The Ateyapi program is aiming to keep 400 students on track to graduate high school. Statistics suggest they’re doing well.
Here at Central we have a program called Ateyapi. Most people have heard the name before, but not nearly as many know what it means. Their presence in the school is marked by their interactions with the students, and the distinct white vans they drive. But the question remains—who are they?
The Ateyapi program is a mentorship program that provides students grades 4-12 with tutoring, mentoring, and support. The word Ateyapi is Lakota and means fatherhood. The program came to being to account for the lack of father figures. The Ateyapi program teaches the Lakota culture to natives and non-natives, and they always welcome new students. Ateyapi’s main goals are to get students to graduate, find jobs, and stay out of trouble by providing them with the tools for success. Whitney Recountre, an Ateyapi mentor at Central says, “We work hard to seek friendly relationships and to help promote education and healthy families.”
The Ateyapi program has a total of 400 students, and the mentoring takes place throughout the day during open blocks and after school. “Students that are in the program said they love it,” says Novi Runs Above, an Ateyapi mentor at Central. Mark Renville, a student in the program, agrees. “It helps me learn more about the Lakota culture,” he says.
Whitney Recountre says the program is working and is effective. “Six years ago when the program started, the dropout rate was 39% and after 5 years 66% of students recovered. Now 93% of Native American students are graduating.”