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Conceptual designs being created for reservation education complex

Julie Severn

1/21/2003 12:00:00 AM

In order to meet the growing needs of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal community, education officials are currently working on conceptual designs for a new school.

"Our goal is to strengthen ties in the community by uniting all educational programs under one roof," explained Education Director Angeline Matson. "We have been working with architects from Dow Howell Gilmore Associates Inc. to design a school serving K-12, as well as Aabizikaawin students."

As project priority survey results from the community indicated in July, Tribal members ranked the need to build a high school third out of 13 possible projects.

The Saginaw Chippewa Academy is currently a private school and has about 300 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The proposed 200,000 square-foot complex, located on Remus Road across from Ngodewaangiziwin and west of the Elijah Elk Cultural Center, would operate as a charter school.

The academy was authorized in June by the Bay Mills Community College Board of Regents to initiate the process of becoming organized as a charter school.

The charter will be implemented this fall allowing the educational facility on the Isabella Reservation to become a public school, explained Matson.

Initial designs for the facility include four wings-elementary, middle school, high school and adult education-connected by a hub which would contain culture, music, art and language classes for all ages.

"We're also excited about showcasing a beautiful library that would be open to the students and general public," she added. "We want to create a positive environment that gives students a good feeling about being in a place of learning."

The proposed location will provide enough acreage for an athletic department with a gymnasium, pool, auditorium and baseball field. The facility would also have a football, soccer and lacrosse field.

"We'd like to get community members more involved in the process," said Matson. "We need to do a few more revisions and get final approval on the conceptual design phases, but we're working in the right direction. We're trying our best to meet the needs of the community."