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Greetings! My name is Bette. My husband Mike and I have recently moved to South Dakota to work as houseparents for St. Joseph’s Indian School. It has been a joy working

Bette and her husband Mike recently moved to Chamberlain to be houseparents at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Bette and one of the summer students at the local library.

here in the summer break home. The students attend school for a few hours each morning and then our afternoons are filled with many fun activities.

We have students in our break home who will be in the second grade through ninth grade next year. Some of the younger students have enjoyed weaving potholders and some of the older students have learned how to make knitted hats using a round loom. Everyone has enjoyed making muffins and sugar cookies from scratch.

One student recently celebrated a birthday, so we had the joy of giving her a party complete with cupcakes and candles and party games. We also made homemade ice cream by shaking cream, sugar and vanilla in a baggie surrounded by ice.

We love celebrating summer birthdays!

Happy birthday Aralyn!

Some of the students guessed we were making cheese, but we kept it a secret to the end. We shook the bags for about 10 minutes – there were a lot of sore arms, but it was worth it when they got to taste the final results!

In the past few weeks, we have gone to the movies, had a picnic, gone bowling and, of course, out to Dairy Queen and McDonald’s for ice cream on a warm day. There are a lot of activities planned for the Fourth of July including a parade, car show and rodeo here in town. Next week, there will be a special party to celebrate the last day of school (I know the students will feel sad and need some cheering up – ha ha!).

The students have also attended our local library’s summer reading program. This year they have a super hero theme. One student was overheard saying this was “way cool”

as he designed his very own super hero shield and decorated it with stickers. They got to perform superhero dances, listen to stories and make special masks as well.

One very busy spot has been our Chamberlain Community Pool. It received a face lift this spring with the addition of a 100 foot curvy slide and a water basketball hoop. It has kept our kids very happy on warm days!

There is a playground right next to the pool, so the students have the best of both worlds. When we are not at the pool, students can often be found riding their bikes around campus or using a scooter or two.

Students created 200 luminary bags for the Relay for Life.

Students worked hard to design luminary bags for the local Relay for Life.

Our students truly have warm, giving hearts and have embraced the idea of helping with our local Relay for Life this year. We are assisting with the decoration of the paper bag luminaires that will light the pathway during the Relay.

The students listened to a story that was written by a young child diagnosed with cancer to gain a better understanding as well as increased empathy for those undergoing treatment.

Mike and I have been proud of the amount of care and attention that each bag has received. The kids really want to do a great job in making these special for the recipients. We have about 200 bags to decorate and are almost finished.

Thank you for allowing me to share some of the activities that have gone on here in the summer! The summer break home has been an eventful place filled with wonderful memories of a summer spent with beautiful kids.

Bette

Houseparent

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School is out! The last few days of school leading up to graduation were busy indeed.

Students in grades 1-5 were divided into teams for St. Joseph’s field day.

Go Team!

Last Tuesday was devoted to Field Day activities, which kept everyone in grades 1-5 hopping.

During the morning, there were several different activities: Bingo for prizes, an obstacle course and various relays—tug of war, potato sack, scramble through tunnels races, etc.  In the afternoon, activity move into the rec center where there were some very imaginative contests inspired by such shows as Minute to Win It and Fear Factor.  One of the messiest was Digging for Worms – students were face to face with a plate of whipped cream, chocolate syrup and gummy worms. They had to go in and get the gummy worms – no hands!

On field day, students fished for gummy worms in a plate of whipped cream and chocolate sauce – no hands!

Students went “Digging for Worms” on field day!

On Thursday St. Joseph’s eighth graders enjoyed their annual retreat and graduation practice.  During this time, we shared letters of encouragements from benefactors. Our Lakota students got a small taste of how many people are proud of their achievement and wishing them well with their futures.

If you wrote a letter, sent a card or kept our graduates in your prayers, thank you.  The students were impressed and humbled by the well wishes of so many.

Later that afternoon, we had fourth quarter awards for Honor Roll and attendance.  I’m pleased to announce 91 students had perfect attendance for the quarter, and there were several who had perfect attendance for the year!

Several made honor roll for the quarter and some even made it all four quarters.  For this achievement, they were presented with a sweatshirt that showed they were a St. Joseph’s Indian School Honor Roll student.  It was exciting to have several families present for the awards, on campus to sign children out for the summer.

Friday morning was graduation for 17 eighth graders.  They made a banner that will hang in the rec center displaying their motto—‘You can’t master your future if you are still stuck in your past.’

