A time for endings… a time for new beginnings!

Whew!  It’s all over.

Our 89th school year has come to a close with the graduation of our high school students on Mother’s Day and our 8th graders on May 26.  On May 25 and 26, all students returned home to their families for the summer.


Our four high school graduates—Justin, Danielle, Lilly and Ashley—joined their classmates to walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and take the first steps into their futures.  Justin is looking forward to learning how to weld, Danielle will study nursing, Lilly is interested in Astrophysics and Ashely is currently undecided.  We wish our grads all the best as they walk the path the Great Spirit opens before them. Continue reading “A time for endings… a time for new beginnings!”

It’s never a slow time at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain
Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

Greetings from an active St. Joseph’s Indian School!

It seems the campus has been invaded by all sorts of groups. The 8th grade graduates who are moving into the high school program are back and taking part in an orientation program to prepare them for next year. They are busy meeting their teachers at Chamberlain High, figuring the layout of the school and taking a peek into the Homes they’ll be joining this coming August when school starts up again. They’ll be on campus until June 10th.

Four of our High School Homes are open to accommodate the 36 students who are staying at St. Joseph’s for the summer.   Nine of these students are signed up for Driver’s Education, which lasts for two weeks.  Some students are working on campus at our Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and as counselors for our Rising Eagle Day Camp.  Others are busy tutoring students in the summer break home and helping with summer custodial work. A few are even working at local stores and car dealerships!

It’s been so nice to see many familiar faces around campus.

Four of our students—Liliana, Melvina, Ashley and Hope—and two advisors recently returned from Germany as part of our student exchange program!  Continue reading “It’s never a slow time at St. Joseph’s Indian School!”

Eighth grade banner art

Native American kids painting a banner.
A couple of the kids working on their 2012 class banner.

Since 1977, the eighth grade graduates of St. Joseph’s Indian School created a banner. The banner includes the class motto and is an original design created by the class. In 1984, classes began adding their names to the banner. Some classes have full names, but most have included first names only.

The design and motto for the banner are chosen by submissions from members of the class. The 2012 motto reads:

“We are strong as individuals, but as a class we are invincible.”

The design came from the heart of one of the 2012 graduates, Mia, who said this is something she sees as a vision. The flowing satin star, the feathers on the sides and the motto wrapped around it is what she would like to have representing her class in St. Joseph’s recreation center. The recreation center has displayed the banners since 1977.

The kids help with almost all of the construction of the banner. They paint, cut, repaint and cut again as well as glue, sew and rethink their work through this process of forming what will represent them for years to come.

If you ever visit St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, please come and view the banners in our recreation center.

A bit of everything

Greetings once again from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota.  As Fr. Steve Huffstetter, SCJ is on his way back from a donor luncheon in the Miami, Florida area, I have been asked to bring you up-to-date on what happened here at St. Joseph’s over the weekend.

It was a weekend that had a bit of everything happen.  Friday afternoon had one of our 4th grades present a ‘living’ Way of the Cross entitled The Week That Changed the World to our students and staff.  Friday also saw the end of the bowling season as all the participants had a fun afternoon in which trophies were awarded and snacks provided.  A lot of fun was had this year and several of the students improved remarkably over the course of the season.

While we were at the bowling lane, word was received that the Chamberlain water supply was experiencing some difficulty and that the water should not be drunk.  The whole town and campus were affected.  As those working on the problem were not sure how long it would last, there was a run on bottled water.  Luckily the disruption was fixed overnight and we could drink and use the water in cooking.

The end of the month also brought an end to our Home Prayers for March and the theme of St. Joseph.  We had the homes pray the Litany of St. Joseph and talked with the students about who St. Joseph was and why he plays an important role in salvation history as the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.

Saturday saw the Spring session of FAST (Families And Schools Together) hold its graduation.  We had five families complete the program which encourages interaction among the students, their families and St. Joseph’s staff.  It was wonderful to see several homes attend the graduation as a sign of support and encouragement for their students who took part in the program.  A nice reception took place afterwards.

