The Richmond County Schools Indian Education Program celebrates the accomplishments of Native American students in the district, and this summer is no exception, as the program saw a number of firsts when this past school year ended.
Leak Street High School’s class of 2012 had the first three Native American students to graduate from the school since it became a diploma-granting school again in 2009. John “Stephen” Bullard, McKenzie Blanton and Courtney Smith had at one time believed that graduation was not an achievable goal. Now each plans to attend Richmond Community College in August.
Tina Bass, grades 6-12 Indian Education Specialist for Richmond County Schools, feels these students have set positive examples for other Native American students and have proven that no matter what obstacles students may face, they can eventually be successful.
“These students have blazed a new path for other Native American students to follow, as long as they are willing to put in hard work and persevere toward making their own dreams a reality,” Bass said.
Richmond Senior High School student Mercedes “Brianna” Quick was one of only approximately 340 students from across the state to be accepted into the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM). NCSSM was created for students who are committed to scholarship and interested in providing leadership in the development and application of science, math and technology. Quick is the first documented Native American student in Richmond County to receive this prestigious honor. She will attend the school beginning this fall. Terry Whittington, Brianna’s mother, said she is very excited and appreciative of her daughter’s hard work throughout her school career.
“Brianna has been blessed and is a blessing in our lives,” Whittington said.
Stephanie Deese, a member of the Richmond Early College High School class of 2012, was Richmond County’s first Native American valedictorian on record for the school district. Deese attributed her achievement not only to her own hard work, but also to the support of her family, especially her late grandfather.
“I was so excited and proud of myself,” Deese said. “But most of all, I hope he’s proud of me, too.”
Deese’s parents, Miki and Ted, said they were not at all surprised to see Stephanie achieve at such a high level.
“We knew at a very young age that Stephanie was going to accomplish great things,” Miki Deese said. “We feel truly blessed to have Stephanie for our daughter and thank God every day for allowing us to be her parents.”
The Richmond County Schools Indian Education program is federally funded, and designed to provide a strong support system for Native American students. The program ensures that students of American Indian descent are able stay in touch with their heritage and culture, as they receive the support they need for student success. Throughout the school year, the Indian Education program hosts a number of activities for students and parents who participate in the program. Students of Native American descent qualify to be a part of the program each school.
For more information about Indian Education in Richmond County Schools, contact Billie Allen at 910-582-7907 or Tina Bass at 910-997-9797.