Hopi youth initiative aims to support student growth, blend culture with western education

Samantha Honanie and Xavier Sakeva from the Hopi Youth Leadership program sandwich Lucy Nahsohoyga in the back row. Front, from left: Hopi High students Daniel Harris, Latifah Huma and Kierra Lee. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

Samantha Honanie and Xavier Sakeva from the Hopi Youth Leadership program sandwich Lucy Nahsohoyga in the back row. Front, from left: Hopi High students Daniel Harris, Latifah Huma and Kierra Lee. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

POLACCA, Ariz. — The Hopi Leadership Program has had success with adults, but now they have a pilot program to teach Hopi High School youth about leadership.

The Hopi Leadership Program is a project of the Hopi Foundation.

Xavier Sakeva is the program coordinator and Samantha Honanie is the program manager.

Sakeva, who graduated from Hopi High in 2013, said the overall goal is to support growth and development in Hopi students. Another goal is to help the students blend their culture with western education for the best of both worlds. There are four Hopi High students in the program that will run now through May 9 as the students will meet after school Mondays through Thursdays until then.

The Hopi Youth Leadership program is for ninth-11thgraders who are 14-17 years old. Students had to apply to the program just like applying for a job complete with two references. Grades were not part of the consideration.

Sakeva said he hopes the students in the program walk away with leadership skills.

The Hopi adult leadership program has been going since 2006 and has 55 alumni.

“These leaders should set good examples for others and provide guidance and a willingness to provide opportunities to the community,” he said.

Sakeva previously worked for the Hopi Wellness Center and served as a substance abuse mentor for the Hopi Foundation before joining this program.

Honanie has been a curriculum developer since 2007 and her culturally based farming curriculum is used by Hopi High culinary arts teacher Emma Talashoma. She said this pilot program with the youth is going to test whether if it works at the learners level and if it meets its goal. If that happens, the program will be expanded. They hope to offer this three-week program four times next school year.

“We want to establish more youth leaders as a catalyst for improving personal and professional life,” she said.

The adult leadership program is taking application now through June 28 and those who are accepted will go through a 15-month program.

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