Eight young Cherokee speakers graduated from the Pre-Kindergarten class at Atse Kituwah, the Cherokee Language Immersion Program Academy, on Friday, May 28. The event, held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds amphitheatre, featured not only the graduation of the students, but also presentations by the class in which they recited numbers, colors, days, etc. in the Cherokee language.
The following students (parents in parentheses) graduated on Friday:
– Tsudasi Bolden (Krystle Bolden and Joe Don Owl)
– Kali Bryson (Tamara Thompson and Chuck Bryson)
– Denili Hill (Michelle Wolfe, Waylon Long and Dean Hill)
– Tsisgwa Ledford (Joni Hill and Chris Ledford)
– Yona Littlejohn (LeChay and Terrance Littlejohn)
– Tsini McCoy (Rosie and Dan McCoy)
– Anetsovsgi Smith (Melanie Lambert)
– Alitami Taylor (Monica Herbold and Kimsey Taylor)
Rosie McCoy is the mother of Tsini McCoy who graduated on Friday. Rosie spoke during the event and said she views the Immersion Program as a family.
“This is proof that this is working,” she said of Friday’s graduation. “As for those questions that we had from the beginning, when did we know if this would work, here and now.”
She thanked the teachers for their work with the students. “Because of their blood they are Cherokee, but because of you they are fluent.”
Principal Chief Michell Hicks also thanked the staff of Atse Kituwah and said he has enjoyed visiting with the classrooms. “It is extremely impressive to see the progress these children are making with the language and being able to speak on a bilingual basis.”
He said the Immersion Program began several years ago but praised the Academy. “Obviously this is the heart of our achievement, and we’re very proud of these children and we want to thank the teachers and the administration for all their hard work.”
For more information about the Cherokee Language Immersion Program and Atse Kituwah, visit www.fluent1.com.
For a photo gallery from this event, please visit: