Graduation Brightens Red Lake Residents
A local bakery made about 60 cakes for separate grad parties and tribal elders forecast a bright future for the young ones. Valedictorian Vernelle Lussier said her and her classmates’ graduation was the achievement of a life-long dream.
“This is something that I needed to finish and I did”, Lussier said. It wasn’t always a sure thing that day would come after the March deadly shootings at the high school by schoolmate Jeffrey Weise. But the people of this intensely private Ojibwe Tribe struggled under the concentrated media scrutiny to overcome their adversity and go on to more positive aspects of their lives.
When the school reopened, only about one-third of the students returned for the half-day classes with most of them to traumatized to set foot back on the grounds. Nevertheless, the seniors made it through!
On Saturday, May 28th, Red Lake’s largest graduating class ever, 92 students, took part in commencement ceremonies in the middle school which were closed to the media.
In her keynote address, Lussier told fellow classmates and the proud families in attendance while they “cannot undo what was done”. They should “look for answers, not for blame.”
The Red Lake High yearbook, which was to have been edited by English teacher Neva Rogers, a victim of the massacre, has a two-page spread dedicated ”to our fallen Warriors” and features photos of the five students, teacher and security guard who died.
Weise is not pictured in the spread but his photo is included with the rest of the sophomore class. As Lussier finished her speech, numerous red, black and silver balloons filled the sky.
Lussier will attend Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. She stated that no matter how far away she goes, she’ll never be far away from Red Lake.
“I want to come back. It might not be right away. But I’ll always come home.”
This has been edited for length and content from an AP story in the May 30th edition of The Arizona Republic.
DEMOCRATS ALSO BENEFITED FROM ABRAMOFF'S EFFORTS
Not only Republicans but Democrats also benefited from Jack Abramoff’s windfall of some $82 million collected in lobbying and PR fees from six Indian tribes.
Among them are: Tom Daschle, SD; Harry Reid, Nev; and Dick Gephardt, Mo. Apparently both political parties were impacted which may make it difficult for the Democrats to turn the current Abramoff investigation into a winning partisan issue.
The above comes from Jeffery H. Birnbaum and Derek Willis of the “Washington Post”.
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