We began the new semester with Tuesday morning gathering in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel for a prayer service. There we also announced the students who received the Leo John Dehon Service Awards for the past quarter. The students were nominated by teachers and houseparents for their attitude, help and cooperation in the school and homes. In addition to academics, we want to encourage our kids to be good and kind people as well.
While last week was calm and quiet with long blocks of time to work away on projects, the first few days of the new semester felt frantic. As all the Child Services people got back to their computers after a couple of weeks off, the electronic communications that I thought I’d cleared up, started coming in at a pace faster than I could answer.
I’ve also been participating in a series of meetings with many different departments to listen to their questions and feedback as we prepare to launch our 2015 Strategic Plan. We hope to finalize it by the end of the month, but even by raising the questions and setting goals we have already begun laying the groundwork in the many areas we want to improve.
The bar joists for the Akta Lakota Museum expansion have arrived, within the next week we’ll start to see the roof go up and the completion of the exterior frame. January in South Dakota is usually bundle up weather, but today we set a record high for this date with a balmy 66 degrees. A year ago we were in the midst of a long cold winter where such work wouldn’t have even been attempted.
Most of our Native American students have returned, but a few are still out. A few had transportation problems. One family is still out because of a funeral. One child has the flu and wouldn’t have been able to go to class even if he made it here. The high school program opened up all four of its homes and campus is starting to get back to its normal rhythms.
With the spring like weather, the students were out in full-force after school playing tetherball, football, tag, basketball and jumping rope. First grader Treshawn repeatedly bemoaned the fact that we put the bicycles into storage for the winter since it was perfect riding weather. I joined in at the basketball hoop in front of the Benedict Homes and played with the 1st-4th graders. They’re used a lot of one-on-one moves, but I taught a few of them the basics of the give and go. A few of them got the hang of cutting to the basket and receiving a pass – wide open for the layup. Next we’ll have to teach the rest the concept of defending!
When supper time came I joined the Ambrose (1st – 3rd grade boys) Home for a hearty stew.
The conversation got around to Christmas break, and while many of the boys shared about their favorite toys they received, one of our second graders told me that he didn’t get anything for Christmas.
Those are the children that I know our upcoming Christmas celebration with presents will mean the most to. I know his family must have really appreciated the gifts he was able to bring home to share from our Christmas store.