew up at a (ceremonial) ground. You don’t really talk about it. You just follow your family.” Other students danced at or attended powwows with their families. “I got those kids (stomp dance and powwow students) together and talked about some different things, about what they knew and how they felt growing up in that type of culture. I noticed those kids had a really strong bond. Some of them didn’t even know each other until I asked them to meet,” she said. She said she has called on traditional women and men from area ceremonial grounds to meet with students who attend stomp dances to interact with them and practice stomp dances. In April, six of these students traveled to Washington, D.C., with the help Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez, to dance at the National Museum of the American Indian during “Cherokee Days.” Also this summer, Henderson took students interested in the stomp dance to ceremonial grounds in the area including grounds used by Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seneca and Shawnee people. “It’s good for them to know that if you do leave the Cherokee Nation jurisdiction, and you’re around other people, you still have something in common even if you are from a different tribe,” she said. “I’m just doing my job, and this is what I like, so it’s hard for me to see that’s anything special.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/19/2015 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Northeastern State University Center for Tribal Studies is hosting “Gatheration,” a welcome back to school event at 5 p.m. on Aug. 20 at Beta Field. The event is for current students and alumni and will feature door prizes, free food, slip ‘n’ slide kickball and a traditional stickball game. Participants will also have the chance to meet with Native American student organizations on campus and learn more about how to become involved in the community. For more information, call 918-444-4350.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/17/2015 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Aug. 10, Sequoyah Schools School announced its policy for free or reduced-price meals for children served under the “National School Lunch Program,” the “School Breakfast Program” and the “After-School Snack Program.” All schools and institutions must submit annually a public release regarding free or reduced-price school meals to media, local unemployment offices, any companies contemplating layoffs in that district’s area, grassroots organizations and interested individuals upon request. Application forms are being sent to all homes with a letter to parents or guardians. To apply for free or reduced-price meals households should fill out the application and return it to the school. Additional copies are available at the principal's office in each school. The information provided on the application is confidential and will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year by school or other program officials. Applications may be submitted at any time during the year. Parents or guardians wishing to make a formal appeal may make a request either orally or in writing to: Angelia Dowty 17091 S. Muskogee Tahlequah, OK 74464. Each school and the office of the Food Service Secretary have a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by any interested party.
BY STAFF REPORTS
08/17/2015 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – High school students wanting to apply for the Cherokee Nation College Resource Center concurrent enrollment scholarship have until Sept. 9 to submit applications. To apply, students must be CN citizens, reside in the 14-county tribal jurisdiction or contiguous counties, submit verification letters from the high school or from individuals who are providing home schooling, high school transcripts, university course schedules and recommendation letters from a school official. High school juniors and seniors who meet the eligibility requirements will receive funding for up to nine credit hours concurrently enrolled each semester including tuition, fees and books. Students must also complete community service hours for every $100 they receive with a minimum of one hour if received less than $100. All funds will be sent directly to the university. The CRC offers students help with finding scholarships, counseling sessions, career exploration and help with filing for federal student aid. For more information, call 918-453-5465, email <a href="mailto: collegeresources@cherokee.org">collegeresources@cherokee.org</a>or visit <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/Services/Education/CollegeResources.aspx" target="_blank">http://www.cherokee.org/Services/Education/CollegeResources.aspx</a>.
BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Intern
08/17/2015 08:32 AM
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The next generation of tribal and agricultural leaders will feature nine Cherokee youths after their participation in the second annual Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Summer Leadership Summit. The University of Arkansas School of Law held the summit July 19-28, hosting 79 youths and 15 student leaders representing 47 tribes across the country. The summit is part of the school’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, which has goals such as increasing student enrollment in land grant universities and creating new education programs in food and agriculture. The summit mixed classroom time and practical learning to prepare students for what they may face in the future of food and agriculture in Indian Country. “A lot of challenges that come to land is definitely finding the opportunity,” Odessa Oldham, summit camp director, said. “A lot of individuals don’t realize there’s a lot of opportunity there. They don’t know how to access that land. Some of the challenges are not being educated on where to go find those opportunities to get involved with that. Another big problem is Native Americans not being able to voice what they want and when they want it.” Summit officials also said the average age of Native American farmers is rising. Of all Native American producers in the country only 9.5 percent are under the age of 35, said Erin Shirl, summit program director, who also tracks U.S. Census data for the law school. “There are problems that I never even would have thought about if I wouldn’t have came to this summit and had someone stand in front of me and tell me we have problems that have to be fixed, and it’s only us youth that can fix them,” student Jacey Phillips, a Cherokee Nation citizen, said. “We have a giant age gap between our farmers, and if we don’t get that age gap filled we won’t be able to feed ourselves.” The summit works to combat these issues by inspiring and educating students into food and agriculture careers. “Our topics here range from business planning to market identification and planning, food sovereignty assessments, the history of Indian Country of Food and Agriculture,” Janie Hipp, director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, said. “And because we are at a law school, we talked about land tenure, Indian land title and regulation of Indian agriculture.” The summit covered all costs such as food, lodging, instructional materials and travel for students, including Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen and North Carolina resident Anthony Toineeta. “I was interested in it because I want to study agriculture, agribusiness in college,” he said. “I hope to take what I’ve learned here back to my tribe and put it to use and spread the word about this and get more people involved.” While on campus, students got an inside look at greenhouses, a cow and calf operation and food science labs that assist local food and agricultural entrepreneurs. Off campus, students went on field trips to Bedre Chocolate in Ada, Oklahoma; a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Bentonville; and the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. “This is a very important experience for Native youth,” Wade Bergman, a student and CN citizen, said. “It teaches us that we are the future. We can’t just rely on everyone that’s older than us to teach us. We have to find out ourselves.” Summit activities also included placing students into groups that were given the week to create fictional companies based around agricultural products. “The assignment was for them to take that food assignment and build a mission, vision, goals for what they were going to do, a business plan, a marketing plan and then to work among the groups to see what they could do intertribally to support each other in food,” Hipp said. Hipp said the summit is already seeing fruits of its labor, with students from 2014 going back to their communities and creating community gardens, helping families draft business plans and having conversations with tribal leaders about creating youth councils. The expectations this year are just as high for the new crop of students. “We really don’t know what they’re going to come away with and implement,” Hipp said. “All we know is if we see what we saw last year, it will be amazing and we’re very excited. We’re going to keep in contact with the all students like we did last year and keep building their relationships with each other and their support systems.”