Educational, cultural hub opens for CCSD’s native students

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A new educational support center is available for Clark County School District Native American and Alaskan Native students and families.

CCSD’s Indian Education Opportunities Program (IEOP) commemorated the support center’s opening with a traditional land blessing ceremony and powwow performance on Saturday morning. 

The building, located off Flamingo Road and Eastern Avenue, will serve as a learning and cultural hub. Students within the IEOP will have access to academic support like tutoring, school supplies, a library, and the chance to partake in college tours. Beyond that, it serves as a gathering place for families and students to come together to celebrate culture and hold meetings. 

“Anything that gives our Native American student population a more equitable chance at being more successful in academics while also tying culture to it,” IEOP Coordinator Richard Savage said highlighting the importance of such a space. “Anything that helps students with their identity also helps with academic achievement.” 

Representation is important for IEOP member, Lilliana O’Neal who is a sophomore at Liberty High School but has been a member since the seventh grade. 

“It feels so good. As an indigenous student, there’s not a lot at my school at my school like this or native kids,” she encouraged others to join the program. 

Her mother, Natalie O’Neal, agreed. 

“Cultural identity is so important, especially promoting our indigenous values, ” she said. “IEOP is an opportunity for her to see other kids that look like her that have similar shared experiences. The barriers that education brings for those of us that come from an indigenous culture are well known.”

The gathering place also plays a part in encouraging attendance as the district reported a third of its students are chronically absent.

That includes nearly half of all Native American and Alaskan native students in the 2022-2023 school year.

According to preliminary data collected in November 2023, 38% of native students have been absent this school year.

CCSD’s Engagement Unit Executive Director Brad Keating addressed the alarming trend but said more students are in class this year as a result of engagement efforts that are the foundation of the new building. 

“We understand the Native American population has had difficulty getting to school. We are working every way to break down those barriers in a collaborative way so students are having fun at school, they want to be there and are excelling every single day,” Keating said. 

CCSD’s IEOP is a Title VI and Johnson O’Malley grant-funded program.

You can call 702-799-8515 or visit this link to get involved.

Original News Source Link – KLAS

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