April 15, 2024

TAHLEQUAH – In its 150-year history as an educational establishment after getting its start as an orphanage, Sequoyah High School has become a highly regarded educational institution for Native students.

“Our students often come from families who have attended Sequoyah High School for generations. Sequoyah High School has evolved over time from the Cherokee Orphan Asylum boarding school to Cherokee Orphan Training School, to Sequoyah Vocational School and now to Sequoyah High School,” said SHS Principal Ramona Ketcher.

Though an orphanage at its roots, education was always at the forefront.

According to a previous Cherokee Phoenix article, tribal leaders emphasized it as an educational institution and placed it under the Cherokee Board of Education in the 1800s.

In 1934, SHS saw its first students attend school up to 12th grade.

Average enrollment in the past eight years at SHS has been around 377 and those interested in attending must submit an application.

“Applications are then reviewed by our admissions committee who use a rubric to score applicants based on previous years’ attendance, grades, behavior and completion and timeliness of the application,” Ketcher said.

Attending students must also be a member of a federally recognized tribe.

Ketcher said SHS is a tribally controlled Bureau of Indian Education school.

“The student population is comprised of Native American students from various tribes,” she said. “Our students come from all over. We have classes available for students to learn the Cherokee language and Cherokee history. Our students are encouraged to wear their traditional clothing and they are encouraged to live out their culture.”

SHS offers a diverse curriculum such as Advanced Placement courses and honor courses. The art department offers courses in band, speech, debate, drama and visual arts. Competitive sports and activities include football, volleyball, cross country, fast pitch and slow pitch softball, cheer, basketball, wrestling, powerlifting, track, baseball, robotics, the academic team, archery and fishing club.

Ketcher added that many students also participate in programs at the Indian Capital Technology Center and/or take concurrent enrollment classes through Northeastern State University.

In the past three school years, SHS students have been awarded more that $9.1 million in scholarships and grants.

“Our block schedule is highly conducive to concurrent enrollment,” Ketcher said. “With our block schedule, students earn eight (college) credits per year, giving them more opportunities to pursue athletics and other co-curricular and extracurricular activities. We have student council, National Honor Society, medical career clubs, history club, student wellness action team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, chess club and other clubs.”

For more information, visit www.sequoyahschools.org.