RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Who was it that said, “Kids are kids”?
It just might be truer than you think, after hearing from two Native American students attending high schools in Rio Rancho.
What’s it like coming off the reservation or pueblo and stepping into an urban high school, each with 2,400-plus students, in the 21st century?
According to figures from Rio Rancho Public Schools, there are approximately 1,900 Native American students among the district’s total enrollment, which approaches 18,000. That’s more than 10 percent.
Meet two of these proud Native Americans strolling the hallways, and excelling in classes at Cleveland and Rio Rancho high schools:
Colin Maryboy: A sophomore at Cleveland, Colin moved with his family from Cochiti Pueblo a few years ago, when he was an eighth-grader.
CHS, he says, “is pretty good. I like it – I’ve made new friends; you get to meet new people.”
His father, Todd Romero, is of pueblo descent and works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Albuquerque; his mother, Cecily, is of Navajo descent.
Their active son is in the school’s JROTC program and thinking about a life in the military following graduation in May 2021.
“He’s such a great leader in our Native American group,” noted Suzanne Nguyen-Wisneski, executive director of bilingual and Native American programs.
Colin maintains his Cochiti roots: “I go up there to dance, things like that,” and listed his musical tastes as “country/western, hip-hop and Native American.”
Amaya Huskey: A senior at Rio Rancho High School, excited about the possibility of attending Yale University “based on my test scores,” Amaya is literally royalty.
Last November, she was named Miss Indian Rio Rancho Schools, which resulted in her memorable participation in the grand entry at the Gathering of Nations.
She was raised mostly in Flagstaff, Ariz., arriving in the City of Vision in time to attend Lincoln Middle School as a seventh-grader and then RRHS as a freshman.
She has two younger sisters. Her father, Aaron Huskey, is a construction foreman; her mother is Elaina Kewenboyouma.
She expects her future to include medical school and a career as a dermatologist.
Like Colin, she stays busy with a tough slate of classes: photography, bio-med science, AVID, trigonometry, AP Government, AP Language and Composition, and Anatomy and Physiology. Her 3.5 grade-point average has her in the top 20 percent of the Class of 2019.
She’s a leader in the school’s Native American Union and spends time fulfilling her Miss Indian platform.
The lone Hopi student at RRHS, and not afraid to speak her mind, she said she felt offended during her days in American History, feeling “out of place” hearing about World War II.
“I was the only one who spoke about the Code Talkers – a huge part in history,” she said.
Native students take pride in heritage, enjoy the present