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Telling our stories during Native American Heritage Month

WCPSS students at event

November 7, 2023

During recent community roundtable discussions, school leaders, staff, parents and community partners from across the county often cited diversity as one of the top things to celebrate about our district. Learning more about different cultures and backgrounds is an important part of our students’ educational experience and it enriches all of our lives. I was grateful for the opportunity to join our students, staff, Board members and others to celebrate Native American Heritage Month during a special ceremony that honored the myriad of contributions Native Americans have made to our state.

The event, hosted by our Office of Equity Affairs and American Indian Education Program, provided us an opportunity to recognize the history of the land that we live and work on, as well as the impressive number of tribal communities represented in Wake County. 

My favorite part of the event was the unveiling of an educational poster created by WCPSS high school students and Benjamin Cashwell, a member of the Coharie tribe, and Sarah Jones, a member of the Lumbee tribe. These students designed the poster as a resource to illustrate tribal membership across North Carolina. The poster design is a map of our state with photos of Native American students from North Carolina as well as QR codes that direct others to additional resources. Benjamin and Sarah were also featured in a video about their project that was presented to our Board of Education.

Our school system has roughly 160,000 students and currently less than 350 of them identify as American Indian. This is one reason why this student-led project is so important. Moving forward, their poster will be printed and distributed to our schools to recognize and celebrate the many contributions made by members of the tribal communities in our state. 
I am impressed by the leadership and advocacy shown by these students as they brought this important project to completion. Their hard work will help to ensure students and staff across our district have the opportunity to learn more about the Native American tribes that contribute to the diversity of our district and our state. I am proud of them for continuing to tell their story and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their work.

With gratitude,
Dr. Robert P. Taylor