My favorite day of the year –the homes open and Native American families are arriving with students for the start of St. Joseph’s Indian School’s school year.
I got to the office at noon, when the homes officially opened. There were already five students on campus, the first one arriving at 11:30, excited about being back. There are also students who are very homesick as soon as their family leaves, and the houseparents try to be supportive and guide them through the tears and sadness. By mid afternoon, lots of kids were outside playing, which always helps with adjusting. Out of 203 children, 42 are new to our programs this year.
I made the rounds to all of the homes. I visited the Benedictine homes twice – in early afternoon and after supper. Afra, Raphael, Ambrose and Dennis house the 1st – 3rd graders, and those always have the most new students to get to know, and it takes me several tries to make sure I get all the names down. I also spent time with families as I saw them arrive. We want to continue to find ways to keep them involved, even when they may live many hours away and not make it back to campus all that often.
Our High School students attend the local public high school, which doesn’t start until next week. But about half our high school students have come back to participate in football, golf or volleyball. Two of our four high school homes are open this week. The rest of the crew comes back a week from today.
Students have two sets of houseparents they work with. One set of houseparents works in the home for 6 days and the others for 3. These first two days everyone will be on duty so they and the kids can get to know each other from the beginning.