Despite the muddy circumstances 2020 brought upon the world, you helped bring so much joy to approximately 200 Lakota (Sioux) boys and girls. Surely we faced challenges, but so many other successes took place.
Take a look as we highlight some of the great things you helped make possible at St. Joseph’s Indian School during 2020 …
- Students participated in the Lakota Nation Invitational and participated in archery, the Lakota Language Bowl and the Knowledge Bowl categories.
- Students celebrated Catholic Schools Week.
- St. Joseph’s provided assistance to families on reservations during cold weather.
- Joseph’s students went to the Dakota Oyate Challenge (DOC), an annual archery event. A total of 18 students in grades fourth-12th competed.
- Joseph’s eighth graders traveled to Pierre, SD, to learn about the South Dakota State Legislature and tour the historical capitol building.
- Third grade students hosted their wax museum — embodying the famous faces of Sally Ride, Martin Luther King, Jr., Amelia Earhart and others.
- Gymnastics, wrestling and basketball wrapped up for the season.
- Students left for Spring Break and were unable to return for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- St. Joseph’s sent numerous truck and trailer loads of supplies to reservation communities due to COVID-19 pandemic.
- Distance learning took full effect, with classes moving online and homework packets mailed weekly.
- Prayer services with Fr. Anthony went digital in the hopes of providing comfort to students and their families from afar.
- Distance learning and mailing of homework packets continued. Teachers and counselors checked in on families through regular phone and video calls.
- Because many elderly in reservation communities were unable to see their families due to social distancing, St. Joseph’s sent care packages with activities books, hygiene products and homemade masks to a care center on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation.
- Twenty-three eighth grade students received their completion certificates and two students graduated from high school! However, no formal ceremonies and celebrations were held in-person this month.
- St. Joseph’s Indian School was awarded the honor of Top-Rated Charity by GreatNonprofits for the fourth year in a row!
- Care packages filled with books, toys, games and learning materials were sent to all of our students through the mail or curbside delivery.
- We implemented 11 food box delivery routes across the state to deliver meat, cheese, eggs, bread, fruits, veggies and more every other week to our students and their families.
- Rising Eagle Day Camp was sadly canceled due to COVID-19.
- St. Joseph’s graduating seniors were honored at the local public high school’s rescheduled graduation and feathering ceremonies.
- This month, houseparents mailed books home to students.
- The Bookmobile outreach program safely delivered thousands of books to reservation communities.
- The new 2019-20 school year began.
- Even more CDC guidelines were strictly enforced to keep children and staff as safe as possible.
- We hosted our 44th Annual Powwow from a distance, as COVID-19 kept our wonderful donors, parents and the public from attending this year.
- Students celebrated Native American Day by focusing on their traditions, heritage and stories.
- The school celebrated Red Ribbon Week by decorating campus trees with red ribbons.
- Students collected candy in a Halloween parade in place of traditional trick-or-treating to maintain more social distance.
- Students spent the month celebrating Native American Heritage Month. Although heavily focused upon throughout the year, classes took even more time focusing on the Lakota culture all month long.
- Students celebrated All Souls Day by remembering loved ones who have passed on by making prayer ties and displaying them in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. We are hopeful the seventh grade cultural trip will take place May 2021 so the prayer ties may be taken with and used during an inípi — sweat — ceremony.
- Eighth grade students participated in a Buffalo Hunt.
- Students gifted the presents they had picked-out for their siblings, parents/guardians and grandparents from our campus Christmas Store.
- Students grades 2-8 returned from winter break and began the second semester in an eLearning/quarantine setting.
It was a year of changes and challenges — perhaps a year filled with many, many winds from the North. But, as the Lakota believe as part of the traditional Four Directions, if someone has the ability to face these winds like the buffalo with its head into the storm, they have learned patience and endurance. Generally, this direction stands for hardships and discomfort. Therefore, North represents the trials people must endure and the cleansing they must undergo.
Perhaps you also faced harsh North winds. We pray 2021 is a year of cleansing for you, your loved ones and everyone around the world.
If you would like to see more updates about the great things happening at our school, follow us on Facebook by going to www.stjo.org/facebook!