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TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA The first 11 students to attend Cherokee Nation's Immersion School made history Monday night when they graduated from the program during a commencement ceremony held at Sequoyah Schools' Place Where They Play.
Cherokee Nation's Immersion School Graduates
“In the history of the tribe, this is the first graduation for Cherokee speaking students from a Cherokee school, ”
said Dr. Neil Morton, Cherokee Nation's executive director of education.
Tsalagi tsunade loquasdi, "Cherokee school" in the Cherokee language, began in classrooms at Cherokee Nation's Head Start as a way to educate children in a cultural environment while revitalizing and promoting use of the Cherokee language. Since opening, the Immersion School has grown, adding a higher grade almost every year to accommodate the students who grew with the program.
Monday's graduates completed pre-kindergarten through sixth grade at the Immersion School and will now be able to transition to Sequoyah Schools' existing seventh grade classroom, where they will have the opportunity to take more Cherokee language classes and continue their educations.
Sean Sikora, Alayna Harkreader, Cambria Bird, Lauren Hummingbird, Maggie Sourjohn, Cheyenne DrowningBear, Cree DrowningBear, Lauren Grayson and Emilee Chavez are the original charter students in the revolutionary language program the tribe started in 2002 and are the first to complete the school's curriculum.
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker addressed the graduates during the ceremony.
“I'm here to congratulate you on the first commencement ceremonies of the Immersion School. You are the hope of the survival of the Cherokee language and its evolution, ”
“I hope that you will use this gift to carry on the tradition, language and culture that you've learned forever.”
posted May 21, 2012 6:00 am edt
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