The school is in northeast Arizona in the middle of the Hopi Indian reservation, approximately 95 miles north and east of Flagstaff which is the nearest sizable town. It is part of the village of Kykotsmovi, formerly known as New Oraibi. It is located in a very picturesque setting. The reservation consists of 3 large mesas rising from the desert floor, with most of the population clustered in fourteen villages on all three mesas. The Hope reservation covers more than 1.5 million acres and is home to approximately 8,000 native Americans. Unlike most other Indian tribes that have been moved about and displaced, the Hopis have lived in this area for a thousand years—500 years before Columbus even “discovered” America.
Beginning in 1893, Mennonite missionaries came to the Hopi reservation, and included such pioneers as the H. R. Voths, the J. B. Freys, the Jacob Epps and the John Duerksens, who prepared the way for the beginning of the school in 1951. In that year, the first small cinder block school building was erected. Thirty years later a second building was added, providing such auxiliary space as a kitchen, cafeteria/auditorium/chapel, library, classroom and storerooms. In 2004 a two-room addition was completed, providing a new home for Kindergarten and first grade. The 40-acre site belongs to the Hopi tribe, but in 1925 was designated by President Calvin Coolidge for the exclusive use of the General Conference Mennonite Church for mission and educational purposes. If such use should be discontinued, the land and buildings return to Hopi ownership. Since it is the only private Christian school on the reservation, we expect to have it continue as a permanent part of the Hopi educational and religious program.
Hopi Mission School is a Christian school whose faculty, staff and board are dedicated to promoting the education and development of the whole child through sound academic instruction in a spiritual, safe, caring and constructive environment.
In the current school year (2004-2005) 46 students are enrolled in grades K through 6. This is a decrease from the previous year’s high of 65, which was up from 55 the year before. Cost is no doubt a factor in the decrease, since students can go to one of six free public elementary schools scattered throughout the reservation. Most of the students are members of the Hopi tribe, with a significant minority who are Navajo, with a few other tribes represented. In a typical year, there may be one or two non-native students. Many parents are willing to pay their share of the cost because of the perceived added benefits: smaller classes with more individualized attention, teaching and modeling of Christian and moral values by the staff, largely volunteer, and a reputation for good academic quality. Even though most of the families observe traditional Hopi religion and cultural practices, and have not been part of a Christian church, they are willing to have their children learn about the Bible and the Christian message. As suggested, some parents who were unable to pay the fees for the previous year did not enroll their students in the current year to avoid adding to their debt, in particular those who have two or three children in school and subject to the fees. Friends of the school are invited to assist with meeting this need; see next paragraph.
There are three actual or potential categories of cost, depending upon the economic status of the student families. An Admission Fee of $25 per month, $250 for the year, is charged to everyone. Tuition is charged at the rate of $250 per month, for which the goal of the school is to cover the entire cost from the Arizona state income tax credit program Arizona Tax Credit
(see separate section on the website for more details), supplemented by scholarship grants provided by supportive churches and individuals. The maximum amount that families pay for tuition in any one year is $500 per student. If students do not qualify for free lunch (most of them do), they pay either a reduced price of 40 cents or full rate of $1.83. This is determined by family income on a schedule established by the State Department of Education Child Nutrition Program. Arizona residents who pay state income tax can redirect up to $625 for couples, $500 for single persons, to a tuition organization designated for scholarships for private school students. They can name Hopi Mission School as the recipient of their donation. When they file their annual tax return, they can deduct up to these amounts from their tax liability, which means that the contribution costs them nothing. It is a tax credit, not a deduction. Residents of other states can make a contribution directly to the school designated for student scholarships. This is a tax-deductible gift for both federal and state income tax purposes, since Hopi Mission School is a 501(c)(3) organization that qualifies for tax-deductible gifts.
