Alumni visit and High School program

Monday, September 6, 2010
Rain changed our cook out plans with the students, but in the primary grade homes we still enjoyed the burgers and other picnic foods downstairs in the skate room.

 Just as we were sitting down to eat, two alumni who attended school here in the 70’s stopped in. Life had taken them many miles away, but they had traveled home for a family reunion. It had been over 30 years since they visited the campus and wanted that trip down memory lane.

 I invited them to have lunch with us, and then we started walking around campus. The dining hall and the old boy’s dorm evoked a flood of stories. The favorite spot for them was the system of tunnels that runs underground. They used to have Halloween spook houses there many years ago. Sometimes, they even found a way to sneak in and use it as a hiding place.

 Two of our current staff, Andy and Mary Jane, have been here over 30 years, and they remembered each other, even though these two grown men didn’t look anything like the 4th graders they remembered. Our staff enjoys these visits and catching up as much as our former students do.

 A third brother showed up later. His memories weren’t as pleasant. Life in the dorm days was often regimented. Violating rules could bring spankings and punishment we would no longer use today.

 I know in the past the boarding school experience was painful for a good number of students. When I hear the sad stories it makes me work toward reconciliation and healing. Sometimes you just have to listen and acknowledge the pain.

This afternoon we loaded up the bus and took the students downtown to see the movie Ramona and Beezus. It portrayed the combination of sibling rivalry and mutual affection between two sisters in a delightful way. One of the 4th grade boys sitting in front of me wanted more action. “This is a Girl movie!” he sighed. Hopefully he learned something about relationships and life. But by the end he enjoyed it too.

 Tuesday, September 7, 2010 

Having offices closed yesterday for Labor Day compressed two days worth of meetings into one, so I did a lot of sitting today. The most engaging meeting for me was our group discussion of our High School program. We complimented the strong parts of the program, and were honest about what we need to work on. Our students still struggle to stay in college once they leave here, and we see continued emphasis on independent living skills as crucial to their success.

 In the discussion about what are our goals for the High School program, I believe that it’s not enough to educate someone to be skilled and competent. Our goal is to have our young people become virtuous people. We are trying to form students who will use their talents to benefit their family and tribe and our needy world. We hope that our students will be seen as good and kind and fair.

This evening I stopped by the Carola home for supper with our High School Freshmen. There the realities of homework and grade concerns re-emphasized the need to continue the support and encouragement. Several freshmen are struggling with the adjustment to the Chamberlain Public High School. It takes time to make new friends and feel at home. It was also a night for a JV football game, so that took some of the pressure off and allowed for a little fun.

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph's Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 90 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

6 thoughts on “Alumni visit and High School program”

  1. Father Steve..WHAT a miracle you are..! How well you handle things…The Holy avenues you work with and through. I would hope the entire world could enjoy your presence..! Fortunately, that sort of spirit takes time in a dark and sinful world..but eventually…it gets out there…because you send it, and the lives you touch spread it…
    HOORAY for Father Steve..!
    And all of the saints you are bringing to God..
    Don’t argue..!
    Hugs and Prayers..
    Mia and Bob

  2. Hearing about the high school freshmen facing the challenge of fitting in at Chamberlain High School reminded me of when the Army moved us and our sons had to start life in new schools. Some days were good, and some were bad…and often I wondered if we were going to make it through the transition. I hope that our St. Joe students trust in themselves and in each other for support and comfort, and I hope that they find the courage to reach out to other students at the high school who also might be struggling to find their comfort zone. God bless!

  3. How highly it speaks of St. Joseph’s that students want to return for a visit after 30 years! Things might have been different and philosophies different when they were students, but they must have had some very positive experiences because otherwise these young men wouldn’t have returned if all the memories were negative. And how WONDERFUL that two staff members who were there at the same time are still there — that too speaks very highly of St. Joseph’s!

    I had to chuckle at the story of the 4th grade boy who didn’t want to see a “girl’s movie” and then ended up enjoying himself. Reminds me of some guys I’ve known over the years!

    My thoughts and prayers are with the youngsters having to make the transition away from the St. Jo campus to Chamberlain HS — high school is never easy but it must really be much harder for these young people because they are also away from their families. But I know everyone at St. Jo does their best to help during these times and am thankful they have their house parents and house mates to share it all with. And of course, they have Father Steve there, willing to lend a listening ear and a loving interest in whatever happens to them!

  4. Dear Fr. Steve,

    Sounds like you had a great Labor Day weekend even if it did get rained out.

    It must have been interesting to hear the stories from the reunion students.

    Boarding school sounds like it wa a difficult life back when they were in school.

    Thank God you have a much better school now and it’s run by very good and caring people.

    It’s no longer a place the children dread going to. Which is a very good thing and an attribute to the man running the school, Fr. Steve.

    The school is a much better place because it now has better rules and a much better staff. Good luck with all your adventured with your kids.


    Nancy & Kenny

  5. Hi Fr. Steve,

    Always enjoy your news via the computer. Beginning of the school year is always a bit stressful. I sort of am speaking from experience as I was in the classroom for 34 years. It sounds like you are doing so many positive things at St. Joseph’s–God Bless You for all your hard work.

    Hoping you continue on the road to full recovery. Having had cancer I am amazed at what progress one’s body can experience after some “setbacks”.

    Take care, you are being prayed for.

    Pat Dobrowski

  6. Fr Steve – Thanks for keeping this updated I enjoy hearing what you are doing in your work life and your personal life. We continue to pray for your recovery. Take care!

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