It was called the District’s Elementary Bilingual Showcase, but it was actually trilingual and multicultural.
Parents who packed the center seats of the District’s Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, New Mexico saw not only students showcasing their work in Navajo, but also some in Spanish through songs, dances, language, and presentations. Further, some Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School students followed by four teachers performed Filipino dances in traditional outfits.
“The kids weren’t nearly as nervous as I was. They did a good job,” said Scott Rodgers, the Bilingual Spanish teacher at Judy Nelson Elementary School in Kirtland. “They performed well under pressure.”
What was it like for your students singing the classic French children’s song Frere Jacques in Spanish?
Children gathered with mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other guardians at the District’s Bernice L. Pioche Benally Cultural Heritage Center Feb. 17, 2016 at the District administration in Shiprock, New Mexico.
They sat and listened, contemplating the Navajo Coyote Stories being told. It was week three of the Central Consolidated School District’s Winter After School Navajo Literacy Program.
Parent Kono Begay, whose children attend Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle School and Nizhoni Elementary School, had this to say: “We’ve been coming every Wednesday because they (my children) are interested in the culture program. It’s like a family night. They look forward to it.
“They’re excited because they wanted to know what the Coyote Stories are about, and what they entail, and why it is so important to know as a culture what the Coyote Stories are.”
All eyes were focused on six Shiprock High School students as they stood before the entire New Mexico House of Representatives on the House floor.
The Shiprock High School Marine Corps Jr. ROTC Color Guard—in dress blues—presented the Colors as SHS student Miss Northern Navajo Teen Nicole Keeswood—in a Navajo traditional outfit with her crown—sang the National Anthem in Navajo.
“To sing the National Anthem in front of a very diverse crowd is very humbling because not only am I representing my school, but I am representing the Northern (Navajo) Agency, and the Navajo Nation. I am representing my people,” Keeswood said in an interview.
When did studying and competing in science become cool?
That question was a no brainer for students in five Central Consolidated School District schools who competed—and took wins—in the annual Northwest Regional Science Olympiad Jan. 23, 2016 at Mesa View Middle School in Farmington. Kirtland Middle School took 1st place, in the middle school category, at the competition.
Kirtland Middle and Tse’ Bit Ai’ middle schools, as well as Newcomb High School—each longtime veterans of the competition—swept up enough wins and points for their teams to qualify for the State Science Olympiad Feb. 20, 2016 at New Mexico Tech in Socorro south of Albuquerque.
At one point even the Yei’Bi’Chei—the Navajo spiritual healers who were walking around the fair— briefly stopped to watch students performing. Students from throughout the Central Consolidated School District took center stage for two days at the 2015 Northern Navajo Nation Fair in Shiprock, New Mexico.
“I watched the parents and grandparents’ faces. Oh my gosh, they were so filled with pride,” CCSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Colleen Bowman said.
A Naschitti Elementary student didn’t have a question for Miss Navajo Nation Alyson Jeri Shirley. Instead he just jumped out of his seat and gave her a big bear hug.
Ms. Shirley—who spoke about the importance of education and learning and maintaining Navajo culture and language—visited with more than 100 students, from pre-school through the fifth grade, during an Oct. 7, 2015 Parent Appreciation Day at Naschitti Elementary in northwest New Mexico.
Navajo Nation and New Mexico officials joined community members, students, staff, and CCSD administrators in a Nov. 13, 2015 grand opening of a chip-sealed stripped road—that replaced a dirt road—leading to Ojo Amarillo Elementary School in northwest New Mexico.
“It’s important that we have safe passage to our schools,” Central Consolidated School District Interim Superintendent Dr. Colleen Bowman said in an interview.
Newcomb Elementary Principal Deborah Belone praised her school’s teachers, students, and past principals for the school being recognized as a 2015 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan cited Newcomb Elementary as an “exemplary high performing school,” in a letter to the school congratulating them on receiving the Blue Ribbon award.
UPDATE: Rhys B. (the Kirtland Elementary School student who took 3rd place in the CCSD Spelling Bee) competed in the San Juan County Spelling Bee and took home the 3rd place trophy. He represented CCSD March 19, 2016 at the New Mexico Spelling Bee in Albuquerque.
The top three place winners in the Central Consolidated School District 2016 Spelling Bee (pictured here) went on to compete in the San Juan County Spelling Bee.
U.S. Army veteran Mike Bekis, of Fruitland, New Mexico, proudly held his grandson, a Kirtland Elementary School student, just prior to the Nov. 11, 2015 Veterans Day celebration at the school. Bekis was stationed along the West-East German border during the Cold War.
“We were the first defense. Everybody was worried about the Russian tanks. That was the only place they could come through—the Fulda Gap. And we were there,” Bekis said, adding the first time he saw the Berlin Wall he was shocked: “What is this? We’re actually living like this? Eastern and Western Germany—the way it was—what’s going on here?”
The $20 million Judy Nelson Elementary School under construction in Kirtland, New Mexico, is in the shape of a Y. And the new traffic flow is in the shape of an oval.
The top arms of the Y are the classrooms, with the right arm at two stories and the left arm at a single story. The intersection of the Y, which is also two stories, includes the front-office area and offices. The bottom of the Y includes the single-story cafeteria. The first-floor area of new construction is at 56,509 square feet; while the second-story floor area is at 22,548 square feet.
The existing building—comprised of the gymnasium and music room saved from the demolished Ruth N. Bond Elementary—is 15,825 square feet. This existing portion of the school—which has already merged with the new construction—brings an additional lower-left arm to the Y.
Once done, the total square footage of the new kindergarten through sixth-grade school will be 94,882 square feet. It can accommodate up to 715 students. (Preschool students go to the District's nearby Kirtland Early Childhood Center.)