Homemade birthday cards and dancing at St. Joseph’s

Health Update – I got back last night from a trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. I’ve been feeling great, yet still need to check in with the oncologists every six months to make sure the sarcoma doesn’t rear its ugly head again. Recurrence is a problem with soft tissue cancer. All the scans went well, with no signs of problems, thanks be to God. I’m so appreciated of people’s continued prayers and support!

One of our students asked me if I went to boarding school. The answer is yes, High School Seminary. When he followed up wondering if I ever got homesick, I could see the tears forming in his eyes. He had a nice Thanksgiving with his grandmother, and now that he’s back on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus, he’s missing her and his relatives so much. He knows St. Joseph’s is a good place for him to be, yet all of us on staff realize how emotionally hard it is to be away. I got homesick several times, even when I moved away for college. Imagine what must go through the mind and heart of a child as young as six! We try to be as supportive as we can, and if family can be reached, give the child a chance to call home and talk. But sometimes there are tears, calling forth a hug or pat on the back, and solidarity with the lonely sadness.

Happy birthday Carol!
Happy birthday Carol!

I joined the Fisher Home (6th– 8th grade boys) for supper. David and Gayle are two of our newest houseparents and are quickly learning the routine and developing relationships with the boys. Gayle likes to cook from scratch and put a great meal on the table that fed the hearty appetites of ten teenage boys. After supper, everyone pitched in to clean up the area of the home they had particular responsibility for. They rotate duties, since no one is particularly fond of washing pots or cleaning bathrooms. Students take good care of the place, although it helps to have houseparents check things over. Carol is a six day houseparent in Fisher and celebrates a birthday tomorrow. After the table was cleaned up, the guys got out paper and crayons and created a pile of cute homemade birthday cards to greet Carol with when she comes in tomorrow. It’s been a while since I got out the crayons, but I gave it my best effort as well.

I noticed the lights on in the Skating Room and stopped to find a group of 4th and 5th grade girls practicing for their “Dancing Dolls” performance. I asked the girls to demonstrate what they have of their routine so far. They started with some timidness and hesitancy, but once they got the beat down, started to lose themselves in the music and have fun. I look forward to seeing how they respond in front of the crowd a couple of weeks from now.

The girls practicing for their “Dancing Dolls” routine.
The girls practicing for their “Dancing Dolls” routine.

Preparing for our Lakota youth

Today was another office day. Besides meetings, visits and phone calls, there’s a big chunk of time as an administrator that is taken up with reading.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010Fr. Steve of St. Joseph's Indian School

Today was another office day. Besides meetings, visits and phone calls, there’s a big chunk of time as an administrator  taken up with reading.

Our high school staff sent me the student guidelines they’ve been working on to review. The guidelines cover topics such as:

  • study expectations,
  • student bill of rights,
  • curfews,
  • allowance and
  • drug and alcohol policy.

I only see four changes in the 40 page document;  staff does a thorough job each year of reviewing our policies and updating and changing where necessary. I appreciate the efforts of our team who work with the guidelines and suggest improvements for our work here at St. Joseph’s.

The auditors have been in the office wrapping up the fiscal year, and our preliminary reports are in. Overall, we were blessed even during these hard economic times. We spent less than we budgeted, and received more than our expenses. That enables us to put money aside for a rainy day … and continue our renovations. Besides the bottom line, each number in a budget report can indicate areas that are on target or need looking at. I’m grateful staff here are conscientious about staying within their own budget.

For our continuing education, our Child Services Team is recommending we read the book No Such Thing as a Bad Kid by Charlie Appelstein. Some of our students come with tough issues to deal with in their lives. While most days it’s easier to love them; some days can be very trying. The author gives many practical suggestions about what to say and do when young people act out. If we can stop from overreacting, those events can lead to greater dialogue and get at the root of what might be troubling a child. We want to stop bad behaviors, while nurturing what the child needs in the long run.