Arizona school plans another reopening

May 25, 2020 by and

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Peace Academic Center — formerly known as Hopi Mission School — is continuing to assist reservation residents in Kykots­movi, Ariz., despite being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peace Academic Center director Kay Neff said the school closed in March for the rest of the academic season before the Hopi public schools closed.

“The gymnasium is now home to the supplies to be distributed by the Hopi Emergency Response Team,” she said. “They have to go to each village individually. No one is coming to the school to get supplies.”

Although the school is not conducting classes remotely, teachers are delivering activity packets to students so they have things to do at home.

“We also received a very nice donation of face masks,” Neff said. “There were some on the reservation, but none were kids size. We have enough for each student and their families.”

As of May 4, the Hopi Health Center reported 52 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including four in Kykotsmovi, which has a population of roughly 800. Of its 52 positive patients, 28 are members of the Hopi Tribe. Neff said the hardest-hit community is the village of Bacavi, just up the road from Kykots­movi.

The regular staff continue to be at the school, and were joined by Lukas Groh of Payette, Idaho, in March when he arrived to deliver a truck donated by his grandparents. He planned to stay for a week or two, but then every reservation village closed with stay-at-home orders.

A few weeks became a few months as he worked on sewer lines and helped with kitchen remodeling. His presence became even more significant when brush in a dry creek bed behind the school caught fire April 20.

A brush fire near Peace Academic Center in Kykotsmovi, Ariz., nearly reached structures on the property on April 20. — Lukas Groh

A brush fire near Peace Academic Center in Kykotsmovi, Ariz., nearly reached structures on the property on April 20. — Lukas Groh

“He and [PAC cultural liaison and host] Lance Polingyouma dug firebreaks and basically saved the school,” Neff said “We lost a fence, but they managed to keep it away from buildings.”

Peace Academic Center cultural liaison and host Lance Polingyouma watches a brush fire April 20 near the school in Kykotsmovi, Ariz. — Lukas Groh

Peace Academic Center cultural liaison and host Lance Polingyouma watches a brush fire April 20 near the school in Kykotsmovi, Ariz. — Lukas Groh

Neff said the school plans to reopen in August if authorities give clearance for students to return. The school reopened last August after being dormant for two years after former superintendent Thane Epefanio pleaded guilty in 2017 to embezzling almost $1 million from the school.

“We have seven students now, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but coming back from nothing, that’s a lot,” she said. “We have a commitment from a past teacher, so we’ll have two teachers to do preschool and kindergarten, and we’ll add first and second grade in the fall.”


Comments Policy

Mennonite World Review invites readers’ comments on articles. To promote constructive dialogue, editors select the comments that appear, just as we do with letters to the editor in print. These decisions are final. Writers must sign their first and last names; anonymous comments are not accepted. Comments do not appear until approved and are posted during business hours. Comments may be reproduced in print, and may be edited if selected for print.

About Me

advertisement