Challenging our youth to excel

After two days away from the office, today was one of those days of catching up with paperwork, but more importantly getting around campus and seeing what everyone has been up to.

After school, I saw lots of the younger kids from the Benedictine Homes out riding bikes and jumping rope. The junior high girls at the Pinger Home had raked the falling leaves into piles. At first I admired their willingness to tidy the yard up, but when Mailana surprised me by jumping up from underneath the pile, I realized they had ulterior motives. But, play and fun is a worthwhile motive too!

I shot some baskets at Fisher Home (6th – 8th grade boys) and stayed for supper. The talk around the supper table was mostly about football, but I did get them to talk occasionally about school and family and other topics.

Since I enjoy sports, it is a nice ice breaker, but I want to get to know more about the students than who their favorite team is.

Tonight all four high school homes gathered for the midterm GPA (grade point average) announcement. Each quarter, we award a traveling trophy to the home with the highest average, and for a full year the Hogebach Home (junior & senior girls) have had a lock on the glittery hardware. In a big upset, the Sheehy boys pulled ahead 3.28 to 3.26, and will have bragging rights for at least a few months. I must say however, that the girls are now highly motivated to reclaim the prize.

Overall, our high school homes GPA is up almost .50 points over last year. They need to keep it up until the end of the semester of course, but this is a good start. We’re trying to create a school culture where good students are not made fun of, but kids are striving to do well. That has taken some doing, but hopefully we’re moving in the right direction. In December, there is also an academic competition against other Native American schools at the Lakota Nations Invitational, and we’ve got more students applying for that team than ever before. Thanks to our houseparents, tutors and counselors for challenging our youth to excel.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 89 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

2 thoughts on “Challenging our youth to excel”

  1. As a long-time teacher, I have learned that whatever wholesome talk and activity engages a child can be the door to his or her mind and heart… Keep up your wonderful work with the kids, and take care of yourself. Mary Latela

  2. It was so nice to see you Fr. Steve and staff Laura was at my table and was very interesting to talk to and gave me a more visible insight as to how much the school has grown since I started to donate 30+ yrs ago. I hope someday I can visit the school and museum. My friend that came with me has allergies and they changed her menu to delicious salmon that was steamed and a fruit cup for dessert. Very nice meeting place altogether. Thanks and keep up the good work you are doing. Linda Fitzgerald

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