Seven LAHS Native American Seniors Honored During NAPAC Sash Ceremony


The Los Alamos Public Schools Native American Parent Advisory Council (NAPAC) hosted the 3rd annual Sash Ceremony last Wednesday  to recognize Native American students who are members of the Los Alamos High School Class of 2021.

Each student was presented a handmade sash made by Cris Velarde, Santa Clara Pueblo and Jicarilla Apache, which they will wear for the graduation ceremony on May 29th. Mr. Velearde has made sashes to honor graduating seniors for the past three years. “It is a privilege to create these sashes each year,” he said. “Every year I make them unique and different, just like the students.”

This year’s recipients include Esperanza Chavarria, Jimmy Gurule, Logan Lacapa, Muira Mowrer, Jakobe Platero, Kira Tsoodle and Maybelle Wilson.

Also attending this year’s celebration was Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and First Lady Phefelia Nez, Santa Clara Governor J. Michael Chavarria and San Ildefonso Governor Christopher Moquino along with several other tribal officials and LAPS staff. NAPAC member Gwen Gurule served as the Master of Ceremony. She served as the chair of the Sash Ceremony planning committee.

Governor Chavarria began the virtual ceremony with an opening prayer. James Mountain, NAPAC chair, welcomed students and their families and other guests and gave a brief history of the Native American Parent Advisory Council. Leah Mountain, a 2020 LAHS graduate touched on  the significance of the Sash Ceremony. She wished the best of luck to the Class of 2021 and told the seniors to “live your  best life every day.”

Ria Thundercloud, Sandia Pueblo and Ho-Chunk, performed the Eagle Dance during the ceremony. In addition, Gwen Gurule presented pottery made by Sherry Tafoya, Santa Clara Pueblo to each graduate.  Amanda Waldschmidt also gifted pottery made by herself and her mother, Mary Lou Olivas. LAHS senior Muira Mowrer and her mother, Jovita Mowrer, presented Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus with a Chief’s Design Navajo rug woven by Muira’s grandmother Sally Bitsuie.

James Mountain and Marie John were also honored as outgoing NAPAC board members, having served on the board since its inception 6 years ago.

The Native American Parent Advisory Council serves as a liaison between Native American students, parents, guardians and the school district. Meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month. For more information, contact the Native American Liaison Julie Dare at