Parade of Lights

We are just returning from our Thanksgiving break here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I hope everyone enjoyed their break and spending the holiday with their friends and family.  Last week, here at St. Joseph’s, a few of our staff were preparing a float to enter into the Chamberlain Parade of Lights festivities.  With the theme being, “12 Days of Christmas” our float entry was the first day of Christmas.  Does anyone remember what was asked on the first day of Christmas?

“On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…. A partridge in a pear tree.

St. Joseph's Indian School's float, "A partridge in a pear tree".
St. Joseph's Indian School's float, "A partridge in a pear tree".

There was a parade committee that gathered to put their heads together to come up with the wonderful idea for the float.  However, our facilities grounds supervisor, Foster, was what I would call the leader of the group.  Foster put in a lot of time working and building the float for the parade, along with many other facilities staff to help create his masterpiece.  The float looked wonderful all lit up, with the famous Partridge Family song “I Think I Love You” being played as they drove it down the main street of Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Some of the Native American youth here at St. Joseph’s Indian School that stayed on campus in our break home also got to help out and participate in the parade.  There were some students that got to ride on the float and some of them walked alongside and handed out dreamcatchers to all the spectators.  Can you imagine what fun it was for these children to participate in something like this?  They were able to help out and be a part of something with their “St. Joseph’s Family”.  Great fun was had by all!

‘Tis the holiday season, so we just want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays!!

– St. Joseph’s Indian School Facilities Department

Helping boys becoming men

Mike and April's philosophy, "don't give fish, but rather come along side them and teach them to fish."
Mike and April's philosophy, "don't give fish, but rather come along side them and teach them to fish."

Hello,

My name is Mike. I have been a houseparent at St. Joseph’s Indian School for three and a half years. My wife April also writes on this blog. We currently work as six-day houseparents in the Carola Home with 10 high school boys, as well as our two youngest children Miranda (6th grade) and Seth (5th grade). When we first came to St. Joseph’s we worked three days in the Rooney Home with 6th-8th grade boys and then three days in the Pinger Home with 6th -8th grade girls. Needless to say, life changed drastically every three days. 🙂

Almost every time I tell someone what I do, they ask just what is a houseparent? My typical response is, it’s the greatest job in the world. Artist mold and shape clay, doctors help mend broken bones,  but we mold and shape lives, we help mend hearts and minds.  We get the privilege to watch boys become men. My philosophy as a houseparent isn’t to give fish, but rather come along side them and teach them to fish.

We began working in the Carola Home last year with 10 freshman boys. Three of the boys were with us in the Rooney Home during their 7th and 8th grade years. The others, I coached in football their 8th grade year. We ended the year with eight boys. All eight boys are back with us this year as sophomores and we have  added two freshman. One of the freshman was with us his 6th and 7th grade years in the Rooney Home. It truly is a privilege to watch as these boys work towards becoming men.

An example of our boys working to become men is the following. Our typical day starts at 6:30 am. While I’m getting breakfast ready, the boys wake up on their own, clean their rooms,  bathrooms and come downstairs by 7:00 am. While they’re eating, I check their rooms and bathrooms. Once they have eaten, they do various chores such as: cleaning the kitchen, living room, game room or sweeping the stairwells. I drive the school bus to the high school for all the homes, so I leave around 7:25 am to get the bus ready. The boys finish their chores and Ms. April checks them. They get on the bus by 7:40 and arrive at school around 8:00 am.

Last year, I went up stairs and went to each room waking each one. I discovered not everyone is a morning person like me. 🙂  I then watched as they cleaned their rooms and bathrooms. After several reminders we made it down stairs, however not everyone was on time. At the beginning of this year, I asked them  if they wanted me to wake them or use an alarm clock. They all agreed to the alarm clock. I asked if they could get their cleaning done on their own or did I need to come and watch. They all agreed they could do it on their own. They even set the consequence for anyone who wasn’t downstairs on time. To date, we have had far fewertardies and fewer reminders about their cleaning . One of my favorite posters in our home is a quote from the 1 Corithians 13:11:

When I was a child I spoke, thought and behaved like a child, but as I became a man I put away childish things.

Thank you for all your support. Please pray for us as we encourage our young men on their journey. Also, if you have a favorite quote about becoming a man we would love to hear it. We have many posters on our walls encouraging our guys to become the man their families and communities need them to be.

Until next time,

Mike

Coaching and learning from St. Joseph’s youth

Hey! Have you heard that St. Joseph’s Indian School’s sixth-grade girls are having a great basketball season?
My name is Jona. If you’ve visited St. Joseph’s Indian School and had a tour of St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, chances are you’ve had a conversation with me!

In addition to my office duties, like providing tours for visitors, writing stories for our website and organizing special projects, I also take time each fall to coach basketball for the sixth grade girls.

My dad, Jon, is an electrician on the maintenance crew here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, and I am assistant coach to his head coach. We have a great time getting to know the Native American students a little better and, of course, I have a lot of fun spending this time with my dad!

My dad, Jon and I enjoy learning wonderful things from these young ladies every day.
My dad, Jon and I enjoy learning wonderful things from these young ladies every day.

