Joyful noises unto the Lord

Yesterday I was making my rounds on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus and ran into the Summerlee Home girls (4th -5th grade) heading out for a walk. They are in temporary quarters while their home is being remodeled. On a Saturday, the maintenance crew was off and no work was being done inside, so I invited the girls and houseparents in to check on the progress.  Much of the construction is done and walls are being painted. Damara is a fifth grader and remembers how the home looked last year. She showed the other girls where her bedroom was and could see big changes in the floor plan and space usage. We hope to have them in the home before the school year is out, and get started on the next home.

The girls filled me in on plans for one room that even I didn’t know about. In one of the family rooms they hope to have a mini “beauty parlor.” The last few years the Summerlee girls have been cutting and counting donated soup labels and box tops so they can redeem them for a vanity with nice mirrors. If they get enough they even want to get a beauty shop chair and sink that they can lean back in and get their hair washed. Probably very different from what 10-year-old boys want in their house, but a fun and exciting possibility.

The girls had so much fun jumping and climbing around!

After the home tour they invited me to walk downtown with them. They were headed for the McDonald’s a mile south of campus. Each of the girls got to choose three items off the dollar menu and enjoyed lunch on the town. Afterwards they made a beeline for the play area. Fourth and fifth graders are still at an age where they have the freedom to enjoy slides and climbing ropes. It did my heart good to hear them laughing and giggling.

Our final stop on the way home was the Dollar Store. The girls used some of their allowance money to get such luxuries as nail polish, ribbons and barrettes. After the brisk walk they planned to spend the rest of a lazy Saturday afternoon painting their nails and watching a movie.

Today at mass, it was Fr. Anthony’s turn to preside and preach. He normally does a fine job, and today he was especially animated. He preached about the gospel quality of being childlike and contrasted that with the selfishness of being childish. To demonstrate his point he acted out a temper tantrum, feet a stomping, and had everyone’s attention.

As our children’s choir continues to practice and learn new service music for liturgy, it has added more life and spirit to our prayer times. I appreciate good music so much in creating an atmosphere of celebration and hospitality. I am noticing better sound and participation coming from the rest of the pews.

Keep up the good work, and make a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Guest Blogger: Julie H.

Greetings from warm and sunny Chamberlain, South Dakota!  St. Joseph’s Indian School sends warm regards and blessings to all of you!

My name is Julie H. and I have been with St. Joseph’s Indian School for almost 11 years.  What a great 11 years it has been!  I am currently a Family Service Counselor and work with girls in grades 6-12.  I work under the umbrella of the Clinical Services Department.  The Clinical Services Department is currently made up of 13 staff.  We have nine Family Service Counselors, a Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist, a Family Liaison and Clinical Support staff, all led by our fearless Clinical Director.  What does the Clinical Services Department do?  Well, we do a little bit of everything!

Our nine Family Service Counselors work with all students in grades 1-12.  We offer weekly individual counseling, group counseling, and enrichment activities.  We also serve as a contact and liaison with our students’ families.

We are available to assist houseparents with questions and concerns they may have regarding student issues.  We run a group for our high school students called Sons and Daughters of Tradition.  The focus of this group is to help the students get back to their Native roots, while working on Drug and Alcohol Prevention.   Family Service Counselors are also available to help in the school should a student have difficulties throughout the day.  Family Service Counselors wear many hats, but our main priority is being here to help the students and their families with anything they need.

Our Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist works with the students on drug and alcohol prevention, helping students learn to say NO to substance abuse.  Our Prevention Specialist runs a group called Red Path, coordinates activities for Red Ribbon Week and our other Sobriety Celebrations.

Our Clinical Support Specialist is truly a jack of all trades!  She works on admissions, sets up travel plans for our students who participate in donor luncheons and helps out the department in any way she can.  She is a great support to all of us!

The Family Liaison coordinates and recruits families for our FAST (Families and Schools Together) program.  She works hard to get everything ready for our programs, helps transports families to the program and is an integral staff person in the program itself.  After the program concludes, she also continues to meet with the families that have graduated from the program.

Our Clinical Director keeps us all in line!  She is a great supervisor and is available to assist any of us when we have questions or concerns regarding our students and families.  Our Clinical Director oversees all of the programs of the department and is a great support and resource.

That is just a quick overview of what the Clinical Services Department does.  There is a great deal we do, but with limited blog space, I just wanted to offer you the highlights!

