Spring has Sprung at St. Joseph’s Rec Center!

St. Joseph’s Indian School is a busy place; springtime at the Rec Center is no exception! Everyone is excited to get outside for activities now that winter is (finally) over.

Anita works at St. Joseph's rec center.
Anita, rec center

Softball and the spring season seem to go hand-in-hand and we have co-ed intramural programs for the Lakota (Sioux) students.

First are the t-ball teams for students in grades 1-3. There are five teams: Sisoka, Heca, Cetan, Kangi, and Wanbli (all Lakota words for different birds). This is the last year for houseparent and coach Leonard, who has been around for many years. When I asked him how many, his answer was “too many to count… I worked with the parents of some of my current students!”

His years of dedication are greatly appreciated by all St. Joseph’s students and staff.

We have eight softball teams – four in each of our 4th-5th grade and 6th-8th communities.

The teams each have a student captain making decisions about things like positions and batting order. This provides an excellent leadership experience, but houseparents and Rec Center staff are present at all practices and games. St. Joseph’s high school students play informal “pick-up” games most Sunday afternoons when the weather is nice.

Leonard, t-ball coach and houseparent, is finishing his last year at St. Joseph’s.
Leonard has been coaching t-ball at St. Joseph’s for too many years to count!

Springtime also means track season, and we have a group of dedicated junior high students who are on the run! And doing hurdles! And long jumping! And throwing the shot and discus!

Their coach tells me this group is one of the best he’s seen. Our track team has about twenty students and will participate in five meets, each with 4-8 other schools in attendance. It’s always great to have opportunities to interact with kids from other schools in the area.

In addition to all these great outdoor activities, there are still things going on indoors – like swim lessons. This month it was the first graders turn for lessons and everyone passed with flying colors. Way to go first graders!

Thank you for your support of our school and the programs we offer our Native American students!

Anita, Rec Center

Girls just wanna have fun! (especially at St. Joseph’s Indian School)

And that’s certainly what they were doing when I peeked into gymnastics practice with the first and second graders the other day! Forward rolls, back bends, and the

Anita works at St. Joseph's rec center.
Anita, rec center


Our Native American girls are learning all this under the watchful eyes of Coaches Mark (Recreation Center staff) and LaRayne (teacher at our elementary school). Yes, the girls are definitely having fun while they are being active, learning coordination, body awareness and image, plus persistence and perseverance!

There is an active gymnastics program at the middle and high school levels in Chamberlain; in fact, two members of the high school team (and the children of St. Joseph’s staff members) were at the state finals in Aberdeen, South Dakota last weekend.

The Lakota (Sioux) children participate in a variety of activities, including gymnastics.
St. Joseph’s first, second and third grade girls practice basic tumbling skills.

Watching the younger girls on the mats, you can see that we’ve got some good potential developing at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Another thing our young Lakota (Sioux) girls enjoy is the CHEER TEAM!  This program has been underway for several years.  Besides having fun, learning cooperation and the responsibility of being a team member, they provide leadership and LOUD cheering during our basketball games here on campus!

The groups are coached by former cheerleaders Melissa, Jona & Amanda. These ladies come from very different areas: Jona works in St. Joseph’s Development office, Amanda is a Family Service Counselor and Melissa is the wife of a staff member.

St. Joseph’s students participate in all kinds of sports, including basketball and cheerleading, at our rec center.
St. Joseph’s Cheerleaders get the crowd fired up!

That’s it from the Rec Center for today…but we’ll be back soon with more updates!


What’s a kid to do with cabin fever?

What’s a kid to do?  It’s so cold outside that you can’t stay out very long.  Cabin fever is starting to set in.  The TV is getting boring.  “I know!  Let’s go to the Rec!”

When the Lakota students come to play in the gym, they need to leave their heavy coats in the Rec center hallway.
Here’s what it looks like on a cold winter day when our Lakota students need to leave their outerwear in the hallway before entering the gym!

The Recreation Center at St. Joseph’s is the place to be in any season, but especially during these short winter days in the cold of South Dakota.  The gymnasium and the pool are the most popular destinations, but the Recreation Center offers a whole lot more. In fact, when I started working there this fall, I was amazed at the variety of things to do and services they offer our Lakota (Sioux) students!

Hello, my name is Anita and this is my sixth year at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  For the first five years, prior to my “second retirement” last June, I worked as a houseparent at the Sheehy Home for high school boys.  Before that, my husband and I raised three sons while he worked as a teacher and I as a social worker.  Even though we’d been in our professions for 30 years, we weren’t ready for the rocking chairs!  That’s when we discovered St. Joseph’s and their mission.

But, back to the Rec Center…starting with the gymnasium.  Besides being available for individuals to come down and shoot some hoops, the gym is used on a regular basis for activities for the Lakota children:

  • Boys’ and girls’ basketball leagues, for grades 4-8. Each team is complete with two coaches, uniforms, and a schedule to play schools from nearby communities.  This fosters team play, cooperation, and good sportsmanship.  In addition, the connection to the local communities is very important to fulfilling our mission for the Native American children we serve. We want people to come here to see what we’re about and for our students to interact with other children from other areas.  The girls’ teams finished their season in December and the boys teams are just getting started. In conjunction with boys’ basketball season, some of the girls are now involved in cheerleading.

    The Lakota children have Enrichment each Wednesday night.
    Enrichment night is fun and games for everyone!
  • Wednesday Night Enrichment Activities for everyone in grades 1-8. The groups are lead in an activity appropriate for their age by two of the Rec Center’s staff members, usually Mark and Andy.  Houseparents are on hand to help out if needed.  Our Rec Center staff focuses Enrichment on activities that EVERYONE can participate in (not everyone is a volleyball or basketball player) in order to promote physical and developmental skills, cooperation, exercise and grow a strong body, and to simply have FUN!

We also have a Concession Stand that is open during certain events, like basketball and volleyball games. St. Joseph’s high school students often volunteer to help Rec staff operate the stand during those events.

When the gymnasium is not being used for programmed activities it is available for any of St. Joseph’s homes to use. It is also used for other St. Joseph’s student events such as school dances, Halloween and Valentine parties, sobriety celebrations and powwow.  Plus St. Joseph’s staff utilizes the space often for staff training or gatherings.  There have also been numerous occasions where the local community reserves the gym for an activity, plus the Chamberlain High School athletic uses it for practice when there is a conflict in their facilities.

The Rec center operates a concession stand during games with the help of St. Joseph’s high school students.
Everyone loves the concession stand!

That’s only the gymnasium usage in our Recreation Center!  In upcoming weeks I’ll be updating you on all the other things that we having going on here—stay tuned!