Tiarra's excellent adventure

Summer 2011 Red Cloud Country

In the course of a year, Red Cloud High School student Tiarra Little ’12 will have traveled overseas twice, visited the University of Pennsylvania for a student leadership program, attended a Georgetown University summer science institute and made her mark as one of the top students in her class.

“I see different opportunities come to me and I just go for it,” she says. “I can’t pass up the opportunities if they’re right there in front of my face.”

The opportunities have been varied, and more than happenstance, according to her teachers and fellow classmates. Last summer, Tiarra traveled to Israel and Palestine through Building Bridges of Peace, a program designed to connect students of different cultures and backgrounds and groom leaders of the next generation.

“I loved it,” she says. “It was really an eye-opening experience. I learned a lot about myself.”

Tiarra is now gearing up for a summer trip to Cambodia as part of a State Department program, where she will join 30 other high school students from the United States as they learn about environmental science.

“I’m excited to represent my state and my tribe.”

Tiarra says the Pine Ridge community—which helps support her travels through fundraising events—and her education at Red Cloud, have helped prepare her for the adventures she has embarked on during high school.

“Red Cloud really pushes you to do well,” she says. “It has really been a positive place in my life.”

Tiarra says she’s been fortunate to take advantage of the new science and Lakota studies classrooms, which were part of a $2.5 million addition and renovation to the high school and marked a milestone in a five-year vision of growth that included increased graduation standards and an overhaul of the Lakota language curriculum. Tiarra plans to study sports medicine or international studies in college, and the improvements to the science department were particularly beneficial, she says.

“I feel like I learn a lot more now,” she says.

Tiarra is also one of many students who spend time in the entrance of the school’s addition—a student commons area named in honor of Charles Cuny, a former teacher, coach and principal at the school. The focal point of the commons is an oversized stained-glass artwork by Angela Babby called “The Return of the White Buffalo Calf Woman.” The artwork celebrates White Buffalo Calf Woman, who the Lakota say brought them the sacred pipe and taught them many of their traditional ways.

“She’s a big reason why the culture is the way it is,” Tiarra says. “She’s a part of the school, of our identity.”

And Tiarra’s own identity is not something she plans to abandon no matter where her future takes her, which she hopes might include studying at Stanford or Dartmouth.

“My grandpa always told me, ‘When you’re ready to come back, come back and help,’” she says. “Right now I’m just focused on getting out and getting an education and learning all I can.”