As a Family, Red Cloud’s Class of 2019 Looks Toward the Future

In the weeks leading up to graduation, Red Cloud senior Emonee Pourier ‘19 reflected on her years at Red Cloud, and thought about what she’d miss the most.

“I’ll miss the friendly faces I get to see every single day,” she said. “This is our last week of school, and we’re all getting emotional. This is the last Monday we’ll get to walk to lunch together.”

Graduating RCI students

Her classmate Nevra Murdock ‘19 is experiencing some of the same bittersweet feelings.

“I grew up in Pine Ridge and I’ve been at Red Cloud since preschool. I’ve never been at any other school,” she said. “There are many people here I’ve known since I was 4, and so with graduation so close, I’m nervous because I’m not going to have all those people who’ve been with me for so long. But I’m also excited, because it will be a whole different journey and experience.”

Tierra Baird ‘19 says it’s gone by in a flash.

“It’s kind of amazing how fast it all went by. I remember the seniors during my freshman year saying it would go by fast, and I didn’t believe them. But now, here I am, two weeks from graduating, and it’s hard to process,” she said. “But I do feel more comfortable now. Looking back at being a freshman, and reflecting on that time, I can see the transition to the person I am now, and I’m pretty proud of that.”

And as the class of 2019 came together for their graduation ceremony and celebration, there were countless reasons to be proud. As each senior received their diploma, families, friends, and school staff applauded all their extraordinary accomplishments. Together they earned nearly a million dollars in college scholarships, and nearly 95 percent are going on to post-secondary education. Red Cloud’s newest graduates will be attending outstanding colleges and universities across country—from Bridgewater State, to the University of Minnesota, to Oglala Lakota College, and all the way to Stanford University.

Graduating RCI students

Wherever they go, they are all committed to pursuing the passions they discovered through their journey at Red Cloud. Each of them plans to make the world a better place, whether that means becoming a combat medic in the Army, or an industrial engineer, a veterinarian, a psychologist, and much more.

For Nevra, it means studying biology at the University of Denver—on a full ride scholarship—in order to find new ways to protect wildlife and the environment.

“In middle school, my teacher Gretchen made a huge impression on me. She was always focused on me, and she had such a spark for life. She was also the first one to get me interested in science, which is what I want to study and go into in the future,” said Nevra.

“Everything in our biology class is just so interesting. It’s what I wrote about in my college essays--it’s the study of life, and you can go into so many different fields with it. From the moment I was born, I’ve always thought ‘we need to take care of Unci Maka [or Mother Earth].’ It’s always been one of the main things I’m interested in.”

Graduating RCI students

Her path to this moment, especially through this year, hasn’t always been easy. But Nevra says the support she received from her favorite teachers helped her through. And now, she feels prepared what the challenges of college life.

“Since freshman year, our teachers have…been preparing us to succeed,” she said. “In our classes they go the extra mile, because they want us to be prepared for college.”

And outside the classroom, in addition to their teachers and counselors, this senior class has relied on each other, and developed a deep and unfailing bond that has brought them through the toughest challenges.

Dorian Baldes ‘19, who plans to pursue his passion for the Lakota language by becoming a teacher, says the friendships he’s developed here have made all the difference.

Graduating RCI students

“For me, it’s all the relationships that we built with each other,” he shared. “Last year our class lost a classmate to suicide, and it put a scar in all our hearts. It was really tough coming back to school after that. But we did come back together, and although we had lost someone so close to us, that experience gave me hope. We believe in each other, and that’s where that hope comes from. Some of us come from really hard places, really hard families, but we’ve made the best with what it is, and supported each other through all of it. That’s been amazing.”

January Tobacco ‘13, Director of Student Advancement & Alumni Support and a Red Cloud graduate herself, has stood by this class throughout the year, helping them navigate the challenges of planning for the future. And ‘amazing’ is also a word she uses to describe them.

“My job is to simply guide and support our alumni as they transition into the crazy, big, beautiful world we live in,” she said. “And the Red Cloud Class of 2019 is an amazing, hard working class. I can tell you right now that this class will make change for our community. I’m excited to see what they will do in the coming years.”

Photos © Red Cloud Indian School



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