The second annual Hopkins American Indian Student Celebration was hosted at the Hopkins Center for the Arts on May 22. The celebration included a showcase of art work from Native students and a recognition ceremony.
“Tonight’s event is all about celebrating our native students, who they are as native people and all that they have accomplished this year,” said Allegra Smisek, Hopkins social studies teacher.
With 120 students in the program, Smisek said the event’s goal was to be completely student-focused. There was about 50 pieces of student artwork on display and students were honored during the ceremony and presented with gifts.
Preschool and kindergarten students were gifted with a felt blanket as a symbol of the American Indian program wrapping their arms around them as they start their Hopkins journey. Students in grades 1-11 were given a beaded keychain.
Graduating seniors were honored with a Star Quilt and ceremonial song by the drum group. Presenters wrapped the quilts around the seniors while the Red Lake Singers performed a ceremonial song and people in attendance congratulated them with a handshake or embrace.
Alexandra Riley was one of the graduating seniors at the event. She is part of the Cree, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, and Cherokee tribes. The recognition was something she had been looking forward to all day.
“It felt like home,” Riley said. “It just felt right to me...it felt like part of my culture and I was happy to embrace that.”