St. Joseph’s Indian School welcomes students, families with Back-to-School Picnic

“Look! I’m a kitty-cat!” exclaimed Darliss, a St. Joseph’s Indian School student, as she pointed to her ears.

However, she wasn’t pointing to her own, God-given ears, but rather the kitten ears painted on her forehead. The ears were coupled with whiskers stretched across her cheeks and a black nose. The Native American student had just gotten her face painted during the Back-to-School Picnic, hosted by St. Joseph’s Indian School, to welcome students and their families back to campus on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017.

A Native American student gets her face painted during the Back-to-School Picnic at St. Joseph’s Indian School.
LaRayne, Native American Studies teacher, paints a star on a St. Joseph’s Indian School student during the 2017 Back-to-School Picnic.
Native American students and family members enjoy a meal during the Back-to-School Picnic at St. Joseph’s.
Colton, Residential Support (center), sits among St. Joseph’s students and family members as they enjoy a delicious meal during the 2017 Back-to-School Picnic.

It was just one of the fun activities available during the St. Joseph’s Back-to-School Picnic. Over 250 students, family members and staff also enjoyed a crafts table where they made a picture frame and/or drawing book; a rec area with hula-hoops, balls and water balloon games; an area to have family photos taken; and tables where they enjoyed a warm meal of mouth-watering Sloppy Joe sandwiches.

St. Joseph’s staff members understand an array of emotions are swirling around inside of students when they are dropped off at school, and that mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc., also can experience similar nerves or anxiety. St. Joseph’s is a residential school, so not only are students gearing up for their first day of school, but they are doing so at their home-away-from-home.

The Back-to-School Picnic is just one of the many ways St. Joseph’s fosters relationships with its students and their families. The event allows everyone to gather in a comfortable, outdoor setting where staff members can get to know families. In the end, this simple event helps everyone transition into the new school year.

“It’s important that events like this take place to help students and families feel welcome,” said Danielle, Family Integration coordinator at St. Joseph’s. “We want the message to be clear that St. Joseph’s wants to work side-by-side and partner with students and families – not be a completely separate unit.”

Besides fostering relationships and communication, the annual Back-to-School Picnic addresses one more important thing St. Joseph’s cares deeply about: having fun!  It was a theme strongly felt as students moved from station to station. They often expressed their excitement about the upcoming school year.

“I’m so excited to be back to see everyone,” said Dorian, an eighth-grade student. “I really like St. Joseph’s!”

One student named Jeremy even said he couldn’t wait to get back to math class!

“It’s my favorite!” he said, while adding that reading comes in at a close second.

As the picnic ended, families dropped off last-minute items with their children before giving just one more goodbye hug. It was a great way to kick-off the school year, which officially started Aug. 14, 2017.

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 90 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.

4 thoughts on “St. Joseph’s Indian School welcomes students, families with Back-to-School Picnic”

  1. Hello everyone
    Wishing you well during this school year! I will have a little something for you soon!
    That is a nice picture!!
    Take care.

  2. What a grand way to kick off the school year!! Students looking forward to classes are a ‘hats off’ to the teachers and staff., not too many students look forward to math class. Kudos to staff.
    The parents, families of the students must have a very secure feeling that their child/children are in ‘good hands’ and know that their education and well being is #1 with staff. Blessings to all the staff and students as they have started their 2017/2018 school year that will be filled with many blessings.

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