Hats off to the future
Thirty-three Little Big Horn College students donned caps and gowns Friday afternoon for the 2016 graduation ceremony, where their studying and hard work paid off in the form of associate degrees. Some graduates earned up to three.
The Crow Society began the ceremony, providing entry while Lodge Grass High School’s JROTC presented colors.
Office holders Denise Juneau – State Superindendent of Public Instruction, Darrin Old Coyote – Executive Branch Chairman, and Shawn Real Bird – Legislative Branch Representative, were also in attendance.
The students’ selected motto was the following quote from Chief Plenty Coups: “Education is your greatest weapon. With education you are the white man’s equal, without education you are his victim and so shall remain all your lives. Study, learn, help one another always. Remember, there is only poverty and misery in idleness and dreams – but in work, there is self-respect and independence.”
Student speaker James Vallie, a Business Administration graduate, said in his opening statement, “I suppose that’s how life is; that’s how school, and everything is. You can compare all you want, but once you finally get there, it’s a different story.”
Before his time as an LBHC student, Vallie was employed by the college as a cook.
“I recall when I really didn’t care much for school,” he said, “I just wanted to work, but [my family] just kept pushing me back into school and now here I am, speaking in front of everybody.”
“Always remember the old knowledge,” he continued, “but it’s also okay to go past that and go further to learn all the new knowledge. I used to think we had to cling to our old ways you know, ‘tradition everything,’ but I’m coming to find out that there’s a new life out there.”
Dr. David Yarlott, LBHC President, in his welcoming address, said the college has “come a long way” since its founding.
In the college’s early years, classes were held in an abandoned agency home, two trailers and a garage in Crow Agency before moving to the second location, which was in a wing of the Community Action Program building near the Crow Agency Elementary School. The college then moved to its present spot in the tribal gym in 1983.
Building Trades Program students renovated the gym and made a 35,000- square-foot facility.
Two new campus buildings were constructed in 2002-03; the buildings combined feature a library, archives, academic laboratories, classrooms, student services area and administrative offices.
Phase 2 of the campus construction began in Spring 2007 with the construction of the Library Archives and Administration facilities. Plans to move into further construction are ongoing.
“I want this college to have bachelor’s degree and master’s degree so our people can come here and work,” Sen. Real Bird said in his congratulatory remarks. “Nation building, that’s what it’s all about. I want us to have banks, I want you to have businesses.”
Student Speaker Vallie ended his remarks encouraging students and those in attendance.
“It’s really kind of interesting,” he continued. “If you think you’re done, don’t think you’re done, because you’re not. Keep going and you’ll always find a better reason to go back to school or do something better.”
For a list of graduates and their degrees, visit www.bighorncountynews.com.