Campus Competitions

Lakota students at St. Joseph’s Indian School participate in the annual spelling bee.
Students participate in the annual spelling bee contest.

We held two competitive events on campus yesterday. The first began at 11:30, when several of our staff squared off in our annual chili/non-chili cooking contest. Three recipes gained a ribbon and bragging rights, but everyone on campus was a winner when we got to sample many tasty efforts. I had 11:30 mass, and by the time I reached the tables at noon the early lunch crowd had polished off the top three pots. But the others I sampled were hearty on a cold day and quite delicious. Human resources pulled out some colorful piñatas and recorded fiesta music set a fun tone. We laughed about the Kleenex on the table for runny noses and the bottles of antacids for those who found the samples to hot. It gave staff from different areas on campus the chance to mingle in a way that doesn’t happen often enough.

Then at 1:00 the real drama began as the top six spellers in each grade (determined by an earlier competition in their classrooms) participated in the annual Spelling Bee. Fr. Anthony and I were the word givers, and alternated between the grades. Some words I was glad when the students asked for a definition, because that enlightened me too! A few of the matches ended quickly. When it got down to the final two in 7th and 8th grade the rounds went on a long time. When one of the students had a chance to win, it seemed they would miss the second word and give their opponent another chance.  The winners now advance to the regional competition in Mitchell.

I was at the Hogebach Home (high school girls’ home) last evening when the phone rang. Trinity answered the phone and once she hung up, broke into Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” What happened? – because of dangerous cold and wind chill, Chamberlain Public schools called for a 2 hour late start. Almost every high school kid I know would rejoice with a couple extra hours to sleep in. How cold was it? When the William Home (4th-5th) grade girls walked home from the Rec Center after swimming, their hair was frozen in the time it took to walk 2 blocks.

Since our kids live on campus, and the snow isn’t deep enough to cause problems, we pressed on with our regular school day today.  Recess was indoors. When we get a long stretch of cold I notice the students getting cabin fever, but our weather has had enough ups and downs that they haven’t had to stay inside for more than a couple of days.

We’re working on budgets and had to submit our list of planned capital expenses for fiscal year 2014. Because our staff have so many good ideas for improvements, our wish list is always quite long. Then we have to prioritize and decide what we can afford, what our facilities crew has time to get done, and what is most pressing, especially where safety and preventative maintenance are concerned.  Our costliest projects will be the next phase of our campus drainage upgrade, and the tuck pointing of several of our large older brick buildings. Perhaps the ones I’m happiest to see are the remodeling of the last two homes on our list, Afra (1st-3rd girls) and Raphael (1st– 3rd boys). I know the houseparents who live with the children in those two homes have been envious of the improvements we’ve made to all the other homes, and excitedly await similar upgrades and improvements.

Guest Blogger: Facilities Team

These Native American girls can't wait to see their new home!
These four ladies can’t wait to play in their new home!

School is in session and powwow week is here! Every department is hard at work to make sure everything is ready. Here is an update of our largest projects:

Summerlee Home Renovations:

We have about 95% of the exterior work completed, which includes new siding, shingles and windows.  As for the interior of the home, we have completed all the rough-in plumbing and electrical work, and just finished the first coat of taping joints.  When the taping and texturing are finished, we will begin painting.  It is very exciting to see the layout changes that were made in the home come to life.

William Home Renovations:

The demolition process is still underway in the William Home.  We are considering a possible change in the floor plan, which would incorporate the entrance to the lower lever and to the adjacent office area.  Once walls are removed, we will have a better idea of how we will proceed with this possible change.  We enjoy putting our heads together and seeing what will best work for the students and their home and other staff who work in the Benedictine building.

Now, for a few tidbits of some to the day-to-day activities that are taking place around campus:

Grounds department:

The grounds department is checking out all the sprinkler lines and repairing or replacing any bad sprinklers.  They are also removing trees on the west side of Akta Lakota Museum to better accommodate some of the work being done there and at the Summerlee Home.

Carpentry department:

The carpenters are completing a few minor finishing touches to the Stevens and Mathias Homes – our most recently completed renovations. New railings are being added at both entrances of the homes.  They are also installing new carpet in the Human Resources and Facilities Management offices.

Electrical department:

The electricians are in the Human Resource and Facilities Management offices installing new lighting to help brighten up the work space.  They recently finished wiring in the Summerlee Home.

Plumbing department:

The plumber is keeping up with everyday plumbing RQ’s and also helping with the demo work being done at the Thrift Store.

This week, everyone’s main focus will be getting ready for the powwow.

Thanks – Facilities Team

Projects around St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus

The facilities crew continues to keep busy with their projects around campus.  During Christmas break we were able to employ a few college kids that helped the grounds crew trim up some trees around St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus.  Who would have ever thought we would be trimming trees in December in South Dakota? That is something that doesn’t happen very often!

The renovation work on the Stevens and Mathias Homes is going smoothly.  Right now our carpenters, electricians and plumbers are working every day to make it possible to meet our completion date.  We are hoping for the homes to be completed this summer and ready to move into at the start of the 2012 – 2013 school year.

The Stevens Home is in the painting stages.  The painting crew has finished the main floor of the Stevens Home and has begun working on the remaining painting, which should be finished by the end of next week.  The carpenters are also in the Stevens Home installing door frames throughout, and floor tile is being laid on the main floor.  The kitchen cabinets and counter tops for both homes arrived last week, so they are on site ready to be installed.  The Mathias Home will be completely sheet rocked this week and the taping will begin.  The duct work is also being completed this week on the Mathias Home.

Even though the renovation is keeping our facilities crews extremely busy, they also have the day-to-day maintenance that occurs around campus.  These gentlemen do a great job managing their work and making sure everything on campus is in tip-top condition.

Until next time!

The Facilities Staff

Fr. Steve’s updates

I’ve been consistently able to put in three or four hours a day in the office. Even if I don’t accomplish so much, it at least helps me from going stir crazy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

I’ve been consistently able to put in three or four hours a day in the office. Even if I don’t accomplish so much, it at least helps me from going stir crazy.

Today our business office supervisors all met to check in. We don’t receive as much mail or as many phone calls during the summer months, but that gives everyone more time to take inventory – not just physically, which we do this time of year – but to look at what’s working and what needs improvement.

Sometimes it’s in the quieter times that good ideas crop up and beg to be explored.

I stopped to check in on the progress in the Rooney/Speyer homes. The inside demolition was accomplished quickly after school was out, and our crew is already hard at work building new walls and replacing all the windows with ones that will insulate much better.

I obviously haven’t stopped in as much as when I’m running at full speed, but I know folks appreciate it when I take interest in the work they’re doing. And our staff does a lot of good work, even if much of it is behind the scenes.

Fr. Steve checks in on home renovations