Each Summer, Takoda Prep holds summer school for its students to provide them with a safe place to come each day and continue their education beyond the 9-month school year. Summer school at Takoda Prep began on June 18th and culminated with a community event on July 27th to honor our students and their hard work for our school and our community. The theme of this year’s summer school was “Reclamation: Reclaiming our Health, Culture, and Land.”
With the assistance of a generous grant from the National Urban Indian Family Center, we could provide students with Fitbits to monitor their health, including heartrate, daily steps, sleeping patterns, while also setting up daily goals. Students embraced their Indigenous culture by participating in a Sacred Sites Tour with Jim Rock. Students learned about the history of the Mounds Historical Site in downtown Saint Paul, and participated in discussions about their cultural ancestry.
Reclaiming the land was the main theme of this year’s summer school which involved creating an “Outdoor Classroom.” This included planting a pollinator garden and painting a mural on the south side of the high school building. This area has been overrun with invasive species of plants, overgrown, and unkempt, while also being a gathering area for nefarious activity at night time. Through the hard work of the student and staff, we transformed this area and reclaimed it for a purpose of healing, cultural identity, and participatory learning.
A special thanks to the University of Minnesota Master Gardener Extension Program and Lesley Perg for her hard-work in assisting us develop, and implement a beautiful garden. A note of gratitude to Bratt Tree Company who generously donated a large amount of mulch to cover the entire south side of the lot. And without Holly Henning and Charles Garcia, and their attention to detail, leading the students in the design, implementation, and painting of the mural, this project would not have been so rewarding for the students and community. Lastly, without the hard work of the students, this project would have never happened. They worked incessantly to create this space, to reclaim the land, and provide this community with a location of culture identity and healing.
Tom Lonetti, Takoda Prep Instructor