Good afternoon! I am Angela, St. Joseph’s Speech Therapist.

Angela, St. Joseph's Speech Therapist

Angela, St. Joseph’s Speech Therapist

It’s been a busy and productive start to the school year at St. Joseph’s! We started our third week today. To help get the Lakota boys and girls off to a good start, we do some screenings to make sure they are ready to learn.

Last week, the South Dakota School for the Deaf (SDSD) screened our entire school – 208 students – for hearing proficiency. The SDSD team consists of a licensed audiologist and two audiology technicians who screen hearing and complete full evaluations when necessary.

During our screens, two students were identified with ear infections and one with wax build-up posing significant challenges with their hearing. After medical intervention, the students will then be re-screened by our speech-language pathologist to ensure that intervention was successful and they are able to pass their hearing screen. We are so fortunate to be able to offer health services here on campus!

The Lakota students participated in hearing screening.

All St. Joseph’s students had their hearing screened to start the school year.

It is reassuring to know our students have good hearing and can effectively learn and participate in the classroom. We are blessed to have SDSD share their commitment to education and health with St. Joseph’s Indian School each year. Feeling very grateful, we have already penciled them in for the same time next year!

Good afternoon! I am LaRayne, St. Joseph’s Native American Studies Teacher.

LaRayne is St. Joseph's Native American Studies teacher.

LaRayne, St. Joseph’s Native American Studies teacher

Spirituality is an important part of our mission at St. Joseph’s Indian School – to educate for life, mind, body, heart and spirit.

Smudging souls is something that has been done for generations in our tribal cultures. It is a cleansing ritual for our bodies and minds. We take advantage of special days at St. Joseph’s to perform this ritual for our children, staff and mission.

To mark a new beginning and the start of the school year, we smudged before we entered the school on the first day to show that each of us were entering the school with a clean being.  Smudging helps to rid a person or area of unwanted energies that aren’t helpful throughout the day, week, or month. Smudging is also used to bless new areas, items or places so that a fresh start is felt in the heart.

Not only is our school equipped with the ability to smudge, but also St. Joseph’s homes have everything they need for the students can be smudged whenever they feel the need to take part in this very meaningful ceremony.

Many of our students take part in smudging daily at their family’s home or watch a family member take part. The connection the ceremony has to home, culture and family is strong. I often hear our students say, “Oh, that smell reminds me of my Grandma’s house. She does that.”

Smudging is something we do as part of the whole person education to show the students that what they do is a beautiful part of who they are as Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people. It can be very prayerful and medicinal.

Students have the opportunity to smudge at St. Joseph’s whenever they feel they need to.

LaRayne holds out the burning sage for the Lakota (Sioux) students to smudge on the first day of school.

In order to smudge, you need sage or sweetgrass, (we use sage), a fireproof bowl (we use abalone or turtle shells) and a lighter or matches (optional).  Sage balls are made by removing the leaves of the sage stalks and rolling them in your palm to form small spheres.

I made several of these to burn for the 180 students plus 15-20 staff and houseparents who accompanied the kids through the open doors of our school on that exciting (yet sometimes scary!) first day of school.  When the smoke from the burning sage rises, people welcome and brush the smoke over their faces, hearts and bodies in a washing motion to feel the cleansing properties and take in the sweet scent of the sage.

If burning sage is not possible, one can also rub the leaves in the palms of the hands and then rub the hands over one’s body to cleanse. Also, the plant can be rubbed directly onto the body.

Either way, our students and staff are ready to embrace the 2014-15 school year with a connection to Mother Earth, home and school through the meaningful act of smudging.

Pilamayathank you – for helping us provide these important opportunities for the Lakota boys and girls!

LaRayne

Dear Benefactors,

Fr. Anthony shakes hands with members of the Black Lodge Singers after their presentation at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Everyone shook hands with the singers to thank them for coming and sharing their talents.

It is another beautiful day in the neighborhood here at St. Joseph’s Indian School! Things are off to a good start as we continue to welcome students back on campus. Chamberlain High School starts on Thursday, so our high school students began returning Sunday. Some were back early to take part in practice sessions for volleyball, football and golf. However, everyone was back ahead of school starting. All our high school students are now taking part in an orientation program before the first day of school meet and get to know new houseparents and new students.

The Lakota (Sioux) students in grades 1-8 began their second week of school yesterday and are looking forward to getting their sports season underway. This fall, our St. Joseph’s cross country, volleyball and football teams will play against other schools in the area.

While some recent rain has been beneficial to local farmers, it has slowed the instillation of the new playground down a bit. It is amazing to watch the progress being made! We know the students are chomping at the bit to use the new swings, slides and climbing walls as well as shoot some baskets on the new basketball court.

St. Joseph’s students practiced for powwow along with the Black Lodge Singers.

The Lakota children practiced their powwow dance steps to a live drum group!

