St. Joseph’s to host open house, ribbon cutting for new health facility

St. Joseph’s staff break ground on new health facility.
Groundbreaking for the new Health and Family Services Center took place May 2016.

It’s been a project over a year in the making, but soon St. Joseph Indian School’s new Health and Family Services Center will be up-and-running. To celebrate this new facility, there will be an open house and ribbon cutting during St. Joseph’s powwow celebration. The public, students and their family members are welcome to attend on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 at noon. Continue reading “St. Joseph’s to host open house, ribbon cutting for new health facility”

Guest Blogger: Ronda

The month of October proved to be another busy month for the health center!

Here in South Dakota it has been very dry, and the temperatures have been unseasonably mild. It’s great for getting in those much needed chances to be outside amongst the colors of fall, whether it be to go for a walk with a friend or work in our yards, but the allergies here in Chamberlain have been unbearable! We have seen many of our students and staff for allergen ailments as well as the so called “regular” viral infections moving through a few families.

I had the opportunity to skip work for four days to attend one of St. Joseph’s donor luncheons that was held in Denver, Colorado.   This was my first time to attend an event like this so I had no idea what to expect.  Not only was I the chaperone of the two female students who spoke to our guests, I also had the privilege to visit with several donors.

Since I love to talk so much, I truly enjoyed this aspect of the luncheon.  I felt this  was an opportunity for me to give my opinion on all the great things St Joseph’s does for our students, for their families and for their employees.  St. Joseph’s has about 200 employees, so we are one of the largest employers in this area.

I was proud to tell people at the luncheon the advantages of working at a St Joseph’s.  Not only  is it a  religious organization, but a family-oriented employer as well.  It is a place where I am honored to provide health and wellness to so many people!

Yes, attending the donor luncheon was a wonderful opportunity for me to tell others how much I enjoy my job and love working with the student and employees at St. Joseph’s Indian School!


Guest Blogger: Dianne

Hi!  My name is Dianne and this is my first time blogging! I thought I’d start by letting you know a little bit about myself.  I have been Administrative Assistant here at St. Joseph’s going on 36 years.  I love my job, love the kids, and love what St. Joseph’s stands for.

My job in the office is always very busy—students come to me when they don’t feel well and I determine if they need a cough drop, an ice bag (quite a popular seller here!), if they need to go to the Health Center, or just some tender loving care.  We see many students for other reasons like “I can’t find my planner,” “I lost my glasses,” “Which class am I supposed to be in now,” “I’m lost,” etc. !

We have several new students and this way I get to know them personally.  Actually, the kids are my favorite part of my job!  They come from many different places, but seem to find their place in the world here, make friends, and do quite well!  The little first graders are so darn cute—they steal your heart away.

Two scary monsters at St. Joseph's Indian School.
Two monsters at an Academic Awards Banquet!

Today we have many different things going on in the school—we just finished our first quarter of school so I am busy getting report cards out and figuring out who is on the A and B honor roll.  We will have an awards assembly and present them with their certificate and a prize.  If students are on the honor roll two quarters in a row, they get to attend the Academic Banquet.  I have helped with the banquet several years now—we always have a theme with fun decorations, serve a meal and give door prizes and awards.  Some of our themes have been The 50’s—Rock and Roll, Tie Dyed—70’s, Monsters, Candy Land, Disco and many, many more.

We are now on Infinite Campus, a statewide program, so the job of grades and report cards has been made easier for all.  Also, the students’ parents and/or guardians can check their progress at home.  It has been a challenge for us all to acclimate ourselves to doing things a different way, but will be well worth it in the long run.

I keep track of attendance and also of activities on campus which I include on the weekly FYI.  I enjoy putting this together and adding clip art and pictures of our students along with the activities.  I have been including powwow pictures for some time now as they are enjoyable to look at and very colorful also!

Our school is always a very busy place like all schools—our Native American students live here on campus and go to school also. This gives us a good chance to really get to know them well. I still see kids who went to school here years ago—many of them have their own kids enrolled here!  I think this speaks very highly of what we do here.

Thanks for your support!

Guest Blogger: Ronda

The school year started out with a bang at the Health Center! St. Joseph’s Health Center staff includes:

  • Nancy, RN, began at St Joseph’s in 1980
  • Ronda, LPN, began in 1991
  • Connie, Health Center Assistant began in 2003

Let us tell you about what we do!

We started the school year by getting all 220 students checked into the Health Center (HC) the day before school starts.  The day is always very busy, but we love having the opportunity to meet the new students and a few of the parents when they bring their children to St Joseph’s.

During their quick visit here that day one of the first things we do is check their eyes.  We use this information several times through the year to determine who needs eye appointments or if their prescription is still working for them.  As of today, the children in need of glasses have received them, and we hope are wearing them … you know how kids can be!

We also do heights and weights on all the students at this time.  Then again at the end of the school year we repeat this process.  The students enjoy seeing how much they have grown in a short nine months

This year the state of South Dakota was able to provide our Lakota students with the flu mist, and all 220 of them were given the first part of September.  We appreciated the mist instead of the shot because there was a lot less crying! What a relief to have this task done.  Not only were we immunizing our students, we also gave 170 employees and their families their shots.  Sorry no mist for them, they had to take the shot in the arm.

As October begins, so do our physicals for the students.  Each new student  gets a physical in September and the returning students have them on a yearly basis.  Busy busy busy! Intertwined in all of this, each child gets a yearly dental cleaning and needed dental work done.

