Hello and greetings from the High School Program!
Since St. Joseph’s high school students attend the Chamberlain public school, their schedule is different from the 1st-8th grade students.
We’re looking forward to a long weekend with Friday and Monday off for parent-teacher conferences and President’s Day. On Monday we will have a presentation by medical students from the University of South Dakota. We try to utilize no school days to bring in speakers or plan activities that will appeal to the kids and expose them to opportunities for their futures.
Parent-teacher conferences are a nice opportunity to find out what gains our Lakota students have made as well as which areas they need to focus on. We always invite the students’ parent/guardians to take part in conferences and we have a growing number of parents attending. One mother came from three hours away last semester – her dedication to her son’s education is commendable. For parents/guardians who cannot attend, our houseparents summarize the information and share it with them.
We are also looking ahead to the next school year as we work on eighth grade selections. This is a process of determining how many openings we will have in the high school program and seeing which eighth graders will best fit the public school our students attend.
Some years, we have about the same number of openings as we have eighth graders – that makes the selection process much easier. Other years, there are many more eighth graders than there are openings and the process is very difficult.
We begin in October when the High School Residential Coordinator meets with the eighth grade students to share information about the high school program; the students have an opportunity to ask questions and then they fill out a survey about their plans for the following year.
In February the Coordinator meets individually with each student to “interview” them. This consists of questions about their academics, attendance, and participation in extra-curricular/artistic/musical activities. At this same time, surveys are sent to the teachers, eighth grade houseparents, and Family Service Counselors to gather as much information as possible.
Our goal and desire is to keep every student here until they graduate high school. However, that doesn’t always work due to lack of space or when individual student circumstances have changed. One situation we’re seeing more frequently is that the student’s families are becoming more stable and self-sustained.
In these situations, the families are often ready to have their children home with them. As much as we love having the kids at St. Joseph’s, our ultimate goal is to help them and their families become productive members of their tribes and their communities. When that happens and families can be together, everyone benefits.
We are enriched by the opportunity that is provided when families entrust their children to our care and we’re fortunate to be a part of positive changes for the future. Most of all, we are grateful for the generosity of others in helping us accomplish our mission.