The students shared their journey stories that they hope will inspire other adults who are in need of a GED as well as the adults who have a diploma and want to go back to school but haven’t been in a school setting in a long time.
[upside_blockquote]“Adults need to support themselves financially, yes, but find that without a GED, they are limited in the types of jobs that they can find and find that advancement and pay raises are impossible. Testing feels scary and being judged for what you should know but don’t know is an uncomfortable thought. I’m here to show you that you can and will do this! This team is rooting for your success! -Annessia Swann, Takoda GED Director[/upside_blockquote]
Students at AIOIC’s alternative high school, Takoda Prep, celebrated their graduation and years of hard work this June.
Ten students from Takoda Prep graduated this year. Each worked hard to complete assignments, study, earn credits, and plan for their future. Their next steps include going to college, enrolling in career training, and finding employment – all opportunities made possible with their high school diploma.
In addition to regular classroom instruction, students participated in a summer school program including planting a pollinator garden, designing and painting a mural, participated in cultural connection activities, and more. Throughout the academic school year, students visited Washington D.C., toured college campuses, created traditional Native art pieces, attended digital marketing and IT workshops, participated in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s March, volunteered within their community, and more.
Congratulations to our graduates! Check out photos from the ceremony and celebration below:
Students learn from professionals and practice their informational interviewing skills
The students at Takoda Prep High School took part in two special events in March. These events showcased both their professionalism and their interest in career exploration. Jessica Rousseau, the Case Plus Coordinator at Takoda Prep, organized an informational interview session for her students to practice conducting professional informational interviews with career professionals from within the Native community. Some of the career professionals that attended were from the Indian Education Department, Minnesota Department of Health, Hennepin County Library, and one of our own, Amber White-Bear from Takoda.
The students were able to learn more about the real-life experiences and the journeys each of the career professionals took. It helped give students insight into what that particular career looks like and how each career professional took different steps to succeed and get to where they are today.
What followed was a JAG Career Conference at Minneapolis Community Technical College, in which students attended a morning session of informational interviews with over 60 career professionals and an afternoon break-out session, where students were able to pre-register to attend a more in-depth look into certain career fields of their interest. Students were able to learn more about the career professionals in a variety of various fields within a smaller setting,
Students exchanged business cards they created within their Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) class and were able to network with all of the career professionals they met within the Conference.
UPDATE: Students participating in Takoda Prep’s D.E.A.R. program continue to improve reading scores and grow interest in fiction and non-fiction texts.
Christy Hicks, Takoda Prep Instructor
Back in November, we told you all about our daily reading challenge, Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.). Now, in March, students are still committed to their time spent reading, Lexile readability, and learning new critical reading skills. Over the course of the year, 16 of 23 students who have taken the assessment at least twice have improved their score. We are so proud of the students’ dedication to their readability level. Seven students who have been at Takoda since the beginning of the year have also moved up a percentile rank (which determines if they need urgent reading intervention). For those students who still have some work to do, we are committed to helping them one-on-one to grow as readers and critical thinkers.
Beyond the assessment, students have also spent a great deal of time reading silently. Among several other recommendations for improved reading programs, research shows that students need extended time for literacy, diverse texts, and self-directed learning. Students at Takoda Prep are provided with these integral aspects daily. Even with the weather-related closures our school has faced this quarter, students have still spent over 40 hours reading during our morning D.E.A.R. class since the beginning of February. They have also found themselves reading new texts from our growing classroom library and have requested many more high-interest novels.
Finally, the self-direction of the D.E.A.R. programs allows students of all levels and interests find success in our one-room schoolhouse. Students recommend books to each other, engage in chatter about stories they encounter, and problem-solve challenging texts.
Some of the books Takoda Prep students absolutely love include the Bluford Series (various authors), The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and poetry by Rupi Kuar.
Below is a piece written by a current Takoda Prep student:
“Takoda Prep is somewhere that’s always made me feel very welcomed since the beginning and has been very convenient for me to get to. The location is great, it’s right next to Taco Bell and Holiday and also the train station. It feels good knowing how close it is and it should never change its location.
The voice it gives me is that we’ll graduate no matter how long it takes. It gave me a lot of hope when I just wanted to stop with everything and bury myself in a deep hole of depression. Here however I never felt better about graduating than I did at Roosevelt. It actually feels more realistic here. I put my all into my assignments and no matter how many times I left here feeling like I’ll never be finished I always came back. Because every time I enter this class I feel like it’s a new opportunity to get further and closer to graduating.
And now that the feeling of being done is very close, I am ready to prep for my fall semester at MCTC. I am ready to start prepping for the real world, real things, bills, car payment, anything. I have a lot of fear and a lot of doubt but it’ll never stop me from doing things that need to be done to ensure that I have a good life and that I give my mom a good life for the rest of her years.
Every time I did not go to school like I should have. I felt the pause in my education, my time, and my future. It did not feel good, but it did show me that I should stop for nothing and nobody. I know how much dedication I have and it is up to me to show it. When I leave Takoda Prep, I’ll always remember the summer I started. We were doing my favorite thing, spray painting, but this time it was legal. It was an amazing experience especially working with real spray paint artists. The best part was that they let me pick some colors to keep out of their spray paints. They were new and one of the best spray paint brands I’ve been wanting since 9th grade. Those were the easiest credits to recover ever. And when I leave I’ll know there’s a piece of me still there that I can come back to remember.”
Takoda Prep is accepting students for third quarter, which begins on January 28th.
Takoda Prep is a great alternative for those who had not had success in the traditional school setting. As a contract alternative high school under contract with Minneapolis Public Schools we focus on helping students make advancements in reading, writing, and mathematics, while maintaining a strong connection to American Indian Culture.
What makes Takoda Prep unique is the small class environment that allows students and staff to feel closely connected which leads to more individualized instruction and support. Student s are encouraged to observe a class or even a full day to ensure that Takoda Prep is the right fit.
The first step is to set up a meeting with the Education Director, Chris Hubbard at 612-341-3358 ext. 158. During that time we can review your credits, tour the school, answer your questions and go over any necessary paperwork. Please feel free to visit our Facebook page to see what Takoda Prep students and staff have accomplished this year!
Two-Spirited youth and allies attend annual LGBTQ+ festival
This winter, Takoda Prep students attended Q-Quest, MN School OUTreach Coalition’s 14 Annual Youth Festival. This youth-focused conference has become a popular choice for our self-identified Two-Spirited youth or allies. The event unites approximately 400 youth from the Metro and Greater MN area. This year’s workshops focused on topics that included self-love, healthy relationships, youth voice, gay-straight alliances, and many others. The resource fair was also a hit with students finding information to keep them safe, healthy, educated, and connected to LGBTQ+ specific (or friendly) services.
As always, the entertainment was phenomenal and allowed us the opportunity to physically express our “fierce” selves. The day closed with the ever popular “Open Mic” segment, where even the shyest student finds the courage to display their talent in the form of poetry, song, dance, comedy, or skit. Overall, the event has been inspirational and we look forward to attending future events.