Guest Blogger: Shana

Native American kids at St. Joseph's Indian School's powwow!
Everyone had a great time at St. Joseph’s Indian School’s powwow!

Hello everyone! I’m Shana, High School Residential Director, and I can’t believe how this year is already flying by. Mid-terms are next Friday and our Lakota students are doing very well – even several of the freshmen students who typically struggle with the transition from eighth grade to high school. Our tutor has been very busy and it’s great seeing the students utilize the assistance that we have for them here at St. Joseph’s.

The Drama Club won 1st place!
The Drama Club won 1st place!

Last week was VERY busy as it was the Homecoming week for our high school students and our St. Joseph’s powwow.  Our high school students attend the Chamberlain Public School and they were having fun with the dress up days, coronation and getting their floats prepared for the Homecoming parade. The Drama Club won first place and our St. Joseph’s students rode the float and were all smiles.

Our students are also very involved in Native American Club and their float was very creative, they received 2nd place! One of our St. Joseph’s students dressed up like a ‘falcon’ and of course each individual class float was very well done! We have two boys voted as class representatives (Sophomore and Junior classes) and they rode their class floats proudly! The football players all rode on top of a huge fire engine. It was a beautiful day for a parade and football game The Chamberlain Cubs beat the Falcons and it was a great game!

Football players riding the fire engine – hold on boys!

Several of our students attended the Homecoming dance and THEN had to get up bright and early for the powwow festivities that started Saturday morning!

Our American Indian Day powwow here at St. Joe’s is a wonderful event. If you haven’t visited during this amazing time, I would highly suggest you make future plans to do so!! It’s educational and fun; our campus is located right along the Missouri River and it’s beautiful. Many of our high school students volunteer to help with home tours, parking, cleaning up the dining area and cleaning up after the powwow is over. It’s a lot of work, but with our staff and high school students all pitching in, we create an awesome weekend powwow!

On a more personal note, my grandma who was 88 years old passed away two weeks ago. Her and my grandpa have been such a huge part of my life and I loved and respected them greatly.  My grandma and grandpa have been donors to St. Joseph’s Indian School for over 30 years!

It was always wonderful to discuss the goings on at St. Joseph’s with my grandma, as she remained very concerned for the students here. She was very generous as she knew her donations were going to a wonderful organization. I am very sad for my grandpa as they were married over 65 years. While reading all of the heartfelt words people expressed in their sympathy cards, my grandpa thought of something special he could do – donate all of the money he received from the sympathy cards to St. Joseph’s because he knew that would make grandma happy … that one of her final acts was continuing the care and generosity she showed all of her life.

Then my grandpa asked me about how he would go about leaving a small life insurance policy he has through the Knights of Columbus to St. Joseph’s as he would also like to leave a legacy as he passes from this world onto the Great Spirit. I have been truly blessed to have the most loving and caring grandparents that anyone could ask for! They’ve lead by their strong example in both the Catholic faith and in their generous efforts to support reputable organizations such as St. Joseph’s Indian School.

My grandma will truly be missed and I can only hope to live up to the great example she taught me through her actions in the wonderful 88 years she lived. Generosity is one of the virtues of the Native American culture and we talk with our staff and students about role modeling and exhibiting generosity in a humble manner. I am very proud to be working here at St. Joseph’s Indian School and will continue to do my best for my staff, our students and families and for all of the caring donors who share their blessings with us!

Thanks to all of you who make St. Joseph’s possible and Thank You Grandma for everything you did and still do for me and I will always keep your memory alive in my heart.

God Bless,


High school orientation

Hello again; my name is Shana and I’m the High School Residential Director here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. We’ve had a great two days for our HS Student Orientation on Monday and Tuesday!

All of our HS students returned Sunday in order to participate in our HS Student Orientation and get ready for the upcoming school year. Students are happy to be back on campus; seeing their St. Joseph’s friends and staff that most of them didn’t get to see over the summer months (after our HS Summer Program ended in June). It’s great to see all of our high school staff and students get together for a welcome back, announcements and a full two days of reminders, learning and new program items. These days can get long, but they are stress free since no one is worrying about studying or doing homework (YET!).

The ninth and tenth graders meet with our Transition Specialist to talk about College Visits and Career Explorations, and also meet with our tutor to review study skills. The juniors and seniors meet to discuss Senior Planning and Transitional Living. These older students (along with tenth graders) meet with our garage staff to review car care and maintenance. A representative from Wells Fargo comes to campus to talk to all of our HS students about bank accounts. I review Internet Safety and new program changes for the upcoming year and, finally, all of our students go up to Chamberlain High School to get their laptops.

The students are eager (and nervous) for the first day of school on Wednesday! And after several weeks of preparation, all our staff are eager to begin another great year in the High School Program!

This weekend, high school fall sports kick off with the first football game on Friday, followed by the first volleyball game and cross-country meet on Saturday. Our student athletes are pumped up and everyone is full of school spirit! The motivation and inspiration at the beginning of the school year is amazing!

