Teams compete head-to-head during the recent Cherokee Language Bowl held at Tribal Complex in Tahlequah, Okla. The bowl encourages students to study and use the Cherokee language. COURTESY OF CN COMMUNICATIONS
Students compete in Language Bowl competition
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Recently, the Cherokee Nation held its annual Cherokee Language Bowl, a competition between CN-area students that encourages the study and use of the Cherokee language.
“The language bowl is a place where many of the students shine,” said Sue Thompson, CN Cherokee language specialist. “The competitive setting raises self-esteem while giving students an opportunity to show off not only the Cherokee words and phrases they have learned, but also the sounds of the Cherokee syllabary.”
The CN has held a language bowl for the past 11 years. According to the tribe’s website, this year more than 290 Cherokee students competed in 58 teams and collectively took home $6,000 in awards.
Each team consists of five players. They compete in several rooms ending with winners in each division for first, second and third place. Each student winning first place receives $50, second place receives $40 and third place receives $30.
“The Cherokee Nation is committed to preserving our language and keeping our youth connected to our culture in every way possible,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “The language bowl contest is a way for our students to demonstrate those skills in a fun environment.”
Several schools represented more than one teach in each division.
Grove and Collinsville were the Division 1 first place winners, which included kindergarten through second grade. Collinsville also took home second place along with Kenwood. Belfonte – Bell and Kenwood rounded out that division in third place.
Third through fifth grade made up Division 2. Two teams from Grove and one from Salina took home first place. Claremore, Kenwood and Salina took second place and Collinsville, Kenwood and Claremore took home third place.
Division 3 consisted of middle school students in grades sixth through eighth. Two teams from Grove and one team from Pryor took home $50 each and the first place title. Second place winners were Pryor and two teams from Grove. Rounding out the division with third place finishes were Collinsville, Catoosa and Maryetta.
High School students in grades ninth through twelfth made up Division 4. Teams from Sequoyah High School and Grove won first and second place. Grove also won third place in the division along with Tahlequah.
All participating students and two guests of their choice will attend the Cherokee Language Bowl Awards Ceremony and luncheon on May 10 to receive awards and plaques.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With Oklahoma public schools facing massive budget cuts next fiscal year, Lee Ann Reeves, a Cherokee Nation citizen who teaches seventh and eighth grade language arts at Oklahoma Union, said she appreciated the chance to earn free professional development hours at the tribe’s Teachers of Successful Students conference June 7-8 at Northeastern State University.
“At our school we offer our own professional development for us to get our hours, but a lot of teachers go outside of that to get enrichment,” Reeves said. “When the schools see something that is free they are all for you going.”
Reeves said being a teacher at a school with Cherokee students she wanted to get more information on how to be a better teacher and how to incorporate more strategies in the classroom.
“We have a lot of kids who have tribal cards that go to our school, and so I want to better inform them of some of the Cherokee Nation offerings,” she said. “It shows me different strategies I can use to reach the students who may need a little different way to reach them, strategies I haven’t seen before, I haven’t used, from my instructors as well as other teachers who are in the classroom with me.”
Now in its fourth year, the TOSS conference offers professional development workshops for teachers at public schools located in the tribe’s jurisdiction. The tribe’s Education Services held the conference for at least 150 teachers at NSU’s University Center.
Dr. Gloria Sly, Education Services education liaison, said the initiative is provided through the tribe’s Motor Vehicle Tax funding so that public schoolteachers can focus on areas where schools receive failing grades from the Oklahoma Department of Education.
“It was based on the public schools’ need to have professional development in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas because that’s where a lot of them were really failing or receiving F’s, and so we thought we could assist the public schoolteachers and make it accessible to them in this 14-county area because our little schools have just taken cuts and taken cuts, and it’s harder for them to pay for their teachers to go to attend a professional development,” Sly said.
She said the conference also focused on reading and had 79 workshops for five school groups: early childhood, elementary, middle school, junior high and high school. The workshops varied in length from 45 minutes to two hours, and the conference was completely self-contained for convenience, Sly said.
“We keep them self-contained in this building from beginning to end because one year we tried it where they would have to go to another building for a workshop, and all those that traveled back and forth got lost. We ended up with a very small population at the end of the day. So now we keep them in one building,” she said.
Sly added that the tribe pays for housing so teachers who have to drive longer distances don’t have to leave town or pay for hotel rooms.
“We pay for housing for those that come from up north like Nowata, Bluejacket. They come down here and they stay in seminary suites. We pay for that. Northeastern is a partner. As a partner they give us a very good rate. So they’ll come in Tuesday night, the night before, and be here and leave the last day,” she said.
Carrie Steele, a CN citizen and math teacher at Kansas High School, said she appreciated that the conference was free and a short drive for her.
“There is hardly any free training anymore and especially close to home. We always have to go to Tulsa or Oklahoma City. Tahlequah is a great place to have a meeting,” Steele said.
Sly said many teachers get most, if not all, of their professional development for the whole year at the conference.
“Because they have to have 15 hours of professional development, we have 15, 16 hours here,” she said. “What it all boils down to is the achievement of a lot of Cherokee students. We want them to have the best education they can. In order to have the best education they have to have the best teachers. In order to help those teachers to be able to reach our students we do this.”
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said with the TOSS conference the tribe has assumed a role in giving teachers better tools to teach Cherokee youth.
