Monday, September 6, 2010
Rain changed our cook out plans with the students, but in the primary grade homes we still enjoyed the burgers and other picnic foods downstairs in the skate room.
Just as we were sitting down to eat, two alumni who attended school here in the 70’s stopped in. Life had taken them many miles away, but they had traveled home for a family reunion. It had been over 30 years since they visited the campus and wanted that trip down memory lane.
I invited them to have lunch with us, and then we started walking around campus. The dining hall and the old boy’s dorm evoked a flood of stories. The favorite spot for them was the system of tunnels that runs underground. They used to have Halloween spook houses there many years ago. Sometimes, they even found a way to sneak in and use it as a hiding place.
Two of our current staff, Andy and Mary Jane, have been here over 30 years, and they remembered each other, even though these two grown men didn’t look anything like the 4th graders they remembered. Our staff enjoys these visits and catching up as much as our former students do.
A third brother showed up later. His memories weren’t as pleasant. Life in the dorm days was often regimented. Violating rules could bring spankings and punishment we would no longer use today.
I know in the past the boarding school experience was painful for a good number of students. When I hear the sad stories it makes me work toward reconciliation and healing. Sometimes you just have to listen and acknowledge the pain.
This afternoon we loaded up the bus and took the students downtown to see the movie Ramona and Beezus. It portrayed the combination of sibling rivalry and mutual affection between two sisters in a delightful way. One of the 4th grade boys sitting in front of me wanted more action. “This is a Girl movie!” he sighed. Hopefully he learned something about relationships and life. But by the end he enjoyed it too.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Having offices closed yesterday for Labor Day compressed two days worth of meetings into one, so I did a lot of sitting today. The most engaging meeting for me was our group discussion of our High School program. We complimented the strong parts of the program, and were honest about what we need to work on. Our students still struggle to stay in college once they leave here, and we see continued emphasis on independent living skills as crucial to their success.
In the discussion about what are our goals for the High School program, I believe that it’s not enough to educate someone to be skilled and competent. Our goal is to have our young people become virtuous people. We are trying to form students who will use their talents to benefit their family and tribe and our needy world. We hope that our students will be seen as good and kind and fair.
This evening I stopped by the Carola home for supper with our High School Freshmen. There the realities of homework and grade concerns re-emphasized the need to continue the support and encouragement. Several freshmen are struggling with the adjustment to the Chamberlain Public High School. It takes time to make new friends and feel at home. It was also a night for a JV football game, so that took some of the pressure off and allowed for a little fun.