Our students returned from Spring Break yesterday and we began the day with a prayer service to start the 4th quarter. We honored those students nominated by teachers, counselors and houseparents who have done well not only at school, but by their attitude and spirit of cooperation. We gave them certificates for being “Soaring Eagles”.
I spent most of the day with our Parents Advisory Committee. We welcomed three new members to the group, and the first timers spoke up freely and added a lot to our discussions. We had one session on our alumni efforts. Parents were pleased with our outreach and suggested ways to deepen the ties. Even a simple word change in advertising our “gatherings” to “honoring” would make them and others more likely to attend. They spoke of the ongoing need for healing for those who had negative experiences while attending St. Joseph’s Indian School. We discussed our outreach to alumni who are now in college and ways to encourage them to stay in school and finish.
The Chamberlain Public High School principal joined us to discuss efforts at respecting cultural diversity in Chamberlain. He impressed me as someone who not only said the right things, but who really cares, and understands that we need to bridge racial and ethnic gaps if we are ever to build a strong and life-giving community. Later, we addressed how we monitor and work with students who are taking medications.
We have a series of tunnels running underneath the campus, which are mainly used for our heating pipes, electrical and phone lines and the like. Years ago the students used to travel between buildings in the winter using the tunnels, and when alumni visit, one of the first places they long to experience is that tunnel experience. After lunch, I led the group on a tour through them, amid much laughter, recall, and storytelling. At one point we couldn’t find a light switch and things got dark until 4 or 5 people took out their cell phones and lighted the way. Things have changed a lot over the years!