St. Joseph’s 3rd Place Finish at the 40th Annual LNI Knowledge Bowl!

Our high school Lakota Nation Invitational Knowledge Bowl Team travelled to Rapid City, South Dakota on December 14th to compete in the 40th Anniversary of the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI).

With the expectation of a snow storm and below zero temperatures, we decided to head to the competition a day early and were able to beat the storm. The next day, the storm worsened and halted travel for our Archery and Hand Games Team, who were still on campus at St. Joseph’s Indian School. This left our Knowledge Bowl Team as the sole representative of St. Joseph’s.

St. Joseph’s team- consisting of Lily, Justin, Danielle, Alyssa and Taelonna- began the competition with a ‘victory’ over Pierre Riggs High School on a forfeit, due to the declining weather conditions and their inability to make it to Rapid City.

Our next match was with Pine Ridge, which we won convincingly. We started out tentative, but in the end won by a score of 9-2.

Now all we had to do is wait our next opponent, White River, a perennial powerhouse in the competition … Continue reading “St. Joseph’s 3rd Place Finish at the 40th Annual LNI Knowledge Bowl!”

Carpe Diem – Seize the Day

Much of last week I was away attending the National Catholic Development Conference. Besides looking at good business practices, the conference also asks us to focus on ethics and care for donors and the spiritual and prayerful side of what we do. I met lots of other organizations doing amazing things to help those in need, across the country and around the world.

The conference was held in Nashville Tennessee, and I got to make my first visit to the Grand Ole Opry. The special night honored Loretta Lynn for being an Opry member for 50 years. Many singers who looked to her as their inspiration sang songs of tribute and a few ensemble numbers with her.

Back in the office there is always a pile of paperwork to catch up with. We met with the auditors to go over last year’s finances, and everything seems to be in order for next week’s board meetings. Thanks to our accounting and payroll staff who so carefully and diligently organize!

We also met with the architect and contractors working on the Akta Lakota Museum expansion. Thursday they reached the point of “substantial completion,” so we made out a punch list of things to be finished up and “took possession” of the building. Over the winter months, when we have fewer visitors to campus, the historical displays and museum upgrades will be installed.

This has been a gorgeous fall weekend. Yesterday, the Chamberlain/Oacoma Chamber of Commerce held its annual Fall Fest, including a farmer’s market with wonderful produce, pumpkin decorating contests and children’s games.  As I passed by Stevens Home (6th– 8th grade girls) I saw Caitlyn sharing a cake she had won downtown with the rest of her home. When I went to pick up mail I saw several of the homes walking downtown for the festival, and heard the crowd favorite was the hayride.

Our grade school football players took part in a jamboree on Saturday and got lots of playing time and experience. Most people at that age bounce back quickly from bumps and bruises, but we did have one broken finger amid memories of touchdowns and quarterback sacks.

At the end of mass today Steve, our High School Academic Adviser  announced grade point averages (GPA) for the first quarter. Four students are currently riding a 4.0! We have a traveling trophy for the home with the best average GPA, and the Hogebach girls reclaimed top honors with a cumulative 3.5 GPA. Besides rewarding good grades, we also want to acknowledge those who are making the best effort. We introduced a second trophy for the home which had the fewest missing assignments for the quarter. The Carola boys claimed that distinction.

That seemed like a good point for me to read a letter from one of our recent graduates to encourage our students. In her letter about college, Danisha sheepishly admitted that she hurt her finger climbing up a tree by the dorms, but otherwise sounds like she is doing great.

“I want everyone to make their school years the best and also to travel when you get the chance. Never step down from an opportunity because you never know where it will get you. I can say with so much excitement that I attended Gear Up as the first St. Joseph’s student, Crazy Horse as the second St. Joseph’s student, been on donor luncheons, went to Germany, organized two powwows for Chamberlain and can now say that I am a Dakota State University college freshman. As I finish up, work hard and Carpe Diem – “Seize the Day!”

St. Joseph’s Indian School’s spelling bee

Fr. Steve and the kids participating in the Spelling Bee.
The Spelling Bee was challenging, but a lot of fun for everyone!

Our school gym was filled with our Native American students competing in the annual Spelling Bee. We have two sections of each grade, so earlier competition produced the three best spellers in each class. Fr. Anthony and I were the official word readers, and alternated between the grades. Spelling Bees tend to throw in some obscure and complicated words, some of which I had no clue what they meant or how to pronounce them. I was glad that Scripps sends along a definition and pronunciation guide. A few of the grades were quickly decided, but some went back and forth for many rounds. I felt sorry for the kids who knew how to spell the words but froze up in front of the crowd. A few of the younger students got a case of the giggles, which made it hard for them to concentrate. We cheered everyone on, win or lose. The winners now advance to the regional competition at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.

I wandered around St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus this morning checking out our building projects. Workers placed the 65 foot wooden beam on top of the Akta Lakota Museum expansion. Our own facilities crew is making steady progress on the Stevens and Matthias Home remodeling. One home is ready for the ceramic tiles to be laid in the bathroom and kitchen area. Even our heavy equipment garage is getting an upgrade – finally insulated after all these years. It will make it much easier to get the snow plow and tractor fired up on frigid mornings when they are most needed.

The Hogebach Home (high school girls) eat in shifts because everyone gets home from school, practice and work at different times. The houseparents filled me in on their comings and goings. As the students came home, I had a few moments to ask how each one was doing. Some of the students share readily and talk about many things. Others keep more to themselves. I try to engage them in topics I think they might want to share, listen attentively when they do speak and patiently accept the quiet when they don’t feel like saying much.