The quiet of a week-long Spring Break was shattered this past Sunday as students and staff returned to campus ready to head into the 4th quarter. We held a prayer service to kick off the last quarter of the school year on Tuesday, asking for God’s guidance and direction and the support of the Holy Spirit as the academic year begins to wind down.
Last week was a beautiful week here along the banks of the Missouri River.
With the recent time change, the sun is now setting over the river just as the school/work day comes to an end and we are seeing some glorious sunsets reflecting off the water and highlighting the few leaves that are still on the trees. It has even been so nice out that many fisherman are taking advantage and getting in some last casts. Continue reading “Elections, Awards and Sports at St. Joseph’s!”
Although we wanted rain more than snow, we’ve had two days of snow this week that has come down looking like it is going to bury everything, but then it lets up and melts quickly. The grass seems to like it as it is starting to turn green in spots. Hope you’ll have wonderful weather for all the new Easter outfits.
You may recall that I recently mentioned the Chamberlain Cubs had qualified for the State ‘A’ Basketball tournament in Rapid City, SD. They won their first game in a bit of an upset against Sioux Valley. St. Joseph’s own, Davis, went wild again scoring 20 points, grabbing a number of rebounds and making steals all over the court. Their next game was against the #1 seed, Sioux Valley Christian, which had several players over 6’4’’. It was a hard-fought battle, but their height eventually stymied the Cubs. The third game saw Chamberlain in the lead until the last few moments, when opposing Dakota Valley got hot. The Cubs were hurt by poor free throw shooting, only making 5 out of 14 attempts, and came up short when Davis’ three point try, as the horn sounded, rimmed in and came out.
They ended the tournament with a fourth place finish—we are very proud of them!
Another bright note was the fact that the Cubs’ cheerleaders won the Spirit of 6 Award! The award is given yearly in memory of the Rapid City Central Cobblers’ cheerleaders who were killed in an airplane crash coming back to Rapid City from the State ‘A’ tournament in Sioux Falls in March of 1968. To honor their memory, the South Dakota Peace Officers’ Association has been giving out the award to the best cheerleading squad at the ‘AA’, ‘A’ and ‘B’ tournaments since 1970. The award is given on the basis of those who exhibit best crowd control, best dress, sportsmanship and enthusiasm.
St. Joseph’s is proud to have two students–Irene and Danielle on the squad. Congratulations to the cheerleaders.
Each year, we host an open house and invite our teachers, mentors and other staff that work with our kids to come over and have some Christmas goodies. This is a great chance for the girls to show off their home and use their social skills and manners in a larger setting.
We just completed our fourth and fifth grade basketball season and the girls went out with a victory in their last game at a tournament in town. This was such a fun bunch to spend time with! It was great to be able to watch the different skills we try to coach begin to appear in the games. At this age, we spend a majority of our time in practice working on basic skills and how to play the game properly from dribbling the basketball, to sportsmanship on and off the court.
The girls also had the opportunity today to go through the Christmas store and pick out gifts for their families. After that, they went to see Santa, wrap their presents and enjoy some treats.
We have also continued our walking program with the girls. We are happy to announce that we are currently at a total of 10,789 laps in the gym, which is a little over 500 miles!
From the William Home, may you all have a very Merry Christmas and all your travels be safe!
As I walked up the aisle to set up for church this morning, 3rd grader Rudy motioned to me.
“Why is everything purple?”
The prayerful season of Advent is upon us, and he noticed the change in the externals. Of course Advent is more about interior decorating – of our hearts – getting spiritually ready for the wonderful Christmas season. Our children’s choir learned two new songs, Emmanuel, familiar lyrics but in a new setting, and Candles of Advent, to emphasize the hope we hold out in the Light of the World. While in church we can burn real candles, fire regulations won’t let us get away with that in the homes. All of the homes have Advent wreaths, but with electric candles. Each home has age appropriate prayer books and resource materials to help each child enter into the spirit of the season.
While holiday decorations are going up all around us, we ask our homes to hold off on decorating for Christmas until later in December, so our community can experience the Advent season of patient waiting with great expectation. This year, we made an exception for two of the homes. The Stevens and Mathias Homes where our 6th – 8th grade girls live just finished up a major remodeling this year, and were asked to participate in Chamberlain’s annual Holiday Parade of Homes. People buy a $10 ticket and are able to tour several area homes to get ideas for decorating and enjoy the Christmas spirit. Proceeds benefited our public library, so it was for a good cause. Our girls baked holiday treats and took great pride in giving visitors tours and showcasing their home. It gave people from town, who might not normally come onto St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus or into the homes, an opportunity to see how our Lakota students live and also learn more about our approach to residential education.
