The School Board of Hillsborough County Public Schools declared November 2018 as Native American and Alaskan Heritage Month. “Chamberlain was chosen to open it and I know East Bay will be closing it and we are just extremely excited to allow our kids to experience the culture,” announced Jake Russell, Principal of Chamberlain High School.
The festivities began with the Chiefs TV Morning Show reading a proclamation stating that the School Board, “encourages all citizens to commemorate Native American and Alaskan Native Heritage Month with programs and activities that honor this proud heritage as well as promises of a greater future.”
Shannon Durant, Title VI Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Chair for Native American Alaskan Native School Children, stated they are thrilled to fulfill their purpose to educate, inspire, and create cultural awareness throughout the district. “We will be doing a bunch of multi-culture nights and days at elementary and middle schools. We’ll be doing a medicine wheel craft with the art department. We worked with the culinary department to make frybread.” The frybread was a family recipe of Shannon’s, further adding to the idea of honoring one’s heritage.
The exhibit provided Chamberlain students with a close look at several Alaskan and Native American artifacts. The exhibit also contained artifacts from 97 nations–providing a brief history lesson on Navajo jewelry, a variety of furs, and the representation of feathers on a war bonnet and their meanings.
Students also received information about scholarship opportunities available for Native American or Alaskan Native graduates. “We are very proud to say that our (Hillsborough County Public Schools’) Native American and Alaskan Native students have a 100% graduation rate and so we want to support them with their post-secondary efforts,” said Lourdes Hernandez-Gonzalez, Coordinator of School Social Work Services. Hillsborough students represent over 50 tribes.
The event provided an opportunity to inform visitors of the impact Title VI has made on Native American students. “Title VI has worked very hard in Hillsborough County to be allowed to wear our eagle feathers (at graduation) which are of great standing for us,” said Jaymie Perez, Title VI PAC Historian – Native American Alaskan Native School Children. “Title VI gives our children a stole that they can take senior pictures with.”
The Title VI Pac, in collaboration with East Bay High School Principal Ms. Maria Gsell, will be closing the months’ festivities with a cultural exhibit and activities for students at East Bay High School on November 30.
For further information regarding the Title VI Native American & Alaskan Native Education Initiative: www.sdhc.k12.fl.us and search GO TITLEVI
School Social Work Services 813-273-7090