Henry Ellis Nolatubb Photo Courtesy of Jones Academy

Jones Academy student, Henry Ellis Nolatubby, died in WWII aboard the USS Arizona in during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Henry's stickball sticks are on exhibit at Jones Academy.

Celebrating the past and future

By David Sanchez
August 1, 2021

When Jones Academy opens its doors in August, the boarding school will celebrate 130 years of serving and enriching the lives of generations of Native American youth. Since its establishment in 1891, the facility has been under the oversight of the Choctaw Nation.

All of these years serve as a testament to the perseverance and commitment of the Choctaw people to education, independence, and self-determination. The singular mindset to improve the lives of Indian children has endured and flourished in this tiny enclave nestled on the rural pastures of southeastern Oklahoma.

The longevity of the school speaks volumes of the people who have stayed true to this mission. There are the administrators, educators, residential and support staff, and facility keepers who have labored selflessly, tirelessly for years, and without display.

Jones Academy’s success can be measured in the character of the students it has produced. There are generations of former students who have finished their studies at the school and have been empowered by the values of a good day’s work, honesty, and integrity. Not only have they lived productive lives, but at times, heroic.

There are small memorials scattered throughout the campus grounds honoring the sacrifices of the young men and women who served in our country’s conflicts. There are the Code Talkers of both World Wars. Davis Pickens was killed in Sicily in 1944. Andrew Perry’s remains rest in a cemetery in France. Henry Ellis Nolatubby died during the attack at Pearl Harbor. His body is entombed in the hull of the USS Arizona. Scores of others served and returned home to live quiet and fruitful lives. Thirty young men from Jones Academy made the supreme sacrifice during World War II.

Jones Academy can also boast of former students who became educators, men and women of industry, writers, activists, and tribal leaders.

Now a new generation of staff and students live on the very grounds that the former occupants inhabited over a century ago. The Choctaw Nation is even more committed to the success of this new crop of students. The tribe is providing more resources and has expanded its services to Indian families.

The Nation invested in building an elementary school for grades 1-6 in 2008. It remains in pristine condition and is updated with the latest information technology. This year the elementary school will open enrollment for day students from the immediate community.

Jones Academy students grades 7-12, will return to in-person classes at the Hartshorne Public Schools and resume all their extra-curricular activities.

In the evenings, students will receive academic assistance from coaches at the Student Success Center. Staff will also monitor the students’ progress and achievements in the classroom. After hours, the students will also be able to participate in the award-winning 4-H hog show program as well as the Pelichi Grant-sponsored STEAM and robotics activities.

The Nation also offers free medical care and counseling services to students living on campus. All of these services are an endeavor of the Choctaw Nation to improve and to cultivate the lives of Indian children and their future. God has blessed Jones Academy and its outreach, 130 years strong. May its ministry to young people continue and prosper for years to come.

Photo

Photo Courtesy of Jones Academy

A former Jones Academy student stands in uniform.