IMG_3711 2On Thursday, November 5, 2015, Bemidji Middle School had a visit from Brenda Cassellius, the Minnesota Commissioner of Education. While stopping in Ms. Henry’s science class, Cassellius watched a presentation by two students about an endangered species, the bald eagle. (in Ojibwe: Migizi) She received a lanyard with Native American-inspired beadwork from a sixth-grade Ojibwe class.

Students told the commissioner how much it means to learn the language, which has become lost among some Native families. One boy said his Native birth mother couldn’t teach him the language, because he was adopted. The class, he said, was a chance to reconnect with his culture.

Superintendent Jim Hess and other administrators from Bemidji Area Schools thanked Cassellius for helping the state grow funding for Native American education.

Part of her visit was also dedicated to honoring Vince Beyl, Bemidji Area School’s Director of Indian Education who on Wednesday, November 4th, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Indian Education Association.

During Cassellius’s visit, she took the time to talk with some of our student Peer Leaders to learn about our Positive Peer Relations anti-bullying curriculum. Jon Hunt, DARE Police Officer, serves on the MN “School Safety and Technical Assistance Council” with Cassellius and made her aware of our curriculum.

Bemidji Area School's Indian Education staff with Director of Indian Education, Vince Beyl

Bemidji Area School’s Indian Education staff with Director of Indian Education, Vince Beyl