Guest Blogger: Tom

St. Joseph’s recently purchased a building in downtown Chamberlain!

The new building will allow us to convert the existing Receiving building into a “one stop” disbursement center for non-food items used by St. Joseph’s students and staff, which is the biggest benefit the building will provide.  This one-stop shop will include clothing for the students, household goods, personal care items, gifts, linen and all the supplies currently found in Central Storage.

At this time, these items are stored in several locations on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus.  With the added space and efficiency, the building used by Central Storage, the current thrift store and storage areas below Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel can be available for other uses.

At this time we are out of storage room, and have little space for storage items that are seasonal or need to be saved for specific outreach programs, like the Bookmobile van, which distributes books to Indian reservation communities each summer.

Items that are taken to missions on the Indian reservation are currently stored in the van or trailer until a full load is ready to go. This means the van and trailer are not available for other use between mission trips.  With the new building, the boxes can be kept inside until a load is ready to go, then the van and trailer can be taken to the store, loaded and taken to the designated reservation or mission.  We are also hoping that this will allow for more mission runs and for more efficient processing of donations.

To keep costs down, maintenance staff from St. Joseph’s spent time doing demolition inside and outside of the new building in preparation for a contractor doing the majority of the remodel work. A general contractor will do the largest part of the project but, again to keep costs down, St. Joseph’s staff will do all of the electrical work and will co-ordinate with several local contractors on HVAC and plumbing.

Tom T

Who remembers standardized testing?

School was very quiet when I wandered over today. The reason – yearly standardized testing. In between, the students got breaks to engage in some fun projects. The art room had kids with watercolors and drawing pencils freelancing whatever they felt like drawing. In the Native American Studies classroom, the 8th graders were working on their graduation banner. The class of 2012 will feature a satin medicine wheel, and they were pinning the material in place before everyone, boys and girls alike, joined in to stitch the satin to the banner.

We’ve had great retention in the high school program this year – 38 of the 40 students who started the year are still with us. With some of our remodeling finishing up, we will be able to add another high school home in the fall, and increase our capacity for that age group to 50. Even so, we have more eighth grade applicants for the high school homes than we have beds. Several girls had to be put on the waiting list.

One of the 6th-8th grade homes made a proposal to keep the 8th grade girls where they are currently until another room opens up. A grandmother called me and was profoundly grateful that the granddaughter she is raising will be able to continue in the program.

I took some time with building projects today. I donned a hard hat and walked over to the Akta Lakota Museum to finalize a decision on the size of a wall.  Over the last couple of days we’ve gotten a couple of inches of wonderful, desperately needed, life-giving rain.  The down side was the moisture made the construction site a muddy mess. The souls of my shoes were two inches higher with mud when I walked back to the office. Also, we are in the process of purchasing the old grocery store downtown in order to expand our Thrift Store and give us much more storage space. We went over some plans and reports and took care of the needed paperwork.

After school, the track team members were on the football field running wind sprints. A couple of the shot putters lagged far behind the field. They rely on strength and not speed, though I tell them strong legs will help with both. The sun came out in the afternoon for a glorious 65 degree day, and soon the T-Ball and Softball fields were alive with activity and the friendly banter that characterizes a baseball game.