Twenty-seven students from Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionteriwaienstáhkhwa received diplomas at their graduation ceremony on Monday afternoon, and will be heading off to high school come September. (Jessica Deer, The Eastern Door)
Over two dozen students from Karonhianónhnha Tsi Ionteriwaienstáhkhwa graduated from the Mohawk immersion school on Monday afternoon, with smiles and some tears.
The ceremony began with the Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen read by students Iakonerahtakatste Goodleaf and Kawennaiésen McGregor, followed by opening remarks by principal Earlyn Sharpe.
“To the graduating class, your journey here at Karonhianónhnha School has ended and a new journey will soon begin,” said Sharpe. “Your dedication to learning our language and culture, to become speakers of the future generation is important so that your heritage live on.”
In addition to each graduate receiving their diploma, special awards were given for social students, art, math, language arts, science and physical education. This year’s Sherihwakwenhienhstak award was given to Teiakokahraieshon Stacey.
Addresses by students were also given in Kanien’kéha, French and English.
“This school gave me some great memories in the past years, from learning how to read and how to do math, and how to speak my own language. Not all the memories were great, but most of them were,” said Roháhes Stacey.
“Out of all the years that I have been here, there’s one thing that I never got to say a lot to a couple of special people in my life that helped me get through the years of schooling. I’d like to thank my family members and teachers for helping me through my school years.”
Stacey got teary-eyed trying to get through the end of his speech after thanking his teacher Carol Kaherákwas Boyer Jacobs, who is currently battling breast cancer.
This was the first time in her three decades of teaching at the school that she missed a graduation ceremony. Her absence was felt by the graduates, staff, and parents in attendance.
Although Boyer Jacobs was unable to attend the ceremony, Sharpe read a letter addressed to her students the graduating class.
“I want each and every one of you to know that I am with you in spirit and am very proud of your accomplishments. I know each of you have worked very hard to get to where you are and you should be proud of yourselves.
“My wish for all of you is that you see the light in this world, in yourselves, and in others – compliment others and be proud of your own accomplishments, believe in yourself for you are stronger than you know. I believe in you, try hard, but know your limits and don’t be shy to ask for help if you need it,” said Sharpe reading the letter aloud.
“I admire you for learning our language and culture. Continue to learn and speak your language, be proud of who you are as Onkwehón:we, and teach others about your culture as you go off to high school. You are our future leaders, our doctors, our lawyers, our teachers, our artists, our scientists – you can accomplish great things when you put your mind to it.”
Check out some photos from other graduation ceremonies that took place in Kahnawake last week.
Grade six students at Kateri School graduated on Friday, June 16. Send us your photos from the ceremony to add to the gallery!
Kahnawake Survival School
Twenty-three students from Kahnawake Survival School graduated on Thursday, June 22 at the school’s 39th graduation ceremony. Kawen:nihtha Kirby and Ken’nikakontésha Norton-Montour were the student valedictorians, while a number of awards and scholarships were given to students for excelling in math, science, Kanien’kéha, visual arts, sports and other subjects.