Cody, a 2006 graduate of St. Joseph’s Indian School

Eighth-grade graduation at St. Joseph’s brings another school year to a close. It is fun and joyful, nostalgic and emotional. Most of the Lakota students will return to campus after the weekend to begin a three-week transition program to high school, but others will leave to pursue their high school education elsewhere, which leaves a bittersweet feeling.

St. Joseph’s alumni often return to share their stories and encouragement with younger students. Cody gave the eighth-grade class of 2013 a few words of advice.
Cody, a 2006 high school graduate, attended St. Joseph’s from first grade through twelfth grade.

Cody, who graduated from St. Joseph’s High School Program in 2006, returned to give our students her advice and comments in a commencement address. She told them that St. Joseph’s Indian School can give them lots of opportunities, but that won’t matter unless they make the commitment to want a better education and better life for themselves.

Her dad died when she was only two, which made it a huge struggle for her family to provide the basics. There were times school got hard, and being away from her family on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation even harder. When she cried and called home and wanted to leave, she is most grateful now that her mom told her to stay, and work hard.

That support from her mom and the St. Joseph’s community enabled her to go on to college, start a career and a family.

I so enjoy making the rounds and reconnecting with the Native American families I’ve gotten to know over the years, and making some new acquaintances. They were so proud of their graduates, and many were honored with traditional Lakota (Sioux) star quilts during the ceremony. All were also give a medicine wheel hair tie, pinned on them by alumni and staff.

About 14 children are staying in the break homes, and will be with us for the next seven weeks of the summer, so campus isn’t completely quiet. But, there was a quite lull after the ceremony concluded and the luncheon was served; most of the families had packed up student belongings, and headed into the four directions.

The Lakota students at St. Joseph’s attend Chamberlain High School after completing eighth grade.
Fr. Steve presented each eighth-grade student with their certificate of completion.

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.

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