LUMBERTON — Myla Locklear watched closely as art teacher Lezlie Woods-Jacobs demonstrated how to make a beaded medallion during the 20th annual Indian Education Summer Enrichment Camp.
The 8-year-old then placed a native symbol inside the wooden center and strung beads around it.
“I think it is really fun because it is really creative,” Locklear said. “It gives kids a new opportunity to learn new things. We are learning how to do beadwork, painting, pottery, drum and dance.”
Locklear joined about 300 students from the Public Schools of Robeson County who attended the camp. The students are members of various state tribes including Lumbee, Tuscarora, Haliwa-Saponi and Coharie.
“We work with academics as the students go over reading, math and science in the morning with teachers from the county. After lunch, we do cultural activities such as drum and dance, field trips to museums, universities, state parks, P.E. classes in the afternoon, arts and crafts and much more,” said Kenny Clark, IEA Cultural Enrichment Specialist.
Students traveled to several state landmarks during the weeklong camp. The third grade group visited Town Creek Indian Mound. The fourth grade group made stops at Lumber River State Park, Old Main at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the Robeson County Museum.
The fifth and sixth grade groups traveled to the North Carolina Natural Science and History Museum in Raleigh. The seventh and eighth grade groups went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where they received a tour of the campus and talked with a group of American Indian students about their career choices.
The IEA Camp and program are funded through a grant from the Office of Indian Education. Components of the program are taught throughout the school year across the PSRC district.
Each school has a Youth Development Specialist through the Indian Education Program who works to improve attendance and increase the graduation rate for American Indian students.
The specialists also tutor elementary and middle school students in a effort to improve their EOG scores. At the high school level, they help coordinate NASA clubs and AISES programs.
“We want to help them academically to try to improve their EOG scores for next year through reading, math and science, but also culturally to teach them where they come from and instill some pride about being Native American,” Locklear said.
The IEA Camp is unique to the region due in part to Robeson County’s large American Indian population. Some students begin the IEA Camp in third grade and continue each year through the eighth grade, before returning to volunteer through the 12th grade.
This summer, older students in the IEA high school clubs will travel across the country to participate in national programs in Oregon and Colorado.