Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School past and present staff and students celebrated the school’s 20th year anniversary on Friday night. For one of the speakers, it was a time to acknowledge her life had come full-circle.

With each of the three previous principals on hand as well Mike Deignan, who currently holds the position, the after-school assembly featured a performance by the school’s Jazz Band, a time capsule presentation, and a speech by former student and now teacher, Stephanie Angelakis.

“I remember my eighth-grade language arts teacher and thinking about how she impacted my life, that influenced me to become a teacher,” said Angelakis, who is in her first year teaching at Akimel. “Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher... Teaching isn’t easy... I’m proud to say I was a student at Akimel and now I am proud to say I am a teacher at Akimel.”

Akimel is known as the first school to integrate a networked computer system that allowed for emails to be sent between staff members.

“(These projects) are due to the dreams of the staff,” said Patricia Weegar, the school’s first principal.

The doors of Akimel opened in August of 1992 and the design and architecture is heavily influenced by Native American culture.

The name Akimel A-al means “children of the river” and was chosen as a homage to the Akimel O’odham people who live in what is the larger Gila River Indian Community.

The principals agreed that the success of the school is due mainly to those who come to work there day in and day out.

“We have always looked for teachers who have compassion... and empathy for students,” past principal Ernie Brodersen said.

Added Deignan, “Our intent is to be here for way more than another 20 years.”

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