San Juan School District embraces heritage of all students in the district
Dec 10, 2019 | 1737 views | 0 0 comments | 747 747 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Juan School District students at the Heritage Language Conference in November.  Courtesy photo
San Juan School District students at the Heritage Language Conference in November. Courtesy photo
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by Brenda Whitehorse, SJSD Bilingual Education Director

The San Juan School District (SJSD) embraces the heritage of all students in the district. In November, SJSD schools share the culture and language of students of American Indian descent, which are Navajo, Ute, and other tribes represented in our schools.

Some events and activities that have taken place in our district include the Heritage Language Conference, which was held in San Juan High School this year; the seventh thru 12th Diné Knowledge Bowl, which took place in Monument Valley High School; and school level activities, which included sharing of culture, storytelling, and holding school pageants to crown a new school prince and princess.

One of the most anticipated events is the sharing of traditional Native American cuisine. This year the Unity Club at San Juan High School prepared a meal for the student body.

Unity Club participants, parent volunteers, and teachers spent the day in preparation and learning with demonstrations of sheep butchering and preparing blue corn mush, red sumac berry pudding, and fry bread.

Students throughout the school commented that this particular event is one of their favorite days of the school year because it’s the only time they get to eat fry bread while hanging out with friends at school.

The student body expressed their appreciation of their fellow Unity students for making dough, preparing the food for their enjoyment, and for sharing their cultural talent and cuisine.

In addition to sharing food, students shared more about themselves with peers by greeting the public through Ke’ clan kinship.

In this practice of traditional salutation students share their clans, followed by their lineage of parents and grandparents, then where they live geographically. In this exercise with fellow students, they also added where they attend school.

This sharing of Ke’ is very important in Navajo culture as it declares who their relatives are in terms of kinship and their belonging in the family and community where they come from, live in, and serve.

Many of our SJSD students understand the importance of giving back to their communities and obtaining higher education to someday be of service to their communities.

The “Portrait of a Graduate” QUEST Model for the San Juan School District embraces the diversity of the students of SJSD and the value of all students’ heritage, language, culture, and customs.

One of the key elements of the QUEST Model focuses on Heritage Language and the important contribution of culture and language in education and in healthy individual growth.

The San Juan School District is dedicated to fostering inclusion and respect for all cultures and heritages. Recognizing the beauty of our diverse cultures will continue to be one of our greatest strengths and attributes.
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