The Rapidian

Students from Kent Vocational Options learn about Native American history and culture.

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On Friday, November 9, students at Kent Vocational Options participated in a presentation through the Native American Education Program of Grand Rapids Public Schools.
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On Friday, November 9, students at Kent Vocational Options participated in a presentation through the Native American Education Program of Grand Rapids Public Schools. This program, located at the Straight Building, is a federally funded program through the United States Government whose objective is to “design and address the unique education and culturally related academic needs of American Indian and Alaskan Native students, including preschool students.”

According to the GRPS website, in addition to offering classroom presentations and assemblies, the Native American Education Program engages students through weekly tutoring sessions, engages parents on the importance of becoming active stakeholders in student achievement, provides professional development opportunities related to Indian education and program objectives, provides service to Native American students through classroom presentations and tutoring (during and after school) and after school language and cultural programs, promotes positive relationships with parents, students and community through teaching the Ojibwe language, planned cultural events and parent/community meetings.

Through a presentation and different hands-on activities, Sheryl Lopez-Hernandez taught students about Native American history and gave them a chance to see and touch different artifacts representing various aspects of the diverse Native American Culture. Students listened to "Thunder Drum," a CD of traditional drumming, learned about and made their own animal hide art, and watched "Dream Keeper," a movie about Native American visions and their unique cultural heritage.

Vaughn Bigelow, a student in the KVO Group 1 classroom said “I got to touch the animal skins. One was from a deer. It felt like rough hair. My favorite part of the day was watching the movie about visions.”

“It was fun. I liked listening to Sheryl and her talk about Native Americans and how they used skins and carried their babies in special carriers.  After we made our animal hide art, we hung them up in the classroom,” said Matthew Jousma.

Cody Park, a student in the KVO Group 3 classroom stated, “It was so awesome! I’ve been studying Native Americans for years and really want to do a presentation like this again. My favorite part was how they make clothes out of animal fur and how they lived and what their culture is like.”

“It was quite interesting. I never felt real fur like that before,” said Jillian Hill, a classmate of Cody. 

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