Flurry of activities as the school year winds down

This has been a busy last few days.  On Wednesday and Thursday of last week our eighth grade students had a day to shadow St. Joseph’s students attending Chamberlain High School. This is a great opportunity for the students to meet teachers and discover ways to get around the high school campus.  As our eighth grade graduates get ready to move into our high school program, our seniors are getting ready to move on to college, vocational school and other educational avenues. On Wednesday afternoon a prayer service and reception will be held for our nine high school seniors. Their graduation ceremony is May 18th.

This past Sunday, I attended the awarding of the annual Distinguished Alumni Award to Mr. Sam Dupris of Bloomington, Minnesota.  Sam attended St. Joseph’s from 1937-1942 along with several of his siblings.  Sam told our students that the values and educational base he received while attending St. Joseph’s has helped him throughout his life. After a stint in the Army, he used the GI Bill to attend flight school and for more than 25 years spent time with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) working his way up the ranks to be captain and chief pilot. Sam is the first and only Native American to serve as a FAA pilot.  He was inducted into the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001 and South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2010.

This past Saturday, the annual Chamberlain High School Powwow was held at the new Chamberlain Community Center.  Irene, a junior in our high school program, was selected to be Miss CHS Powwow. She joined, Mia and Cassidy, fellow St. Joseph’s high school girls to participate in the dancing. Our drum group also participated with music and songs for the celebration.

Many new faces are on campus as new staff is being interviewed and hired for next year.  While we are happy to welcome them, it also means some of our ‘veterans’ will be moving on.  Eleven will be retiring from St. Joseph’s with 114.5 combined years of service and dedication to our students.

You may remember I mentioned the Explorers were doing a car wash last weekend to raise money for new playground equipment at American Creek Campground. They washed 84 cars, made over $500 in tips and a little over $3,500 in pledges. Since June of 2002, they have raised a little over $79,500 to be used for audio visual equipment, projects to beautify the Chamberlain/Oacoma area, supporting meals on wheels and aid to local residents facing health issues.

I hope you have a positive week while finding ways to draw closer to those you care about and taking that first step in reaching out to make a new friend.  May God’s blessings continue to be with you!


Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


A big hand for the little lady

We heard today from a woman who came across St. Joseph’s Christmas cards in an unusual way. Her friends get together regularly to play cards – a women’s poker night. They don’t gamble for money, but this month everyone brought extra Christmas cards to share. She had a hot hand and her winnings included several Christmas cards from St. Joseph’s.  She liked them so much that called in to find out more about our school, and decided to become a donor.

  • Any unique stories about how you came in contact with St. Joseph’s Indian School?

Today we held our staff open house at Akta Lakota Museum. We had discounts up to 40% to encourage staff to do some Christmas shopping on campus. They are proud when they wear St. Joseph’s Indian School shirts. Folks also appreciate the intricate and traditional hand crafted items, or enjoy picking up the latest books on Plains Indian Culture.

Our Tokéya uŋkí nájiŋpi Historical Center is making great strides this week. Workers are installing the displays and hanging artifacts on the walls. Every day I make it a point to visit to see the latest progress. One of the rooms shows the transition from dormitory life, when we had 70 children sleeping in one big room, to our Family Living Units, with 10-12 children in a home setting.

Sandi, who has taught at St. Joseph’s for 35 years walked through the open house with Matt, one of our new teachers. When she saw the pictures and artifacts, it brought back so many memories, and she told Matt about some of the history and changes she’s seen. One of my hopes is that the displays tell a story, evoke memories and help us pass traditions on to future generations. We also know the history of Indian Boarding Schools has a negative side, and we hope for alumni whose experience of school include painful memories, this can be a place of healing.

Fr. Steve’s updates

Our H.R. Director came for our weekly meeting. She’s swamped with getting updated health plans and employee handbooks out, so she employed some of our high school students to sort, collate and staple. Students were grateful help and to earn some spending money.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our Human Resources Director came in today for our weekly meeting. She’s swamped with getting updated health plans and employee handbooks out, so she employed some of our high school students to sort, collate and staple. The students were grateful both to help out and to earn some spending money.

We recently hired a new Family Service Counselor, who hopes to start in a month or so.

By starting before the close of the school year, she will be able to meet students before summer break and do some job shadowing before fall rolls around.

Now, we’re advertising for several houseparents to replace the ones who are retiring or moving on to other things.

One of St. Joseph’s strengths is that our houseparents stay far longer than the national average of a couple of years.

Steve in the Dennis Home, for instance, is in his 14th year here and his 11th year in the same home. To celebrate his birthday, he has the tradition of cooking up a big batch of his famous ribs and inviting all the students at St. Joseph’s that he’s had in his home to come to the feast.

While he works with 1st – 3rd grades now, 36 of his “alumni” from 1st through 11th grade gathered in the skate room to eat, laugh, and share stories. Steve told the juniors that next year he’ll have someone represented in all 12 grades.

I had it easy at the party – didn’t even have to lead the meal grace, since the eldest student was asked to do that honor.

All of the kids crowded around Steve for a group picture afterwards. Our staff form some lasting relationships with the children they’re entrusted to care for.

One of the staff made me grin by saying that with my new hairdo, (or lack-of-hair-do) I now look like Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek. I always admired his leadership abilities anyway. Make it so!

Steve's group photo