Kayhi Needs a Tlingit Class

Dear Editor of the Ketchikan Daily News,

I would like to make a serious, concrete suggestion for Ketchikan High School: Get a Tlingit class.

There are a number of obstacles to providing a class in the Tlingit language at Kayhi, but the first and most important is to find a will among the superintendent, school board, and community members. I believe this idea has the capacity to bring our community together, and once we have the will to provide a Tlingit class, everything else will be easy.

The benefits of having just a single Tlingit class far outweigh the difficulties or costs. Having a Tlingit class at Ketchikan High School signifies that the whole community has taken a positive step toward recognizing and valuing its Tlingit heritage, and it provides students of all backgrounds with the opportunity to learn more about their home than they ever could have before.

A Tlingit class will give many students a very challenging and interesting class to come to school for—and it could be the most important class those students take, since they will be actively participating in the revitalization of an entire language. That's not something many schools provide children with an opportunity to do. Not to mention, many studies demonstrate that learning another language improves students’ skills in English.

All of the high school students in Juneau have access to Tlingit classes, whether at JDHS, Thunder Mountain, or Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi. The Juneau School District may have more students and resources than the KGBSD, but they've made Tlingit classes available in all three of their high schools. I am only asking for a single class.

Simply put, the resources required to create a single Tlingit class are minimal, and they are very much worthwhile. Kayhi is a great high school, but a Tlingit class will make it even better, and it will improve the school experience of every student who takes it.

In order to pursue this concrete goal, let's take a concrete next step—bringing this idea to school board meetings and starting discussions around the community. After that, I truly hope we will make this happen.

[Note: This is a shortened, more concise version of my previous blogpost. I sent this text to the Ketchikan Daily News and I expect they will publish it next week. Remember to check out the Tlingit alphabet and dictionary to begin learning.]