The computers available to students in the Medicine Wheel Academy, part of Havermale High School, are getting old.
The program offers a curriculum structured toward Native American students, and according to Shelly Boyd, a counselor for the program, it is making great strides in educating those students compared with national statistics.
“We’re defying the odds right now,” she said.
Nationally, only one in three Native American students graduates from high school. Boyd said that at Medicine Wheel, students scored higher in reading during the 2005 Washington Assessment of Student Learning testing.
Medicine Wheel now has 35 students who represent 25 tribes. Although the curriculum is geared toward Native American students, those interested who are not Native Americans can attend as well. They just have to be interested in the Native American perspective.
English classes feature literature written by Native American writers, and history is told through the eyes of native cultures from all over the world.
After the next school year, the computers in the program’s two classrooms will be deemed unusable by the Spokane school district and no longer will be able to access the Internet.
Plans are to purchase Computers on Wheels (C.O.W.), a traveling cart of 20 laptops, all of which will have Internet access.
The cost of one of those carts runs from $20,000 to $30,000.
To raise funds, the program is kicking off several fundraising projects starting Saturday at 4 and 7 p.m. in the Spokane Falls Community College Sub Lounge in Building 17, 3410 W. Fort George Wright Drive.
Saturday’s events will include a concert by local musician Jim Boyd, recipient of five Native American Music Awards. There also will be a silent auction featuring beadwork, food and paintings.
Medicine Wheel students will be drumming and giving readings.
Parents and grandparents will be serving what are known as Indian tacos, which is fry bread with traditional taco ingredients inside. Shelly Boyd said Indian tacos can be found on reservations all over the country.
Tickets for the concert are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The Indian tacos will be available for $5 in advance and $7 at the door.
“I think it’s a good cultural event,” Shelly Boyd said.
She said that the next fundraising event for the computers will be a walk-a-thon during Bloomsday.