Immersion school graduates first 6th grade class
Principal Chief Bill John Baker speaks at the first Cherokee Language Immersion School’s sixth grade graduation ceremony on May 14 in Tahlequah, Okla. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Tim Grayson hugs his daughter, Lauren, before she walks onto the stage during the first sixth grade Cherokee Language Immersion School graduation ceremony on May 14 in Tahlequah, Okla. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
John Ross, left, Dr. Gloria Sly and Harry Oosahwee present Maggie Sourjohn with an eagle feather during the sixth grade Cherokee Language Immersion School graduation ceremony on May 14 in Tahlequah, Okla. The students were given eagle feathers to be placed on their caps instead of tassels. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Alayna Harkreader, left, Cheyenne Drowningbear, middle, and Emilee Chavez sing during the song and rose presentation of the Cherokee Language Immersion School graduation ceremony on May 14 in Tahlequah, Okla. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Emilee Chavez receives her diploma from sixth grade teacher Curtis Washington during the sixth grade graduation from the Cherokee Language Immersion School on May 14 in Tahlequah, Okla. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – After opening in 2001, the Cherokee Language Immersion School held its first sixth grade graduation ceremony on May 14.
“We have nine graduating sixth graders. We have eight girls and one boy and they’re very excited,” said Principal Holly Davis. “A lot of these kids have been in the program for nine and 10 years and this is our opportunity to acknowledge their hard work and their success with the language and to step into the next phase of their education through the language.”
Graduating students are Cambria Bird, Emilee Chavez, Cheyenne Drowingbear, Cree Drowingbear, Lauren Grayson, Alayna Harkreader, Lauren Hummingbird, Sean Sikora and Maggie Sourjohn.
While attending the school, students studied Cherokee culture and history, as well as regular school subjects such as science and math. English was introduced to them in the fifth grade to help transition them into a more traditional school setting.
“Our ultimate goal is produce these fluent speakers who can come back and teach at immersion,” Davis said. “That’s ultimately what we’d love to see happen because at immersion, our teachers will not always be here. They’re going to end up retiring and going on with life, and we’ve got to be producing teachers to take their place. We’d love to see these kids go into college and graduate and come back and be our new teachers for immersion so that we can reach more kids because we’d love to see our school expand.”
The school has added a higher grade each year. Now the graduating class will go to Sequoyah Schools’ seventh grade where their Cherokee education is expected to continue.
“What we plan to do and right now, it’s just planning stages, we’ll use some of the immersion teachers to go over because these children, they have to participate in the language,” Davis said. “They’re going to get at least one subject during the day in Cherokee just to keep their skills fresh and to continue to grow and learn. Then as they enter as freshman, we hope to have a Cherokee 1, 2, 3 and 4.”
Several graduating students such as Cheyenne and Cree Drowingbear have attended the school since it’s inception.
“They were the first ones to start the very first day it opened up,” Charlie Drowningbear said of her children. “So they’ve been there since they were 3 years old.”
The Drowningbear family moved from Alabama to Oklahoma so the children could attend the school.
Cheyenne, 12, said she knew some Cherokee with help from her parents before she started school.
“It is part of our culture, and it’s something that we live,” Charlie said. “Even though we speak it at school, we live it at home.”
The graduation ceremony was primarily in the Cherokee language and held at Sequoyah’s The Place Where They Play with each student getting the chance to speak and sing in Cherokee.
“It’s an opportunity to acknowledge their hard work, their parents’ hard work because it was a very hard decision to make, way back when, for these parents to decide to enroll their students and know that they were taking a little bit of a chance because it was a new program,” Davis said.
Guest speakers included Principal Chief Bill John Baker and Education Director Dr. Neil Morton.
Before the students received their diplomas from their teacher Curtis Washington, they received eagle feathers to wear on their caps from translation specialist John Ross and Education Services employees Harry Oosahwee and Dr. Gloria Sly.
The ceremony closed with a prayer in Cherokee and a photo slideshow and video presentation of the students’ accomplishments.
“We have nine kids that have accomplished something that no one else has ever accomplished,” said Marie Eubanks, sixth grade teaching assistant. “They are awesome students. They are fluent speakers, and hopefully they’ll keep on and succeed with the language.”
918-453-5000, ext. 6139
ᏓᎵᏆ, ᏬᎦᎳᎰᎹ. - ᎤᏂᏍᏚᎢᏒᏃ ᎾᎯᏳᎢ 2001, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏑᏓᎵ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏗᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᎩ ᏩᎬᏱᏴᎢ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᎸᎡᎸᎢ ᎠᏂᏍᎬᏘ 14.
