GREAT FALLS — Graduation is a time for all high school seniors to celebrate their accomplishments and for the indigenous education students in the Great Falls public school system, their celebration includes their transition into becoming warriors.
Dugan Coburn, the department's director, and the entire department hosted an Eagle Feather Ceremony on Thursday, where the graduating seniors receive an eagle feather beaded with their schools’ colors in honor of their accomplishment.
“Well, this is everything that we’re working for,” said Dugan. “We want to increase the graduation rate for our indigenous students, and this is the night that we get to acknowledge them and say, you know thank you for working so hard in getting here. So, I’m very proud of them and it makes my heart happy that they’re all here tonight with their families”
The feathers have hooks that the students can use to hang on their graduation caps. In the state of Montana, there is a law stating that Native American people can wear regalia to graduation, so this is a way for students not only to show off their graduation accomplishment, and pride in their culture as well.
“I was really proud of myself for making it this far because...it’s just exciting,” said Megan Forward, a graduating senior from Great Falls High School. “I worked hard for this and I’m happy to be receiving it.”
Not only was it an impactful night for students, but it was also an emotional time for teachers.
Jordann Foster, an IEFA instructional coach could be seen hugging students in pride, happy to see them moving on to the next part of their lives, said, “It’s emotional but in a good way. We work so closely with these students they become like family and so, you know it’s scary but it’s also great for us to see them reach that next step.”
In honor of Paris Gibson Education Center principal Drew Uecker and his retirement, he received a ribbon shirt with around 30 ribbons to signify the number of years he was at Paris.
“Drew, thank you so much for supporting us and thank you for being here tonight,” said Dugan during his speech.
All in all, it was a fantastic day to celebrate students and their culture as they prepare to hit the stage and receive their diploma this weekend.
Dugan said, “All of us at the department are so proud of them, and we can’t wait to see them in their feathers on graduation day.”
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