Opportunity fair knocks, opens doors for students

SUQUAMISH — Terry Goedel from Alto Loma, Calif., knows what it’s like to be regarded as a 16-year-old Native American with no future prospects. That’s how the junior high school math teacher was perceived when he stunned his detractors by starting college at that tender age. Now, he travels the country with a message to Native American teenagers: through their passion they will find true worth.

Goedel served as the keynote speaker Nov. 16 at an opportunity fair for local Native American high school students at the Kiana Lodge. He told the crowd he found his niche of Native American hoop dancing early in life. In hoop dancing, performers use hoops as story-telling props.

“Hoop dancing gave me feeling inside that I had worth,” Goedel said. “The first time I saw it, my mind was so changed that I wanted to share it with the world.”

His message fit in perfectly with the opportunity fair, said Dixie Husser, assistant director of learning support services for the North Kitsap School District.

“The opportunity fair is to motivate Native American students to do their best and to take advantage of opportunities as they come along,” she said.

Native American students face a specific challenge in school in that they are enjoying a resurgence in their culture, but it’s not reflected in mainstream education, said Lena Purser-Maloney, Native American education coordinator for the NKSD. Students often see no correlation between classroom teachings and their everyday lives.

“This opportunity fair is meant to show them the opportunity out there,” Purser-Maloney said. “It’s to help them create career plans and give them a reason to continue their education.”

Throughout the day, the students attended career workshops on topics varying from video game testers to dealing with stress.

Native American students from North Kitsap, Central Kitsap and Bainbridge Island attended the event.

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