Guest Blogger: Brock

An Experience of Many “Firsts”

Early last Friday, November 16, two of our middle school boys, Elliot (8th Grade) and Jay (7th Grade), along with Fr. Steve, Adria (Social Strategist), and myself, Brock (5th Grade teacher and chaperone for the boys) boarded a plane for Minneapolis/St. Paul where we would then board our connecting flight to New York City.

This was the start of many “firsts” for the boys, as they had never flown before.  Thankfully, we had smooth sailing, giving the boys a positive flying experience.

We landed as scheduled in New York City and the adventures began!  We were not able to get a taxi for all five of us so we split up and took separate taxis to the hotel.  This was also the boy’s first taxi ride.  The boys and I were in one and Fr. Steve and Adria were in the other.

We grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor (another first) outside our hotel!
We grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor (another first) outside our hotel!

After arriving at the hotel, we unloaded our luggage into one of our rooms on the 26th floor and headed out to see the city.  This was also the first time the boys had been so high up in a building.  We grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor (another first) outside our hotel and headed for the subway to Times Square.

From this point forward, the boys were able to experience numerous other “firsts” ranging from tasting new foods to seeing all of the sights of New York City throughout the remainder of the three days in New York.

After the subway ride to Times Square, Fr. Steve led us to the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, where we purchased our City Sights New York City bus tour tickets.

We proceeded with the Uptown Tour, seeing a variety of sights for much of the afternoon, including Time Square South, the Theatre District North, Columbus Circle/Time Warner Center, Lincoln Center, Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History/New York Historical Society, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Grant’s Tomb and Riverside Church, the Apollo Theatre, Harlem, the Museum of the City of New York, the Guggenheim & Jewish Museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Central Park Zoo to name a few.

Elliot and Jay's first subway ride!
Elliot and Jay’s first subway ride!

We exited our bus to walk around Central Park for a few minutes and took several pictures.  We also were on parts of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route throughout the tour, and saw preparations for the parade.  This made us more interested in watching the parade this year, having just recently been on part of it.

We then returned to the bus tour and started part of the Downtown Tour of New York.  We were able to see many more magnificent sights!

Some of them were The Empire State Building, Macy’s, the Flatiron District, Union Square, SoHo, China Town and the World Trade Center.

Quick stop in Central Park for several pictures!
Quick stop in Central Park for several pictures!

We exited the tour again at the World Trade Center stop and went to meet up with the rest of our group who had arrived a day earlier.  We settled into our rooms and met up for a wonderful Oriental supper not far from our hotel.

After supper, we went back to Times Square to take in more of the New York City experience.  We walked through St. Patrick Cathedral and walked by Rockefeller Center, taking a group shot in front of the still-being-decorated Christmas tree.

We continued our foot tour walking by Radio City Music Hall, eventually returning to Times Square.  We then boarded our City Sights tour bus for more as we drove by Madison Square Garden and saw the lit up Empire State Building on our way back to our hotel.  We exited the tour to return to our hotel rooms for some much-needed rest.

On Saturday morning, we embarked on a short tour of Battery Park seeing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from a distance. After pictures with Lady Liberty in the background, we continued to tour the Financial District, seeing the “Bull” on Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange.

A quick group shot in front of the still-being-decorated Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center!
A quick group shot in front of the still-being-decorated Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center!

We returned to the hotel to freshen up for one of the main reasons for the trip: to meet with our donors and thank them for their generous contributions to St. Joseph’s Indian School!  The boys graciously took pictures with all the donors attending and, although admittedly nervous, gave their individual accounts of life at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  They both did a fine job and represented St. Joseph’s Indian School well.

After the donor appreciation luncheon, we ventured out again to see more of the city, getting the most out of our City Sights Tour tickets.  We boarded a bus in Battery Park and continued with the Downtown Tour seeing the skyline of Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street Seaport and Pier 17 before heading by China Town, the Ladies Mile, the United Nations and the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, to name a few.

