God bless individuals who share time and energy to help at Jones Academy
From the desk of Assistant Chief Gary Batton
Visiting Jones Academy each year to deliver Christmas gifts from Chief Pyle and myself and the Choctaw Nation staff is a special blessing. When I arrived this year, the youth were gathered in the dorm (which the kids decorate with Christmas lights, tinsel and a tree) and as I walked in this year, as always, the first thing I saw was the bright smiles of about a hundred children.
Since I have a December birthday, they greeted me by singing “Happy Birthday,” which I thought was grand, then they cheered loudly when the administrator of the academy announced that the envelope I had brought contained a $3,000 check to help purchase their special Christmas presents. In addition, the volunteers and staff at the school and the employees of the Choctaw Nation had been working for several weeks to purchase and wrap gifts to make sure each and every one of the 170 students at Jones Academy had one of the best holidays they could remember!
By the sparkle in their eyes and the laughter I was hearing, the gifts were very much appreciated!
The presents are just an outward example of the care that is shown these children at the Choctaw Nation – the wellbeing of the youth is truly at the heart of the people involved in every area of the academy. After the presentation in the dormitory, service awards were given to Jones Academy staff employed by the Choctaw Nation from five to 25 years.
As I shook the hands of the recipients of the service awards for their many years of work, I had a special appreciation for the special love and dedication that helped them change and improve lives of many individuals.
In addition to the paid staff who work with the students at the academy, volunteers are at Jones each day to help with the children. Attorneys, lobbyists, Congressmen and Senators as far away as Washington, D.C., worked on legislation to change the way funding arrives to the school so that we can improve the campus of our school. And the Tribal Council and Chief are continuously discussing Jones Academy as a priority project, as demonstrated by the recent construction of the beautiful classrooms for grades one through six.
Yes, our youth are certainly a primary concern, and their future is important to our tribe. And I can say with confidence that our leaders are “Walking the Talk,” thanks to the support of a lot of tremendous individuals who share their time and energy. May God bless you all.