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STAR school receives recognition for its values

STAR school receives recognition for its values

TWIN LAKES, N.M. – A charter school based in Leupp, Arizona, recently received recognition for its values in respect, relationship, responsibility, and reasoning from an international organization.

On Oct. 31, the STAR School, founded in 2001, received an award from Home for Humanity, an organization based in France that espouses supporting individuals to become agents of transformation of homes and seedbeds for ecological and societal regeneration.

The preschool through eighth-grade school is an acronym of “Service To All Relations” and has an enrollment of 30 students with a dozen staff members.

“The award is about connecting us with people around the globe who are focusing on empowering their communities,” said Mark Sorensen, STAR’s co-founder, and president, when receiving the award. “It’s an honor for us because this is something we’ve been working on for a long time,”

STAR believes in character development, skills, self-awareness, and a mindset to live in a balanced world by serving all relations the school teaches its students.

This could mean in relation to the atmosphere and the landscape, which Diné is rooted and interconnected with.

Collaborating internationally

Home for Humanity is rooted in the valley of the Jura Mountains in rural France, near Switzerland. It emerged 12 years ago and endures today.

Co-hosts Alexander Schieffer, from Germany, and Rama Mani, from India, met in the Jura Mountains, in 2007.

Together, they shared their passion for humanity, culture, art, nature, and education. Their mutual values inspired the pair to establish the organization.

“From then on our life journeys and visions ‘fused’ though it took us another 12 years to formally inaugurate the Home for Humanity planetary movement,” Schieffer said.

Schieffer said the organization learned about STAR School earlier this year through a former board member, Four Arrows, also known as Don Trent Jacobs, who does work internationally. “We were immediately compelled, learning about its (school) deep-rootedness in Navajo philosophy and culture,” said Schieffer, “and its drive towards contributions to the Navajo community.”

According to STAR Co-founding Board Vice President Thomas Walker Jr., who has been with the board for 21 years, members of the organization visited the school, located roughly 30 miles northwest of Winslow, and met with students earlier this year.

“We were immensely impressed from our first visit,” said Schieffer, “and immediately decided (met) with our board to recognize STAR School as a Home for Humanity.”

After the initial visit, the organization kept in contact. Walker said they had been corresponding for several months until they requested to visit the second time.

This time, the school received an award of recognition for its core values of Diné culture, language, sustainability, and preparation for life.

“The children of STAR School that we (Home for Humanity) experienced intensely on October 31 (gave) us hope for a new generation to actively engage in their communities of origin,” said Schieffer, “and to inspire a more peaceful, inclusive and regenerative future for all humanity.”

“It’s part of our mission to get our kids to feel empowered to help their own community,” Sorensen said.

Schieffer said they will return in 2025 for another initiative collaboration with the school.


About The Author

Boderra Joe

Boderra Joe is a reporter and photographer at Navajo Times. She has written for Gallup Sun and Rio Grande Sun and has covered various beats. She received second place for Sports Writing for the 2018 New Mexico Better Newspaper Awards. She is from Baahazhł’ah, New Mexico.

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