We again departed the bus tour at Times Square and attended Mass at St. Malachy Roman Catholic Church before going to eat supper at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, home of the world-famous singing wait staff.   After supper, we continued to walk around Times Square taking numerous pictures to show friends back home.  A “short” subway ride back toward our hotel ended the day, retiring for the night to rest up for another day.

Elliot and Jay with Lady Liberty.
Elliot and Jay with Lady Liberty.

On Sunday, the second of our main reasons for being in New York took place.  We had another donor appreciation luncheon in Melville Long Island.  The boys again graciously took pictures with all the donors attending and were still admittedly nervous speaking in front of the group; but were able to represent St. Joseph’s Indian School in a positive manner as they answered questions from the audience about their experiences here at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

With both donor appreciation lunches completed, we had one more night to explore the Big Apple.  We did some shopping in the SoHo area before heading one last time to Times Square where we ate at John’s Pizzeria. After supper, we took in more of the sights and sounds Times Square had to offer before entering the subway to venture back toward our hotel.  After a couple “extra” subway rides, we were back to our hotel to pack for our return flight to South Dakota to see our family and friends waiting for us back at home.

Everyone loved John’s Pizzeria!
Everyone loved John’s Pizzeria!

Although it was an awesome experience of many “firsts” for several involved, no one hesitated to state that they would be interested in making many other “firsts” and a few “seconds” experiences in the future.

Guest Blogger: Fr. Anthony

Greetings from the banks of the Missouri River!  The weather is still mild, which is great for the hunters, but not so nice for the farmers and ranchers.

Fr. Steve and a group of students and staff headed for the Big Apple this weekend for a donor luncheon.  Last year when they tried, Hurricane Irene brought everything to a standstill.  This year they are coming in right behind Superstorm Sandy.  The group took letters of support and encouragement from all the students at St. Joseph’s to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  They were passed out at the lunches so that our guests and others would know that they have not been forgotten as they face the challenge of putting their lives back together.

A variety of things happened here at St. Joseph’s that highlight the activities and events our Lakota students can get involved in.  Our student council leaders went to the state capitol in Pierre, South Dakota to be part of more than 90 schools, churches, veterans groups, social clubs and others designated to decorate the Christmas trees that are being set up around the capitol building.

Our inter-city basketball league is going great guns and we have been able to see some good results.  There was a young lady last year from Chamberlain who got involved but did not seem to get a lot of playing time.  This year when the Chamberlain Cubs came to play the St. Joseph’s Braves, she was part of the team!  She seemed to be the first or second one off the bench.  It shows the impact the program can have because it gave her the opportunity to improve herself and make new friends.  The boys from the area are taking part in the program now and the games have been interesting.

This past Sunday, the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota held a Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of our first Native American Saint, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lily of the Mohawks.  Several of our students went to the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls to take part.  Besides the Mass, a statue was erected in her memory and honor.  As Kateri is a patron saint for ecology, the group then visited butterfly complex to see beauty in flight.  They ended the day by driving by the water falls that give Sioux Falls its name.  The falls are lit, making for a very picturesque scene.

Recently one of our high school students, Erika, had the privilege of casting her first vote in a national election. What really made it special, however,was that she was interviewed as she came out of the polling area and was asked which issue meant the most to her.  Her response was the bond issue the local high school was trying to get approved that would help fund a new cultural and activity center at Chamberlain High.  Erika saw it as a valuable addition to the school, but sadly it went down to defeat since it needed 60% plus one of all those voting.  It only got in the mid-50% range.

Things are getting interesting for our high school students as the winter sports of wrestling and boys’ and girls’ basketball get under way.  Wrestling started last week and some of our young men are going out.  Girls’ basketball got underway today, which means several girls will be staying over the Thanksgiving Break so they can attend practice.  The boys hit the court next Monday and a good number are planning on going out for that.

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is a reminder of our gratitude for your generosity.  The students and staff  keep you in their prayers.  May the Great Spirit bless you with good health, much happiness and safe travel if you are heading ‘over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go!’

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ


St. Joseph’s Indian School