UseOh Day Aki’s success as a guide

Oh Day Aki is a K-12 charter school with about 250 students.

Over the past months, General College students at the University have been going to Oh Day Aki and helping students through service-learning classes. In the months that we have been volunteering at Oh Day Aki, we feel like we already have made an impact on children.

Oh Day Aki is a K-12 charter school with about 250 students enrolled, of which 96 percent are American Indian. It is located in Dinkytown. Service-learning classes at the University have allowed college students the privilege to help Oh Day Aki students succeed. This also serves as an excellent way to help make up for the education-spending cuts.

Because of education funding cuts, Oh Day Aki, like many schools, is receiving an inadequate amount of funding, which has made technological resources such as computers and software difficult to obtain. As Darlene Leiding, the principal at Oh Day Aki, simply put it, “The school could definitely utilize more of these resources.” A vast majority of Oh Day Aki students live in households below the poverty level. It is difficult enough for them outside the classroom; they should not have to suffer in the classroom as well. The service-learning classes make an enormous contribution and open the minds of the students. Furthermore, the service-learning classes allow them to interact with college students who can guide them through to college.

The University needs to have more service-learning classes that help struggling schools like Oh Day Aki. “Even though the results may not show instantaneously, it impacts these kids and gives them a role model to look up to,” said Jake Shully, a fellow classmate in the service-learning program. Joel Pourier, executive director at Oh Day Aki, is seeking to work more with the University. He feels that if Oh Day Aki does more integrating with the University, it eventually could lead to more Oh Day Aki students coming to the University after graduation.

According to Leiding, “The graduation rate at Oh Day Aki has increased significantly, but many students are not heading to college after graduation.” If these kids have that “big brother or sister” they acquire through the service-learning program, it will give them extra help, which will assist in keeping them in college. Anyone at the University can contribute to helping Oh Day Aki students. Go to www.servicelearning.umn.edu for more information on how you can help Oh Day Aki and its students.

James Benik and Adil Hamid are University students. Please send comments to [email protected]