With the start of the New Year, the P.L.A.C.E. was jumping with excitement. Youth began putting together their Seabots with the help of members from the S.T.E.M. programs at Shawnee High School and Gordon Cooper Technology Center.

We also unveiled another project of ours, a tribal youth news station, P.L.A.C.E. News.
Our staff of two co-anchors, a weatherman, a sportscaster, field reporter and cinematographer are all members of the P.L.A.C.E.

We also got into the Elvis Presley spirit by celebrating the king’s birthday and listening to some of his greatest hits. The youth and staff also ate some of his favorite foods, because what is celebrating Elvis about if not enjoying some good food?

Elvis was the focus of one of our arts and crafts projects too, with students making a collage of him during his career. Youth also made collages in celebration of Martin Luther King Day before taking on January’s final art project, “All About Me” candles.

A big hit was our Wacky Olympic competition where youth competed in the shot put, 50-yard dash and 4×20 relay all while throwing or carrying ping pong balls.

On the cultural side, one of the new instructional portions of the P.L.A.C.E. has been an emphasis on teaching the Potawatomi Language. This is an incredibly important part of fostering a sense of community for our Native youth, and while progress is always tough, the students seem to be enjoying the lessons.

Our cooking classes have also begun, where the youth learn to prepare meals from scratch to serving. We’ve already made meat loaf in week one, chicken and rice in week two, fried chicken with macaroni and cheese and collard greens in week three before finishing up the final week’s class with taco soup.

Always in need of some film appreciation, kids watched films like “Dawn of Planet of the Apes”, “Godzilla” and “Earth to Echo”.

While all of this is important, the core of our daily routines each day centers on our tutoring program, which continues to progress.

The month was topped off with a trip to see the Oklahoma City Thunder play the NBA’s best team, the Golden State Warriors. With the Thunder winning 127-115, it was definitely worth the drive to Oklahoma City.
If you have a tribal youth that would be interested in our FireLodge Tribal Youth or P.L.A.C.E. programs, please call us at 405-214-5110 or email me at dgreene@potawatomi.org.