The Stevens Home was named after a long time St. Joseph’s employee, Virginia Stevens, who has since passed away. We did have two special visitors – two of her daughters back for a visit, which made the day doubly special. While one of the daughters was gazing at the dedication portrait of her mother, 6th grader Jacquelyn remarked, “You look just like her!” That evoked a misty eye, a spreading smile and a big hug. We gathered around the Christmas tree for some photos.
Lots of activity over the weekend. Our high school wrestlers left Saturday at 4:30 a.m. for a tournament, and didn’t return until after midnight. In South Dakota, distances between towns and schools are great and some events have to be played 3 or even 4 hours away. The HS basketball teams had their first scrimmage of the season, and the crowd got a preview of things to come, with our St. Joseph’s students getting lots of playing time. Our own 8th grade girls hosted a four-team tournament and kept the trophy for the second year in a row. The junior high students not on the team cooked Sloppy Joes and hot dogs, along with cookies and bars to sell at the concession stand.
Our archery team was busy practicing their aim in the school gym, vying for a spot on the team that will compete against other schools at the Lakota Nations Invitational Tournament in a few weeks.
We enjoyed sunny and warm weather, unusual for December. Lots of kids were outside playing games and enjoying time on the playground.
Greetings from the banks of the Missouri River! The weather is still mild, which is great for the hunters, but not so nice for the farmers and ranchers.
Fr. Steve and a group of students and staff headed for the Big Apple this weekend for a donor luncheon. Last year when they tried, Hurricane Irene brought everything to a standstill. This year they are coming in right behind Superstorm Sandy. The group took letters of support and encouragement from all the students at St. Joseph’s to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. They were passed out at the lunches so that our guests and others would know that they have not been forgotten as they face the challenge of putting their lives back together.
A variety of things happened here at St. Joseph’s that highlight the activities and events our Lakota students can get involved in. Our student council leaders went to the state capitol in Pierre, South Dakota to be part of more than 90 schools, churches, veterans groups, social clubs and others designated to decorate the Christmas trees that are being set up around the capitol building.
Our inter-city basketball league is going great guns and we have been able to see some good results. There was a young lady last year from Chamberlain who got involved but did not seem to get a lot of playing time. This year when the Chamberlain Cubs came to play the St. Joseph’s Braves, she was part of the team! She seemed to be the first or second one off the bench. It shows the impact the program can have because it gave her the opportunity to improve herself and make new friends. The boys from the area are taking part in the program now and the games have been interesting.
This past Sunday, the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota held a Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of our first Native American Saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks. Several of our students went to the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls to take part. Besides the Mass, a statue was erected in her memory and honor. As Kateri is a patron saint for ecology, the group then visited butterfly complex to see beauty in flight. They ended the day by driving by the water falls that give Sioux Falls its name. The falls are lit, making for a very picturesque scene.
Recently one of our high school students, Erika, had the privilege of casting her first vote in a national election. What really made it special, however,was that she was interviewed as she came out of the polling area and was asked which issue meant the most to her. Her response was the bond issue the local high school was trying to get approved that would help fund a new cultural and activity center at Chamberlain High. Erika saw it as a valuable addition to the school, but sadly it went down to defeat since it needed 60% plus one of all those voting. It only got in the mid-50% range.
Things are getting interesting for our high school students as the winter sports of wrestling and boys’ and girls’ basketball get under way. Wrestling started last week and some of our young men are going out. Girls’ basketball got underway today, which means several girls will be staying over the Thanksgiving Break so they can attend practice. The boys hit the court next Monday and a good number are planning on going out for that.
As we approach Thanksgiving, it is a reminder of our gratitude for your generosity. The students and staff keep you in their prayers. May the Great Spirit bless you with good health, much happiness and safe travel if you are heading ‘over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go!’
The big event in the life of our high school students this weekend was the school play – A Year in the Life of Frog and Toad. The production was whimsical and fun, with catchy songs and colorful sets. Two of our seniors, Chris and Erika, had supporting roles on stage. I laughed as they sang and hammed it up. Another half-dozen of our St. Joseph’s students took part behind the scenes, working lights and props and helping as student directors. The play was especially kid friendly, and space was reserved on the floor in front of the stage for any youngsters who wanted to sit on the floor close to the action. For a small school, Chamberlain has some talented and dedicated staff to work with students and put together quality performances.