Thank you for helping us provide the medical attention our students need!


The 1st day back at St. Joseph’s Indian School

The day our Lakota students return for the start of the new school year is among my favorite days of the whole year.

Siblings Anthony (5th grade) Samantha (4th grade) and Nevaeh (2nd grade) were the first students back on campus a little before 11:00 this morning. Anthony asked his houseparent Luke, “Are we the only ones here?”

Since the homes don’t officially open until noon, Luke replied, “Yes, but we’re ready for you and excited that you’re here.”

The rest came trickling in throughout the day. Central offices were abuzz with Family Service Counselors on the phone with families having trouble getting in – for instance, car trouble, no gas money or family events. Lower Brule Powwow is still going into the night, so we expect those students late or even possibly not until tomorrow.

We’ve heard of a few families changing their minds about having their children enroll here, so we go to the waiting lists and invite the students we have prioritized, and whom are happy to be told of the opening.

I made an early round of visits, and saw some of the families arriving with suitcases, tubs or plastic garbage bags with clothes for the new school year. All their clothes are inventoried when the kids arrive. Next stop is the health center for a checkup which includes an eye exam, check of any medications the students have been prescribed over the summer, checks of hair for head lice and notation of any cuts or bumps and bruises. The Health Center staff will be especially busy these first few days making sure all the health care needs are attended to.

Once settled in, I saw lots of game playing. Some tossed a baseball or shot baskets. The tetherball post was crowded. Other kids checked out inside play like building blocks or computer games. Older siblings got passes to other homes to check in on younger brothers and sisters.

As of right now we are bringing in 39 brand new students to our program. As I stopped in the homes, I started the ongoing task of learning names, and a little about their family or home community. Since I see students in the homes, classroom, playground and in church throughout the week, it really doesn’t take all that long to link a name to a face, and make them feel that much more welcome and accepted.

The first night is often the most difficult in terms of homesickness. While that is always sad when a child feels so lonely, our houseparents are prepared and try to build the comfort and trust that will help a youngster grow and flourish as the year goes on.

Guest Blogger: Julie

Hi, my name is Julie L. and I am the Clinical Services Director at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I have worked at St. Joseph’s since 1987. I currently oversee the Clinical Department and the Health Center.  During the summer months, the Health Center is not as busy as it is during the school year.  We see less activity as there are fewer students on campus.  We do, however, provide services for the staff and their immediate family and have a nurse on call when students are here.  The Clinical Department (Family Service Counselors or FSCs) is busy with admissions work and home visitations.

I have just returned from Germany as part of an exchange program that we have with the SCJ school in Handrup.  Another staff member and I took four high school students on this journey.  It was very fun and exciting for all of us to travel overseas, as none of us had done this before.  It was so great watching the students experience many new things during this trip.

The students spent much of their time with their individual host families and with one another. Patrick and I stayed at the monastery and were treated very well by the priests and sisters.  We got to see many sights and learned a lot about Germany while we visited for two weeks (fun times at an amusement park in the Netherlands, a weekend in Berlin, and visiting a castle, to name just a few things that we accomplished while there).  The students also shared presentations about themselves and St. Joseph’s Indian School to different classrooms at the Handrup school.

Our German host students and a chaperone will be coming to South Dakota in October to see our school and visit some sites around South Dakota.  All of the students are very excited about this as they bonded quite well as a group and can’t wait to see one another again.

The last two days we spent in Amsterdam.  This was really fun for the students as they enjoyed staying in a “Botel” that was right on the water.  We also visited Anne Frank’s house which was interesting as the students have read her book for one of their high school classes.  As we flew back to the United States, you could see that the students were tired but very happy with all that they had experienced.

We hope and pray that you all are having a wonderful summer and, as always, thank you for your continued support for the students at St. Joseph’s Indian School.



Summer preparation at St. Joseph’s Indian School

When I finished morning mass I ran into 2nd grader, Dorian on his way back from the Health Center. Dorian had bruised his forehead and was coming back with an ice pack. He smiled about the frozen gel pack with a colorful picture of Garfield the Cat on one side. I remember the old days when nursing our owies meant ice cubes wrapped up in a wash cloth. Our nurses have created a child friendly area to help the youngsters through life’s bumps and bruises. We work with the local hospital to provide a doctor or physician’s assistant each morning for checkups and to make sure our students’ health needs are addressed. If kids are too sick to go to school, they stay in the health center with our two school nurses. After school, evenings and weekends, our houseparents take charge, just as you would do with your own kids at home. With spring in full bloom and outdoor activity increasing, the health center is less about colds and coughs this time of year than it is about healing cuts and scrapes from the playground.

A couple of college students that have worked here in the past summers showed up today to begin another round of summer work. With colleges already letting out, our graduations are not far away at all. Our facilities crew has an ambitious summer schedule that includes finishing two home renovations and beginning another two, in addition to all the ongoing maintenance, painting, landscaping and preventative work that keeps St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus looking beautiful. The extra help is already hard at work.

As our 8th graders prepare for the transition to Chamberlain Public High School next year, two of the coaches from high school visited with our aspiring athletes to get to know them. Students had a chance to learn about expectations and practice schedules. Some are excited about the chance to play on a bigger stage, but most are nervous and wondering if they are up to the competition.

It will take dedication and lots of practice, but I know many of the kids do have it within them to succeed not just in sports, but in life.