Alumni visits, outreach programs and sports fill the days at St. Joseph’s Indian School

I hope everyone had a beautiful and blessed Easter.  It was a quiet weekend as most of our students were away for the Easter break.

All sorts of activity has taken place recently.  The eighth grade boys’ and girls’ basketball teams took on the staff and there were some exciting finishes.  The girls only had five players, so there was no break for them. The staff could keep sending in waves of replacements. Even so, the girls hung on for a 30 to 29 win.  The boys had the lead until the very end and came up one point short, losing 47-46.

The staff who take part in our student mentoring program recently attended a hockey game in Sioux Falls at the new Denny Sanford Premier Center.  The following night nearly 70 students and staff again made the journey to Sioux Falls; this time to watch the home opener of the Sioux Falls Storm indoor football team taking on the Billings, Montana Wolves.  It is an interesting game to watch with balls flying over the barriers surrounding the ‘indoor field’ and into the appreciative audience who gets to keep the football.  The Storm, four time defending champ, finally caught fire and won 56-41.  After the game, players are available for signatures. Several went out of their way to take some quality time with our younger students.

Families gather together for the first Family ACT.
The Family Engagement Program held its first family training program called ‘Family ACT (All Coming Together)’ at Lower Brule, SD.

The athletic spirit hit St. Joseph’s last week as spring football for fourth, fifth and sixth graders kicked off combining St. Joseph’s students with local Chamberlain players.  The sign-up sheets were also out for t-ball for the younger students and softball for fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade.

On the weekend of March 27 and 28, our Family Engagement Program held its first family training program called ‘Family ACT (All Coming Together)’ at Lower Brule, SD.  In the past, families were invited to campus to take part in similar activities. We are now conducting reach outs on the various reservations so more families can attend.   Twenty-one families participated in sessions, activities and discussions while enjoying great food and fun.  The training covered issues such as setting healthy family goals, defining and honoring family, stress and balance, managing finances and honoring children through respectful, healthy relationships.

The staff at St. Joseph's posing for a picture with KP.
KP with the staff at St. Joseph’s.

April is Native American Career Month and St. Joseph’s was happy to welcome home alumnus, PFC KP Davidson, who came with Staff Sargent Tate, the Army recruiter in Rapid City, SD. KP came to St. Joseph’s as a seventh grader in 2006 and completed his junior year in 2011 before making the tough decision to finish high school in Eagle Butte, SD to be near his family.  After graduation he took a course in auto mechanics at Wyoming Tech.  He did his basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia and just got back from a nine month deployment in Egypt.   KP enjoyed experiencing a new culture and had the chance to visit Israel, but not the pyramids.  He shared some of his experiences from when he attended St. Joseph’s Indian School, telling the students he was homesick at times, but found support and encouragement from his teachers and houseparents.  He urged the students to stick with it, not to get behind in their studies and not to do drugs.  He and Staff Sargent Tate shared opportunities that exist in the Army and answered questions about pay, schooling, job opportunities and shooting different fire arms. He also shared that there is no similarity to reality of war compared to what one experiences in video games. He is currently on leave but will be heading back to his unit at Ft. Hood in Texas.

KP sharing his experiences with staff and students at St. Joseph's
Alumnus, PFC KP Davidson, speaking to the students at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

One final note.  We have another donor luncheon coming up in Panama City, Florida on April 25th and 26th.  If you would like to attend or receive additional information, please call 1-800-584-9200.  Two of our high school students will be there to share insight into what St. Joseph’s is all about and to express their gratitude for your generosity.  Our next donor luncheon will be in New York City on June 7th and 8th.

May God continue to bless and reward you for your generous support of the Lakota boys and girls. We keep you and your special intentions in our prayers.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ



Earning privileges

Temperatures have dipped down into the low teens the past couple of days as winter reminded us it’s just around the corner. I bundled up good and walked down to chapel for our regular morning mass. When I came out of chapel, the high school students were walking toward the bus to pick them up. A few of our older students who have driver’s licenses and good grades have earned driving privileges, and we have a few high mileage cars in the fleet they can take to school, sports and/or play practices.  Errol has earned that privilege, but today he also learned about responsibility. He had to come out early to scrape the ice off the windshield and get the car defrosted.

Another student was waiting for me by my office. All those going out for basketball have to sell a number of gift certificate packs to restaurants and businesses in town to help pay for their equipment. Kyle got my money, then later I was asked by two other ball players. Our staff tries to be generous and help students out with such purchases, but there are only so many coupons and magazine subscriptions you can buy.

