Guest Blogger: Cindy

Hello and welcome back!  I’m Cindy and I blogged in October about the many things that take place at the beginning of the school year.  I like to think that it is the busiest time of the year but it has not slowed down at all!

We are just returning from Thanksgiving Break (where did the time go?) and the students are starting to look forward to Christmas (and break: hooray!) that will be coming up in a few weeks.

Most of our students were able to go home for the Thanksgiving Break.  The day before Thanksgiving is a chaotic, but fun-filled day.  The student’s guardians all come and pick them up at the school.  The Dining Hall puts on a delicious lunch for them to enjoy.  Many of them have been coming to St Joseph’s for many years and it is fun to catch up on their lives.

We do have a few students that stay on campus during this time.  They are housed in what we refer to as the “break home.”  Their time is filled with fun activities such as shopping, movies and games.

This year, the students and staff who stayed on campus were able to participate in the Thanksgiving dinner at St. James Catholic Church.  This is a wonderful experience to have fellowship and visit with people from the surrounding areas.  It is wonderful that the local people put this on in order to alleviate the loneliness that can be associated with this time of year.

I enjoy this time of year.  As my family is grown, I still enjoy going to sports activities. The connection to my St. Joseph’s family is great as I now watch the St. Joseph’s girls play basketball.  They are a lot of fun and I love to watch them play.  This allows me to interact with the students outside of the school setting.  I really enjoy visiting with the students the next day at school on their accomplishments during the game.

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

As we are preparing for the Christmas Season, two of our 6/7/8th grade girls homes will be featured in the local Parade of Homes this year.  This is a local event when people decorate their homes and allow the community members to tour them.  This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to connect  with the town of Chamberlain.   The girls are giddy as they are enjoying decorating and getting ready for the tours.  It is the first time that the homes have participated in the “Parade of Homes” showing off their home, their Christmas  decorations, and spirit of the season.

We are also busy educating the students about Christmas during religion and Native American Studies classes.  We celebrate the advent season in the school by having a ceremony every Monday morning.  We try to get the students to realize that there is more to Christmas than just the presents under the tree.

I want to extend Christmas wishes to all our benefactors this Holiday Season.  May your days be very joyful, fun-filled and blessed.  Thank you for all the support you have given to St. Joseph’s throughout the years. 

“Celebrate the feast of Christmas every day, even every moment in the interior temple of your spirit, remaining like a baby in the boson of the heavenly Father, where you will be reborn each moment in the Divine Word, Jesus Christ”—St. Paul of the Cross


Advent is upon us

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.

The unusual December weather was enjoyed by everyone!
The unusual December weather was enjoyed by everyone!


Guest Blogger: Peggy

Hello everyone, my name is Peggy, St. Joseph’s Indian School’s 4th grade teacher!

Second quarter is well underway!  Thanksgiving Break is now beginning and it won’t be long until we are into the Christmas season.  Maybe it is all the good weather, but the year has really seemed to fly!

hoop-dancing-SJISI have included pictures of our Native American students at St. Joseph’s Indian School’s powwow.  That was held in September, but it is a time always on their minds.  They enjoy knowing about and participating in events related to the Lakota (Sioux) culture.  On Native American Day, we did many activities to promote the culture.  In my class, we listened to storytellers on YouTube.

In Science, we have Lakota words that go with the unit we are studying.  It’s always nice to tie the two things together.  It’s fun when students come in using the Lakota words.  One time we were studying frogs, and the students came running in saying they had found a gnaska’ on the playground!

In they came with a dead frog in a sandwich bag …  I tried to display it, but the smell was too much! I was thrilled that they had used the Lakota word instead of the English word.  Right now we are studying weather.  In South Dakota, Thanksgiving brings us osni’  cold!

SJIS-powwowToday before the students left, we celebrated a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  We read the story, watched the video and then students were brought into a room that was set up like the actual dinner.  We had pretzels, popcorn, toast and jelly beans!  Some of the students quoted the story asking,

“What blockhead made this?”

It was a good laugh!  It was nice to see the students sitting around, relaxing and visiting with each other.

Academics continue.  We are well into multiplication.  For some it is an easy transition from addition, but for others there is a real struggle.  We continue to work and find ways for all students to feel success.  In science, we are working on weather and soon will study the planets.  Reading continues to work with fluency and comprehension.

I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving and are anticipating celebrating Christ’s birth in the season ahead!

4th Grade Teacher

Guest Blogger: Robin

This month has been very busy here at St. Joseph’s!

With Thanksgiving just past, we have much to be thankful for. Our Lakota students are continually progressing in their studies and the weather (even the chilly parts) is not bad for this time of year. We are grateful for those friends who have come and gone from our lives, and for the multitude of blessings that our Creator has given us.

In the Special Education Department, we are assisting in the classrooms with those students who require our services and others who are working on the same concepts. This is going well, as the students get the individual or small group help they so need to be successful.

Another highlight is that the students are beginning to ask for help and taking on the responsibility of their own learning. As a teacher, this is what we hope for!

It is so fun to see the light spark and shine in their eyes! We have many people who are willing to take the extra time with our students.

The students now see this as a positive! It takes a while to earn trust, but when it happens, it is truly a blessing.

So count your blessings each and every day – no matter how small. They all add up to something great.

The students here at St. Joseph’s Indian School are a blessing to all of us working with them!

Did I remember to say how much I LOVE it here?!?!

Have a very blessed Christmas Season and a Merry and Happy New Year!!!!