“ᏐᏁᎳᏃ ᎢᏯᏂᎠ ᏑᏓᎵᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏗᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᎩ. ᎠᏂᎨᏳᏣᏃ ᏣᏁᎳᏃ ᎾᏂᎠ ᎠᎴ ᏌᏊ ᎠᏧᏣ ᎠᎴ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎤᏂᏰᎸᏒᎢ,” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᏄᎬᏫᏳᏌᏕᎩ Holly Davis . “ ᏭᎪᏗᏃ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏐᏁᎳ ᎠᎴ ᏍᎪᎯ ᎢᏭᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎾᏁᎶᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏊ ᎨᏒ ᎣᎦᎵᏅᏓᏁᎲ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏃᎬᏁᏗᎢ ᎾᏍᏓᏴᎢ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎦᎥᎢ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥᎢ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏫᏚᎾᎳᏏᏗ ᏐᎢ ᏧᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ.”
ᏱᎪᎯᏓᏃ ᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᎲᎢ, ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᎲᎢ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏂᏧᎾᏛᏁᎸᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏪᏘ ᎧᏃᎮᏢᏅᎢ, ᎠᎴᏍᏊ ᎤᏠᏱ ᏥᏂᏚᏍᏗ ᏗᏐᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏂᎦᎥᏭ ᎠᎦᏌᏍᏔᏅ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏎᏍᏗ. ᎩᎵᏏᏃ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᎨᎬᏁᎸ ᎯᏍᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏕᎸᏙᏗ ᏓᏓᏁᏟᏴᎡᎬᎢ ᏭᎪᏛ ᎩᎵᏏ ᏂᏧᎾᏛᏁᎧᏍᏔᏅ ᎾᏍᎩᏯᎢ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏔᏁᎬᎢ.
“ ᏭᎵᏍᎨᏗᏴᎢ ᎣᎦᏚᎵᎲᎢ ᎧᎵ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏭᎾᏟᎠᎶᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᏍᎩᏃ ᏱᏭᏟᎠᎶᏟ ᏯᏂᎷᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏱᏓᎾᏕᏲᎲᎦ ᎥᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ,”ᎠᏗᎠᎬᎢ Davis.
“ ᎥᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏗᏴᎢ ᏲᎦᏚᎳ ᎣᎩᎪᏩᏛᏗᎢ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ ᏂᎬᏂᏏᏍᎩ ᎥᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ, ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᏙᎩᎧᎲᎢ ᎥᏝ ᏂᎪᎯᎸ ᏯᏁᏙᎮᏍᏗ ᎠᎭᏂ. ᎢᎦᏓ ᏛᎠᎾᏣᏪᏐᎸᏍᏔ ᎠᎴ ᏄᏓᎴᏭ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏂᏓᎠᎾᏛᏁᎵ, ᎠᎴ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎾᏊᏃ ᏱᏓᎾᏕᏲᎲᎦ. ᏲᏥᎸᏉᏓ ᎣᎩᎪᏩᏛᏗᎢ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏩᎦᎸᎳᏗᏴ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏂᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏗᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎥᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎾᏊᏃ ᏳᏂᎪᏓ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏱᏙᏤᏲᎲᎦ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏲᏥᎸᏉᏓ ᎤᏔᏃᎯᏍᏗ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ.”
ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᏚᏕᏘᏴᎯᏒ ᎧᏁᏉᏍᎬᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ. ᏗᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᎩᏃ ᏍᏏᏉᏲᎢ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᎦᎵᏉᎩᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏂᎬᏂᎯᎵᏎᏍᏗ.
“ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ ᏙᎫᏛᎢ ᎢᏲᎦᏛᏁᏗᎢ ᎠᎴᎾᏊ ᏥᎩ, ᎢᎬᏓᏅᏖᎵᏓᏍᏗᏊ ᎣᏤᏙᎠ, ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏗᎾᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ ᏱᏙᏥᏓ ᏭᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᏂᎬᏂᏏᏍᎩ ᎯᎠ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ, ᎠᏎ ᎤᏁᎳᏗᏍᏗ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ; ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Davis. “ ᎢᏳᏍᏗᏃ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏱᎬᏁᎸᎯ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ ᎤᏂᏲᎱᏎᏗ ᏂᎨᎲᎾ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏕᎶᏆᎥᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏂᎬᎯᎵᏐᏭ ᏓᎾᏛᏍᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎬᎢ. ᎾᏊᏃ ᏐᏁᎵᏁ ᏗᏂᏂᏙᎯ ᏱᏄᎵᏍᏔᎾ, ᎤᏚᎩᏃ ᎣᎬᏎᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ 1, 2, 3, ᎠᎴ 4, ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ.”
ᎯᎸᏍᎩᏃ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏗᏂᏍᏆᏗᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᏍᏗ Cheyenne ᎠᎴ Cree Drowningbear ᏂᏗᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅ ᏂᏓᎾᏕᎶᏆᎰᎢ.
“ᎥᏍᎩᏃ ᎢᎬᏱᎢ ᎤᎾᎴᏅᏓ ᎢᎬᏱᎢ ᏧᏂᏍᏚᎢᏒᎢ,” Charlie Drowningbear ᏕᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗᎲ ᏚᏓᏘᎿᎥᎢ. “ ᏦᎢ ᎢᏧᎾᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎾᏁᏙᎰᎢ ᎾᎿᎢ.”
