Rough Rock Community School celebrates ribbon-cutting for new buildings

ROUGH ROCK, Ariz. (August 15, 2011) —Today’s formal opening of a new 58,000 square-foot academic building and 25,320 square-foot dormitory heralds a new beginning for Rough Rock Community School (RRCS) in Northern Arizona. Built in 1966 in Rough Rock, near Chinle, Ariz. and Canyon de Chelly, the school was the first Navajo-controlled school where students are taught Navajo culture alongside mainstream subjects.

The dormitory is for high school students who live in remote areas of the Navajo Nation and the academic building houses classrooms for grades K-8. Both buildings will achieve LEED Silver certification by the United States Green Building Council which oversees the internationally-recognized green building certification system. Construction of the buildings — managed by Kitchell, a Phoenix-based construction firm, and designed by Albuquerque-based, Navajo-owned Dyron Murphy Architects — included a close to 90 percent Navajo subcontractor and trade participation rate with Chee/Northstar and Free Brady among the lead Navajo subcontractors. 

The day’s events — to which all students and their families, as well as members of the local community were invited to attend — included a blessing ceremony and remarks by community and school leaders including Dr. Charles M. Roessel; RRCS Board President, Richie Nez; and RRCS Construction Project Manager, Jeremiah LaMesa, and with guest speakers Dine Education Superintendent, Andrew Tah; and Deputy Director of Office of Facilities Management and Construction, Emerson Eskeets.

“Rough Rock Community School opened its doors in 1966, and it has been the forerunner of the Indian Self-Determination Act (P.L. 93-638), as well as the Tribally Controlled School Act (P.L. 100-297).  RRCS is proud of its heritage but now looks to the future to continue its legacy.  Construction is only the first phase of this project.  The real work is when the construction is complete and the students enter to learn” stated Dr. Roessel.

The mission of Rough Rock Community School is to focus on Diné Fundamental beliefs of Knowledge, Planning, Harmony, and Hope.  The school is dedicated to educating, enlightening, motivating, challenging, and assisting in the proper cultural rearing of Navajo children so they can be self-respecting, respectful of others, speak and embrace their language and culture, and be totally functional in Anglo society.

Rough Rock Community School has approximately 440 day and residential students, including 166 high school students in grades 9 through 12.  The entire project was the first replacement school project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. To date, Rough Rock Community School is the largest ARRA awarded Native American tribe, with a grant of $ 56 million.

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