Our team this year is a talented group, but what’s even better is the encouragement they show one another on the court and during practice. As St. Joseph’s motto says, We Serve and Teach, We Receive and Learn. I am learning wonderful things from these young ladies every day!

Preparing the Native American youth

It is remarkable to see the Lakota (Sioux) students mature and grow in their love of Jesus.
It is remarkable to see the Lakota (Sioux) students mature and grow in their love of Jesus.

We have begun the RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation for Children) this month. This is a program to teach the youth at St. Joseph’s Indian School about becoming a Catholic and preparing them to receive the Sacraments in May. I enjoy teaching this program and seeing the children develop their faith issues and become excited about the day they are Baptized and receive their First Holy Communion. It is an extraordinary journey we take and I am so honored that I am accompany them on their exploration of their new faith. It is remarkable to work here at St. Joseph’s Indian School and not just see the students mature physically and mentally but also grow in their love of Jesus.



This year we have twenty-one students enrolled in the RCIC program; there are five second graders, six third graders, two fourth graders, four fifth graders, two sixth graders and two seventh graders. Please keep the students in your prayers as they take the first steps in their faith journey and also for me that I may have the wisdom and insight to be the best mentor for them that I can be. Next time I write, I will discuss the different themes we are touching. May I offer to each one of you a blessed and sacred Thanksgiving.

Harsh reality of Native American health

St. Joseph’s Indian School’s Personal Living Skills (PLS) class is taking it up a notch!

The class has been exploring the relationship between diet and exercise.  PLS class promotes good health, emphasizing ways to reduce sugar, salt and fat in the diet.  Our Lakota (Sioux) students learn healthy snack options and how to make healthy choices when eating out.  They also learn why fitness is important and what they can to do maintain a healthy weight in order to live a healthy and productive life.

Health Facts

Chronic diseases, such as obesity and type II diabetes persist in Native Americans at rates that are significantly higher than those in other ethnic minority populations.  A primary cause of this epidemic outbreak can be linked to the shift of tribal traditions.   With a culture that once solely survived off of the crops they harvested, Native American’s diets are now filled with processed foods high in fat and sodium with limited intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  In addition, the average physical activity level is significantly lower than the recommended amount.  The poor quality of the current diet and lifestyle of Native Americans is endangering their quality of life.

Type II diabetes is one of the most serious health problems for Native Americans in the United States.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Indian Health Service, Native Americans are 2.2 times more likely to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites.

95% of Native Americans with diabetes are diagnosed with type II diabetes.

Just as type II diabetes can be the result of  inadequate diet and insufficient physical activity, it can also be managed and potentially cured by diet and lifestyle modifications.

Another health condition that is seriously affecting the American Indian population is obesity. Native American obesity is a major risk factor for both type II diabetes and heart disease.

On average, 30% of all Native Americans are obese.

Both males and females are consistently more overweight and obese than the total U.S. population.  The primary contributors to obesity also include poor diet and insufficient exercise.

Native Americans face a surplus of unfavorable socioeconomic factors which contribute to the rise of obesity and type II diabetes.  Among the list are economic stresses, reduced access to affordable healthful foods, opportunities for safe and varied physical activity, overexposure to targeted advertising and marketing of calorie-dense foods.  Despite these inopportune circumstances it has become critical that Native Americans make significant alterations to their current diet and lifestyles in order to protect their past, present and future legacy.

Greetings from the lab

Hello to all!  My name is Sarah and I work at St. Joseph’s Indian School as a 6th-8th grade Science teacher.  I started here at St. Joseph’s as a 4th grade teacher and spent 4 years at that level, then moved to my current position and have been in this age group for the past 6 years.  I have been at St. Joseph’s Indian School since I graduated from college.  Every year has been fun-filled and full of learning for me.

Working with 6th-8th grade students is a wonderful opportunity.  With this position, I am able to see a phenomenal amount of growth in students: academically, physically, mentally and socially.

I love that I am allowed to witness these tremendous changes.

As a Science teacher, I am given a 45 minute class period, each school day with every single 6th-8th grade student.  We cover all areas of science including: Physical Science, Life Science, Earth/Space Science and how Science impacts such areas as technology, the environment and society.

Consider yourselves to have a hand in forming the future.
Consider yourselves to have a hand in forming the future.

Being in the Science arena, also allows me to choose different methods of delivery for instruction.  In my class we cover Science objectives in a variety of ways, whether it is through lecture, laboratory activities, digital lessons or virtual labs.  The latter two listed are new to me this year as we were able to purchase a new curriculum that is available in a print workbook and also entirely online.  It has been very effective thus far with my students.  They certainly enjoy the opportunity to use the computer as a tool for learning.

I try to do lab work as much as possible as the hands-on experience is valuable for many students and also tends to be more exciting.  Our Science Department can always use donations of equipment.  They do not need to be elaborate items, only things, such as everyday household items. For instance, flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, white corn syrup, vinegar, baby oil, vegetable oil and food coloring.  These items can be used in a variety of ways to address topics such as density, chemical changes, and classifying things.

With your generous and heartfelt contributions to St. Joseph’s Indian School, I am able to give our Lakota (Sioux) youth enhanced learning opportunities.  We greatly appreciate you and you are in our prayers.  Thank you to all who donate to St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Consider yourselves to have a hand in forming the future. Pilamayathank you!