ST. PAUL, Minn.—Officials from Hopi Junior/Senior High School were ecstatic about winning $10,000 and High Honors from Harvard University’s Honoring Nations program Nov. 13.
The school won the award for its Two Plus Two Plus Two Plus program.
Paul Reynolds, superintendent at Hopi Junior/Senior High School, said the award is a testimonial to the fact that academics and a sound educational foundation is the priority at the school. He emphasized that this helps students whether they go on to college or choose a career.
“To be recognized by Harvard’s Honoring Nations for our academic programs is an outstanding tribute to everyone at Hopi Junior/Senior High School who has worked so diligently to obtain this plateau of educational success,” he said.
Reynolds said he personally feels satisfaction that the school has brought positive recognition to the Hopi Tribe and Hopi people that they so rightfully deserve.
The Honoring Nations award came through a long process. Hopi Junior/Senior High School applied in January after they were invited to do so by Harvard. When the deadline closed in April, there were 70 applicants for the eight High Honor awards. The selection committee cut it down to the Sweet 16 who had to attend the Honoring Nations 2000 gathering in St. Paul where each gave a 10 minute presentation to a select panel of Native American judges.
Hopi Junior High Principal Glenn Gilman, who has been at the school since 1984, told the committee how the school was in disarray back in 1986 and into the 1990s before gaining grant school status in 1995. He said the brought Hopi Junior/Senior High more money and more flexibility on how to spend that money. That is what allowed them to start the Two Plus Two Plus Two program that Honoring Nation’s recognizes as a huge achievement.
Principal Gilman said the chairman, vice chairman and tribal council deserve credit for allowing them to become a grant school.
The Two Plus Two Plus Two Program came about through a partnership between Hopi Junior/Senior High, Northland Pioneer College and Northern Arizona University. The program recruits junior and senior high school students to enroll in classes that offer concurrent college level credits. Upon graduation, students enrolled in this program can earn up to 30 transferable credits to any state or out of state community college or university.
Gilman said gaining these credits while in high school helps the students gain confidence about their college abilities. Hopi High pays for any tuition costs of the concurrent classes in order to lessen the students’ financial load.
“This program is not found in many other high schools,” he said.
Gilman credits NPC with building a new Hopi-based campus and NAU with bringing in a satellite learning city based at Hopi High.
“This is an on-site campus for higher learning. It’s effective because community members can stay at home while they take their college courses,” he said.
Gilman also credited the governing board and administration at Hopi Junior/Senior High School for pushing this program along so the students would be on a level playing field.
This way they can compete successfully and succeed at the post-secondary education level.
This program has been specifically adapted to the teaching and nursing fields. The program has led to a growing demand for math and science courses by students within the school and to increased college enrollment by Hopi High graduates. This program helps Hopi students attain advanced educational degrees, thus empowering them with technological and academic skills.
Gilman said students who graduated from Hopi High in the past had trouble with their first year of college and many dropped out, but this new program has decreased the college dropout rate. Hopi High has also upgraded its library to include an Accelerated Reader program that has helped students with their academic English skills.
Hopi High also has state-of-the-art computer labs that ensure that when students graduate that they are computer literate.
Gilman said any other high school on or off a reservation could adopt a similar program to help their students.
Selwyn Namoki, a Hopi Junior/Senior High School Governing Board member, said he feels overwhelmed seeing this program working and knowing that the tribal government supports it.
Namoki noted that although Harvard officials said there was no losers among the sweet 16, he was glad that Hopi High was able to finish in the top eight.
“To get the highest honor meant a lot. To get into the Sweet 16 was nice, but to place in the Elite Eight was even better,” he said.
Namoki also praised the other 15 programs that received awards from Harvard.
“It’s amazing to learn about all these positive programs. With more programs like this, tribes can unite and make us a force in this great country of ours. So much good is being done in Indian country working with ecosystems,” he said. “San Carlos has a great elders program and the Galena Tribe in Alaska has a great cleanup project going—and that’s necessary for survival as we work for the will-being of future generations, plants and wildlife.”
For more information about Honoring nations, telephone the Harvard Project at 617-495-1480.