Traditional indigenous dancers from around the U.S. and Canada came together May 15 to celebrate District 196’s Native American seniors during an honoring ceremony and powwow. The powerful sounds of drumming, singing and jingle dresses filled Central Park in Rosemount in celebration of the 14 graduates.
Each year, the District 196 American Indian Education Program hosts a graduation honoring ceremony. This is in addition to the South of the River Powwow when grads from around the south metro are recognized. However, because the powwow was canceled, Lisa Turgeon, American Indian Education Program Cultural Family Advocate, said the team planned for a smaller ceremony and powwow for District 196.
The honoring ceremony is not just an event to celebrate academic achievements, she added, but it’s also fulfilling a program goal of improving graduation rates of indigenous students in Minnesota.
“We work hard to support and advocate for our students to ensure they are all on the pathway to graduation and prepared for their lives after high school,” Turgeon said. “I feel grateful that District 196’s American Indian Education Program has continued to provide a space to recognize and celebrate our students’ academic achievements.”
At the ceremony, each graduate was presented with a graduation stole that they will wear with their cap and gown on graduation day, a medicine wheel and an eagle feather.
“Each of these items are given to honor our graduates, their families and tribal nations,” Turgeon said. “These honors represent our students’ dedication to learning.”
The honoring ceremony was hosted by District 196 American Indian Education Program Cultural Family Advocate Francisca ElZeenny and emceed by Lakota elder and famed powwow broadcaster Jerry Dearly.
District 196 graduates recognized during the honoring ceremony are Cameron Curry, Savannah Beauseau, Brandon Dovolos and Oden LeBlanc from Apple Valley High School; Braeden Brown and Eleanor Theis from Eagan High School; Alexandra O’Hagen from Eastview High School, and Jonathan Cavalli, Sequoia Jarski, Makayla Bishop, Michael Harjo, Sara Troseth, Iyanna Lopez and Keilani Sandkamp from Rosemount High School.