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!
Lots of activity on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus today. Despite freezing rain and treacherous icy roads, Chamberlain’s Chamber of Commerce hosted fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls basketball tournaments at the three gyms throughout town. St. Joseph’s hosted the sixth grade action. All of our teams got in three games to end the season. None of them won the championship, but all hustled and played hard.
Today’s big event was the Christmas Store. All the children had a handful of tickets which they could use to “purchase” different items that donors have sent in. They picked up sweaters for grandpa and clothes for a baby sister, necklaces for mom or a stuffed animal for a younger brother. Once they loaded up their plastic garbage bags with a dozen items or so, they came to the skate room, where Santa Claus waited to greet them, and generous volunteers helped them wrap all the presents to take home and share with their loved ones. Staff also baked lots of Christmas goodies for snacks throughout the day. Each of the nineteen homes had about 20 minutes to do their shopping before the next group came in. The kids are excited and look forward to it, and staff enter into the spirit of the season. Several high school students also helped decorate the room and wrap presents, teaching them to give back to their younger relatives.
Tonight the Chamberlain Area Churches Choir performed a lovely Christmas Cantata in our Chapel. I sat next to the Rooney Home boys (6th-8th grades) but didn’t see any other Lakota students in the church. I was feeling bad that more of the kids couldn’t enjoy the lively harmonies and inspiring message. The Cantata was close to our primary students’ bedtime, so I understood. But then, I heard clapping coming from the choir loft. There was a lively group upstairs, wearing pajamas and bath robes, so they could go right from church to bedtime when all was finished!
There are advantages to having lots of connecting walk ways on our campus. And the choir seemed tickled and appreciative that our students were able to participate.
The past few days our Lakota students have been out sledding in force, but today the sun came out and began melting our snowfall into the dry and thirsty ground. They’ll have to wait until the next storm before the hills again allow for good sledding. But that didn’t deter kids from having fun at recess.
Today’s winter coats are warm indeed, but the plastic outer material is slick enough to make sleds optional. I watched the children belly slide head first down the gentle slopes leading to the playground, laughing all the way! I’m sure the teachers don’t mind the students burning off a little excess energy before coming back to the classroom to focus on reading, writing and arithmetic.
I had to pick up a package a friend sent for Christmas, so I wandered over to Central Receiving, where all the boxes that come to St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus wind up. Glenda and Cathy have worked as a team for many years. This time of year gets a little hectic for them, but they seemed in good cheer as they opened and sorted piles of clothes, toiletries, toys and games, books and school supplies and knick-knacks of all kinds.
Some of the boxes are from people who are taking part in our Holiday Wishes Christmas program. Those presents will be distributed after Christmas break when the students return in January. Items like hair conditioner, socks and basketballs are always in demand, and go onto the shelves so our houseparents have easy access to them. We have several requests for help with Christmas presents for needy children on nearby Indian reservations and are putting aside hats and gloves, stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons to brighten their holiday.
Glenda and Cathy have also put aside a lot of nice things for our Christmas store on Saturday. There, our children shop for presents to take home to their families. I saw a stack of five crock pots sent in by one generous donor who specified they go reservation families. Baby and toddler clothes are also very popular as kids think about younger brothers and sisters back home. We are blessed with many generous donations that we in turn can share so they are put to good use.