Photo: Peace Academic Center. Photo provided by Peace Academic Center/Mennonite Church USA.
Peace Academic Center, formerly Hopi Mission School, began classes for pre-K and kindergarten students on Aug. 12. The school in Kykotsmovi, Arizona, is offering two classes, aiming initially to serve about 20 students and build its capacity and attendance from there.
“We’ve been planning and working at this for a year, and the school has really come together,” says Kay Neff, president of the Peace Academic Center board.
The former Hopi Mission School was closed 2016-2018, and the building reopened as Peace Academic Center last September as a revisioned partnership with the Hopi people. It has since hosted a GED program, Hopi tribal meetings, the Hopi farmers market and a basketball camp and volleyball association, Neff says.
“The community is right behind us. Members of the community have been saying if we have any needs, they will be there for us,” says Lance Polingyouma, a Hopi alumnus of the school and now the school’s cultural liaison and host. “They have said they’re so happy we’re back. What we feel is relief that with everything we’ve gone through everyone is so kind and caring for us.”
Veldina Roy, an alumna and former teacher at the school, is now the kindergarten teacher, and Judith Radcliffe is the pre-K teacher. Radcliffe is retired and relocated from Colorado.
“That the greater Mennonite community continues to visit and support us feels so good,” says Polingyouma, adding that more volunteers are still needed. “We are very thankful and grateful for everyone who has been involved and sent us their prayers, past and present. It’s with their support that they are able to open the school again.”