Celebrating Our Native Students

November is Native American Heritage Month, so I want to take a few minutes to provide an overview about how Native American students factor into our overall enrollment at EPIC, as well as provide an update on some exciting steps we’re taking to better serve our Native students.

In my blog last month, I mentioned that approximately 25% of our student body is made up of Native American students. This means EPIC is home to roughly 9,000 kids representing many tribes and cultures.

Studies show that Native American students have better educational outcomes when they have greater connection to their tribal culture, as well as supportive school personnel. Providing those connections and support is part of the EPIC mission for all students, and we recently formed NASO, EPIC’s first Native American Student Organization.

NASO is open to students in grades 7-12 who want to learn more about tribal culture, whether the student is part of a tribe or not. The program is being led by Alison Black, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma.

NASO held its first event on Oct. 7, and last week, we celebrated Native American Heritage Day with Virtual Spirit Days every day. Monday was our Traditional Dress Showcase, where students were invited to show off traditional dress or Native American clothing on social media; Tuesday, we asked students to “Rock Your Mocs” by wearing traditional Native American footwear. Wednesday was another dress-up day, with students being asked to dress as their own Native Hero, and on Friday, students will wear turquoise in their clothing or in traditional Native jewelry.

If you noticed I skipped Thursday – that’s for a good reason. Thursday was our monthly NASO meeting, where students gathered online for discussion and a fun activity. To join future meetings, contact Ms. Black at IndianEducation@epiccharterschools.org.

You can also learn more about NASO at www.epiccharterschools.org/NASO or on this short video from our YouTube channel.

At EPIC, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive environment where kids feel connected, comfortable and ready to learn. We’re proud of the diverse student body we serve; NASO is just one way we’re showing it.

Until next time,

Bart