Ha:San Preparatory & Leadership School
Producer: Martha Serda
Photographer: Chris Miracle
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tonight we continue our special Saturday series "What's Awesome About Your High School?" The Nine On Your Side team dropped in on the Ha-San Preparatory and Leadership School recently. The Hawks explain why their high school experience is like no other in Southern Arizona.
A Pep Assembly that means more than school pride. Here at Ha:San it means pride in your tribe. This school combines students from a number of Native American tribes, mostly Tohono O'odham.
Landon Walls, "We focus on traditional culture and Tohono O'odham language here at school. So we have a language class where students are learning Tohono O'odham."
Language class is critical for keeping their heritage alive.
Janice Ramon, Language Teacher, "It is the language that represents the culture. Without the language there is no culture. So it's really crucial right now to teach the students as well as parents."
Students take the required core classes for a high school diploma, but as Mishon Saraficio explains, she'll take away much more.
Mishon Saraficio, Sophomore, "The reason why I cam here was to learn the traditions of our ancestors and by coming here two years, I really enjoy coming here."
Some needed a smaller environment to learn and found Ha:San provided a world of opportunities.
For Mashawna Garcia and Ignacio Franko, their high school experience will include a crown.
Mashawna Garcia, Senior, "Mr. and Mrs. Ha: San. It was a nomination."
Ignacio Franko, "At my last school I wasn't too comfortable. I felt out of place. But coming here I fell like I fit in."
Others needed teachers to take a different approach. Jessica Cantiga started off at another high school and she was lost.
Jessica Cantiga, Senior, "Deficiencies. I had f's and I wasn't doing my best. SO my Mom decided I'm going to pull you out of the school and put you another school. She put me here, I was reluctant at first. Now I"m proud to be a Ha:San Hawk."
And Ha:San teachers are glad to incorporate rich cultural history in their lesson plans. Tim Tullar says one of the activities in his class includes basket weaving... a centuries old tradition.
Tim Tullar, Teacher, "It's definitely integral for the language and culture and we want to recreate traditional experiences and then have the language that's associated be included as well."
Students here are prepped for college from day one and it shows.
Dakota Encinas went to Portland last year for a Native American conference and came back inspired to attend school there someday. He wants to bring his knowledge back to the Tohono O'odham Nation.
Dakota Encinas, "Make a change knowing that everybody is okay. Like not having to worry about anything."
Mashawna Garcia, "For me it's important because a lot of Native youth aren't going to college and they're into these negative things. Taking one step ahead in your education is better for you. I think that it will help others out and everyone on your reservation where ever you come from and it will be a good thing."
Mishon Saraficio, "When I went to Ha:San they said you should follow your dreams and dream big and you can do it."
Art and expression are highly encouraged here and seniors moving on leave their mark on the school.
Some Ha:San Hawks have big musical dreams. In fact they're already recorded a CD at the school's very own recording studio.
"It's about time Arizona took that crown to the top."
Music is important on this campus. The four-day school week begins and ends with traditional songs.
Jessica Cantiga explains what the music means, "Each one has a its own meaning. It's almost like prayer and it feels good when you do it."
Special thanks to Landon Walls for his kindness and hospitality. Go Hawks!
For more information Ha:San Preparatory and Leadership School visit their website at: