Loni Dugi, 18, the senior class president, is waiting to hear if she will receive the $1,000 Chief Manuelito Academic Scholarship. School counselors recommended her after she scored a 23 on the ACT. Initially, Dugi scored a 21 the first time, but she took another shot at the test hoping to improve her skills. Her highest score was English. She attributes her success to Nona Edelson, Greyhills language arts teacher.
Dugi is the second recipient of the Carol Burnett Writers Scholarship for $1,000 and Littlefox recommended her for the $1,000 Academic Scholarship.
Dugi was a member of the Gifted and Talented Program, as well as the National Honor’s Society. She was on the staff of the school newspaper, The Knight’s Weekly. She also played the “Star Spangled Banner” on the guitar at graduation.
Dugi is the daughter of Martha and George Dugi. Her grandparents are Mary and Clifford Bancroft and the late Louise and Sherman Dugi.
Dugi has chosen to pursue her degree at Arizona State University in business administration. She has also applied for federal student aid but has not heard of the results.
She recognized both parents for giving her the values she has incorporated in her life. She has three older brothers and one younger sister.
“I’ll miss messing around with security,” Dugi said.
Students often mistake Dugi for being a shy, quiet girl. Her advice to fellow under-classmates is, “Always remember the best of friends stab you in the front. My gratitude goes out to all my teachers at Greyhills.”
Dugi’s clans are Ti’zi’ ni, Ashiihi, Kiya’ nii and Ta’neezahnii.
Seniors awarded with the Leadership Scholarship for $500 are Samantha Johnson, Kimberly Sanders and Selena Whiterock.
The requirements for the Leadership Scholarship are four years of enrollment at Greyhills, participation in athletics, school clubs, student council or other volunteer activities—with no serious behavioral referrals. Two teacher recommendations are also required as well as school board approval.
Patricia Yazzie is a recipient of the San Juan College Scholarship for $6,000 for graduating in the top 10 of her class. She said she plans to finish two years at San Juan in Farmington, N.M.
Yazzie’s advice to students is, “Just work hard and try your best.”
Among those present at commencement were family members, friends, and community leaders.
Greyhills School Board members present included President Arthur Tracy, Vice President Lee F. Johnson, Jack Colorado and Lilly Mae Claw, who gave a speech on education.
“The overall theme was unique,” said Andrew Tah, school superintendent. “The foundation of Greyhills and Dine language and culture was re-emphasized into the graduation ceremony, which was why parents and visitors were here,” said Andrew Tah, the superintendent. “I think the school providing that foundation gives the community ownership to our school. That draws them to any activity that Greyhills conducts. We need to continue this idea with grades 9-12, so parents can attend and participate in activities we sponsor.”
James Bilagody was the Master of Ceremonies, and LaRue Henderson, the Senior Representative, sang the Star Spangled Banner in Navajo. Stafford Yazzie gave the opening prayer and invocation. Greyhills ROTC posted the colors, Senior Class Speaker was Stephanie Dale and Senior Counselor Leon Gomez awarded the scholarships. Renelda King directed students to change tassels and Tiffany Young led benediction.
James Peshlakai of Cameron, who works with the Native American Experience with the Custom Tours Entertainment Art Show Lectures, was the guest speaker. He gave advice and discussed religious ideas.
“At NAU, U of A, and ASU, many students are homesick. It’s good to be homesick for your mountains (homeland). If you don’t practice your ceremonies and keep your mountains in mind, you will be weaker,” said Peshlakai, the founder of Peshlakai Cultural Foundation, which was established in honor of his late son, Jameson Peshlakai. “We are rich – we have children who will be educated.”
Seniors chose the famous words of Walt Disney’s Jiminy Cricket, as the class quote: “When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.”
And a few seniors took time from their auspicious day to comment.
“It was fun and we’ll miss it,” said Tiffany Young.
“Believe in yourself and you can succeed,” said Jerome Martinez.
“I’ll miss everything and everybody,” Windy Harris said to her under-classmates.