Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

May 27, 2010

Two Eagle graduates fly off to adulthood

By B.L. Azure

The days of leisure are now passed and the future awaits the Two Eagle River School Class of 2010. (B.L. Azure photo)
The days of leisure are now passed and the future awaits the Two Eagle River School Class of 2010. (B.L. Azure photo)

PABLO — The futures of the Two Eagle River School Class of 2010 lie in wait. Their pasts are now the foundation upon which they will spring forth to unknown destinations. On Sunday the Eagles Nest was packed with well-wishers who bid good-bye to the past and bon voyage to the future of the 18 Two Eagle graduates.

One by one the Two Eagle graduates were introduced as they sauntered to the dais amid cheers from family, friends and acquaintances. At a time like this everyone is family: the Two Eagle River School family, it was their last day together and it was a good one.

The Yamncut drum opened the graduation ceremonies with an honor song that was followed by a prayer given by Dennis Villegas.

Two Eagle River School Superintendent Clarice King then welcomed all and introduced the commencement speaker, Rob McDonald, Communications Director for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

McDonald said he wasn’t sure why King asked him to do the commencement address because he doesn’t have too much worldly wear on his radials. However, salt and pepper hair follicles and being in the loop when it comes to the tribal government was enough to qualify him as a good candidate to address the students.

Two Eagle River School Superintendent Clarice King presents Japanese foreign exchange student Shun Ikegai with his diploma. (B.L. Azure photo)
Two Eagle River School Superintendent Clarice King presents Japanese foreign exchange student Shun Ikegai with his diploma. (B.L. Azure photo)

“Clarice said, ‘You’re on the frontlines. You know the issues,’” McDonald said before firing off a list of professions and trade skills that the CSKT needs now and well into the future.

McDonald said that whatever employment path the students choose they require good communication skills and respect for the people they serve.

“No matter what you do, have fun doing it,” McDonald said. “Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Floss. Don’t waste time on jealousy. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they are gone. Believe me. Read directions even if you don’t plan on following them. Respect your elders and don’t’ expect anyone else to take care of you.”

Jerry Brown followed McDonald at the lectern telling the gathered that the Indian people have always had education as a prominent part of their culture. “We’ve been here for 16,000 years we must know something about education,” he said before introducing a pair of Two Eagle students that were awarded the prestigious and financially hefty Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Millennium Scholarship.

Tianna Marie Ness and James Edward Maestas III were among five Montana high school graduates to receive the scholarships. The scholarships will fund their post high school education all the way through the masters level as long as they maintain a full load of classes and meet the required grade point average.

Ness said she plans on attending Salish Kootenai College to begin work on an elementary education teacher degree with a focus on teaching the Salish language to young students. She will spend at least one year at SKC learning the college regimen before considering other colleges to pursue a degree.

Tiana Ness and James Maestas III, winners of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, led the Two Eagle Class of 2010 processional. (B.L. Azure photo)
Tiana Ness and James Maestas III, winners of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, led the Two Eagle Class of 2010 processional. (B.L. Azure photo)

Maestas said he also plans on attending SKC in order to get a good grip on the rigors of college life. Then he said he would “enroll at an expensive college” to pursue a teaching degree. Maestas said he wants work with youth and potentially become a basketball coach.

There were 5,000 applicants nationally and 1,000 were awarded throughout America with five in Big Sky Country. The had to muster their way through a long laborious application process that included, among other things, the writing of eight essays.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation began the Gates Millennium Scholars program in 1999. It provides full financial support to low-income minority students to help them overcome the numerous challenges of postsecondary education. The goal of the program is to provide full funding of college tuition, fees, books and housing for 20,000 low-income minority scholars by 2020.

According to research done by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Gates Millennium Scholars program demonstrates that reducing the financial burden on low-income minority students leads to enhanced persistence, college completion and community engagement after college.

“Despite the fact that many deserving students are academically and socially prepared for the challenges of higher education, students from low-income families who are minorities continue to face barriers to accessing and completing a postsecondary degree in a timely manner,” said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. “The Gates Millennium Scholars program is an excellent example of how to target students and provide the financial resources needed to overcome one of the largest barriers low-income, minority students face and expand their opportunities in pursuing a quality education.”

To become a GMS Scholar, students must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, demonstrate financial need by showing eligibility for a federal Pell Grant, and have at least a 3.3 grade point average in high school.

Jerry Brown presents Karsyn Wilder with her TERS Class of 2010 diploma. (B.L. Azure photo)
Jerry Brown presents Karsyn Wilder with her TERS Class of 2010 diploma. (B.L. Azure photo)

Each student is nominated by a teacher or counselor and must compose an essay providing insights into their personal characteristics. The essays are scored using a set of non-cognitive criteria, such as leadership and citizenship qualities, positive self-concept, realistic self-appraisal, availability of a strong support network, and ability to handle racism. These qualities are believed to help students during their postsecondary experiences as well as increase minority access and leadership at higher education institutions.

Then Brown and King handed out the diplomas to the 18 TERS graduates.

The Two Eagle River School Class of 2010: Jaylen Ren’ee Carpentier; Selah Marlene Carpentier; Jacinta Elizabeth Chief Stick; Adele Louise Frost; Kathleen Rose Howard; Shun Ikegai; James Edward Maestas III; Mona Meyer; Samantha Lee Ann Ness; Tiana Marie Ness; Lonnie Kass Curtis Old Shoes; Andrew Bennett Ostrander; Cedric Jaylin Russell; John Emery Steele; Ashton Sharain Swaney; Jordon Piya Wilder; Karsyn Keann Wilder; and Douglas Leo Wynne.

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