Good food and good company

Activities continued at the Lakota Nation Invitational Tournament (LNI) in Rapid City, South Dakota. After the Knowledge Bowl concluded, our Lakota (Sioux) students took individual tests in their strongest school subjects. They competed against other gifted and talented Native American youth from across the state of South Dakota, but mostly, I emphasized, they were competing against themselves, as they try to grow in knowledge. Not winning, not being the best or brightest can be a powerful incentive to study harder and learn more.

True wisdom begins when we know what we don’t know.

Our high school team will stay on another day, but I had to get back to Chamberlain for our end-of-the-year staff Christmas party. On the first part of the drive, I turned the radio on to hear how some of the basketball games were going and head a ballgame broadcast entirely  in Lakota! That’s a creative way to spark interest and keep the Lakota language alive. It wasn’t too long before the reception faded, I turned off the radio, and appreciated the silence on the three-hour drive home. With little traffic, traveling in South Dakota can be very meditative and a good time for taking stock of blessings, and things I need to work on.

Jodee won the shiniest sweater! She looked great!
Jodee won the shiniest sweater! She looked great!

Many of our staff, including the maintenance crew and the development office people who are still answering all the mail and donor requests work year round. Our teachers and most houseparents are on a school schedule and will have the next two weeks off. Tonight was a night to relax and celebrate the successful completion of the first semester.

The planning committee threw in a new wrinkle this year and awarded prizes for the best Christmas sweaters – shiniest, most beautiful and most creative. We had some characters with lights and bulbs and tinsel which let to lots of laughter. Good food and good company. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make the evening a fun success!

Smiles and memories from St. Joseph’s Indian School

The staff sat through many meetings and presentations today. One favorite event is viewing a slide show of the past’s events. That always brings smiles and nostalgic memories. There was also the mandatory talk about fire and safety, and classes on dealing with blood and airborne pathogens when kids are hurt or sick. We all have to continually strive to learn a little about a lot of different topics.

Smaller focus groups met to pull together the ideas and questions we heard during yesterday’s strategic planning sessions, trying to fill in more details. One question we ask a lot around here is, “Who has the R? – Who will be responsible for making sure what we say we want to do gets done?”

Besides meetings, teachers are getting their classrooms ready. The walls are starting to come to life with more color and objects that announce the start of another school year. Houseparents also are organizing and setting up the homes – everything from stocking the cupboards to decorating bulletin boards and prayer spaces. The balance between physical work and the input of ideas seems to be a good combination.