Yesterday afternoon we had a presentation by the Black Lodge Singers. It was a wonderful way to learn about Native American heritage for both students and staff. The group – a family – hails from the Pacific Northwest. It was especially exciting for St. Joseph’s students to practice their dancing to a live drum group! With our annual powwow on September 13, it came at a good time.

Our annual powwow is an especially exciting time since many families and friends are on campus. Everyone is welcome to attend our 38th annual powwow with festivities beginning on September 12. You can find more information at www.stjo.org/powwow, including directions and local accommodations.

I hope each of you has a great week! We’re so grateful for your prayers and support. The Lakota children keep you in prayer at our Sunday liturgy each week.

Sincerely,

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

It is our first week back at St. Joseph’s Indian School. The Lakota (Sioux) students are getting settled into their new classrooms and new routines. At lunchtime, however,

Claire is a St. Joseph's houseparent

Claire

they have been looking longingly at their new playground, which is still a few weeks from completion. They have been checking the blueprints posted outside the school office, marveling at the towers, tunnels and slides. They can hardly wait! In the meantime, they have playtime in another area — walking, talking, and playing basketball.

Most of the physical work on campus happens during the summer time, so it is behind the scenes. The students arrive to see clean homes, new sidewalks and beautiful lawns. Seeing a crew of people doing construction on the playground is a bit of a novelty.

Not finished quite yet, St. Joseph’s new playground is under construction.

The new playground for the Lakota boys and girls is making progress, but not done yet.

It has also proven to be an opportunity for generosity.

At St. Joseph’s, we practice the Circle of Courage values of Belonging, Mastery, Independence and Generosity. These first few weeks of school we focus hard on Belonging—making sure each student feels connected in their home and classrooms, assuaging the inevitable bouts of homesickness, and building a sense of community.

Some of our eighth grade students jumped at the chance to practice other values as well. They used some of the cooking skills they learned in Personal Living Skills class to make treats for the playground construction crew – demonstrating Mastery.

They walked out to the playground site bearing a large container of lemonade and a pan of Rice Krispie treats—in a

The Lakota students practiced Generosity by bringing a snack to the crew working on the playground.

St. Joseph’s students brought cold lemonade and a snack to the crew on a hot day to demonstrate generosity.

show of Independence and Generosity.

The students introduced themselves and got to know the names of the crew, who hail from Omaha, Nebraska. It was a hot afternoon, and the crew was very grateful for a snack and some cold lemonade.

The students were grateful and excited to see the progress being made on the playground. They heard about what it was going to look like when it was finished, and got personal assurances that they were going to have a well-built, top-of-the-line play area.   It was such a good experience for the students that they are planning on visiting again in the upcoming weeks.

As for staff, we were proud of our students, grateful for the hard work of the construction crew, and especially grateful for donors who made this new playground possible. Thank you to everyone —from our grounds crew, to the construction crew, to all benefactors who contributed. Pilamaya!

Claire N.

Paraprofessional

The Lakota students introduced themselves and thanked the crew working on St. Joseph’s new playground.

Pilamaya – thank you – for working on our playground!

Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

We are now officially back in session! The Lakota (Sioux) students began arriving on campus about noon Sunday. I walked around campus to greet veterans and newcomers and learned that we are expecting 170 for grades 1-8 and have nearly 50 students attending Chamberlain High School.

When our high school students are back next week, we’ll be operating at full capacity of 220 students!

Some families made an event of bringing their sons and daughters to school.  One checked in and got squared away and then the whole family went fishing on the Missouri River.  Others with more than one child, started at one home and then moved around campus getting everyone the right home.

The first day of school, the Lakota children wore sunglasses – their future’s so bright, they gotta wear shades!

The future’s so bright we’ve gotta wear shades!

St. Joseph’s has 20 homes on campus – 10 boys’ homes and 10 girls’ homes, which are then divided into age groups:

  • Grades 1-3
  • Grades 4-6
  • Grades 7-8
  • Grades 9-12

St. Joseph’s houseparents were waiting to welcome each student and their family to campus. They shared basic information like how to stay in touch once the school year is underway, contact numbers and schedules.

My office is near the health center, so I was able to welcome back some of the early arrivals as they came for the nurses to take their height and weight measurements, do initial eye tests, find cases for their eye glasses and verify any medication the student might take.

St. Joseph’s staff tried to make the experience of coming back to school as joyful and happy as possible – we understand that it’s hard to be away from home. Each student was given a small blue St. Joseph’s backpack containing a few treats and a note of explanation:

  • ‘We are popping with excitement that you are here’ — with a bag of popcorn.
  • ‘It is a joy that you came to St. Joseph’s’ — with an Almond Joy bar.
  • ‘The Great Spirit will save you when you are in trouble’ —explained the Life Savers candy.
  • ‘If you’re feeling blue, just dance and grab a tissue’ — with a pack of Kleenex.
  • ‘If you’re nervous about the first day of school, don’t worry we’ve bean there before’ — with a Beanie Baby toy.

“Welcome to St. Joseph’s, we are glad you are here!”

