Navajo Prep seniors to graduate with new degree

Joshua Kellogg
Navajo Preparatory School graduating senior Aliyah Johnson met the service portion of her graduation requirements by volunteering with the San Juan County Fire Department.

FARMINGTON – Navajo Preparatory School seniors are preparing to graduate as the first class of students pursuing a diploma from an international degree program.

Navajo Prep’s graduation on May 21 is one of several area high school graduations and college commencements taking place across San Juan County this month.

The college preparatory high school was accredited by the International Baccalaureate organization in January 2014 as an IB World School, becoming the first Native American International Baccalaureate high school in the country.

Eleven of the 50 seniors set to graduate are pursuing the Diploma Programme, said Roxanne Lee, International Baccalaureate coordinator.

“It paves the way for other Native Americans to go down the IB path,” senior Myava Trujillo said of being the first class at Navajo Prep to graduate with the diploma.

Work to earn the IB Diploma Programme equals a year of higher education credits, allowing students to start their first year of college as a sophomore.

“I’m going to be so happy when they walk across that stage,” Lee said.

The students will receive a high school diploma at the time of graduation, but they will have to wait until July for the Diploma Programme paperwork to be processed, Lee said.

Several of the Diploma Programme candidates described the work required in the two-year program to receive the diploma.

Senior Noah Bia said the students had to complete a 3,500- to 4,000-word essay last summer, examining a topic in depth about a potential career. The goal of the essay is to prepare students for undergraduate research in college and to investigate a topic of interest.

Bia researched renewable energy and how someone could advocate for the protection of the environment as a career as an environmentalist.

Seniors Maceo Tortalita, left, and Noah Bia talk about their experiences in the Diploma Programme Monday at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington.

An additional course called Theory of Knowledge is required. The class challenges students to consider the role of knowledge and how each of the subjects like math and science relate to each other, Lee said.

The project that takes up the most time is the creativity, activity, service program that requires work spread out across 18 months.

Senior Aliyah Johnson chose to volunteer with the San Juan County Fire Department for the service portion and organized donations of Christmas presents for a local family for the creative portion. Volunteering with the fire department has helped Johnson realize she wants to work in a career field where she helps people in need.

Trujilo, a member of the Jicarilla Apache tribe, said she learned how to make traditional cloth dress and taught classes where younger students learned to make dresses.

“Our cultures are dying so quickly, I think it’s important to teach others,” Trujillo said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

2016 graduation ceremonies

• Diné College: 10 a.m. Friday at Diné College, 1 Circle Drive in Tsaile, Ariz. 

• Navajo Technical University: 9 a.m. Friday, May 13 at the Navajo Technical College Wellness Center, Lowerpoint Road/N.M. Highway 371 in Crownpoint 

• San Juan College: 9 a.m. Saturday, May 14 at San Juan College, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington 

• Piedra Vista High School: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17 at Ricketts Park, Fairgrounds Road and Vine Avenue in Farmington 

• Rocinante High School: 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 at the Farmington Civic Center, 200 W. Arrington St. in Farmington 

• Career Prep High School: 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 at the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center, U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock 

• Vista Nueva High School: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19 at Aztec High School, 500 E. Chaco St. in Aztec

• Farmington High School: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19 at Ricketts Park, Fairgrounds Road and Vine Avenue in Farmington 

• Newcomb High School: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19 at Skyhawk Gym, U.S. Highway 491 in Newcomb 

• Charlie Y. Brown High School: 10 a.m. Friday, May 20 at Bloomfield High School, 924 S. Bloomfield Blvd. in Bloomfield

• Aztec High School: 7 p.m. Friday, May 20 at Fred Cook Memorial Stadium, 455 N. Light Plant Road in Aztec 

• Bloomfield High School: 7 p.m. Friday, May 20 at Bobcat Stadium, 520 N. First St. in Bloomfield 

• Shiprock High School: 7 p.m. Friday, May 20 at the Chieftain Pit, U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock 

• Kirtland Central High School: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21 at Bronco Stadium, 550 County Road 6100 in Kirtland 

• Navajo Preparatory School: 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21 at the Navajo Prep football field, 1220 W. Apache St. in Farmington

• Shiprock Northwest High School: 6 p.m. Saturday, May 21 at the football field at Northwest High School, on Piñon Drive behind Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock