FARMINGTON — The new dorms have been finished and a football field built, and finally the Navajo Preparatory School administration gets something to call its own -- the Edison J. Wauneka Leadership Building.

Navajo Prep's 200 students attended the dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning.

Finishing the leadership building, which will house the administration, is not the end of plans officials have for the school. Betty Ojaye, the school's executive director, said the administration has designs ready for a fine arts and music building that would cost $4 million to complete. The school is also planning an additional sports facilities and upgrades in the IT department.

Previously, the administration was housed in Dodge Hall, an old dormitory converted into classrooms. That space, though, was needed for extraclassrooms. And the administration was spread out between the first floor and the basement, creating confusion for visitors.

"We did a lot of running up and down steps," Ojaye said.

About a year ago, they started working on the Edison J. Wauneka Leadership Building.

Ojaye told the audience that they decided to call it a leadership building because "we're all about leadership here at Navajo Prep."

The administration named the building after Edison Wauneka, who was the president of Navajo Prep's board of trustees from 2001 until earlier this year. Wauneka said he became board president through a coin toss his first year but was reinstated every year after that.

He then described his first experiences of boarding school when he, as a young child, was sent to Crystal Boarding School in Navajo. The dorms were divided into "big boys" and "little boys." When he arrived, he started following his older brother toward the "big boy" dorm. He said an aide grabbed him by the arm and threw him down the hall.

"And I just thought to myself, 'What am I doing here?'" Wauneka said.

Edison Wauneka cuts the ribbon on Friday during the dedication and ribbon cutting of the Edison J. Wauneka Leadership Building at Navajo Preparatory School
Edison Wauneka cuts the ribbon on Friday during the dedication and ribbon cutting of the Edison J. Wauneka Leadership Building at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington. (Courtesy of Navajo Preparatory School)

He told students at Navajo Prep that he hopes none of them are ever treated that way. He said to make things better for the Navajo people, they need to focus on young people, like the Navajo Prep students.

Wauneka also told the students one of the reasons he decided to leave Navajo Prep: he plans to run for Navajo Nation president next year, where he said he will continue to focus on education.

If elected, he said he plans to focus on what need to be done within the Navajo Nation, rather than attending conference and going to Washington, D.C.

"We have to concentrate on putting our house in order," Wauneka said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.