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Indigenous Parent Action Committee welcomes families back

Indigenous Parent Action Committee welcomes families backParents, families and students gathered at Eastridge Community Elementary School on September 25 to connect and celebrate the second year of the Indigenous Parent Action Committee (IPAC). 

The IPAC was created in the 2020-21 school year to provide support and amplify the voices of the Indigenous members of the district’s community. The Cherry Creek School District is home to more than 300 students and families who identify as Central, North or South American Indian and/or Alaskan Native. There are also more than 190 Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander families and more than 2,000 students who identify as multi-race in one of the above groups.

Dr. Aspen Lakota Rendon, who serves as a partner in the Office of Equity, Culture and Community Engagement, said that the committee’s focus was to create partnerships, identify challenges and affirm Indigenous students' presence, brilliance and cultural identities. IPAC works directly with district leadership and forms cross-district partnerships.

“Education is about mirrors and windows,” Rendon stated. “A mirror enables us to examine our own identity, reflect on our culture and see what is possible within ourselves. The window offers a resource to view others’ experiences and for others to see and accept our Native identities. A window lets us see what is possible in the world. With this mutual respect, we can ensure that representation and support are present because they are critical for our students who have not always been seen and served.”

This school year, IPAC plans to expand their monthly cultural events, continue collaborating with surrounding school district communities and grow the Indigenous graduation celebration that began last year.

Indigenous Parent Action Committee welcomes families backSavannah Blea, a teacher at Eastridge Community Elementary School, said the IPAC work is empowering because it allows the community to successfully bridge culture, traditions and values to positively support our youth. 

“I’m looking forward to successfully partnering with families and the community,” Blea shared. “I hope we can encourage others to join this committee, giving our community the opportunity to build relationships with students and staff to drive academic excellence.”

Angela Bibens, one of the committee members, joined IPAC because it is welcoming and inclusive to all Indigenous students and families within Cherry Creek Schools, regardless of tribal enrollment status.

“Uplifting and supporting Indigenous students is important because our biggest fight is always for visibility,” Bibens said. “The story is that we are relics of the past and nothing could be further from the truth. We are seeing a sea change with Indigenous creativity, activism and joy. IPAC gives parents a voice to ensure our students feel included and not erased.”

 

Posted 9/30/21