Three students earned a Presidential Academic Award – a first for St. Joseph’s Indian School. Two young men received citizenship pins for their work with the local Explorers – another first. Proud families were in attendance and Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel was jammed full.

We hope you and yours had a wonderful Memorial Day and remembered our service men and women who gave their futures that we might enjoy our freedom today.  May they rest in peace.

God bless you,

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!!!  The tomb is empty, He is truly risen!!!Happy Easter from the Lakota children!

 

We hope you all had a very Blessed Easter and that the good works you did during the Lenten Season will now continue so you can share that good news of an empty tomb with others.

 

After the Lakota (Sioux) students returned from Easter break on Monday at noon, several homes were planning to attend the Big Bend Shrine Circus in Chamberlain that evening.

 

Tuesday, it was back to business in the classrooms for the Lakota children and St. Joseph’s Parent Advisory Council was on campus.  Made up of the Native American parents and guardians of St. Joseph’s students, the group meets twice a year. We keep them up to date about what is happening on campus and hear their feedback and suggestions on current and future programs for the students. We are grateful for their support and insight.

 

You may recall we recently sponsored the 2nd Annual Mr. Relay for Life pageant, which St. Joseph’s alumnus, Stefen, won.  I’ve come to find out that one of our employees

St. Joseph’s staff coordinated the Mr. Relay for Life pageant to raise money for cancer research.

Benjamin, an employee in St. Joseph’s Development Office, took second place in the Mr. Relay for Life pageant!

from the Development Office – Benjamin – came in second. Congratulations to everyone who participated and helped make the event possible – over $7,000.00 was raised

to benefit Tri-County Relay for Life!

 

As we approach the end of the school year, the next major event on the agenda at St. Joseph’s Indian School is the reception of Sacraments—Baptism, First Communion and Confirmation for those who have been taking part in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children(RCIC) during the school year.  Their big day is coming up this Sunday.  We hope for beautiful weather so students’ families will be able to come and share this special day with them.

 

We hope you all have a great week! May God’s grace and peace enable you to be open to our Risen Savior. May He walk with you and guide you to discern how your blessings can help others and make our world a better place.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

Today the Lakota (Sioux) students begin Easter break.

We had a very busy weekend at St. Joseph’s – Saturday was packed, but started on a sad note.

In the afternoon, Chamberlain saw its first Annual Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Walk.  The walk was held in loving memory of Mason Naser, a young child from the area who suffered fatal abuse at the hands of his father’s girlfriend. He was a sibling of one of St. Joseph’s boys in the Ambrose Home.

To show support for their housemate, the boys and their houseparents took part in the walk to affirm Dr. Seuss’ statement and the walk’s rallying cry – “A person’s a person,

St. Joseph’s staff coordinated the Mr. Relay for Life Pageant to raise money for cancer research.

Stefen, a St. Joseph’s alumnus, was crowned Mr. Relay for Life 2014!

no matter how small!”

Saturday evening held the second annual crowning of Mr. Relay for Life – a ‘beauty’ pageant for Chamberlain area men.  There is a lot of laughter involved in support of dealing with something that isn’t funny — cancer.

Some of the outfits put Lady Gaga to shame as the participants took part in an evening gown competition, talent contest — thankfully only a minute in length – and an interview.

St. Joseph’s Residential Director Julie helped organize the event which, in its inaugural year, raised over $4,400.00 for cancer research! We were blessed to have many more

St. Joseph’s staffers involved, including Bryan, our Rec Center Director, and Doug, a houseparent, as contestants!

At the end of the evening, St. Joseph’s alumnus Stefen was crowned Mr. Relay for Life 2014!

Kudos to everyone who participated and helped exceed last year’s results by raising a whopping $7,000!

One local group that helped raise money for the event was the Explorers.  This is a program for middle school boys, giving them opportunities for camaraderie and service, working to raise money for local needs.

Recently they had the chance to take a trip to the State Capital in Pierre, South Dakota. They had their picture taken with Governor Dennis Daugaard and had the chance to visit with Marty Jackley, the South Dakota Attorney General.

They are currently planning their big car wash fundraiser in late April, with the profits being used to buy some much-needed playground equipment for the park at American

The Explorers got to meet South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard.

The Explorers got to meet South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard.

Creek.

Several St. Joseph’s students are involved in this and have been officers in the program over the past few years.  They will end the year in May with a trip to Kansas City for a professional baseball game.