For the first few decades of its operation, the school was staffed by long-term missionaries assigned by the General Conference Mennonite Church. More recently, short-term volunteers have come through the auspices of the Mennonite Voluntary Service program and the American Baptist Volunteers in Mission. A listing of current staff persons is included in a separate section of the website. Currently there are 5 volunteer teachers and one salaried Hopi teacher; two volunteer aides; a volunteer maintenance director/mechanic; four Hopi employees who fill the positions of secretary, cook, bus driver and custodian; a salaried principal; a part-time volunteer administrator/director of development; and the principal’s wife (a retired school librarian) who volunteers for a variety of assignments as needed. The presence of Hopi co-workers is highly valued, to teach and model to the non-native staff matters of cultural sensitivity and significance, and to teach and use the Hopi language.
With the cessation of funding through the church body that began the school as part of its mission, supervisory and governance responsibility has been transferred from denominational staff to a local school board. All of the Christian churches on the reservation are invited to name one or two persons to the school board, which meets monthly. The Parent-Teacher Organization names two persons to serve as voting members of the board. The school accountant, a local Hopi man whose services are contracted, meets with the board and advises on financial matters. All staff members are invited to meet with the school board.
Hopi Mission School has existed for over 53 years because of the generosity of individuals, churches, and other organizations. Such help has come through financial gifts, material gifts, Campbell’s labels, General Mills Boxtops for Education, Tyson poultry product labels, Safeway and other supermarket club card assignment, skilled and unskilled volunteer labor, and personal visits to the school. Financial underwriting from the sponsoring church bodies (Mennonite Church USA and American Baptist Church USA) has had to be terminated because of the shortage of contributed dollars coming to the denominational and regional offices, which has placed primary responsibility on the school board and staff to find the necessary financial support. Recognizing the significant financial challenges that lie ahead, the Hopi Mission School Foundation was created and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization to help create and sustain a stable financial base for the school. This is done through periodic appeals for direct contributions for operations and special projects, through a program of deferred gifts that will provide future operating funds, and the creation of an endowment fund into which major gifts can be channeled.
In addition to annual operating funds, there is a long-term need for new or renovated academic buildings; new or improved staff housing (all non-native staff must live on the school premises); additional paid (and preferably native American) staff with longer tenure than the typical 2-3 year service of volunteers; updating of textbooks and curriculum materials; updating and replacement of vehicles, including one or more school buses. An exciting project in the final stages of planning is a modest gymnasium for the school. Located at an elevation of 5,400 feet, winters are cold and springtimes are windy. The students have no indoor recreation area. An indoor recreational/multipurpose building will meet these needs, plus provide a place for a youth ministry on the reservation that currently uses the more limited school facilities. Construction costs, primarily for materials with most labor to be donated, are now estimated at $160,000, not including some furnishing costs. About $130,000 is on hand. Site and foundation work is scheduled for late December 2004; steel structural framework erection in February 2005; pouring of the concrete floor in early March; and other construction aspects to follow as they can be scheduled and volunteers can be assigned. Persons or groups interested in helping provide skilled or unskilled labor should contact the school. Jim Yoder of Newton, Kansas, a regular volunteer at the school during the past several years, is the coordinator of planning and construction including the scheduling of volunteers. Friends and supporters of Hopi Mission School are invited to consider ways that they personally or as part of a larger group (church, Sunday School class, women’s missionary/service organization) can provide both current and deferred gifts of cash, other liquid assets or bequests to help secure a bright future for the school. Inquiries regarding work or service groups are also welcome, subject to availability of appropriate work assignments and housing accommodations.
A learning environment shall be established which supports thae mission of the school by:
- Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, Creator, Lord and Savior.
- Recognizing each studen as being created in the image of God.
- Providing a Christian Environment to enable spiritual growth through teaching and example, encouraging personal understanding and commitment,
- Accepting the knowledge and value that come from our students' traditional cultures and beliefs, deserving of mutual respect.
- Recognizing every child's physical, social, emotional, itellectual and spiritual potential in ways that develop a sense of self-worth and belonging.
- Establishing high academic standards with individualized attention that encourages the realization of maximum learning potential.
- Promoting life-long learning and preparation for future educational and vocational experience.
- Coordinating meaningful learning objectives for all students.
- Stimulating students' awareness of their commuinity and the world around them.
- Challenging family members to be involved in school activities and programs.
- Providing family members to be involved in school activities and programs.
- Providing a positive and safe environment.