NASA hosts their own graduation

June 6, 2022

NASA+seniors+are+lined+up+holding+their+eagle+feathers.

Photo submitted by Joanna Tom

Seniors Sophia Gilluson, Shamus Cierley, Justin Lopez, Cheyenne Peterson, and Ethan Andre Hagen Espino earn their eagle feathers for their graduation.

Graduation for everyone is a time to celebrate all one’s life accomplishments so far. It closes one chapter in someone’s life in order to open another. Native American Student Association is doing things a little differently, in a more traditional way. It allows them to touch more closely to home, and have a more intimate graduation.

Traditionally if someone did a brave act they would earn an Eagle feather. Now their brave act is graduating high school and getting an education.  Nobody else in the country can own an eagle feather, making it that much special to the few that can. Only people in nationally recognized tribes are allowed to have them. As the students walk onstage, instead of receiving their diploma as they will at normal graduation, they will receive an eagle feather.

“It’s something special and it’s something that you can hold the rest of your life especially since you are a native and you are part of a tribe, your the only one allowed to have an eagle feather everyone else can’t have one,” senior Cheyenne Peterson said.

The graduation rate for Native Americans is around 50% compared to other minorities around 70-80%. The students worked hard for this moment and deserved to have more than just their names called. This event is a lot more intimate and allows the students to interact with their peers and staff.

It’s something special and it’s something that you can hold the rest of your life especially since you are a native and you are part of a tribe, your the only one allowed to have an eagle feather everyone else can’t have one.”

— Cheyenne Peterson

With the graduation rate so low they want to celebrate by themselves so they do not “get lost in the large graduation ceremony,” NASA advisor Joanna Tom said.

The graduation has not been held for the past two years because of COVID. The work is being divided among the people in the club. They are in small groups each tasked with different things. Some groups are working on decorations while others are calling businesses. They will have different Native American cultural events being held. They will have guest speakers along with a drum circle.

Junior Mason Borchardt said that all the different committees work individually, but come back together at the very end to make everything come together.

This event allows the students to reflect on what they have done in NASA this year. It will allow them to look back on the year and reflect. It makes the students come together one last time for a grand hurrah before losing the seniors.

“It is a send off to all the people who have played a bigger role,” Borchardt said.

This ceremony will be held on May 20, at the Grand in downtown Stillwater. The Grand will be catering to all the student’s friends and families. This event allows the students to be more personal and stay with close friends throughout the night.

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