Spooky night at St. Joseph’s Indian School

I was working in my lab, late one night. . .

Actually, dressed like a mad scientist, tonight I was worked at the end of the year honors banquet for our 4th-8th grade students. Twenty-five students have all A’s and B’s and 5th grader Camron was the lone student to pull all A’s for the whole year. “Monsters” was the theme chosen, and staff and students dressed up in a variety of fun and/or scary costumes.

Purple People Eater
Look out kids, it’s the Purple People Eater!

For dinner, we had to choose from a mystery menu, not quite knowing what we were ordering. “Witches broomstick handles” turned out to be green beans and “vampire blood” was tomato juice. I thought I was in luck with my first course when I got a knife, fork and spoon with green beans while my neighbor had all food and no utensils!

To my dismay, the ghoulish waiter made me turn them in so when the next course came I had to eat spaghetti (a.k.a. Frankenstein’s Brains) with my fingers! We had lots of laughs. I teamed up with a group of teachers, houseparents and staff to sing a rendition of “Monster Mash.” When it came time to pass out the certificates, our students also received a T-shirt reading MONSTROUSLY AWESOME HONOR STUDENT.

Our 8th graders presented their social studies research projects today on historical figures of interest. Some chose presidents like JFK and Teddy Roosevelt. Others chose Lakota leaders like Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. One girl chose Aristotle, which Dave the teacher noted was a first.

With the help of our computer teacher Gina, the students put together power point presentations that were quite good and made the information come alive. Some of the kids struggled mightily in front of a crowd of peers. Others were big hams and relished the spotlight. While it’s not easy, it’s necessary to overcome fears and grow in self-confidence to let their voices be heard.

Tonight the t-ball league (1st – 3rd graders) handed out their end of the year awards. Diamond (great name for a ball player!) and Keshaume got Golden Glove Awards. Samantha and Nevaeh were acknowledged for having the Best Attitude, and Gavin and Jarret received the Sportsmanship Trophy. Because of an unusual three-way tie, no team won first place, but all the kids got ribbon medals and wore them as proudly as though they’d just won the Olympics.

Great progress

The pre-cast sections of wall being secured.
Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center remodeling project.

Part of the road around St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus was closed today as the construction company working on the Akta Lakota Museum brought in three large pre-cast sections of wall. Two pictured the notable Sioux leaders Sitting Bull and Gabriel Renville to replace similar murals that are being covered up with the new addition. The third depicts an eagle in flight, which we use as the logo for the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center. The sections weigh over ten tons, and a heavy crane lifted them into place as workers attached the 20 foot high sections to the building. The new look instantly gave a sense of great progress as the project continues to take shape.

We hold an annual service awards banquet to recognize employees for each five year anniversary of their service. Tonight, in addition to honoring staff members for their longevity, we also singled out nine staff members who were nominated by their peers for setting a good example and going far beyond the basics in their job.  Vaye Jean has worked in the school for 35 years, and was the longest serving employee so honored. The night was rather poignant in that she will be retiring at the end of the school year. We will  make sure we say a proper goodbye when we reach that point. But, for tonight, we shared a sit down dinner, memories and appreciation for the contribution all our staff make to the success of the Native American students entrusted to our care.