POLACCA, Ariz.—Hopi Chairman Wayne Taylor Jr., gave words of encouragement and a little bit of advice to the graduates at Hopi High School May 19.
The chairman spoke to 2,300 spectators who packed into the gym to watch 91 seniors receive their diplomas. He told the graduates that every one of them has the seeds of greatness, but he added that those seeds must be nourished.
Chairman Taylor said the graduates have many paths to choose from and they must choose carefully because they will determine the future for the communities as future tribal councilmen, business leaders, lawyers, teachers and other professionals.
“Only when you are fully prepared can you fully serve,” he said. “Let me suggest that education is the key to preparation.”
The chairman said people with goals know where they are going so they are more likely to be successful. The prescription for success, he said, includes taking education seriously, protecting one’s health and avoiding alcohol and drugs. He told the graduates that they must put hard work into their efforts.
“Anything worthwhile has a price that must be paid. Plans and goals are nothing if they are not brought together by effort and hard work,” he said.
Chairman Taylor told the graduates that they must persevere when people around them have given up. He added that they should not settle for less than what they desire out of life.
“We, your elders, are depending on you. Remember, nothing happens unless there is first a dream,” he said.
Johnny Basha, chief executive officer of Bashas’ grocery store chain, told the graduates that he hopes they will be nurtured by their families, get the best education possible and return to their nation to build what has been started here.
“In my life, there is nothing more important than my family. I want to hear all that is going on in my children’s lives, spend time with my wife, my mother and my extended family. My life is built around my family—and I know that you all know what that means.”
Basha said that when he was growing up that the Bashas’ chain was not large. He said it was a lot of work, but it was made easier because it was family work.
“We all put our efforts in together and were able to see the company grow, store by store,” he said. “In many ways, the Hopi and Navajo Nations have been like that. You have each put a high value on keeping what is important from your traditions—and building upon those to be successful. You work together, and that makes the work lighter, the burden easier to carry.”
Basha recognized that Hopi Jr./Sr. High Schools is a
See Graduates, page 3
model grant school, but he also recognized that the community is progressing with Northland Pioneer College and the Hopi Medical Center. He said these projects represent commitment, sacrifice and work.
“These are like coils of the yucca, carefully layered and bound, making a community basket to hold your lives and traditions safely and beautifully,” he said.
Basha said this shows the same determination and vision that sparked the growth in the company that his family built. He emphasized that a close-knit community has not only the desire to give back but a need to sustain the rest of the people there.
Basha serves on several advisory boards and is particularly proud of serving on the FBI Citizens’ Academy. He said he recently attended a ceremony honoring officers who have fallen in the line of duty, where he heard someone say, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us. What we have done for others and the world, remains and is immortal.” Basha said Navajo and Hopi communities are built on this premise.
Basha noted that eight of 10 graduates from Hopi High School go on to higher education with some returning to work at the high school or to fill roles in community leadership. “You have that potential,” he said, “every one of you.”
No one is better suited to address the challenges facing the Hopi Nation than those graduating from Hopi High, he said.
“Nobody cares about family like a family member. That’s what you all are: a large, caring family with bright young people reaching out eagerly for new experiences with an understanding of meaning and value of tradition,” he said.
Laurence Gishey, director of the Institute for Native Americans at Northern Arizona University, presented scholarships to Jeremy Haven, Felicia Honyouti, Pearlynn Tomosie, Nicole Fred, Siunya Lomakema, Karen Chase and Mark Talaswaima.
Valedictorian Pearlyn Tomosie said the past four years have been fun but hard work. She told her classmates that no one can make it alone so she thanked her family, friends, teachers and school staff for helping her in her high school years.
Tomosie also told them that the diploma they received gives them the freedom to choose their own way.
“Education is a gift to keep. Knowledge is power,” she said. “Now it is up to you to use that education and pass it on.”
Salutatorian Jeremy Haven thanked his parents for helping him through tough times. “Mom and Dad, this award is just as much yours as mine,” he said about a National Honor Society Award he received moments earlier.
Principal Herbert presented Tomosie and Haven with computers a gift from the school for the finishing first and second in the graduating class. Herbert said all the graduates had to work hard to obtain their degrees, but this was just the beginning of the rest of their lives.