Staff Reflection: An Unexpected May Day Memory

Note: The following is a staff reflection written by Frank, our 7th-8th grade Residential Coordinator.

I attended a country school in the middle of nowhere South Dakota. This was my school from kindergarten to eighth grade. All the kids from this small country school were a tight-knit bunch, as were the families. We all belonged to 4-H, played softball in the summer, ice skated on stock ponds in the winter, took field trips during the school year and other childhood adventures. Looking back, those were fun times and I am lucky to have those memories.

Today is May Day – May 1 – and a random memory from my school days surfaced this morning that I am going to share now to illustrate a point later. It came to me quite unexpectedly.

I remembered at that little country school in nowhere South Dakota all the school kids (maybe 20 in all) danced around a maypole and decorated it with paper streamers on May 1. I don’t think I was much more than five or six years old at the time. I’m sure it didn’t turn out perfectly, but to us it was the best one ever decorated! I remember what fun we had and how beautiful the finished product was.

Today, here at St. Joseph’s, some of our students are traveling to Pierre, S.D., for a field trip. Others are going up town to learn about jobs in the medical field. The students left in school get to take time today to play on the playground.

This coming weekend, some of campus homes are going on home trips around the state. This is an opportunity for many students to visit museums and take part in other fun activities. It gives them different learning experiences and allows them to see points of interest around South Dakota that they may not experience otherwise.

Another important part of the trips: students get a chance to practice their social skills in public. We hope they remember to say please and thank you, hold doors open for others, order off a menu at a sit-down restaurant and many more skills they have learned from us.

But, perhaps the most important piece is providing students with experiences and memories they can reflect back on later in life with a smile.

Half of St. Joseph’s soon-to-be graduating eighth grade class.

We recently asked our soon-to-be eighth grade graduates what some of their best memories are from their years at St. Joseph’s. We try to provide our students many opportunities for good childhood memories, but some of our 22 eighth graders still struggled when put on the spot.

After I thought about my own May Day memory today, I realized those “best memories” are inside our students and will come up when the kids least expect it. Experiencing this myself today, I know the kids will, too.

Even if the kids don’t remember now, I am proud to partner with our supporters so we provide the kids with these opportunities for experiences and memory building. I believe our kids will have a bank full of good memories of their time at St. Joseph’s.

I hope you remember something great from your past today, as well. May it bring a smile to your face and maybe a tear to your eye.

As always, thanks for your generous support.

Frank, 7-8th Residential Coordinator

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.

4 thoughts on “Staff Reflection: An Unexpected May Day Memory”

  1. Hello,
    I am a preschool teacher at a Child Care Center which is part of a non profit church organisation in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
    I recently attended a yard sale at another church related Child Care Center, where they were selling some of your Beautiful greeting cards.
    I bought a couple and was wonderfully surprised to see that they were made by your school.
    I decided to look you up on the internet, and I am very proud of the Awesome work that you are doing to help native american families.
    I would like to start a pen pal project at the Center where I work.
    I think that it might be a great idea to do so with the children at your school.
    It would help introduce cultural awareness in the classroom, and hopefully bridge the gap, as awareness increases.
    I teach ages 4 to 5. We also have an after school program, that range in ages 6 to 14.
    I am hoping to have the children choose a pen pal and write to them, at least once a month, if not more often.
    Please let me know if this is something that you might be willing to do.
    The Child Care Center at which I teach is affiliated with the Moravian Church.
    Thank you and I hope that I will soon get a reply.
    Bernadette Antoine
    email ( )

    1. Hi there! Thank you for your interest in corresponding with our students as a pen pal. We get this request/suggestion a lot. The children currently have all the projects they can handle. Providing our students with a safe place where they can learn and grow at their own pace is our top priority – I hope you understand. From time to time, donor luncheons are held in cities around the US and our annual powwow is held each September. These events give donors like yourself an opportunity to meet and interact with our students and staff. It’s a great event for everyone, and you’re welcome to check out our schedule at and In addition, you can learn more about our day-to-day activities by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter and Instagram.

    1. There is a Boy Scout and Girl Scout program within our community of Chamberlain, S.D., that students can participate in, but we do not host either program directly at our school.

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