ᎾᏃ Drowningbear ᎠᏂᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᎡᎳᏆᎻ ᏂᏓᏳᎾᏓᏅᏓ ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ ᎤᏂᎷᏨᎢ ᎡᎵ ᏗᎦᏳᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ.
Cheyenne, 12, ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎬᎢ ᎯᎸᏍᎩ ᏗᎧᏁᎢᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎬᏗ ᏚᏅᏖᎢ ᏧᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᎬᏩᏍᏕᎵᏍᎬᎢ Ꮟ ᎾᎴᏂᏍᎬᎾ ᏓᏕᎶᏆᎲᎢ.
“ ᎯᎠᏃ ᏂᏧᎾᏛᏁᎸᏍᏔᏅ ᎣᎦᏤᎵ, ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎥᏍᎩ ᏂᎤᏍᏗ ᎣᏤᎭ” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Charlie. “ ᎠᎴᏍᏊ ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎢᏴ ᎣᏥᏬᏂᎪᎢ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᏂᎤᏍᏗ ᏦᎨᏅᏒᎢ.”
ᎥᎿ ᏧᎾᏁᏟᏗᎢ ᏍᏏᏉᏲᎢ ᏓᏂᏍᏆᏗᎲᎢ ᏭᎪᏛ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ ᏱᎬᏁᎸᎯ ᎨᏒᎩ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᏏᏴᏫᎭ ᎤᎾᏜᏅᏓᏁᎲᎢ ᎤᏂᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏧᏂᏃᎩᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎬᏗ, “ᎠᏜᏅᏓᏗᎲᎢ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏳᏅᏁᏗ ᎾᏍᏓᏴ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᎩ, ᎤᎾᏓᎬᏴᎵᎨ ᏍᏓᏯ ᏚᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸᎢ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᎭ ᏍᏓᏱ ᎨᏒᎩ ᏗᎫᎪᏙᏗ, ᎾᎯᏳ ᏥᎨᏒᎩ, ᎯᎠ ᎤᎾᏓᎬᏴᎵᎨ ᏧᏄᎪᏙᏗ ᏫᏗᎪᏪᎶᏗ ᎠᏁᎳᏗᏍᎬ ᎯᎠ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏅᏘ ᎢᎬᏩᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏂᏗᎦᎵᏍᏙᏗᎲ ᎢᏤᎯ ᎨᏒᎩ ᎩᎳ ᎤᎾᎴᏅᏗ ᎨᎲ ᏳᏍᏗ .” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Davis.
ᎠᎾᏓᏩᏛᎯᏙᎯ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᎢᎨᎦᏠᏯᏍᏕᎢ ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ Bill John Baker ᎠᎴ ᎠᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗᎢ ᏄᎬᏫᏒᏕᎩ Dr.Neil Morton. ᏧᏁᏲᎲᏍᎩᏃ Curtis Washington Ꮟ ᏂᏚᏅᏁᎸᎾ ᏗᎪᏪᎵ, John Ross ᏣᎳᎩ ᏗᏁᎶᏗᏍᎩ ᏬᎭᎵ ᏧᎩᏓᏟ ᏚᏅᏁᎸᎢ ᏧᎾᎵᏚᎶᎢ ᎢᏧᏅᏁᏗ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᏗᏂᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎸ Harry Oosahwee ᎠᎴ Dr. Gloria Sly.
ᎤᎵᏍᏆᏗᏃ ᏓᏂᏍᏆᏗᎲ ᎤᎵᏍᏚᏁᎢ ᎠᏓᏙᎵᏍᏗ ᏣᎳᎩ ᏱᎬᏁᎸᎯ ᎠᎴ ᏗᏓᏟᎶᏍᏔᏅ ᎬᏂᎨᎲ ᏂᏚᎵᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏓᏴᎳᏗᏍᎩ ᎠᏓᏴᎳᏗᎲᎢ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ ᏚᏂᏍᏆᏛᎢ .
“ ᏐᏁᎳ ᏗᏂᏲᏟ ᏙᎩᎧᎭ ᎤᏂᏍᏆᏓ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ Ꮭ ᎢᎸᎯᏳ ᎩᎶ ᎢᏳᏛᏁᎸᎢ ᏱᎩ.” ᎠᏗᏍᎬᎢ Marie Eubanks, ᏑᏓᎵᏁ ᎠᎵᏍᏕᎵᏍᎩ ᏗᏕᏲᎲᏍᎩ. “ ᎢᎦᏃ ᎤᎾᏢᏱᏕᏓ ᏗᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᎩ. ᎧᎵᎢ ᎠᏂᏬᏂᏍᎩ, ᎠᎴ ᎤᏚᎩᏃ ᎣᎬᏎᏍᏗ ᎬᏂᎯᎵᏐᏭ ᎠᏅᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗᎢ.”