Grant helps club at Washington High start newsletter about Native American students

Students at Washington High School are reviving a newsletter that will focus on their Native American peers, thanks to a grant from the Education Foundation.

Bruce Rekstad, who teaches Native American Studies at Washington, received a grant for $1,320 to assist student journalists with the project.

Members of the school’s Okichiyapi Club are designing, reporting and editing the online publication, called Warrior Native News.  Okichiyapi means “helping one another.”

“Our rationale for the newsletter is to inform other students of our culture,” said Ezra Red Earth, a senior, one of the tri-editors and the chief editor of the publication.

The other two tri-editors are Maria Pedro Sebastian and Jonny Knorr. Several other club members are assisting with the newsletter.

Most of the stories are expected to highlight the activities and accomplishments of the more than 100 Native American students who attend Washington.

The grant that Rekstad received was one of 18 Innovation in Education Grants the Education Foundation awarded for the 2017-2018 school year. The grants totaled a record high $57,415 – a yearly number that the Foundation wants to increase in the future.

Innovation in Education Grants are intended for creative educational projects that typically are not funded by tax dollars. They are awarded by the Education Foundation on a competitive basis to teachers in Sioux Falls Public Schools.

The Education Foundation also gives out $200 grants to help first-time teachers buy classroom supplies.

The grant awarded to Rekstad is intended to help stimulate students’ interest in reporting news about Native students and their culture. Red Earth and other newsletter staffers said they are grateful for the financial help.

The newsletter will be produced and available to readers online, but some paper copies also are expected to be available.

Rekstad filed a proposal for the grant with the idea of making the newsletter an extension of Okichiyapi Club.

“We will be helping one another in the newsletter by informing the general public and our students about the strengths and accomplishments of our wonderful Native American youth,” he said.

The online publication will focus on students’ academic and extracurricular involvement.

Janet Fleming Martin, who teaches Native American history and culture at Lincoln High School, helped Washington get its newsletter going again.  Lincoln also has a newsletter produced by Native students.

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