A group of 14 college students and faculty members from Penn State New Kensington visited our area. With a grant from Rotary International, they gifted and installed new computers for the Cheyenne River Indian Outreach  (also known as the Sacred Heart Center) in Eagle Butte. They spent the day on St. Joseph’s Indian  School’s campus here learning about our programs and interacting with students. This evening all our high school students gathered in the dining hall, with our visitors interspersed throughout the tables to talk about college life and encourage our kids to consider pursuing higher education. One young woman spoke about what it was like to be the first in her family to attend college, which many here could identify with.

Our 1st – 4th graders engaged in a Battle of the Books via telephone conference with our two sister schools in Mississippi. Each class read five books and the students were quizzed on the contents. All the battles were close, with about 85% correct answers. Even those who were not perfect still came out ahead by the very fact they read the books, processed, remembered and advanced their critical thinking abilities.

We are working with a group called Child Trends to gauge our student achievements during their time with us at St. Joseph. Two researchers were on campus to hold focus groups with different age groups.  Several families have also been interviewed. We aim at instilling the values from the Circle of Courage – belonging, independence, mastery and generosity. We want to help students mature in life skills as well, which goes beyond the standardized testing we can measure in the classroom. Child Trends is helping us find ways to measure if we are able to actually help students grow in those areas of values. I’m very interested in reviewing their findings.