Shiprock High students perform at state Capitol

Joshua Kellogg
The Shiprock High School Marine Corps JROTC Color Guard presents the colors to start Friday's legislative session on the House floor at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

FARMINGTON — Two groups of Shiprock High School students recently traveled to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe to represent their school and community.

Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, invited the high school's Marine Corps JROTC  and the school's jazz ensemble to perform at the state Capitol during the legislative session.

The 16 students in the jazz ensemble performed for an hour in the Roundhouse Rotunda on Tuesday, according to Band Director Paul Magnuson. The jazz group also performed at the Capitol two years ago.

This marked Alani Watchman's second performance at the Capitol. Despite that, the senior said she still felt intimidated to perform for lawmakers.

“It’s a humbling experience when you play for powerful people who work to make the laws,” Watchman said.

Students performed a variety of songs, including “Hey Jude” by The Beatles. They were joined by senior Nicole Keeswood, who sang a song in the Navajo language.

Senior Makalia Lee said it was a new experience to perform for lawmakers. She said chairs were set up in front of the students, and, throughout the performance, people sat for several minutes to listen to the ensemble.

“It was an honor, many schools don’t get to do this,” Lee said.

The Shiprock High School jazz ensemble poses on Tuesday with Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, far left, outside the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

Six members of the Shiprock High Marine Corps JROTC Color Guard presented the colors to start Friday’s legislative session. They were joined by Keeswood, who sang the national anthem in Navajo.

Retired Marine Corps Sgt. Major Leonard Maldonado, co-instructor for the JROTC unit, said this was the first time the group visited the Capitol.

Junior Andrew Lowe said the students were shocked to receive the invite from Rep. Clahchischilliage.

“A couple of the cadets were nervous, but we all gave each other words of encouragement,” Lowe said. “We felt honored to represent our school that way.”

Maldonado said the group looks forward to any opportunity for students to travel and show off their abilities.

“We considered it a fantastic opportunity for the cadets to go out to Santa Fe to let everyone know what they are capable of and represent themselves and the community,” Maldonado said.

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