PHOENIX, Ariz. - Five Hopi High media students gave a presentation in front of about 75 educators regarding their involvement as a PBS Student Lab Reporting Site and how they have used those skills to prepare for college.
The students gave the presentation Feb. 6 at PBS-KAET Channel 8 in downtown Phoenix in the same building that houses Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The presentation was part of the larger gathering of the American Graduate Initiative, an attempt to improve the national and state graduation rate.
Hopi High School's media program became a PBS Student Lab Reporting Site three years ago, selected on the basis of having the only live remote Native American teen talk show in the nation on Hopi radio station KUYI, streaming online at KUYI.net.
The video class started last year and has posted videos on the web.
Star Not-Afraid, a Hopi High video student, is working on a video about the tribe's impact on education on the reservation. He interviewed Hopi Chairman Herman Honanie and Hopi Jr./Sr. High School Superintendent Gregory Sackos about what the tribe is doing to help the school and why there are few youth activity centers on the reservation.
"Working on this video has really opened my eyes. It has given me more experience as an interviewer as well as a video editor. I have learned so much in video class. It has inspired me to possibly major in media when I am off at college," Not-Afraid said.
PBS is affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR) and four students from the advanced radio class at Hopi High are working on pieces for NPR.
Kristen Russell is working on a story about domestic violence. She has interviewed experts from both the Hopi Reservation and the state about the topic. She said working on her NPR piece has taught her interviewing skills, writing radio scripts and radio editing as well as helping her gain knowledge about her Hopi community.
Kursheena Yazzie is working on a story about how myths and legends influence society. For her story, she interviewed magazine writer James Gracey, English teacher Myles Beam and student Chorosi Honie.
"Working on my NPR piece has taught me that I can be confident in what I do in life," she said. "It's taught me to take a chance in life even if it doesn't work out. It's helped me open up to people and speak my opinions. Being in the media has helped me achieve being the person I always wanted to be."
Katrice Puhuhefvaya is working on a story about the controversial use of the word "Redskins" as a mascot name for sports teams. Her interviews included Hopi High Athletic Director Wallace Youvella, Jr. and Hopi High Football Coach James Phillips.
"Working on this piece has taught me radio editing, interviewing properly and giving me the chance to speak my mind. Being in radio has helped me open up and being a person I am proud of," she said.
Anthony Salazaar was unable to make the trip, but is working on a story about bullying. He interviewed Hopi Jr./Sr. High School Superintendent Gregory Sackos, Hopi Junior High Principal Dauri Furgerson, Hopi High Security Guard Barry Honyouti and Hopi Junior High Substance Abuse Prevention Counselor Preston Clocksin.
"Working on my NPR piece has taught me the editing, interviewing processes and how to read the scripts for radio. Being in radio has helped me become a better reporter," he said in a previous statement.
Jennifer Huma, a junior in the advanced print journalism class and also in the beginning radio class, hopes to be involved with NPR in the advanced radio class next year. Huma said she has learned proper journalism style and punctuation in print journalism and how to speak clearly on the radio.
Questions made students nervous
The Hopi High media students' presentation only lasted about ten minutes, but they spent the next 20 minutes taking questions from the educational experts in the audience.
"It was nerve-racking sitting in front of professionals. It was intimidating, but we got through it," Russell said. "I felt intimidated because the people there were so formal and confident in their careers. I had so much fun answering their questions and being able to talk like I knew a lot."
Russell plans to major in nursing at the University of Arizona, Fort Lewis College or the University of New Mexico.
Not-Afraid said the presentation by his fellow students was straightforward and honest. He plans to major in music and minor in video communication at Northern Arizona University.
Yazzie said it was awesome to be given the chance to talk about "what I love about radio."
She plans to major in interior design at Harvard.
Katrice Puhuhefvaya, a junior in the advanced radio broadcast class, said it was nerve racking talking about their stories for NPR.
"I observed that everyone was nodding their heads, but when I said I didn't care about whether people used the word Redskins I saw some shocked faces," she said. "I honestly don't care (about the use of the term) because I find more important issues to be concerned about."
Puhuhefvaya said when the questioning began that she was scared to answer because she was afraid she might say something childish.
She plans to major in nursing and minor in radio broadcast at either NAU or the University of New Mexico.
Huma said the presentation was awesome because she enjoyed learning what her fellow media students at Hopi High are working on. She plans to major in journalism starting at a community college and then hopes to move onto Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Benally impresses students
Later that afternoon, the students met with Arizona Rep. Jennifer Benally who gave them a tour of the Arizona House of Representatives.
Benally told the students that her priorities include finding funding for education and social service programs as well as protecting historical and sacred sites.
Benally, who served as a judge on the Navajo Nation, said youth are important and she has seen a lot of youth waste their lives because of lack of a good education.
"Education is the key to opening doors," she said. "Funding of schools can help students see the world."
Benally said being part of the minority, both the minority party and as one of the few Native Americans in the state legislature, won't keep her from getting something done.
"It doesn't matter if you're in the minority. It's determination," she said. "We need to act like we belong and then get something done. Don't look down. Be proud of who you are. You have to see the world and get disciplined to have goals."
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