If you are ever in Chamberlain, at St. Joseph’s Indian School and you want a greater overview of all of the great work the Clinical Services Department does, please stop by!  Any of the departments would be happy to sit down with you and answer questions you may have!

Have a safe, blessed and great summer!

Julie H. (Family Service Counselor)

Guest Blogger: Facilities Team

Happy 4th of July!!  I hope everyone had a safe and fun-filled holiday.  With the summer being in full swing, we are also at full speed with all our projects on campus.  This summer seems to have an even busier schedule than we have in the past.

Here is a summary of some of the projects that have been started at St. Joseph’s Indian School:

Drainage Project:

This week the company we’re working with pulled onto campus with their big equipment and began removing the concrete in front of the Benedictine and Kateri Buildings. First, second and third grade students have their homes in the Benedictine Building, while the Kateri Building houses high school girls.

Mathias Remodel:

We are finishing up with the Mathias Remodel.  Right now the guys are working on their punch list to get the final details finished up just in time for the houseparents to arrive on campus in the next couple of weeks. The junior high girls who live in the Mathias Home will return to campus on August 12 for school to begin Monday morning, August 13.

School Painting and Carpeting:

St. Joseph’s Elementary School is getting a little touch up this summer also.  We are re-painting all the classrooms and laying new carpet.

Summerlee and William Remodel:

We have kicked off the next round of home remodels with the Summerlee and William Homes, where our fourth and fifth-grade girls live.  The Summerlee Home has most of the demolition work complete. We have started framing up the new walls, which will reposition some of the rooms to give the houseparents a better view of kids during activities taking place in the home.

The William Home is in the demolition process.  This home will be extended a few feet to give the girls who live there more room in their living and play spaces.

The projects listed above are some of the bigger projects we have going on around campus.  We also have the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center expansion, which will add an alumni center, historical center and storage for the museum’s collection of art and artifacts.

Some of our daily work activities going on around campus include:


  • Irrigation and mowing at Fisher Field, where our junior high students spend time playing after school and on weekends.


  • Plumbing in the Summerlee Home is roughed in and the Mathias Home plumbing completed.  The plumbing that has been inspected has passed both inspections.


  • Crew member Jeff is painting the Giles Home and should be finished this week.


  • Finish wiring the Mathias Home, demo of electrical in Summerlee. Wiring new equipment at Tipi Press Printing and Development rooftop AC unit.


  • Annual vehicle inspections and daily maintenance.  St. Joseph’s fleet has 22 vehicles that insurance company totaled due to a recent hail storm.

What were your track specialties?

Tasha runs her best at the local track meet.
Keep up the great work Braves!

After the weekend travels, today was mostly a catch up day in the office. I left early to cheer on our 6th– 8th graders as they competed in a track meet at the public high school track here in Chamberlain, South Dakota. We only have about a dozen kids out for track. Eighth graders Irene and Kyle are our two strongest athletes, competing for ribbons in most of their events. Many of the others, especially the sixth graders running for the first time, were mostly in the middle of the pack. Our relay times showed good teamwork, and improved their hand offs and their times. I noticed a couple of our shot putters running the 100 and 200 meter sprints, and finishing well in back of the leaders. But it helps build their endurance and improves health. I cheered loudly for them for the effort, even when they didn’t expect to win. Trying makes them winners and all the better for it.

My junior high events were 880 (yards) and, believe it or not, pole vault. What were your track specialties during your own school days?

A part of St. Joseph’s Indian School

I spent most of the day working on finances and budgets, not too exciting but necessary to keep things running well. Thankfully we have such good and dedicated people in the Development Office that think ahead. Much of our discussion right now is planning for a future where postage costs are going to be higher and services probably curtailed. Since anyone reading this blog is already internet friendly, we really see this as a continued opportunity. While online giving grows every year, many of our donors are still more comfortable with standard mail, so a gradual transition will take some time. Instead of taking months to design, print and mail a newsletter, we can have a photo and article posted online the next day. It can save us both time and money and get interactive updates out in a timely way.

We want folks to feel a part of what happens on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, even at a distance.

In the evening I talked with Daylon and Erica, high school students chosen to speak at our donor luncheons in Miami on March 21 and April 1. They were both incredibly excited and look forward to meeting and thanking our donors in that area, and sharing some of their experiences at St. Joseph.

I also stopped in the Carola Home (HS boys) to visit the walking wounded from the ski trip. I think their egos were bruised as much as muscles, but they are eager to try again!