Blessings upon our American Indian youth

Very special day at St. Joseph's Indian School.
A day of celebration at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

18 of our students received First Holy Communion at mass today. Of that group, most had gone through a year of classes in the RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation of Children). Twelve of those students were also baptized and confirmed and one made her profession of faith.

Our small daily chapel was set up for pictures. As families arrived, Aaron took some great snapshots for the students to have and for us to remember. One of our houseparents who works with our youngest girls, had to remind an excited child scampering down the hallway “Today is not a day for running.” A few minutes later, I saw Celesia and Kyla showing off their flowing white communion dresses, spinning around, like a fairy tale Cinderella at the ball. I heard the same houseparent caution again, “Girls, today is not a day for twirling!” But how could they help it with the joy and excitement?

Everyone looked so sharp dressed up. I felt a little guilty ruining the hair do’s that took so long to get right when I doused the students with water three times. Those who were baptized definitely got good and wet.

After mass families and students were invited over to the Dining Hall where staff prepared and served dinner. We also had a couple of beautifully decorated cakes wishing congratulations and blessings. When I witness and participate in sacramental celebrations, especially with children, I pray I can be a good example and deepen my own commitment to the Lord.

Designed to help bring families closer together

American Indian kids playing games around the table.
Family time is so important for today's youth.

Hello friends of St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Last weekend saw the start of our Families and Schools Together (FAST) program.  We have been running FAST for several years and have graduated over 100 families.  It is a great, fun program!

FAST is held two times per year – once in the fall and once in the spring.  This round of FAST runs on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings, for a total of eight sessions (four weekends).  The program is designed to help bring families closer together, while giving families a chance to meet staff.

During each session, families participate in several activities, including:

  • Time for parents to meet as a group
  • Time for an identified child to receive 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with a parent
  • Games, like Feelings Charades
  • A meal

A lot of fun is had by all!  There is singing, laughter, play and time for families to spend together.  Our first weekend went wonderfully, and we look forward to our next weekend of FAST!

The students are also gearing up for Spring Break, which starts at the end of next week.  Other than a few days at Easter, Spring Break is our last big break and signifies that school is moving toward the end of the year.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we will get all of our Native American students and families home safely for the break!

Warm wishes to all of you,


Family Service Counselor

Students demonstrating our core values

Our morning prayer service to begin Catholic Schools Week was an opportunity for us to introduce our new strategic plan campus wide. Aaron, in our marketing department, filmed different events on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, and created an effective visual of staff and students demonstrating our core values in everyday life – Faith, Collaboration, Integrity, Stewardship, Respect and Excellence. I’m proud to be a part of St. Joseph’s Indian School, and viewing the video with all our staff and students made me even more proud of what we are working on together as a community.

Before introducing the new vision and plan, I thanked everyone for the work they’ve done over the past four years to bring much of our current plan to fruition. The work we do now will lay a stronger foundation for future generations of students and staff, so that they can build on what we do today, and take St. Joseph’s forward in creative and exciting new ways.

All of St. Joseph's Indian School's youth durning Catholic Schools Week.
All the students smiling big during Catholic Schools Week.

After the staff went back to work, the students remained behind so we could take a school picture with everyone on the bleachers. Emily, our photographer, is good with the kids, and after everyone is well-behaved and she gets the pictures she needs, she lets everyone get a little wild for a fun snapshot, which the students love.

We had 5th and 6th grade basketball games after school against Crow Creek, which is the Indian reservation where perhaps 20% of our students are from.  There were families in the stands rooting for kids on both sides of the ball. After the games, I was slated to visit Cyr Home (4th-5th grade boys) for supper. One of the students, Ben, invited his family to stay for supper, so the ranks were swelled by six more guests. Paula, the houseparent who was cooking, found out just a few minutes beforehand. She has learned to be very accommodating and flexible. She took out a container of leftovers, opened up a couple more cans of fruit, and served smaller portions, but it stretched around to satisfy everyone at the table and the family had a nice visit.

Some of our students see their families regularly. For others, it doesn’t happen all that often. But we try our best to make families welcome whenever they are able to stay.

Lots going on

The girls had so much fun dancing like dolls!
The girls had so much fun dancing like dolls!

During mass, we held the Rite of Acceptance for those students preparing for baptism next spring. Even though the prayers are simple, they mean a lot . I find that children are often far more committed to prayer than I am, and they inspire me to do better.

The Dancing Dolls and Dudes program filled the town Armory to capacity and was entertaining. Last year, we experimented by having our 4th and 5th graders participate, since it means juggling our schedule here and getting the students to town to practice each week. But it was so successful and appreciated that this year we opened it up to the primary grades as well.

A good number of families attended to cheer their children on and watch the cleverly choreographed routines. But  some of our students don’t have family close by, or have family members unable to come. In the days leading up to today’s big show, at least seven or eight of our students looked at me with big eyes and asked if I could be there. How could I every say no to that kind of  request from an eight year old?

The greatspirit of fun and good sportsmanship fill St. Joseph's Indian School's gym!
The greatspirit of fun and good sportsmanship fill St. Joseph's Indian School's gym!

The boys inter-city championships filled the rec center all afternoon. Each team had two trophies to give out, one to a St. Joseph’s Indian School student and one to a player from town. Those trophies go to the kids who have the best attitude, play hard and fair and help their teammates. There was also a hard-fought tournament for bragging rights, but all in a spirit of fun and good sportsmanship.

Tonight, our high school academic advisor gathered up the half-dozen students who make up our Knowledge Bowl team. Competition at the Lakota Nations Invitational is this Thursday and Friday, and this was the last chance to practice and review. I dropped in for some moral support and will go with the crew to Rapid City, South Dakota to cheer them on. Read how the St. Joseph’s Indian School team did last year!