Producing teary, but appreciative eyes

Today was the last full day of school here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. At day’s end the students gathered in the school gym for the perfect and outstanding attendance awards. Thirty-eight children made it to school every day (which is made a bit easier when you live on campus) but still, that meant getting to and from breaks on time and showing up to learn day in and day out.

As an incentive to get students to make such an effort, we take a portion of the Box Tops for Education that donors send to us, and buy some nice end-of-the-year prizes. Bikes are always a favorite, and eight children took home a bicycle. Some students chose a camera or MP3 player as an alternative. Most of the older students opted for a gift card to the local clothing store to supplement their wardrobe with something new and in style.

Our eighth graders had a morning retreat led by Fr. Anthony. Many of the staff wrote them letters of support and memories. They had a half an hour to read through those, producing several teary but appreciative eyes. When you live at a school 24/7, the memories of the many things students and staff share are even stronger.

Afterwards, we practiced for tomorrow’s graduation, so everyone knew where to sit and process and receive. Lunch brought a pizza party for the graduates-to-be in the gym. The students went on to an afternoon matinee, while I opted to go back to the office and take care of the paperwork that is the constant part of an administrator’s job.

Those students who have relatives graduating will stay another day. Most of the other students headed home shortly after the school bell rang. We’ll still have about 50 students next week as summer programs begin, but others said goodbye next August 12, when we start all over again.