After 20 years, Black Mesa gets Head Start school

People walk across asphalt parking lot to new building

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
Black Mesa’s new Head Start building, designed by Loren Miller, evokes the rock layers in the surrounding hills.

BLACK MESA, Ariz.

It took 20 years, but Black Mesa Chapter finally got its Head Start building.

Large and child-sized glass doors stand side-by-side

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
Doors sized for both adults and children welcome students, teachers and visitors to the Black Mesa Head Start building.

Now all it needs are students, teachers, a cook and a bus driver. Oh, and maybe some desks and chairs.

If views were the only criteria, this would be the best Head Start on the Navajo Nation. Both the 0-3 and 3-5 classrooms come with large windows just behind the risers where the children will sit, open to serene vistas of the green meadow that surrounds the community, the surrounding mountains, and on occasion, some of Black Mesa’s purported 300 sheep.

Two staff members walk across empty room

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
The new Head Start Building at Black Mesa Chapter contains two spacious classrooms, one for children age 0-3 and another for ages 3-5. In all, the school can accommodate 40 students.

There’s also a glistening stainless steel kitchen, an area for meeting with parents, restrooms with miniature sinks and toilets — and doors sized for both grown-ups and tots.

“The children have their own door,” explained Harrison Martin, the former planner who spearheaded the project before he retired from the Division of Community Development last year. “It helps them take ownership of the building.”

Locator map for Black Mesa ChapterAndy Thomas, who took over the project from Martin, said the chapter is currently working with Navajo Nation Head Start to get furniture, but aside from that, “They could have kids in here any time.”

As soon as they get a staff, that is, cautioned Chapter President Marvin Yellowhair.

Head Start personnel at the blessing ceremony for the building Friday said they would be advertising for staff through the usual venues.

Three people stand in empty classroom with windows overlooking outdoors

Navajo Times | Cindy Yurth
Peaceful vistas of meadows and mountains will surround the Head Start tots as they study.


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Categories: Education

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi’ Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at editor@navajotimes.com.