White Clay dream comes true with first grads

Aug 15th, 2011 | By | Category: 23-1: Beyond Racism, Tribal College News
By Rebecca Bishop

WHITE CLAY GRADS. The White Clay Language Immersion School’s first graduating class included, from left: Wozek Chandler, Teche Ereaux, Dr. Lynette Chandler (White Clay Language School’s director), Samantha Werk, and Jenessa Talks Different. Photo by Helmbrecht Studio

The White Clay Language Immersion School’s very first graduating class was included in the Fort Belknap College (FBC, Harlem, MT) commencement. The four graduates included Wozek Chandler, Jenessa Talks Different, Samantha Werk, and Teche Ereaux.

These four young women plan to enter high schools. Wozek Chandler, 13, (A’aniinin and Nakoda) is the daughter of Sean and Lynnette Chandler. Teche Ereaux, 14, (A’aniinin and Nakoda) is the daughter of Delvin Ereaux and Leslie Cochran. Samantha Werk, 14, (A’aniinin and Nakoda, Cree) is the daughter of Susan and Clyde Werk. Jenessa Talks Different, 14, (A’aniinin and Nakoda) is the daughter of Ira Talks Different and Annie Blackbird.

The four students have attended White Clay classes and school since kindergarten. They have learned the A’aniinin language and cultural ways during this time from their teachers and A’ani language instructor Sean Chandler. “We started the school years ago; it began as an after school program, and it was all volunteer for the first three years. It’s amazing to watch a dream come true,” says Dr. Lynette Chandler. “It is emotional and sad… it’s hard to let go of our kids because we’ve watched them grow up, but they know that we will always be there for them! We are very proud of their accomplishment and hope that one day they will return to teach others.”

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