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.
This week I was reminded of the scripture passage where Jesus told Peter that he would give him the keys to the kingdom. Because we changed the locks around St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, I received a new set of keys. When you think about 19 homes, offices, classrooms, storage sheds and supply closets, there are hundreds of locks to change. While it is an expensive and time-consuming task to re-key all the locks, occasionally it has to be done to keep the campus secure and our most precious resource, our students, safe.
We keep chemicals and cleaning supplies that might be harmful to a child under lock and key. Prescriptions have to be in locked medicine cabinets. We also have alarms on all the homes that serve a dual purpose. We don’t want intruders to come in, and we also don’t want children leaving the homes after bedtime.
Some staff who didn’t check their email were mystified when they came to their office and the old key wouldn’t turn the nob. Not all the locks are changed out, and there has been some inconvenience and confusion as happens with any change. Folks are understanding and make the trek down to Facilities to get their shiny new keys. And more than one employee has remarked that it was time to update and upgrade.
Wednesday I traveled to Eagle Butte for the Board Meeting at the Sacred Heart Center. This year marks their 30th anniversary. To celebrate, after our meeting the staff organized a lunch celebration and invited past employees. Sr. Ruth Gareats, PBVM served as the 2nd director of the center. She remembers the day when all the services were cramped into one small building, with rummage spilling out into the soup kitchen and the women in the shelter waiting for their turn. Sr. Ruth brought along pictures to share that brought back so many memories.
Fr. Joe shared the trip’s driving. He is pastor of the parishes we serve on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation and Lower Brule Indian Reservation. Two of the sisters, Elaine and Mary Clement, had lovely and heartfelt farewell celebrations at the beginning of summer. The parishes are awaiting the arrival of two Sisters of Christian Charity to join the pastoral team in August.
We continue to make progress on the Akta Lakota Museum expansion and met with the architects and contractors to keep up with the projected timeline. A crew has also been pouring a lot of concrete in an effort to rebuild the road and tunnel caps and improve drainage across campus.
Two high school girls finished up their summer jobs, one as a nurses aid at the nursing home, and the other busy with maintenance on campus. LaToya loved visiting with the patients, and gained a lot more confidence driving (she just got her license) back and forth to work. Erica’s supervisor praised her thoroughness, and she said she liked dusting – probably my least favorite household chores. They will spend a few weeks home before school begins in mid-August. For the next two weeks we have no students on campus.
When we pulled up the old Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel carpet for replacement, we uncovered a nice floor mosaic on the tile below. We decided to polish it up and not carpet that area since it adds to the chapel decor.
The classrooms also got new carpet, the first in about 25 years of steady footsteps. The rooms also received a new coat of paint. That meant everything had to be moved, and it made for lots of rearranging. Teachers have been coming in early putting things back in order, and to recycle old and outdated materials. We have two new pastoral care/religious education teachers this year, and both were in the room going through many boxes and shelves of material to reorganize and see what they have to work with.
Friday night was the area Relay for Life event. As a cancer survivor myself, I found a lot of support from the group gathered to walk, celebrate another year of life, remember those who have died and celebrate the goodness of people who care. The event was held on campus, in Wisdom Circle. We had bands playing from a flatbed trailer, matching shirts for all the survivors and caretakers, and a wonderful community spirit.
Hello! It’s me, Shana, High School Residential Director blogging again. I hope everyone’s summer is going well!
It’s been incredibly hot here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, but our facilities crew is working hard to make sure everything is ready for our students’ return in three weeks. We truly appreciate their hard work during these hot days. We’ve kept busy this summer as our summer program for first through eighth grades ended last week; our High School Summer Transitional Living Program ends next week, July 27.
The high school students have been working at their summer jobs in order to earn extra money. One student even took some time to go with our Transition Specialist to visit the community college she plans to attend next year. The students have also made some time for fun! With the heat, going to the movies has been the entertainment of choice. Our students are very ready to go home and have a few weeks’ vacation before they need to return to campus for our upcoming school year. It doesn’t seem possible that school is right around the corner!
Our Admissions Board met this week to review applications and select new students for our upcoming school year. This is always a time consuming and heartfelt process as we learn about the needs of both the student and their family. It’s difficult to know that we don’t have room for everyone, but we do our best. It’s wonderful to learn that so many students are very eager and excited about the possibility of coming to St. Joseph’s – many have family or friends who are current or former students, and have received great recommendations about our school and home living programs.
Currently we’re busy getting things ready for both our houseparents and students. New Staff Orientation is less than two weeks away! We have some great new staff coming to our St. Joseph’s family.
We’re also getting our homes ready for students; our High School Program offers a ‘Sports Home’ for those students who need to return before school begins in order to start their fall sports practices. We have several boys and girls involved in football and volleyball and a few who run cross country. We have a home for the boys and one for the girls – it’s a relaxing week for the students before they have to get back to the ‘grind’ and start doing homework again.
I hope everyone is keeping cool and enjoying their summer!