On campus, basketball reigned as king. Saturday morning fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls played against cross town rivals Chamberlain. St. Joseph’s swept three very close games, two of which were decided in the last 15 seconds. Many of our staff were on hand not only to cheer on our students in blue and yellow, but their own kids wearing Cubs red and white. One of our counselors who has a daughter on Chamberlain said it’s too hard to root for both teams, but you have to! Sunday afternoon the boys played intercity, where Chamberlain and St. Joseph’s students played alongside each other. Again, you had to root for all the teams and players!
Because of the drought in our area, an earlier burning ban prevented us from opening the sweat lodge for inipi ceremonies during the fall months. Now that we’ve had a little moisture and the weather has turned colder, it’s safe to build a fire. An elder from the Rosebud Indian Reservation, grandfather to three of our students, came to campus to offer the opportunity for our junior high and our high school boys. For a few of the younger students it was their first time, and they were prepared and guided through the ceremony, which they found prayerful and refreshing, with good bonding as a result.
Sharing Sunday brunch in the Stevens Home (6th-8th grade girls) Frank and Wanda mentioned that this is their 25th year as houseparents at St. Joseph’s, and they are seeing a second generation of families they’ve had long ties with. They pulled out the yearbook from their first year here, and showed the moms of two families of girls they currently have with them. In residential care, such longevity is rare, but we have several long-timers who have built trust and relationships that are wonderful.
Last night we returned from donor appreciation luncheons in Boston, Massachusetts. Amber, one of our high school students, had never flown before and thought the experience awesome. She and Michelle spoke before 70 guests on Saturday and 60 guests on Sunday, telling about their time at St. Joseph’s and answering questions about life on St. Joseph’s campus and in their home communities. I admire our students’ ability to overcome their fear of speaking to a crowd, and realize that people are very interested in their story. Our donors asked many great questions to find out more about our school and programs.
One of our guests was a young Native American woman I knew from previous parish work. She didn’t attend St. Joseph’s but is Lakota and from our area. She just moved to Cambridge in July to start a graduate program at Harvard’s School of Education and Leadership. Meeting people like her gives a good example of hope that our students may one day follow.
One woman we met is a member of our Tiyospaye Club, and has faithfully donated $10 a month for many years. She said,
“I am on a fixed income and can only give a little, but your staff makes me feel so special. I wonder how you treat your large donors?”
I was heartened to hear her comments, since we do try to treat everyone with care and dignity. I realize that it’s folks like her who make small, sacrificial gifts that make such a difference in what we are able to do.
We haven’t had many famous donors over the years (though oral tradition here does say John Wayne and Elvis each sent us a little something years ago), but some folks do share a famous name. On Sunday I met one of our friends named James Brown, obviously not the Godfather of Soul who passed away a few years ago. James enthusiastically talked about coming out for our powwow. I encouraged him,
“And when you do, I want to see your best dance moves on the powwow grounds.”
“Of course – my name’s James Brown isn’t it?” he quipped back.
Does anyone in your family share a famous name??
After we arrived on Friday we bought our MTA passes and started exploring the city. One of my favorite folk songs my Uncle Mickey sang to us growing up was the Kingston Trio’s MTA, and I was tickled to see that the passes we bought to navigate the city were called “Charlie Cards.”
The students took in so many sights as we walked the Freedom Trail and toured historic old graveyards. We shopped for souvenirs at Quincy Market and pondered the speeches that once echoed in Faneuil Hall. We found a colorful Farmer’s Market and shared a bag of fresh cherries as we walked the harbor and gazed at tall ships, sailboats, ferries and tankers.
After the Saturday luncheons, we went to church at St. Francis Chapel, which is right in the middle of a busy mall – a new and unique experience for those of us from such a rural state. Then Theresa, one of our donors, treated us to tickets on the Ducks, the amphibious army vehicles that drove us along the streets and plunged us into the Charles River for all sorts of different views. The guide was lively and fun, with lots of banter and corny jokes. History can entertain as well as educate.