I would like to say a big thank you to all of our donors that make our High School Program such a success!  We couldn’t have such amazing staff, homes, resources (not to mention happy, successful students) without the generosity and care we receive from all of you.

God Bless!
HS Residential Director

Guest Blogger: Shana

Hello! It’s me, Shana, High School Residential Director blogging again. I hope everyone’s summer is going well!

It’s been incredibly hot here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, but our facilities crew is working hard to make sure everything is ready for our students’ return in three weeks. We truly appreciate their hard work during these hot days. We’ve kept busy this summer as our summer program for first through eighth grades ended last week; our High School Summer Transitional Living Program ends next week, July 27.

The high school students have been working at their summer jobs in order to earn extra money. One student even took some time to go with our Transition Specialist to visit the community college she plans to attend next year. The students have also made some time for fun! With the heat, going to the movies has been the entertainment of choice. Our students are very ready to go home and have  a few weeks’ vacation before they need to return to campus for our upcoming school year. It doesn’t seem possible that school is right around the corner!

Our Admissions Board met this week to review applications and select new students for our upcoming school year. This is always a time consuming and heartfelt process as we learn about the needs of both the student and their family. It’s difficult to know that we don’t have room for everyone, but we do our best. It’s wonderful to learn that so many students are very eager and excited about the possibility of coming to St. Joseph’s – many have family or friends who are current or former students, and have received great recommendations about our school and home living programs.

Currently we’re busy getting things ready for both our houseparents and students. New Staff Orientation is less than two weeks away! We have some great new staff coming to our St. Joseph’s family.

We’re also getting our homes ready for students; our High School Program offers a ‘Sports Home’ for those students who need to return before school begins in order to start their fall sports practices. We have several boys and girls involved in football and volleyball and a few who run cross country. We have a home for the boys and one for the girls – it’s a relaxing week for the students before they have to get back to the ‘grind’ and start doing homework again.

I hope everyone is keeping cool and enjoying their summer!

Guest Blogger: Shana

Cante wasteya nape ciyuzapeloI take your hand in friendship.

This is a common Lakota greeting; the literal meaning is “With a good heart I take your hand.” My name is Shana and I’m the High School Residential Director.

This summer is going by fast as we’ve had four of our five high school homes open and fully operational with 41 high school students on campus! High school students choose to remain on our St. Joseph’s campus so they can either work a summer job, take driver’s education class or participate in our Freshman Transition Summer Program.

Thankfully it’s not all work – students get to relax, take shopping trips, go to the movies or swim at Chamberlain’s city pool or public beach area. Students remain connected with family and sometimes get checked out by their parent or guardian so they can attend family functions or visit a family member in the hospital.

There’s never a dull moment on our campus!

We have 19 upcoming freshmen in our Freshman Transition Summer Program. These students were able to meet their future high school teachers, take a trip to visit Mitchell Vo-Tech, Oglala Lakota Community College and tour the Badlands on their way to visit the Red Cloud Indian School Art Show. This three-week camp is full of both education and transition activities in order to get them prepared for the challenges of their first year in high school – and beyond.

The transition program ends Friday with a Parent Luncheon. Here, we will review the changes the students will face in high school and the differences in our high school residential program from our elementary residential program. Everyone enjoys pizza, and then the students are able to give their parent or guardian a tour of their new St. Joseph’s high school home.

All the students will then return in August, either a week before school starts so they can begin sports practices with their Chamberlain athletic team, or return two days prior to the first day of school for our Student Orientation.

Our high school summer programs don’t end in July; we have three students participating on our Summer Transitional Living Program starting on June 22 through the end of July.

Two of these students are currently in Germany with two St. Joseph’s chaperones and two other St. Joseph’s students as part of our Germany Exchange Program with our sister school in Handrup, Germany. They will spend two and a half weeks learning about the German culture, giving presentations to Handrup students about their Lakota and American culture and, of course, doing some sightseeing. The Handrup students will then take a trip to the USA and come visit us here at St. Joseph’s Indian School in October so they can learn more about American and Lakota culture. It’s been a great learning experience for both staff and students.

These are not the only St. Joseph’s students who are able to travel during their summer vacation. One of our graduating seniors was awarded the Davis-Bahcall scholarship. Erin will spend one week digging deep into the science and engineering that exists at the Sanford Underground Laboratory in Lead, South Dakota. She will spend three weeks studying modern physics at Princeton University in New Jersey under world-renowned scholars and researchers. She will also travel to research laboratories in Europe to experience the world of modern scientific research.

We are very proud of Erin’s accomplishments and know she’ll succeed next year as she begins her college career.

One of our upcoming seniors was accepted into College Horizons, this is a six-day “crash course” in preparing for college. Aaron will learn about a broad variety of colleges and universities, and establish personal relationships with admission representatives and college counselors. At each site, 100 students from across the nation work with over 70 expert college counselors and college admission officers to help students learn how to fill out college applications, including essays and prepare for college. We hope Aaron has a great experience – congratulations!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer as much as we are!

Pilamayathank you,