We are just returning from our Thanksgiving break here at St. Joseph’s Indian School. I hope everyone enjoyed their break and spending the holiday with their friends and family. Last week, here at St. Joseph’s, a few of our staff were preparing a float to enter into the Chamberlain Parade of Lights festivities. With the theme being, “12 Days of Christmas” our float entry was the first day of Christmas. Does anyone remember what was asked on the first day of Christmas?
“On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…. A partridge in a pear tree.
There was a parade committee that gathered to put their heads together to come up with the wonderful idea for the float. However, our facilities grounds supervisor, Foster, was what I would call the leader of the group. Foster put in a lot of time working and building the float for the parade, along with many other facilities staff to help create his masterpiece. The float looked wonderful all lit up, with the famous Partridge Family song “I Think I Love You” being played as they drove it down the main street of Chamberlain, South Dakota.
Some of the Native American youth here at St. Joseph’s Indian School that stayed on campus in our break home also got to help out and participate in the parade. There were some students that got to ride on the float and some of them walked alongside and handed out dreamcatchers to all the spectators. Can you imagine what fun it was for these children to participate in something like this? They were able to help out and be a part of something with their “St. Joseph’s Family”. Great fun was had by all!
‘Tis the holiday season, so we just want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays!!
– St. Joseph’s Indian School Facilities Department
Our Lakota (Sioux) students are streaming in this evening as Thanksgiving break comes to an end. Most are now at the Rec Center where the boys Inter City basketball games are in full swing. We now have just three more weeks of school before Christmas break and I’m sure the time is going to be filled with many activities and also fly by quickly.
Our weather remained sunny and dry this past week which made travel for the families and guardians worry free. On Wednesday, the “official” time for school to dismiss for Thanksgiving break was 2:00, but when I got to the school around 1:45 the largest classroom had just three students left. With so many of the students families spread across all of South Dakota, parents and guardians showed up throughout the day at the times that worked for them. We have a group of over 20 students from the Rosebud Indian reservation, which is two hours distant. The tribe sends a bus to transport them back and forth over the holidays. That bus showed up around 10:00. Many families came around noon and were invited to the dining hall to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the trimmings.
Several students stayed on campus during the vacation. We have a couple of break homes for students who need to or prefer to be here these days – 9 students in the grade school break home and another half-dozen in the high school program. I stopped in every now and again to check if houseparents needed anything and see how the students were doing. The high school students were mostly involved with basketball practice. The grade school home had lots more fun activities, like a trip to Mitchell, South Dakota (70 miles away) to see a movie. There was also plenty of times for recreation in the home. Samantha and Aralyn taught me how to play Wii tennis on the TV screen – and thrashed me thoroughly of course.
Our homes are normally split between boys and girls homes. In the break home there’s a different dynamic as three families with brothers and sisters were together under one roof. They enjoyed sitting next to each other at table, and spending time with younger siblings.
On Thanksgiving Day, I drove 25 miles north to Fort Thompson on the Crow Creek Indian reservation to go to mass. Afterward, Sr. Charles cooked a turkey and invited people from the community to bring what they could to add to a pot-luck celebration. It was especially nice for those elders who may have been on their own otherwise to have company to eat with, visit and celebrate.
This year I am most thankful that I’ve been able to resume my normal routine of work; I’m glad the cancer is still in remission. What blessings are you most thankful for?
On Black Friday, the city of Chamberlain sponsored a Parade of Lights downtown. The evening started with a free chili supper at the Fire Hall. Santa greeted us as we rolled in. With the parade theme, “The 12 Days of Christmas” St. Joseph sponsored a float of, “A partridge in a pear tree.” Our break home students rode on walked alongside the float. Instead of candies, they passed out dreamcatcher keychains. Maybe not as tasty, but practical and longer lasting.
My fingers are sore from writing staff Christmas cards, which I have spent significant time doing while the office and school have been closed. Instead of just signing my name I try to write a few personal words to each person who works here. I am so grateful for the dedicated staff here at St. Joseph’s Indian School who do so much for our students. While running a residential school with 200 students is a big job, when each do their part, it somehow–thanks be to God–all comes together.