Welcome back, St. Joseph’s Alum!

Earlier in June, St. Joseph’s held its first annual Alumni & Staff Reunion!

Mary Jane works with St. Joseph's Alumni.
Mary Jane, St. Joseph’s Alumni Liaison

Both former students and staff enjoyed the day as we visited and renewed friendships. We talked about our time at St. Joseph’s Indian School and shared what we are doing today. It was wonderful to catch up!

Other activities included lunch, campus tours and going through hundreds of old pictures! We had a total of 19 alumni along with some members of their families and 15 staff members, past and present. The day went by fast.

We had students scattered throughout six different decades:

  • Jerry came from Elk River, Minnesota. He remembered weeding the gardens and gathering the crops! He graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1959.
  • Ron came from Eagle Butte, South Dakota and attended St. Joseph’s in 1963-64. He is currently a maintenance mechanic. Ron’s three sons also attended St. Joseph’s in the 1990’s.

The 1970’s:

o   Crystal graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1979. She works in customer service in Mitchell, South Dakota. Crystal visits campus frequently.


o   Madeline works with students in the recreation department at Crow Creek Tribal School north of Chamberlain. She returns to campus at least twice a year.


o   Rose is from Pierre and works at Walmart. Rose visits campus on a regular basis.


o   LeeAnn is from Rapid City. She is self-employed, running her own house cleaning service. She returns every year for St. Joseph’s annual powwow.


o   Terri is from Mission, South Dakota and is a self-employed domestic engineer. Terri came with her husband and their son. Terri has been back to St. Joseph’s, but not for over 10 years.


o   Stanley attended with his two sisters, Madeline and Janice.


The 1980’s:

  • Muffy lives in Stephan, South Dakota, north of Chamberlain. She works in the recreation program at Crow Creek Tribal School. She returns to campus several times during the school year. Muffy graduated from Chamberlain High School through St. Joseph’s High School program.


  • Nancy lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and is the manager at Subway. She comes back to campus for various events and has taken part in our career day program.


  • Janice lives in Rapid City, South Dakota and is a full time student. She has received awards through St. Joseph’s scholarship program. She plans to obtain her two year degree this spring and go on to law school.


  • Claudia lives in Reliance, South Dakota. She is a youth counselor and also takes online classes. She also receives scholarships through St. Joseph’s program.


  • Terry lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He works in a warehouse and is a delivery driver. This was his first visit back to St. Joseph’s Indian School after graduating in 1988.


The 1990’s:

o   Glenn lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and is a custodian at St. Joseph’s. His two daughters currently attend St. Joseph’s.


o   Destiny is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is a homemaker. She has returned to campus on several occasions to visit with our junior high and high school students. She was part of our high school program.


o   L’Jay is from Ridgeview, South Dakota. He works in Eagle Butte as a supply technician.


o   Chad is from Dupree, South Dakota. He works as a construction foreman in the Eagle Butte area.

Students from the 2000’s:


o   Tyler lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and works at McDonald’s.


o   Katrina lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and is a full time mother.


At the end of the day, everyone expressed how glad they were to have come, vowing to bring other friends and alumni back to campus for the next reunion!


Mary Jane, Alumni Liaison

Alumni and staff members gathered for St. Joseph’s first reunion.
St. Joseph’s first annual Alumni & Staff reunion was a great success!

10 days, 2,000 miles, one state

Have you ever traveled roughly 2,000 miles in ten days and never left your state?

St. Joseph’s shares more than 5,000 new and used books with children in reservation communities.
These Native American boys spread the word – free books!

You would have if you traveled along on the St. Joseph’s Indian School Bookmobile! This is one of my favorite activities of the summer.  We travel to 32 communities on reservations in South Dakota giving out books, both new and gently used.

My name is Mary Jane.  I am the Outreach/Alumni Coordinator at St. Joseph’s.  For the last several summers, I have traveled with the bookmobile giving out free books, meeting new folks as well as former students of St. Joseph’s.

This summer we started our journey heading north to the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.  We visited 13 communities.

White Horse, South Dakota, was the smallest community we visited. There, we had 15 children total.  When we drove in to town, we were spotted by three Lakota girls out riding their bikes.   They followed us and picked up a few friends on the way.

The girls were so happy to see us and to learn that they could pick out their own FREE books and that they got to KEEP them!! As we left, they told us to come back again.  They would be waiting!  J

In Eagle Butte, South Dakota, we saw the most children – well over 100 in three separate stops.

St. Joseph’s van is lined with books for the Native American children to choose from.
The girls are so excited to choose their books!

The following week, after reloading the van, we headed south to the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations, visiting 16 communities and distributing 1140 new books and 1710+ used books.

Mission, which is on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, was one of our biggest stops.  There were over 50 children at the local Boys & Girls Club.  Some were busy planting a garden, but were eager to take a break and pick out their books.

Our smallest stop this trip was in Kyle, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  There we saw six children and two adults.  A Native American father brought his two young children to choose their books.  He was so excited to be able to have something to read to them! Luckily, we had some books for very small children packed away in a ‘special’ box.  We made sure he had a bag of books for him and his two young girls.  He was very grateful.

As he got off the bookmobile, he reached out to shake our hands and said, “Keep up the good work.  You are doing a wonderful job.  Thank you!”

St. Joseph’s Bookmobile travels to the reservation giving away free books each summer.
The Lakota children are always happy to see St. Joseph’s Bookmobile!

All along our journey, we distributed boxes of used books, crayons, notebooks, construction paper and some dictionaries to various Boys & Girls Clubs, daycares and others who were in need of these items for their programs.

What’s the best part of this summer adventure?  Meeting new people as well as former students and seeing children’s eyes light up when they get to have their books!

See how many books you helped us share this year!

Laughter and reconnecting with old friends

My name is Mary Jane.  I work with the alumni of St. Joseph’s Indian School.  Each year we try to have three to four alumni luncheons at various places in South Dakota.

On Sunday, December 18, a group of us traveled to Rapid City, South Dakota for an alumni luncheon.  Four of our high school students, RJ, Erin, Cody and Makayla along with another staff member, Maija who was a houseparent and is currently working with our high school students.

During the course of the luncheon we had twelve alumni along with their families join us.  We had a total of 40 people for lunch.

We had so much fun reconnecting, sharing and learning what was new with each other.
We had so much fun reconnecting, sharing and learning what was new with each other.

Henrietta, who currently lives in Rapid City went to St. Joseph’s Indian School in the 50’s.  Henrietta’s cousin LeAnn attended St. Joseph’s in the 70’s and also joined us for lunch.  Both ladies shared their stories with Erin and others about their times in the dorms, school days and chores that they had.  Currently LeAnn owns her own cleaning business.  She stated that she learned to clean so well as a student at St. Joseph’s.  Erin, our high school senior, shared her stories of being able to travel to Florida for a donor luncheon and Germany for an exchange with our sister school.

Three others had been students here during the transition from the dorms to the homes and were able to share many experiences.  Kory, David and Janice all were classmates in the sixth through eighth grades during those days.  Kory and David were in the high school program and a year in the college program together.  It was amazing to watch them reconnect, share their stories and learn what each other have done since their ‘St. Joe’s days’.

Parents of several of the alumni came as well.  They too talked about how much they appreciated all that St. Joseph’s had done for their children while they were here.

Steve, our 7-8th grade science teacher and Kara, our 2nd and 4th grade teacher also came.  They too enjoyed seeing former students and joking about their times together in ‘the olden day’ as they call it.

The day was filled with laughter and reconnecting with old friends.