Traveling in and out of Nizhoni Elementary School just got a lot easier.
Nizhoni Elementary kicks off the new 2016-17 school year with a new two-lane paved road—which is a whole new entrance—for parents and visitors. The school also welcomes new Principal Geraldine Herrod and new Assistant Principal Dr. J. Kaibah Begay.
Improving educational achievement and community engagement with parents are among the school’s goals. The new traffic flow creates a safer situation for students and motorists.
The road, completed this summer, is designed to keep cars and school buses on separate roads. In the past school buses and parents would be caught in the same line of traffic before and after school, while some parents picked up their children in the bus lane behind the school.
The District packed a lot of information on school safety and education into its annual two day all staff Back-to-School meeting, held Aug. 10 and 11, 2016 at the Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center and the neighboring Shiprock High School.
“We brought the whole staff together to welcome them to CCSD, or welcome them back, to give some inspirational speakers, to get them excited for a new year, and also do some training on different topics that need to be covered by everybody,” said Don Hornbecker, Coordinator of Elementary Education.
More than 1,100 Central Consolidated School District employees—including teachers, building principals, maintenance workers, technology, Food Service, educational aides, and numerous others—kicked off the new school year with trainings, orientations, and professional learning communities a week ahead of students returning to the classrooms.
There’s an excitement in the air as Shiprock High welcomes John Tohtsoni Jr.,—a 1990 Shiprock High Chieftain graduate—as its new principal.
The school also welcomes new Assistant Principal Jeff Sagor, and new Dean of Students / Athletic Director Dannell Yazzie, a Shiprock High 2000 graduate, to begin the 2016-17 school year.
“We were pretty active youth, working with the community and with the high school,” Tohtsoni said remembering back. “We were one of the first groups that did a lot of lobbying for a (Shiprock) youth center. It never happened when we were youths ourselves, but they did finally build it.”
He added he was in band—including Marching Band at football games—and in JV baseball at Shiprock High.
“I did go to Washington D.C. my junior year for a week-long program where we learned about the operations of government,” Tohtsoni said, adding the trip made such an impression that he spent the summer after graduation back in D.C. working as a doorkeeper for the U.S. Senate.
Eric Cheever is one of two college readiness coordinators at Shiprock High School. He is also a college advisor, and coordinates student visits to college fairs. (Bonnie Lee is a Shiprock High college readiness gifted coordinator. She will be featured in an upcoming article.)
What do you teach at Shiprock High School?
Eric Cheever: I teach College Success in the fall and an on-campus dual credit San Juan College class—LRNS 111—in the spring. The classes are open to juniors and seniors.
We teach LRNS (pronounced learns) 111 on the Shiprock High campus to give our students more opportunity to access higher education programs. It is just a continuation of the first semester. Students who take College Success in the fall take LRNS 111 in the spring and that gives them 3 hours of college credit while they’re still in high school. And then it transfers back as a high school credit—a full 1.0 credit.
A class of Ojo Amarillo Elementary kindergartners stood in front of a towering San Juan Regional Medical Center AirCare helicopter, which had landed on the dirt playground just past the basketball court.
They listened as pilot Mark Pebler, flight paramedic Steven Malarchick, and flight nurse Sandi Greyeyes spoke about their jobs, the helicopter, and the importance of education.
“Reading and writing is the basis of all of your education,” Malarchick said. “If you can’t read the math book, then you can have a hard time doing math. Getting a solid foundation in reading and writing is so important.”
All three college graduates continue their education constantly to maintain their skill levels.
“If they want to get the job of their dreams, they need to study first, graduate, and then get a job so they can be competitive,” Greyeyes said afterward.
When a student finished reading a couple of paragraphs in their science text they would call out another student’s name who would then continue reading—and then that student would call on yet another student to read, and so on.
The pattern, which appeared haphazard like popcorn popping, was actually quite organized and kept everyone alert, involved, and reading.
“I totally believe reading is absolutely key on an everyday basis,” said teacher Audra Allen, who led her class in an outdoor reading session. “I just believe that reading words, whether their spoken or written, are the building blocks for life. Reading needs to be in abundance everywhere.”
The 4th grade Kirtland Elementary students in the K-3 Plus / 4-6 summer school class were gathered in a circle in the grass under a tree on the playground.
There’s no low crawling in the mud under barbed wire here. But the pace of this website developer boot camp can be just as challenging.
Nine Shiprock High School students attended an eight-week full stack website development course over the summer—taught by Cultivating Coders, an Albuquerque-based company—in the school’s library.
“We’re actually going a lot faster than we should be, but it’s actually easy. It’s like learning another language,” junior Amber Henderson said in a June 28, 2016 interview about the six computer programs being taught. “This benefits us. Who would not want to hire someone who knows (website) code and works with the computer? It’s like a profession we will have.”
The course—free to the students—included receiving a free laptop and coding software to use. The students can continue to use their laptops throughout high school and college, and into their careers. They met eight hours a day, five days a week, over the months of June and July 2016.
One first notices her command voice—not loud, but authoritative, quick, steady, informative, and decisive. And her eyes—she has a habit of maintaining strong eye contact when she speaks.
Ann Marie McCarthy, who brings more than 35 years of nursing experience to her job as the Career Prep High School nurse in Shiprock, New Mexico, helps ensure the students receive an array of healthcare services from within and outside of the District.
She received the Marlene McDowell Distinguished Service Award from the New Mexico School Nurse’s Association at its annual conference held this year at San Juan College in Farmington. It was presented during their June 15, 2016 luncheon.