Should the popular movie, The Hunger Games, have a sequel, several of our students are ready to try out.  Due to the beautiful weather we have been having, those who have been practicing their archery skills were able to shoot outside on the football field.  They seemed to really be into the experience as they were out there for several hours.

Several of the younger grades are taking part in a gymnastics camp offered in the Chamberlain community.  It seems a very popular event; one of our students even participated on the Chamberlain High School Gymnastics Team as a 7th grader.  We hope that taking part in such a camp helps the students get the basics and establish some friendships with Chamberlain students. When they meet up again in high school, we hope good team work values may be established and will bear fruit as Chamberlain’s gymnastics team competes locally and on a state wide basis.

You know Spring has come when you see your first riding lawn mower!  I am not sure if it was out to be used or was being moved to be prepared for the upcoming grass cutting season, but it was moving about the campus.  I hope that is a positive sign that no more ‘wintery’ weather will hit the campus until next Fall and Winter.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and we began our liturgy by gathering outside in front of the Benedict Homes for the blessing of the palms and then the procession into Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel.

I hope that each of you will have a meaningful and grace-filled Holy Week.  As we continue our journey to Easter and witness what takes place on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter, may we be grateful for the love and mercy the Great Spirit shows His people through the witness Jesus gives as He willingly pays the price for our sins.  May we always be grateful and echo the statement of the Roman officer heard in yesterday’s reading of the Passion,

‘Truly this man was the Son of God.’

May we live out that gratitude by following Jesus’ example of love and service to all those we encounter in our journey through life.

During our Sunday liturgy we make various announcements.  Our high school program asked us to share some wonderful news.  Erin, one of our high school seniors, has just been awarded the opportunity of a lifetime.  She is one of only six South Dakota students to receive a Davis-Bahcall Scholarship.  This will enable her to spend a month studying particle physics at some great laboratories world-wide.  She’ll spend a week at Sanford Labs in Lead, South Dakota, which used to be an active gold mine, and then two weeks at the Fermilabs just outside Chicago, Illinois, where the Manhattan Project was begun.  She ends the program with a visit to northern Italy where CERN’s Gran Sasso lab, which houses the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest, is housed.  The Chamberlain High School principal stated he ranked this as one of the two highest honors a student could receive in the science field.  We congratulate Erin on this honor.  It was also mentioned that Erin and D’Kera have both been accepted at South Dakota State University following graduation.

Have a Happy Easter and know we continue to keep all of you in our prayers in gratitude for your generosity.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


Letters of support and remembrances

The 8th graders spent the morning in retreat, preparing for graduation tomorrow. Many of the staff wrote letters of support filled with remembrances of our Lakota kids’ years here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, which visibly moved the students.

Angela with Mr. Justin Bieber himself?!
Angela with Mr. Justin Bieber himself?!

At the end of retreat time, we had graduation practice. The students are feeling a combination of nervousness and excitement. At the luncheon we gave each of the students a gift bag and a portrait, taken by Aaron, who works in our development office. He individualized each photo, much like senior class pictures. We all got a smile to see the magic of Photoshop merge a picture of Justin Bieber to look like he was standing right next to Angela. All of the students treasured those photos.

Erin and Robert have attended St. Joseph’s Indian School since first grade. Our “lifers” got special recognition and a gift.

Truancy isn’t a problem in our school since the kids live right here on campus. But they may come from homes several hours away and days missed from not getting back from breaks leads to less time for learning in the classroom. We have prizes for perfect attendance as an extra incentive for families to get the students back to school.  34 children made it through the entire year without missing a day and were rewarded with their choice of a bicycle to take home, a camera, MP3 music player or a clothing gift certificate.

The 1st – 3rd grade homes gathered in Wisdom Circle, in the center of the campus, for an end of the year t-ball picnic. The students who aren’t staying for graduation were loading up cars and heading for home and it was a nice occasion to have their families sit at the picnic table and join us for something to eat before they hit the road.