Getting a chance to boat onto the ocean was the one event on the top of Amber and Michelle’s dream list, so Sunday evening we joined a whale watch sponsored by the New England Aquarium. We saw both humpback and Minke whales, some within 50 yards of our ship. Michelle and Amber had a great spot on the front of the bow and delighted in the breeze whipping through their hair as we motored out to sea. We even saw one breech in the distance, where the whale came all the way out of the water. We had some great looks at some of God’s largest and most magnificent creatures.
Coming back onto campus today, I spent a good deal of time with the 3 M’s (meetings, mail and messages). But I did make it over to school at the end of the day.
The third graders are reading “Sarah Plain and Tall.” As part of vocabulary building and understanding, they were trying to learn about the Flounder and Sea Bass that she was casting for. When the teacher pulled up images from the internet on the smart board, I shared about the whales we had seen.
The third graders were amazed that something living (not like the dinosaurs of old) could still be as big as two classrooms. We also did a little geography lesson as they reviewed what states we had to cross to get to the East coast, and where the oceans are.
Junior high study hall students were working on reading and math. I quizzed students on vocabulary words, and encountered a couple of scientific words that I myself had never heard of, or have surely forgotten in those years since my classes on nuclei.
Sixteen of our 48 high school students hit the tutor’s office last night. One of the rules that students complain about the most is having to turn in their cell phones before they retired to their rooms. Now the rule is that they can keep their cell phones as long as their grades are good and they have fewer than three missing assignments. I overheard students say their goal is to keep the phone the whole year by staying on top of their work from the beginning, which was one reason for the rush to the learning center.
The high school students have the Rec Center to themselves from 8 – 9 p.m., and I joined in playing basketball. I don’t run or jump so well any more, and as I age I’m better at assists than as a scoring threat. But just to keep the defense honest I will drive and put up a shot every now and again. When I hit a layup one of the houseparents chided 6 foot 3 inch Cody,
“You should have swatted it away.”
“I’m not sure if I’m even allowed to do that” grinned Cody.
I think the younger crowd takes it a little easy on me. I worked up a good sweat and hopefully some camaraderie that builds trust with students down the road.
The highlight of my day was our annual faculty versus the 8th grade basketball game. We played a double-header after school. First the girls against our female staff, then the boys against the men. Everyone saw lots of playing time, and had good fun. The staff prevailed in two close games, but I think we had some extra help from the referees and scorekeepers.
While it’s hard to run with 14 year olds, we have some tall and athletic houseparents and coaches who carried the day for us. I’m a Hoosier and love my basketball, but my 52-year-old body doesn’t always cooperate in making the moves I used to make. A couple of times, I jumped to get a ball I’d normally grasp, but my vertical leap is higher in my memory than in today’s reality. Since it’s less than 3 weeks since I got out of the hospital, I limited my playing time to a few minutes here and there to give others a breather. But it definitely felt great to be on the court with students again.
Hello again from the Carola Home. This is a busy time of year for our high school students wrapping up the last quarter of the school year while preparing for next year and beyond. The boys and girls must balance their classes, sports, donor luncheon trips, college trips, jobs and spending time with their families and home. This can overwhelm some of our students and they may begin to struggle with keeping up with their homework and grades.
One of our freshman boys was selected to attend the Cultural festival later this month. Four of our boys are attending the college trip to Southeast Tech. Three of our boys were selected to go on the upcoming donor luncheon trips to Oklahoma City and New England. Being selected for things like this encourages our students and proves to them that they can make it – that they can become a Junior, a Senior and a Graduate!!
This year our Carola boys have done an amazing job. Most of our 8 sophomores and two freshmen have seen their grades only rise. Some have been on the honor roll all year, while others have come closer than ever before. One started the year with a GPA below 2.0 and he may make the honor roll this time. Yah!!!
This week the 1st -8th grade homes at St. Joseph’s are on their Spring Break, leaving our Chamberlain high school students seeing what real life is like. In the real world, life goes on even when you can’t be included because you must work or go to school.
While the younger homes are away, however, the older kids do play. We took our boys to the Dude Ranch (a local spot that offers public access to the Missouri River), where they built a campfire and cooked hotdogs. We also invited the other homes to come out and share SMORES…YUM!
The rest of the week is all about basketball. The high school homes are celebrating the Chamberlain Cubs going to the state basketball tournament in Sioux Falls. Thanks to donor support, the homes are able to go to the State championship games to support their team. GO CUBS!!!
The St. Joseph’s High School students are traveling to Sioux Falls for the State Basketball Tournament to support their Chamberlain Cubs basketball team.