School started an hour late Monday and students had the opportunity to “smudge” on their way in. This is a Lakota tradition of burning sweet grass and then pulling some of the smoke over you as a blessing and purification.

The Lakota boys and girls loved the Welcome Back to School cards you sent!

Thank you for the Welcome Back to School cards you sent the Lakota children!

As the children entered the school teachers, guidance counselors and staff waited with sun glasses of various descriptions – the theme of the day was ‘the future is so bright you need to wear shades.’ 

So we are off to a flying start!

We are grateful for your generosity that provides the resources and school supplies the children need. We are also grateful to be able to have some fun with the sunglasses and goodies!

We ask for your prayers that our students, teachers, counselors and houseparents – new and returning – may get off to a wonderful start and feel at home.  Be assured of our prayers for you and yours.

Pilamaya thank you – for the kindness you show the Lakota children!

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

The excitement is growing at St. Joseph’s Indian School as we end All Staff Orientation Week. Around St. Joseph’s campus, this is a time of great anticipation. We are

Mike, St. Joseph's Director

Mike, St. Joseph’s Director

renewing old acquaintances and preparing for the school year that lies ahead. Child Services Staff have had some time off and the spirits are high.

Although most Child Services Staff (houseparents, teachers and Family Service Counselors) were away for part of the summer, our Facilities Crew has been busy. The campus looks great! General upkeep and many maintenance projects have been finished with others nearing completion. The playground is torn up as we are preparing the area for our new playground equipment. It will be so awesome when it’s finished!

Our Development Staff has also been very busy this summer. They work with our generous donors to provide the necessary resources for all our programs. They are getting ready for events like our powwow in September and upcoming Donor Luncheons.

Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, St. Joseph’s Indian School is able to educate and care for 200 Lakota (Sioux) children every year.

The Lakota children start school at St. Joseph’s on Monday, August 11!

As we come back together after a break, there is visiting and catching up to do. Employees learn about each other’s summer trips; weddings we attended or even participated in; updates on changes that have happened in each other’s lives. There is home and classroom prep along with staff meetings.

We also catch up on what we have heard about our Lakota students. Are they having good or not-so-good summers? I saw so-and-so at the store, this or that. The Family Service Counselors have some updates from their travels, but there are other stories that will have to be checked out next week when the students arrive.

On Wednesday, all our staff came together for our traditional beginning of the year kickoff. We fittingly started with a prayer service in the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel. We asked for guidance and inspiration from the Great Spirit in meeting our important mission for the children and families we serve. The prayer service was followed by an all-staff meeting and lunch.

Yes, spirits are high as we look to carry out the work of our mission this year! We are blessed to be the hands of our donors, working directly with the Lakota children and families who come to St. Joseph’s for help.

Thank you for your generous support!

Mike, St. Joseph’s Director

Good afternoon!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

As All Staff Orientation begins to unfold at St. Joseph’s Indian School, you can almost hear the pitter patter of little (and big!) feet. The Lakota (Sioux) students will arrive for the upcoming school year in less than a week! All our staff are busy making sure everything is ready.

The orientation process gives veterans and new staff the chance to get to know one another, share insights and to ask and answer questions. All these preparations make the opening of the school year easier for everyone when the homes open Sunday and the students arrive.

Houseparents will put final touches on their home to welcome the students to their home-away-from-home. Teachers also are getting their classrooms in order and doing last minute decorating to welcome the children.

St. Joseph’s Family Service Counselors work with houseparents, teachers and support staff to help everyone understand how they can best prepare themselves to deal with the various experiences and needs the students will have.

Orientation will cap off Thursday with a picnic for all employees to share some good food and camaraderie for the opening of the 2014-2015 school year.

As part of the effort to make our program at St. Joseph’s Indian School interesting and challenging, our Principal, Kathleen, took part in a conference on education sponsored by the Priests of the Sacred Heart (SCJs) this summer.  She and the principals of other SCJ schools from around the world met to share ideas and foster ways of promoting the spiritual values of Fr. Leo John Dehon, SCJ and Founder of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart.

The Lakota children will return to St. Joseph’s on August 10, so homes and classrooms are being prepared.

St. Joseph’s houseparents are stocking cupboards and getting ready for the Lakota boys and girls to return for the start of the school year!

It has been a bit noisy around the Chamberlain community these last few days. Bikers are passing through on their way to the Black Hills and the annual Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota.

In the past we have had the opportunity to bless a number of the riders and their motorcycles.  We wish them safe travels and an enjoyable time!

The beautiful green of early summer is quickly fading to shades of tan and gold. Rain has been scarce lately. Hopefully, we will be blessed with rain between now and powwow so things will be nice and green for the event. We would love to have you join us for our annual powwow September 12-13. You can register to attend and find more information at stjo.org/powwow.

We hope you have a great week! Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare the arrival of our Native American students, and for safe travel of our students as they return for the upcoming school year! May God continue to bless and reward you for your generosity to for the care and education of the Lakota children attending St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

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