Graduation Pow Wow for RPS Native American Graduates Returns After Two Year Halt

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – On Saturday, May 21, a graduation powwow will be held for seven Native American students graduating from Rochester Public Schools (RPS).

The last time the celebration took place was in 2019.

“It’s a momentous occasion for their lives and also as an Aboriginal person to see these students graduate. And sometimes, for our students, it is very difficult. We are therefore very grateful to their families who were kind enough to share with us and spend this day with us. And let us honor them,” said Valérie Guimaraes.

Guimaraes is co-founder of Greater Rochester Area Dakota Supporters (GRADS). She is a member of the American Indian Parent Education Committee in Rochester.

“It’s important to us to support our Native American students in the state of Minnesota who have a 50.3% graduation rate,” she said.

The Minnesota Department of Education reports that the Native American/Alaska Native student graduation rate was 50.8% in 2019. In 2020, the graduation rate was 55.7%.

“It wasn’t just about the GRADUATES, but also about the Parents’ Committee’s desire to celebrate their accomplishments. And the best way to do that is to have a powwow, where people can come together to sing and dance and celebrate those accomplishments,” Guimaraes said.

She said the celebration will also include vendors and food.

“We will provide a schedule so everyone understands how the day will unfold. And also contained in this program is the pow wow tag. So just things people need to understand and know when they come to a powwow. Most of the time the shooting video recording is appropriate, but at times during the powwow the MC will let you know that everything is fine now,” Guimaraes said.

The event is open to the public and begins at 1 p.m. at the Mayo High School football field.

“Come and enjoy and wish these graduates good luck,” Guimaraes said. “We are very excited about this. He missed and we feel it. It is a time of celebration and giving thanks that we can come together at this time.

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