- Cherry Creek School District No. 5
Indigenous Parent Action Committee welcomes families back
Parents, families, and students gathered at Eastridge Community Elementary School on Sept. 24 to bring together Indigenous families and welcome them back to school.
The event included games, a Maiz food truck, food from Tocabe, and educational booths. Laila DiPaolo, a freshman at Grandview, attended the event and said that building community is an important part of the Native experience. DiPaolo is the student representative for IPAC for the 2022-23 school year.
“My mom is White Mountain Apache, and it’s important to know where you come from,” DiPaolo said. “I like that I am unique and that I can celebrate with our culture’s dances and seeing the community come together.”
Donna Chrisjohn, current treasurer and inaugural chair of IPAC, also emphasized the importance of building community for Indigenous people.
“Events like this one are so important for awareness and creating connections,” Chrisjohn said. “For Indigenous people, one of our top values is to make relatives in this lifetime. Also, our families need to be familiar with support systems offered in the district. This happens most often by connecting through story and food. The most important part of connecting CCSD and Indigenous families is that our students and families are seen as contemporary living beings that are part of this community.”
The IPAC was created one year ago 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 4,000 students who identify as multi-race in one of the above groups.
Cherry Creek Schools Board Member Angela Garland also attended the event and shared that equity is a cornerstone of this event and other work being done by the district.
“All means all,” Garland said. “We are preparing students to be part of the larger community and to get to know each other and our stories. This is a great way for parents to learn, contribute, and engage with each other.”