Where we going?
This is an interesting question that can be answered in many different ways. On this particular
day at St. Joseph’s Indian School, the answer was to decorate a Christmas tree at the South Dakota Hall of Fame. This is about 4 miles from campus, right along Interstate 90.
South Dakota leaders and luminaries are honored here – it is a great stopping point along I-90. Each year, the Hall of Fame invites community leaders and organizations to decorate Christmas trees in the Hall of Fame. St. Joseph’s was one of the first organizations to arrive and picked a choice spot to put up our tree.
We took six of our younger Lakota students from Student Leadership Committee to help. They were all excited and couldn’t wait to help. The first challenge was matching all limbs to the right spot on the trunk of the artificial tree. We had to make sure to spread out the branches to make the tree look full and big. The students did a great job of keeping the branches separate and sticking them in the right holes. The tree looked full and big by the time we fluffed all the branches out!
Then, up went the lights! I helped string the lights from the top of the tree to the bottom with two of the girls guiding me around the tree and ensuring I had enough lights to make it the tree look bright. Once we finished putting the lights up we plugged them in to make sure they worked.
To our surprise, the lights twinkled and blinked. We didn’t remember the lights flashing last year… but hey, what a bonus! The students thought it was neat; they oohed and aahed, mesmerized by the lights.
After the lights were checked and the students refocused, they started to hang small hand drums up and down the tree. The drums have St. Joseph’s logo on them and the students help make them. Then we pulled out small dreamcatchers, a few wooden flutes and drumsticks for the students to hang. The last ornaments to go up were homemade snowflakes with pictures of the students in the middle. The final touch was small wooden teepee to top of the tree. After a few alterations, the tree was finished and looked great!
The students helped clean up the mess and put the tree in place. We loaded in the mini bus once again and headed back to campus. The students were in a great mood and sang a few bars of Jingle Bells on the way, only they changed the verse to “Jingle Bells, Frank smells…”
We had a good laugh over their version of a classic Christmas song.
All the fun aside, where are we going? can be a very hard question to answer.
But on this day, we were blessed to be able to tell the students, “we are going to spread the Christmas spirit and share our school with the rest of the community.”
On this day, we were blessed to give the students a firsthand lesson about citizenship, generosity and belonging. On this day, we were blessed to teach a lesson about life. On this day we were blessed to help our Native American students learn a little bit more about where they are going and who they will become. Life lessons and teachable moments happen every day, and we are blessed to put them to good use!
Here is hoping you all have a great Christmas season full of family and blessings.
6-8 Residential Coordinator