Faculty vs. 8th grade

St. Joseph's Indian School had a "staff vs 8th graders" basketball game!
Nice drive JR!

The highlight of my day was our annual faculty versus the 8th grade basketball game. We played a double-header after school. First the girls against our female staff, then the boys against the men.  Everyone saw lots of playing time, and had good fun. The staff prevailed in two close games, but I think we had some extra help from the referees and scorekeepers.

While it’s hard to run with 14 year olds, we have some tall and athletic houseparents and coaches who carried the day for us. I’m a Hoosier and love my basketball, but my 52-year-old body doesn’t always cooperate in making the moves I used to make. A couple of times, I jumped to get a ball I’d normally grasp, but my vertical leap is higher in my memory than in today’s reality.  Since it’s less than 3 weeks since I got out of the hospital, I limited my playing time to a few minutes here and there to give others a breather. But it definitely felt great to be on the court with students again.


Improvement and heavy questions

I made the rounds at St. Joseph’s Indian School this afternoon during reading intervention time. All the teachers had small groups of students working on language art skills, particularly needed by each group. I watched the six American Indian students in the upstairs computer lab who have been identified as needing to improve their comprehension and reading speed. A teacher supervised and reviewed comprehension with them while the computer timed their word speed. Their immediate goal was to improve to 100 words per minute.

I visited the Religious Education classroom. Richard had class with the 15 2nd– 4th graders who are preparing for sacraments this year. He had medals of Mary to give to each of the students and we prayed a prayer of blessing before giving them out as a reminder of Mary’s love.

Tonight at the Fisher Home (6th– 8th grade boys) the initial talk was of sports, the upcoming basketball season and tonight’s NCAA football championship. But later, Thomas and Andrew started asking many big religious questions.

What happens to your soul when you die?

What are Heaven and Hell like?

Do you think the world is going to end soon?

Can God forgive any sin if you are sorry?

I welcome those kinds of questions and wish they came up more often, but never feel I do them the justice they deserve when they do arise. But I encouraged them to keep thinking and searching to the answers for those types of questions.

Student athletes recognized for achievements

The student athletes at St. Joseph's Indian School did a great job!
The student athletes at St. Joseph's Indian School did a great job!

After school the 6th – 8th grade youth gathered in the Rec Center for our Fall Sports Awards. Student athletes were recognized for achievements in cross country, football and volleyball.

Besides the awards for the best athletes in those sports, I am always touched by the acknowledgement of the kids who have the best attitude, make the most improvement and show leadership by their teamwork.

While being a little competitive is a good thing, I hope the sports and activities here teach our young people teamwork and the importance of preparing, practicing and working hard especially when the odds are against you.

Guest blogger: Mike Tyrell

When I came to the office today, I had this note from Mike, our Director of Child Services waiting for me. Since he speaks of lots that’s going on around campus, I thought I’d share this with you.

20 Minutes at the Rec Center

On Saturday morning, I happened to find myself in one of those unique but fun 20 minutes in our rec center.  As I was winding down my workout, a houseparent came into the workout room with one of the boys from his home.  He was working with the student teaching him to properly lift weights.  It was nice to see the mentoring going on and the student following the houseparent’s lead. 

As I finished, I left the workout room, only to find that the Ambrose Home’s students waiting rambunctious to go to wresting practice.  We have not had a wrestling program in a few years and it was their first practice.  The kids and houseparents were waiting at the front door of the rec center as mini-buses moved around outside to pick up the students.  The boys looked eager to get going to Chamberlain’s wrestling room, as we do not have a mat yet for our wresting program. 

I then wandered back into the rec center gym where two houseparent we setting up and Archery course for the students.  Today was the first day of training our students about how to safely shoot a bow and arrow.  The staff, who recently went to be certified in archery training, were eagerly awaiting the student’s arrival.  In talking with the staff, you could tell they were excited. 

As I left the gym, I noticed two student reading books.  Apparently these students were in trouble, and reading was part of their discipline.  I asked what they were reading and one boy showed me the book Prince of Egypt.   I told him he could give me an oral book report sometime.  Both boys were also watching the archery range being set up with great interest.  If this was discipline, they appeared to be having a good time.   

As I was leaving the facility, the second of two rec center staff showed up.  They we looking forward to a busy morning followed by an afternoon of bowling.  As I exited the rec center building, the snow was falling heavily and piling up.  It was surreal as I thought of all that was going on at the rec center and across campus on this cold and snowy, January day.  It also made me thankful for the fact that we are fortunate in what we provide for our students.