“The award recognizes a school nurse whose contributions promote the health of school children,” McCarthy said, holding the plaque, which read Honors Your Support, Dedication, and Enthusiasm for School Nursing.
Four generations of students believed her because she believed in them.
Secretary Judy Nelson has a commanding presence with her smile, confidence, and maturity that gave the message—no matter the problem, everything would be OK.
Judy Nelson retired June 6, 2016 as secretary of Grace B. Wilson Elementary School (renamed Judy Nelson Elementary) in Kirtland, after reaching 50 years in that position in the same school.
“I have lots of projects at home,” Nelson said in a May 27, 2016 interview about her retirement plans. “I need to spend some time with my husband Joseph (of 60 years). I’ve been up here for lots of hours, for lots of years. Mostly I like flowers and working out in the yard.”
Newcomb High School held its 2016 Graduation May 19 in the Skyhawks’ gymnasium. Thirty-nine students—witnessed by approximately 1,500 family, friends, and community members—received their diplomas.
The valedictorian was Josiah Cleveland. The salutatorian was Heather Lee.
The processional was performed by the Newcomb High School Band under the direction of band teacher Tom Irwin. The presentation of the Colors was by the Newcomb Veterans Organization. The National Anthem was sung by Amber Happy.
The keynote speaker was Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez. The master of ceremony was Megan Gray, and the welcome address was given by Sonshyin Lee.
The certification of graduates was presented to the Central Consolidated School District School Board by Newcomb High School Principal Tamara Allison.
Shiprock High School Class of 1966 alumni were among the guests who witnessed the school’s Class of 2016 graduation ceremony, held May 20, 2016 in the Pit gymnasium.
The Class of 2016 marked the school’s 50th year of graduates. The Class of 1966, who sat on the Pit floor behind the graduates, stood up and waved as they were recognized by Chasitty Todacheenie. Alumni from other years, who were in the audience, also stood up as they were recognized.
One-hundred-and-sixteen students received their diplomas, surrounded by more than 3,000 family members, friends, and community members. Their teachers and staff sat on the Pit floor directly behind the graduates.
The valedictorian was Yves Saint Dumayas. The salutatorian was Alyssa Sturgill.
Several thousand family members, friends, and community members filled the Bronco stadium for Kirtland Central High’s May 21, 2016 graduation.
One-hundred-and-seventy-one graduates proceeded onto the field for the Saturday morning commencement, as the KCHS Band, under the direction of teacher Deanna Stevens, played. The KCHS Army Jr. ROTC, under the direction of instructor Chief Warrant Officer Pedro Larribas, posted the Colors.
The National Anthem was sung by Kyla Jones and Allie Haws. The Invocation was given by Fredricka Davis. The introduction of platform guests was given by Megan Silversmith. The welcome was given by Orquidea Reyes, Camisha Ramone, and Patricia Camacho.
The Valedictorian was Sara Fuller. The Salutatorian was Kayce Culler.
Career Prep High School graduated 16 seniors in a May 18, 2016 commencement at the Central Consolidated School District’s Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, New Mexico. Parents, family members, guardians, friends, community members, and staff filled the auditorium.
The Class of 2016 graduates listed in the program were Nicole Atcitty, Cody Dedman, Mikaela Francis, Shaine Thomas George, Tanya Shenada Johnson, Montana Lakota Johnson, Brandie Lee, Orlando Julius Martin, Brandina Leah Navaho, Daryn Joseph Pinto, Carlyn Redhouse, Danielle Roy, Jacob Sandoval, Jaron Thomas, Travisson Tye Wrangler, and Freddrick J. Yazzie.
Valedictorian Tanya Johnson and salutatorian Cody Dedman gave speeches.
“I feel very happy and excited, and I feel very blessed as well,” Johnson said in an interview just prior to the commencement. When asked about how to be successful, she said, “Just keep on believing in yourself and never give up … Don’t ever give up on school.”
When they heard “go” the Ojo Amarillo Elementary runners took off.
They were given the honor of being the first wave of runners to begin the Shiprock Kids Marathon, held after school May 6, 2016 at the Shiprock Youth Complex. It was the first event of the annual two-day Shiprock Marathon.
Many elementary and middle school students wore yellow t-shirts in honor of Ojo Amarillo Elementary student Ashlynne Mike, who lost her life earlier that week. Ojo Amarillo students also wore ribbons with the initials A.M. on them.
Four minutes prior approximately 500 yellow balloons – released by the students – quickly disappeared into the sky. The Ojo Amarillo students, including from Mesa Elementary, Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle, and other schools, were surrounded by parents, teachers, community members, and marathon officials.
Students from as far away as Cuba, New Mexico; Window Rock, Arizona; Montezuma Creek, Utah, and the San Juan School District in Blanding, Utah, and as close as Aztec High joined Central Consolidated School District students in CCSD’s 21st Annual Middle and High School Navajo Knowledge Bowl, held March 31, 2016 at the District’s Phil Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Approximately 150 students from 13 schools participated in one or more events, which were Navajo language, writing and speaking; Navajo reading; Navajo singing; a Navajo spelling bee, and the Navajo Knowledge Quiz Bowl. The Navajo Knowledge Bowl was sponsored by CCSD's Heritage Education Center and the Johnson O’Malley Program.
The CCSD schools that participated were Kirtland Middle, Kirtland High, Career Prep High, Tse’ Bit Ai’ Middle, and Shiprock High. [See Agenda][See Results]