“As we prepare our citizens for a growing global economy, it’s critical to have a strong academic foundation. TOSS is a unique gathering because it is a chance to share what truly works in classrooms as we try to better engage kids and spark that interest in lifelong learning,” he said.
TULSA, Okla. – Three Cherokee Nation citizens were recently named Students of Excellence by the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission during the 39th annual Tulsa Public Schools Academic Awards Banquet.
Evan Barton of Booker T. Washington High School, Nikki Prince of Daniel Webster High School and Haley Neel of Tulsa MET High School were three of seven graduating seniors from the Tulsa area to receive the for their outstanding achievements in and out of the classroom.
The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission presents the awards to Native American students annually based on recommendations made by the students’ high school administrators and the Tulsa Public Schools Indian Education staff.
The other 2016 Student of Excellence award winners are:
• Chance Lamho, Muscogee Creek, East Central High School;
• Thomas Scott, Muscogee Creek, Edison Preparatory High School;
• Victoria Carney-Peters, Choctaw, Tulsa Memorial High School; and
• Anthony Barnett, Muscogee Creek, Will Rogers High School.
The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission’s primary mission is the advancement of American Indian culture and heritage and/or the provision of services to American Indians.
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Nicolas Crear, a 17-year-old junior at Union High School, spent the first few days of May serving as an Oklahoma House of Representative page for Rep. Regina Goodwin as part of the House of Representative Page Program.
“A select few high school students get picked from different parts of Oklahoma to aid a senator or a House representative,” he said. “We sit at this desk and when the phone rings they tell us to go run this errand in the House or in the Senate. We’re pretty much running all over the state Capitol just doing errands for senators or representatives.”
Crear said he previously was a page for Oklahoma Sen. Anastasia Pittman, so he was excited to serve for Goodwin and see what the House had to offer.
“I was on the floor a little bit more this time because in the Senate I think they were like starting to slow down in this session. It was like one of the last weeks when they didn’t have too many bills to pass,” he said. “So, on the House side there were a lot more bills. We spent like, I think, three hours on the floor one day.”
Crear said next year he hopes to be a page for the Oklahoma Senate again.
“I would like to do a little bit more on the Senate side because it’s not as many people and you get to do more jobs because when there’s like 28 kids or something like that work is distributed. Everyone does a good amount of work, but I just wish I could have did a little bit more,” he said.
Crear said the opportunities he has received to serve as a page for both the Oklahoma Senate and House have given him new educational experiences. He added that he suggests others his age try becoming a page.
“I think it’s important for teenagers to understand why these things or how these bills get passed because it just doesn’t happen over night,” he said. “I highly suggest that someone should try this out because if we’re going to want to better our community we need to know what goes on to passing a bill and we need to be just a little more educated on how government works.”
What is a Student Spotlight?
A Student Spotlight is a 200-to-400-word feature on a Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen who is a student, whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, either excelling in school or doing something out of the ordinary.
How do I recommend a student for the Student Spotlight series?
To recommend a student, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the student’s name, contact information and a brief summary of why he or she should be chosen.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizens Jackson Wells and Ashlyn King are, respectively, the valedictorian and salutatorian for Sequoyah High School’s class of 2016.
The school’s graduation is at 6:30 p.m. on May 20 at the Place Where They Play gym.
“This year’s graduating class has outstanding leaders who will go on to do many great things,” Sequoyah Superintendent Leroy Qualls said. “We are proud of their accomplishments and wish them a bright future as they move into their next journey.”
Wells, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.57 GPA and is attending Brown University this fall.
“My grandpa has always been my biggest motivation because he always believed in me,” Wells said. “He is the wisest person I have ever met and everything he has said has always driven me.”
Wells completed 36 hours of concurrent college courses at Northeastern State University while in high school. He is also in National Honor Society, student council, academic team, chess club, yearbook, drama club and band.
King, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.26 GPA and is attending the University of Oklahoma this fall. King is a member of NHS and drama club. She is also the percussion section leader in the school’s marching band and president of Students Working Against Tobacco.
King has completed 17 hours of concurrent college courses at NSU and is taking six hours of summer classes at OU.
“I will really miss marching band,” King said. “One of the most memorable moments I will always have is during my sophomore year we won a trophy for best drum line of the year in a competition and the trophy was about 4 feet tall. It was awesome.”
King plans to study biochemistry and Wells is undecided, but hopes to one day be a professor.
The class of 2016 has earned $1.36 million in college scholarships, had two Gates Millennium Scholars and 33 seniors complete at least 12 hours of concurrent college courses.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Sequoyah Schools Summer Feeding Program will kick off on May 23. The program provides free breakfast and lunch to children 18 years old and younger.
The program is set to run until July 8 and will be provide meals Monday through Thursday. Breakfast is served at 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. while lunch is served from 11 a.m. to noon.
Adults may also enjoy the food and purchase breakfast for $2 and lunch for $4.
Sequoyah’s cafeteria is located at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call 918-453-5190.
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club will sponsor 10 Cherokee students’ with a $600 per academic year scholarship or endowment.
The scholarship applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis for full-time students enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education, according to a release.
Applications must be received by July 31.
For more information regarding eligibility requirements, call Vicki at 918-798-0771 or visit <a href="http://www.iwpclub.org" target="_blank">www.iwpclub.org</a>.