MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

December 22, 2013

MHS students to advise on Native education

They will be Oklahoma's representatives to national board

Two Muskogee High School sophomores could help influence and improve education for Native Americans.

Bailee Allen and Tyler Hill have been elected to the youth advisory board for the White House Initiative on American Indians and Alaska Native Education. Bailee and Tyler will serve two-year terms as at-large representatives for Oklahoma.

The students were elected during a conference of the Oklahoma Council for Indian Education in Midwest City, said David Walkingstick, Muskogee Public Schools’ director of Indian Education. He said Bailee and Tyler will represent 130,000 Native American students from 39 federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma. The students received 70 percent of the vote.

Walkingstick said that Bailee’s and Tyler’s election “shows they want to be a voice and want to be heard.”

“They want to give educators insight into what we need,” Walkingstick said.

He said lack of parental involvement is having a negative impact on Native American education. The population also has a high dropout rate.

Bailee said she is very honored to serve as an ambassador.

“Not only for my family and myself, but for our people,” she said

She said she looks forward to going to powwows and cultural events.

“We’ll get the insight of student lives in Indian tribes,” Tyler said.

The two students say they know of kids who have gotten involved with alcohol or substance abuse.

“I hope to encourage other native students to be involved in their culture, be more traditional,” Bailee said.

“I hope to help them improve, help get them thinking about higher things in life than doing drugs and just getting by in high school,” Tyler said.

Tyler is president of the Native American Student Association. Bailee was crowned Miss NASA earlier this semester.

Bailee said she hopes to get some of Indian Education officials to set up an educational training program.

Tyler said another idea is to set up a program to show students “what could happen to students if they don’t stay in school.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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