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Navajo Prep Celebrates 30 Years

Navajo Prep Celebrates 30 Years
May 19
11:22 2022

By John Christian Hopkins

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez was on hand to help honor the students, teachers, faculty and alumni of Navajo Preparatory School as the institution celebrates 30 years of culture, leadership, and innovation.

Joining Nez were members of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, including Daniel Tso, Eugenia Charles-Newton, Rickie Nez and Edison Wauneka.

“Navajo Preparatory School is a premier institution of learning that is raising the next generation of Navajo Nation leaders. From their distinguished alumni to a record of academic excellence, the Navajo Prep Eagles should be proud of their long history of impacting Indigenous education across Indian Country,” Speaker Seth Damon said.

Located in Farmington, N.M., on the former campus of the Navajo Methodist Mission School, Navajo Prep was established in 1991 when the 17th Navajo Nation Council passed Resolution No. ECMY- 33-91.

Today, it is a college-preparatory school that is dedicated to educating the next generation of Indigenous leaders while sustaining the Navajo language & culture.

The International Baccalaureate Programme is a fundamental part of Navajo Preparatory School that provides students with an academically challenging high school education that meets worldwide standards and criteria and is sanctioned by the International Baccalaureate Organization.

“The Navajo Prep mission is to develop compassionate lifelong learners and naat’áaniis that will return home to lead our communities with compassionate hearts and minds,” Wauneka said.

Wauneka was the former board president for Navajo Prep.

“Their challenging curriculum promotes our Navajo philosophy that cultivates intercultural understanding and prepares our students to be global citizens. We commend the leadership of Head of School Shawna Allison Becenti and our teachers and faculty for uplifting our students during this pandemic,” Wauneka added.

Earlier this year, New Mexico lawmakers provided an allocation of $14.8 million in new capital outlay funds for Navajo Nation chapters, including over $6.3 million to Navajo Preparatory School for building construction costs, security upgrades, and broadband internet improvements.

Yideeskąągóó Naat’áanii translates to Leaders Now and Into the Future. That is the epidemy of the Navajo Preparatory School motto in the present day onward into the next 30 years,” Tso said. “Sovereignty in the classroom is the first step to protecting our Diné culture, language, and way of life. Navajo Prep must continue to mold the next generation of young people and educators prepared to defend our sovereignty. May other Navajo schools take on that vision for future generations of young Diné.”

“I cannot wait to see the students that Navajo Prep will produce in the next 30 years and beyond,” Charles-Newton said.

Head of School Shawna Allison Becenti provided closing remarks and presented honorary blankets to tribal and state leaders for their support of the Navajo Preparatory School mission and vision.

New Mexico State Senator Shannon Pinto, Senator William Sharer, State Representative Anthony Allison and Representative D. Wonda Johnson provided remarks offering praise for the school’s student leaders and their distinguished faculty.

Former Navajo Nation Chairman and Navajo Code Talker, Peter MacDonald, delivered virtual remarks on the long history of establishing an Indigenous preparatory school for Indian Country to emulate.

“It is humbling to be surrounded by greatness here at Navajo Preparatory School,” Navajo Delegate Rickie Nez added. “We always say to our young people to return home and help us.”

School founders honored include former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah, HEHSC Chairman Daniel Tso, Council Delegate Edison Wauneka, former Council Delegate George Arthur, Board of Trustee Charley Long Sr., former Head of School Betty Ojaye and the family of the late William Tso. “When I meet a student, I ask them what problem they want to solve before asking what they aspire to be in life,” Allison Becenti explained. “Navajo Preparatory School celebrates 30 years of providing an innovative and challenging curriculum that challenges our students to be compassionate, forward-driven people. The Navajo Prep journey is focused on the future where we see Indigenous innovators within all sectors of society. We honor our leaders of the past and present for making that future a reality by building a foundation for Navajo Prep to thrive.”

Navajo Preparatory School Board of Trustees includes President Matthew Tso, Vice President Anderson Yazzie Jr., Secretary/Treasurer Charley Long Sr., Member at Large Sherrick Roanhorse and Student Senator Ajahrain Yellowhair.

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