Earlier this month, CRYP held a special graduation ceremony for the eight youngsters who completed Main University’s fall semester. Held on Tuesday, December 2, the festivities included commencement exercises and a hearty meal for students and their families.
Twenty children participated in Main University, which kicked off its fall semester on November 3. Participants who completed 16 total classes were eligible to graduate. Thomas Lucero was this semester’s valedictorian, and Jeremiah Lucero was Salutatorian.
“Thomas gave a speech about his favorite class, which was Smoothies 101,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s executive director. “We were thrilled by his enthusiasm, since we designed the class to encourage healthy snacking.”
In addition to Smoothies 101, students also took part in “Get Moving” (also known as Walking Club), “Acrylic Painting,” “Fish,” “Safety,” “Traditional Art” and “Graffiti Art.”
Main University is one of the 26-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization’s most popular and enduring programs. Recipient of a “Champion for Children” award from the South Dakota Coalition for Children, Main University is designed for 4- to 12-year-olds who attend The Main youth center; it was founded by former long-term volunteer Tracie Farrell in 2002.
Main University allows participants to take short courses that mimic those offered in a college setting. The courses give Cheyenne River children a chance to study subjects that may not be offered in school. The program uses language from higher education, such as “university,” “credits” and “valedictorian,” to familiarize students with their options in and after high school.
Eagle Hunter and her staff of four youth programs assistants created the lesson plans for the five courses; the hourlong classes took place at 5-6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. at The Main, Monday through Friday, and all five staff members served as instructors.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.