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School Counseling alumnae at forefront of raising graduation rates for Native American high school students

July 11, 2019

  • Jamie Hale/The Oregonian

Stacey Bruce, School Counseling, forms part of the dynamic duo that make Madras High tribal dance program an ‘invitational learning’ experience, in which staff are trusted to build connections with students in order to foster a warm culture. Students are pushed to recognize mutual respect and human potential in every aspect of schooling–people, places, policies, and programs. Co-principal H.D. Weddel explained: “If (teachers) don’t want to come, it’s evident…kids want to come because teachers want to be here.” 

Weddel praised Stacy Bruce, who runs the program, and Butch David who plays a large role as the Native American student liaison, with knowing “every kid, all the time.” Bruce says the program has helped Native American Students realize that alternatives such as smaller class sizes and more one-on-one help exist for them. “Programs such as the tribal dance program, have helped students feel more connected to their culture,” added David.

Madras High’s graduation rate for Native American students has increased over the past few years according to state data, from 39% in 2016 to 81% in 2018. Significant development for Madras High is credited to its administrators and staff who have established programs to assist students to get more investment in their culture, provide targeted counseling for students at risk, and foster a welcoming school environment based on powerful interactions between staff and students. Graduating students and parents have noticed the culture shift among Warm Springs’s younger generation, “they’re more driven, and many plan on returning to the reservation to help the community.” 

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