November has been a special month of remembrance, thanksgiving, and celebration at Cherokee High School. Cherokee Braves have been celebrating Native American Heritage Month. Laura Pinnix, teacher of Cherokee Language at Cherokee High School, has been working with others to coordinate fun days and special events to educate students about their Native American heritage. Much like Spirit Week, students were encouraged to dress according to criteria on specific days in order to celebrate and honor traditional dress. Some of the days included: Turquoise, Leather, and Boot Day; Beadwork Day; Rock Your Mocs Day; and Period Dress Day. Students enjoyed having these fun days, and a contest was held for the month to reward the class with the most participants.
In addition to the ongoing dress participation contest, other competitions were held to encourage student interest, expression, and participation. The door contest was a competition that got everyone involved. Teachers, faculty, and staff allowed students to decorate their doors according to the theme laid out by Mrs. Pinnix: Cherokees in the 21st Century.
Door displays expressed a wide range of creativity and ingenuity. Several incorporated some form of modern technology and Cherokee syllabary. Others took a more artistic approach to show a past and present progression or perspective.
The instructions stated, “Teachers can guide and motivate, but not participate themselves.” It had to be all student-generated. Not only were students creating visuals of the theme; but they were also creating literary works in the form of essays and poetry, which was another contest held for the students. The students really enjoyed working on the doors and literary works. They made each work an expression of their generation while honoring the generations that had come before them. It has been wonderful and enlightening to walk around the high school and observe their work. It allowed educators to see students put the skills and knowledge they have gained in the classroom into practice. It has been a demonstration of what they have learned, as well as what they still have left to learn.
First prize went to Mrs. Via’s class, second to Mrs. Ford’s class, and third to Mrs. Stamper’s class for the high school. The middle school winners were as follows: first place – Elizabeth Stillwell’s class, second place – Kelly Driver’s class, and third place – Scott Fitzgerald.
Several special events were scheduled throughout the month as part of the education and celebration process. The first big event was discussed in last week. It was the Veteran’s Day Celebration held on Tuesday, Nov. 13 in the Cultural Arts Center. The Pendleton Basket Exhibit was featured in the Media Center on Nov. 8-9. The event that gained a lot of attention was the Food Tasting Day held on Friday, Nov. 16. Several men and women from the community prepared and brought in traditional food for the students to enjoy. Community workers who assisted with the Food Tasting Day were Ann Bradley, Judson Bradley, Martha Sherill, and John D. Long. The foods included bear meat, deer meat, bean bread, pork, sochanna, mustard greens, and lye dumplings. Several students, teachers, faculty, and staff tried items for the first time. All the students had a chance to eat and taste the food. Leo Pete wrote in a thank you note, “It was way better than lunch food.”
The last big event scheduled before Thanksgiving Break was the Pow-Wow held in the Cherokee High School Arena on Tuesday, Nov. 20 in the afternoon. Participants included students and members from the community. The Pow-Wow opened with the grand entry and presenting of the colors. The Veterans were honored, and then the dancers performed traditional dances. The array of colors and movements presented by the dancers was a beautiful display of diversity, which embodies a characteristic we should all embrace. They ranged from tiny tots to adults. Some Tribal Council representatives and Miss Cherokee Karyl Frankiewicz were also in attendance.
Mrs. Pinnix is looking forward to the outside games and stickball expo that have been rescheduled for later in the academic year. She has also worked with administration to schedule an appreciation meal for all the high school staff to thank them for their continued dedication and service to the students, school, and community. It is her goal for next year to increase the community involvement in the events and celebrations. If you are interested in participating in next November’s Native American Heritage Month Remembrance and Celebration, please contact Laura Pinnix at Cherokee High School.
– Cherokee Central Schools