It’s true, December 1 typically marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a day many people begin playing Christmas music, deck their halls and put up a tree. Much to their delight, little ones at St. Joseph’s Indian School were able to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas Season in another big way, thanks to an unexpected, generous and kind donation.
After the school day ended on December 1, students and staff embarked on an enchanting expedition to the magical world that is Disney on Ice! The show took place at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, SD — approximately 140 miles from St. Joseph’s campus in rural Chamberlain, SD — but distance didn’t dampen their excitement. Their quick-beating hearts brimmed with enthusiasm as they traveled toward an experience that would be a first for many.
When the children entered the venue, their eyes grew wide as they gazed upon the dazzling spectacle shimmering before them. The ice-skating performances showcased beloved Disney characters, transforming the icy stage into a vibrant scene of color, music and dance. From Moana, Beauty and the Beast, Frozen and more, each tale brought audible gasps, laughter and joy to their faces.
“I liked singing along to the music and all the tricks on the ice,” said Aleigha, a student at St. Joseph’s, of the experience.
The journey to Disney on Ice was made possible by a remarkable gift from the Denny Sanford Premier Center, where the event was held. The venue kindly donated a whopping 50 free tickets, providing an opportunity that was a dream come true for the children. To them we say wóphila tȟáŋka — many thanks — for providing the pathway to this experience.
While the gift of free tickets made this experience possible, to witness the children’s reactions throughout the show was another true gift in and of itself. The children’s laughter echoed through the audience, spreading waves of holiday joy.
For resilient Lakota children at St. Joseph’s, who often come from communities effected deeply by poverty, this extraordinary experience was extra special. Poverty limits exposure to the wonders of the world beyond. However, the trip to Disney on Ice provided a much-needed reminder that the impossible can indeed become possible — just like so many of the Disney songs the children heard illustrated. By introducing our students to magical experiences like this, it ensures young minds are nurtured, encouraged and inspired to surmount the obstacles they face.
“The show was amazing!” said Isabelle, a St. Joseph’s houseparent and chaperone of the event. “None of the students had ever been before and the show grasped the kids’ attention for the full two hours. I heard every one of them sing along and some were singing along during the whole show! They were in awe by the skating as well.”
The day of Disney on Ice will forever hold a place in the hearts of the students of St. Joseph’s Indian School. The memories made during this outing will be filed away with the other carefree childhood memories they make thanks to the generosity and kindness of others.