Jones Academy dedicates building to Robert Smith
By Christian Toews
June 1, 2022
Jones Academy held a ceremony on May 10, 2022, to dedicate a building to Robert Smith. Smith retired from Jones Academy after 57 years with the Academy. Chief Gary Batton was in attendance and spoke to Smith during the ceremony saying, “Thank you so much for all that you’ve done. I don’t know if you realize the positive impact and the shape that you have put on all of our youth, and we just appreciate you so much for your commitment.”
In a 2020 interview with the Biskinik, Smith was asked what he plans to do now that he is retired. Smith said, “I will continue supporting them [the students] as far as their activities. As far as going back and working, that’s for the younger people to do now. If anybody ever asks for my advice, though, I will still give it to them.”
He says he plans to go fishing and to his deer cabin in the mountain on the weekends, plus doing things around the house. During the event Smith said “I would like to thank everybody who took part in planning this. I appreciate you guys coming out.”
Jones Academy is located on a 540-acre campus, five miles northeast of Hartshorne, Oklahoma and was initially an all-boys school. In 1955, Jones Academy became a co-ed school after Wheelock Academy, a boarding school for girls, closed. In April of 1985, the Choctaw Nation contracted the boarding school operation from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In 1988, Jones Academy became a tribally controlled school. Jones students come from as many as 29 different American Indian tribes, though the two largest populations, due to proximity, are Choctaw and Muscogee (Creek). For more information on Jones Academy, visit choctawnation.com/services/jones-academy.