By Chevon Petgrave, Shanel Draper, Adrain Wiles, and Terrell Bahe
With all the uncertainty this year has brought, it is wonderful to have some tangible tokens of assurance. Three alumni of Holbrook Indian School (HIS) are dedicating their time and talents to give back to their alma mater by working as full-time staff. For all those invested in what we do at HIS, this is a welcome note of encouragement. Seeing our students rise above the challenges of their backgrounds and break the cycle of poverty and abuse—this is the reason Holbrook Indian School was founded.
Shanel Draper, Adrain Wiles, and Terrell Bahe are among our many students who pass through HIS and go on to do great things. These three, however, have the unique opportunity to directly impact those coming after them.
In all honesty, not all of our students graduate. Each of them faces unique difficulties. We know there are results that will be seen on the other side of eternity, but it is refreshing to witness some tangible tokens of assurance today—the first fruits.
At Holbrook Indian School, I work as the Scholarship Coordinator. I work with the students and their parents to obtain scholarships for the students’ tuition. Some of our students will come up to me and ask about scholarships, and I help them as best as I can. I know that having issues at home or not being able to go home takes a toll on our students. [The threat of COVID-19 on the reservations, where many of our students live, has caused HIS to suspend home leaves for this semester. This is to prevent any spread that could occur when students return to campus from a home leave]. I try to make Holbrook a comfortable place for the students by laughing with them or giving them a smile in passing, knowing that it is hard for them not seeing family as often as they want to.
During my time as a student, I had staff members who were there for me, and I thank them for that. I was broken in so many ways. I am in the process of becoming a mentor, and it’s quite nice. A mentor is someone who shows that they care and will not give up on them no matter what. The moments that I treasure are those spent with our students, as I gradually get to know them. They all have very different personalities. To see their faces light up or fill with laughter—those are the memories I treasure.
I started working as the Assistant Boys’ Dean on campus this school year. When I first came to Holbrook as a third-grade student, I went to my dorm room and cried. It’s hard leaving family. At the start of this school year, I noticed there were a couple of the boys crying in the dorms. That brought back those memories for me. I was able to empathize with them. I told them, “I was in your situation.” I told them my story of when I first got here.
Some of the personal struggles that the boys come to me with are about showing emotions and relationships. One of them asked me, “How do I deal with anger?” I tell them to try playing basketball. While I was a student, we had a low-hanging basketball hoop installed on campus for us younger ones. I would vent out my emotions by dunking.
For dorm worship, I shared my testimony on how I overcame a lot of obstacles. I told the boys, “I’m glad I grew up with a hard life because I wouldn’t be the man I am right now.”
I recently started working as the Boys’ Task Force Dean this school year. I came to HIS in 8th grade, but I was in tears the day I arrived here for registration. Now, as I see the little ones, I understand that they miss their parents.
At Holbrook, we are responsible for passing on a lot of fundamental education not being taught at home. We are introducing the boys to the ideas of how to be a gentleman—such as hygiene, respect, and manners. It is a major component that is lacking for many growing up on the reservation. I believe the reason for that is because a lot of our students’ parents do not have any formal education. There is a strong correlation between education and respect and manners. As a student at HIS, I had to learn this.
After I graduated, I knew I was coming back to Holbrook. I made it my mission to come back. This place has always been home.
Providing our students with healthy meals is a major priority at Holbrook Indian School (HIS). We make our meals from scratch, which, consequently, incurs greater costs. Help us continue to provide our students with nutritionally balanced meals by participating in our Giving Tuesday campaign for 2020.
Giving Tuesday is a global giving movement, built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. It’s a communal method of giving to a specific cause that matters to you. At HIS, we are calling our campaign #GivingHISday.
This year GivingTuesday/#GivingHISday falls on December 1. To learn more about how you can help a student, visit HolbrookIndianSchool.org/GivingHISday.