By Casey Brown of the CUJ

MISSION – While the decision about graduation is pending as of press time, Nixyaawii Community School’s New Media class has been working to produce messages of positivity for the Golden Eagles Class of 2020.

“We wanted to make sure that the community has a chance to cheer on students,” Michelle Van Pelt said.

Two video messages have been posted to the NCS website and Facebook page. Students are featured in the first video called “You are not alone.” Teachers and staff share messages in the second video called “Senior Appreciation from Nixyaawii Community School.”

Two other videos featuring the community are scheduled to be released early this month. The class has been working with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Communications Department to collect videos and pictures from parents, family and the community.

The class was about to start another project when the school was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The class travelled to Tri-Cities to meet with Digital Brilliance, a native-owned media production company, to start the process of shooting a film. Van Pelt said the seniors were to be the characters in a movie.

However, when the school was closed, that changed.

“We were robbed of our last two months together,” she said.

Graduating senior Susie Patrick has taken the class since she was a sophomore.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, too, that we didn’t get to have a lot of things that the other seniors got. It really hit me a lot thinking about it, how we didn’t know it was our last day.”

But she says she will remember her classmates and her teacher.

“She was a great teacher to me. She didn’t just became a teacher she became a close friend. She did a lot for me. She helped us fundraise for summer camps. She was an amazing teacher. I’m going to miss her next year knowing I can’t go to her.”

However, Michelle helped Susie with where she’s headed next.

“I went to get help from her. She helped me get a job last summer, she gave me recommendations, she even brought us to summer camps and brought us back. She did a lot for me and some Nixyaawii students.”

She was surprised at how much she liked photography and video editing.

“It has helped me know that I really did like video editing, even though I’m not as good at it as my sister (Ada Samayoa).”

Van Pelt has been teaching the media class since it started three years ago and has been teaching many of the students in the class since they were freshmen.

“Three of them graduated this year, so we are going to have to recruit a couple new students for the class,” Van Pelt said.