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Preview the new Meskwaki High School addition

March 26, 2009
John Speer, Editor

"I see this as a great opportunity for the (Meskwaki) Tribe to control their own educational destiny and have students learn what's needed to be successful in the world at-large and within their own culture"-

- Jerry Stephens, Meskwaki Settlement School superintendent

The long-envisioned schoolhouse for the Meskwaki Settlement west of Tama is about to take another giant leap toward fulfilling that dream. After some 18 months of construction work, a $22 million addition devoted to high school - grades 6-12- is nearing completion.

Article Photos

High School entrance on west side.

News-Herald photos/John Speer

It was financed by 80 percent Tribal funding and 20 percent from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Jerry Stephens, superintendent, said the building will be opened in August for the fall school term.

The Meskwaki Settlement School has offered a high school curriculum for several years with the historic first class graduating in 2007. Classes for elementary students have been offered since at least 1937 on the Settlement.

Fact Box

Meskwaki High School Addition:

Opening August, 2009

105,000 sq. ft.

18 new classrooms

1,000-seat capacity gymnasium with stage

Elgible to attend- students must have 25 percent Native American blood


A new Meskwaki School replaced a 1937-era wood frame structure in 2001.

The new high school addition combines the latest technology with an aim for preserving the Meskwaki culture. Stephens said there is a "cultural focus" on custom, tradition, regalia, tribal government and language.

Enter the 21st century and classrooms are devoted as well to multi-media, computer-assisted mechanical drafting and innovations such as metal and wind power technology.

Stephens said the process of recruiting additional staff is under way with eight-10 new members needed.

Likewise, students and parents are currently being invited to explore what the new school addition will offer.



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