Staff continue to ready the campus and themselves for our students’ arrival. Teachers have been in classrooms, hanging posters and setting out books and supplies on each desk, which now have student names on them. Houseparents are setting out bedding and making progress charts and decorating homes with signs of welcome. Orientation week is a combination of group sessions to go over important policies like fire safety or pastoral care support. It is also a time for each person to attend to their own area and make sure they have the materials and resources they will need.
I stopped by the school, and found all the 6th-8th grade teachers in the conference room with Scott, one of our family service counselors. One by one, he was doing a file review of each of the 30 boys that he counsels. He tried to visit each one at their home over the summer, and gave updates on how they have been doing. Many of the teachers know the students well already, and could give the new teachers insights into student issues and behavior. We work hard at communicating with each other so we can have a common, helpful approach and plan for each of our students. Later in the year, parents and guardians will be invited to join the group and discuss the needs and progress of their children.
We have two new pastoral care staff, Clare and Joe, that will be teaching religious education and helping with spiritual efforts on campus. Fr. Anthony, our campus chaplain and I met with them to begin discussion of immediate needs and long term considerations. I look forward to seeing what we can develop for both staff and students.
I drove the two SCJ novices to Fort Thompson for evening mass. The church is on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, 25 miles north of Chamberlain. This is James’ very first time in South Dakota, and he gazed out the window at the magnificent view of the Mighty Mo (Missouri River) as it swept through the wide valley far below. Both guys took a lot of pictures along the way. I suggested to the staff here, and the parishioners there, that some day one of these two young men might be working side by side with them.