Fr. Steve’s updates

Two students finished degrees in Native American Studies, which is so needed to pass on the culture and values. One woman is finishing her degree as an industrial engineer and will hopefully inspire others to follow her footsteps.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Letters have gotten stacked up over these past weeks. I answer what I can and then feel more behind with the day’s new batch.

But, today I wrote cards to the college students we’ve been helping with scholarship monies who graduate this year.

Two students finished degrees in Native American Studies, which is so needed to pass on the culture and values. One woman is finishing her degree as an industrial engineer and will hopefully inspire others to follow her footsteps.

Another went back to college after 30 years of working and raising a family … showing it’s never too late to pursue an education and fulfill your dreams.

I’m glad St. Joseph’s is able to help such students find the means to attend college.

The end of the school year is also a time of transitions. Brenda, who has worked as a houseparent for 19 years, will retire when school is out. Her co-workers gathered for lunch at the Marina, and I was able to join them. Brenda has so many memories and stories of the kids in all those years, and I laughed as she reminisced.

Another goodbye was to Jan, who is retiring from the Title program. Those teachers are actually employees of the Chamberlain School district, but I always say that their heart belongs to St. Joseph’s. Jan and all the Title teachers show wonderful care for our students and help those most in need of individualized attention.

I stopped to videotape a message for our high school seniors who graduate from the Chamberlain program in just two weeks. They were sixth graders when I started here, and I have lots of memories as I’ve seen them grow up.

Then, it was on to the chapel to take the official graduation photo for the newspaper. Wow – so many milestones are fast approaching!

Wow – so many milestones are fast approaching!

Fr. Steve’s updates

At our Child Services Team meeting, we looked back to review the year. We’ve also dealt with my illness and absences. There have been so many learning opportunities in these challenges.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

At our Child Services Team meeting, we looked back to review the year.

We began in August with the tragedy of losing Ryan, one of our houseparents. He died suddenly and unexpectedly from an aneurysm. We’ve also dealt with my illness and absences. There have been so many learning opportunities in these challenges.

Of course, this winter was also long and cold. In short, it’s been a tough year.

But, we highlighted progress with staff training, ongoing renovations and improvements that we’ve all pitched in to make happen. Even through the tough times, it’s important to look at the successes. In retrospect, we’re blessed to say there have been many successes!

After school, I umpired the last Tee Ball game of the season. With the youngest grades, you do lots of coaching and encouraging as well.

Some children needed the reminder to pay attention instead of rolling in the grass or looking for insects. Some needed to be told where to throw the ball or when it was time to run. It’s all part of the learning process, and it’s just fun watching the littlest ones play.

The high school girls at the Morningstar Home invited me for supper. We had goulash, and the girls teased that it didn’t seem right … every time I’ve visited this year, my company has fallen on Tater Tot Casserole night!

The high school students have just two weeks of school left, and everyone is working on end of the year projects and term papers. Final exams are coming up quickly. It’s a busy, and somewhat stressful, time for them, but with encouragement from houseparents and counselors, they’ll make it through.

Fr. Steve’s updates

I passed the half-way point in my radiation treatments – 13 down and 12 to go. I met with my radiologist to review how things are going. I asked about the sun-burned look of some patients, but since my radiation is directed deep inside, that probably won’t happen with me.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Today, I passed the half-way point in my radiation treatments – 13 down and 12 to go.Fr. Steve of St. Joseph's Indian School

I met with my radiologist to review how things are going. I asked about the sun-burned look of some patients, but since my radiation is directed deep inside, that probably won’t happen with me.

My side effects remain light and manageable, so the consultation was fairly short. While my doctors are pleased that it’s going well so far, I am thrilled.

We also have a date for surgery – May 25. The bad part is I’ll miss 8th grade graduation. But, I finish radiation April 23, and I get to be back on campus for a full month of all the end-of-the-year activities that fill up the last weeks of the school year.

Jim, another man from Chamberlain, is also here for treatments. We ran into each other in the halls of the hospital today. It was nice to see a familiar face and catch up on some news from back home!