Guest Blogger: Facilities Team

Happy 4th of July!!  I hope everyone had a safe and fun-filled holiday.  With the summer being in full swing, we are also at full speed with all our projects on campus.  This summer seems to have an even busier schedule than we have in the past.

Here is a summary of some of the projects that have been started at St. Joseph’s Indian School:

Drainage Project:

This week the company we’re working with pulled onto campus with their big equipment and began removing the concrete in front of the Benedictine and Kateri Buildings. First, second and third grade students have their homes in the Benedictine Building, while the Kateri Building houses high school girls.

Mathias Remodel:

We are finishing up with the Mathias Remodel.  Right now the guys are working on their punch list to get the final details finished up just in time for the houseparents to arrive on campus in the next couple of weeks. The junior high girls who live in the Mathias Home will return to campus on August 12 for school to begin Monday morning, August 13.

School Painting and Carpeting:

St. Joseph’s Elementary School is getting a little touch up this summer also.  We are re-painting all the classrooms and laying new carpet.

Summerlee and William Remodel:

We have kicked off the next round of home remodels with the Summerlee and William Homes, where our fourth and fifth-grade girls live.  The Summerlee Home has most of the demolition work complete. We have started framing up the new walls, which will reposition some of the rooms to give the houseparents a better view of kids during activities taking place in the home.

The William Home is in the demolition process.  This home will be extended a few feet to give the girls who live there more room in their living and play spaces.

The projects listed above are some of the bigger projects we have going on around campus.  We also have the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center expansion, which will add an alumni center, historical center and storage for the museum’s collection of art and artifacts.

Some of our daily work activities going on around campus include:


  • Irrigation and mowing at Fisher Field, where our junior high students spend time playing after school and on weekends.


  • Plumbing in the Summerlee Home is roughed in and the Mathias Home plumbing completed.  The plumbing that has been inspected has passed both inspections.


  • Crew member Jeff is painting the Giles Home and should be finished this week.


  • Finish wiring the Mathias Home, demo of electrical in Summerlee. Wiring new equipment at Tipi Press Printing and Development rooftop AC unit.


  • Annual vehicle inspections and daily maintenance.  St. Joseph’s fleet has 22 vehicles that insurance company totaled due to a recent hail storm.

Fr. Steve is back

I’m back on campus after two weeks on the road!

I started with a visit to my oncologist at the Mayo Clinic. All the test results looked good, and they told me to keep doing whatever I’ve been doing for the next six months. I was in Rochester on my birthday, and that news was the best birthday present I could have hoped for.

Next I traveled to Oklahoma City for our donor appreciation luncheons. Laura wrote a great summary of that trip in an earlier blog post. I would add that the “celebrity” I was most excited to meet was Savanna, who is a St. Joseph’s alumnae. Savanna just finished up her degree in nursing at Murray State in Oklahoma and joined us at the luncheon. When our students can meet someone who was once in their shoes, and see them succeeding in school, that provides far more inspiration and hope than my words of encouragement can.

I spent a week at home where I had the joy of presiding at my niece’s wedding. Congratulations Allison and Steve and many happy years together! My family is spread far and wide throughout the U.S., and we enjoyed the chance to catch up. I was especially delighted in meeting the three new great nieces that were born since I was home last.

Back on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus I spent the first day walking around and checking out all that is happening. People often assume the campus is much quieter over the summer, but in June it is actually busier, if that is possible. The dining hall serves more lunches now than in the school year, since we have the Rising Eagle Summer Day Camp going on, the PAWS program from town joining us at meal times, and all our students who are working or taking part in  summer school.

Maintenance is crazy busy! The projects I saw in full swing include:

  • Repaving the Akta Lakota Museum parking lot
  • Brickwork on Akta Lakota Museum addition
  • Roofing the boiler-room
  • Recarpeting the school (after 20 years of heavy wear and tear)
  • Demolition of William and Summerlee Home interiors in preparation for remodeling
  • Building shelving to house museum artifacts
  • Painting Central offices

Several of our high school students are helping on some of the projects. I also saw students working in the kitchen, serving lunch, at the Akta Lakota Museum, running the gift shop cash register, beautifying the grounds and in the print shop boxing up notepads we’ll send our donors. The biggest number are camp counselors, helping younger children in recreational and arts and crafts activities.

Wade graduated here in the class of 1979 and hadn’t been back in over 30 years. I took him on a tour of campus, and he helped me get a better picture of what life was like at St. Joseph’s back in the dorm days, before we added our family home living units. Andy in the Rec Center, and Mary Jane our Alumni Director were staff he remembered well, and visiting them was the definite highlight of his time on campus.

Lakota home remodeling project

The kids are so excited to see the finished homes!
The kids are so excited to see the finished homes!

The Lakota (Sioux) homes are eight homes in four buildings, two homes in each building. The homes are the Cyr/Perky, Fisher/Pinger, Speyer/Rooneyand the Stevens/Mathias. These homes were originally built in 1982. Our remodeling started in 2008 with the Cyr/Perky Home and we are finishing the project this year with the Stevens/Mathias Home.

During the renovations the kids that are assigned to those homes, are temporarily house in another home on campus.  The renovations usually begin when school is dismissed for the summer and finishes up the following summer.  Therefore, the home is under construction for one school year.

Part of the homes have had the walls opened up to make the family living and study areas more open. Handicapped bathrooms were also added.

To make the homes more energy-efficient:

  • new windows were added
  • the heating and cooling systems were upgraded
  • more insulation was installed
St. Joseph’s remodeling projects are going great.
St. Joseph’s remodeling projects are going great.

With the completion of the last of the home remodeling this year, the children will be living in homes that are cooler in the summer and much warmer on the coldest winter days, with all the conveniences of home.

PS – read more about St. Joseph’s Indian School remodeling projects here!

Your friends,

The Facilities Team