TUBA CITY—Seventy Tuba City area students were honored April 14 during the 12th annual Stars in the Desert Awards ceremony at Greyhills High School.
Close to 500 packed into the school auditorium as students were honored for excellence in academics, athletics, the arts and community service. The state champion Warriors and Lady Warriors, Tuba City High’s boys and girls cross country teams, TCHS cheerleaders and ROTC Junior Cadets were among the students honored.
Stars in the Desert gives area children a chance to interact with Native American celebrities and those who support Native American causes. This year’s event raised more than $3,500 with the proceeds going towards a proposed youth complex (see story, page 2).
Entertainment for the event included student and celebrity performances. Songs and dancing from many disciplines were displayed. Six-year-old Nezbah Yellowhorse performed the hoop dance, while the Tuba City Line Dancers bounced to country tunes. Traditional Native American instruments as well as African drumming, guitar and rap were all represented. Milton “the Great” Tso performed on the flute, and the Tuba City Boarding School’s fifth grade delivered rap. Heather Trejo and Geraldine Tohannie of TCBS and celebrities Paul Cassarino and Joanelle Romero offered songs.
High humor was also a participant as awards were presented by celebrities such as ventriloquist Buddy Big Mountain, a man who, according to his wife Diana, “plays with dolls and talks to himself.” Masters of ceremony James Bilagody and Darren Elmer also kept the crowd in stitches.
But the event was also about positive role modeling for young people. Actor Shawn Michael Perry encouraged students to follow their dreams and parents to pay attention to the needs of children. Perry described himself as a man who takes care of his responsibilities and his children.
Celebrities included Flint Carney, Jeanette Acosta, Charlie Dierkop, Angela and Levy Lazon, Akima Casteneda and Kristy and Urula Yazzie.
Child actor Levy Lazon offered sage advice beyond his years: “School is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep at it as long as you can. ”
Romero, whose children Sage and Rain accompanied her to Tuba City for this event, advised parents that adults need to smile and bring love and hope to children in order to encourage them. “Success is learned and taught,” she added.
For a complete ist of students who received awards, The students receiving awards were: Travis Becenti, Tuba City High School; Kenneth Dodson and Natelle Pohleahla, Moenkopi Headstart; Dennison Foster, Cameron; Craig Brown and Tiffany Jackson, Tuba City Mid-School, Jamal Blackhat and Lakisha Russell, Gap Primary School; Ashley Deloach, Nicole Piestewa and Garris Tacheene, Moenkopi Day School; Stacie Naha and Augustine Tallas, Tuba City Primary School; Tyler Polewytewa, Moenkopi Day School; Amber Toledo, Matthew Whiterock and Kalene Curley, Tuba City Boarding School; Norman Jensen 3rd, Justin Adson and Pharah Morgan, Tuba City Boarding School Junior High; Leon Begay and Tara Crank, Tuba City Boarding School Intermediate; Schicasulyn Drake, Kelly Sockyma, Jared Means, Aaron Black and Andrew Faas, Tuba City ROTC Cadets; Roxanne Yazzie, LaSheenia Secody, Amanda Koehmstedt, Michelle Krause, Ashley Tewa and Nicold Hushkon, Tuba City High School cheerleaders.
The other Tuba City High School athletes who were honored were Eric Klain, Brian Nasetoynewa, Lavar Martin, Lance Martin, James Justice, Roland Bennett Jr., Michael Justice, Lloyd Billy, Josh Allan, Lionel Begody, Tristan Kewanyama, Tyrone Nez, Nolan Tsingine, Gwen Riggs, Lacy Tsingine, Sharlimar Navajo, Adrienne Begay, Tammy Secody, Sissy Hatathlie, Jayme Lomakema, Nicole Tsingine, Pjylliberty Whitesinger, Cindy Wilson, Deigha Daw, Amy North, Sharr Navajo, Tia Semaalie, Ciji Honahnie, Krysten Sewingyama, Jennifer Richards, Christina Begay, Marietta Rigs, Crystal Dugi, Ferris Poleahla, Brian Yazzie, Kirt Attakai and Chris Yazzie.
A pow wow, lacrosse and basketball games, a children’s march, Bojack awards and the filming of The Return of Navajo Boy was all part of the Year 2000 Stars in the Desert.