God bless you this Holy Week! May we all take time to reflect on what takes place as we celebrate Holy Thursday, when Jesus gives us the gift of Himself in the Eucharist and appreciate the price He freely chose to pay to redeem us from sin by His Passion and Death on Good Friday and the joyous victory He achieves over sin and death by His resurrection on Easter.

Fr. Anthony

Chaplain

We Serve and Teach.  We Receive and Learn.  This is our motto at St. Joseph’s Indian School.   Here we are dedicated to lifelong learning and nurturing the whole child.  That is why teaching and learning expands well beyond the classroom.

Problem solving and teamwork are a few of the many lessons youth learn at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

The Native American children at St. Joseph’s learn life skills, like teamwork and problem solving.

Today is Wednesday night, so typically that would be an Enrichment night, except that our Lakota students have gone home for Thanksgiving break.  Every Wednesday night, St. Joseph’s homes have activities to round out student learning.

The skills students learn can be intangible—like  building healthy relationships and dealing with peer pressure— or more concrete tasks—managing money or  addressing envelopes.  The activities are age-appropriate.  High school students have Sons and Daughters of Tradition, a culturally based group with a talking circle and visiting Lakota (Sioux) elders.  The younger homes have workbooks chock full of lessons and activities.

I love doing activities with the kids.  One week we talked about hygiene: why we work so much at keeping homes and bodies clean, and some of the issues that come up with poor hygiene practices.  For example, sharing eyeliner can cause an outbreak of pinkeye. L

Another week we talked about the difference between being assertive and aggressive.  The lessons tied together pretty well – if you have to approach a peer about a hygiene issue, how can you do that it in an assertive, non-shaming way. “Umm, would you like a breath mint? Or perhaps some perfume?”

Honestly though, the Masters of Enrichment are our Rec center staff.  It is one thing to talk to kids about cooperation.  The students can brainstorm lists and fill out worksheets in the home, but when it comes to actually practicing the skill, no one makes it more fun than Brian, Andy and Shoney.

I remember one particularly rough week with the 6-8th grade girls.  We had done some worksheets on friendships and qualities we look for in a friend.  This didn’t stop them from bickering and foot-dragging when it came time to help a peer with a kitchen task.  “It’s not myyy joooooobbbbb!”

After our designated hour of class time in the home, we had a special hour of learning at the Rec center. Shoney and Andy took them outside for some friendly competition.  They were given the task of standing shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot, and walking about 10 yards while keeping their foot touching their neighbor’s. It was the Stevens girls versus the Pinger girls in a race against time.  They shouted encouragement.  They strategized.  They coaxed.  They urged.  They kept it together.

The next task was to fit all 12 girls into the circumference of a hula-hoop without touching the ground outside the hoop.  Suddenly their differences became assets, and their ability to get close to each other became critical.   The tallest girl stood in the middle and the smaller girls hung off her like a maypole.  The others squeezed and tugged and balanced on one foot to make it work.  In less than 20 seconds, they accomplished what an hour of “talking” about friendship failed to do.  The girls pulled together.  They didn’t leave anybody out of the circle.

At prayers that night, the girls shared that they liked doing the activity.  Did they realize it was all about learning?  No.  I think it was more like putting cheese sauce on broccoli.  All they knew was that they liked it, and that they would try it again if it were offered again.  Works for me.

Last night we cleaned the homes as the kids prepare to go home for break. Laundry! Dusting! Cleaning out the fridge!  Not as exciting as relay races, but important things to learn nonetheless.

We have so much to be thankful for in the upcoming days.  We’re looking forward to a nice break and visits with family and friends.  I hope that all the friends of St. Joseph’s also have an enjoyable Thanksgiving.  Wopila tankamany thanks!  Claire

Monday, October 14, St. Joseph’s Indian School – along with the rest of South Dakota – celebrated Native American Day. We, along with several other schools around our area, embraced the opportunity to have a “teachable moment” while having fun reliving a part of our rich Lakota/Dakota/Nakota culture.

The Regalia Relay was one of many games St. Joseph’s students played in celebration of Native American Day.

In the Regalia Relay, the Lakota boys put on girls’ regalia and vise versa to dance their way back to their teammates.

The morning greeted us with a line of colored banners carried by students who read a brief description about the corresponding color and direction of the medicine wheel.  Bridges were built between the Catholic and tribal spiritualities by centering ourselves with prayer and singing the hymn “There is a Well.”  Our drum group offered up two prayer songs to honor the day and what it might mean to our people.

During the afternoon, classes circulated around eight game stations to compete against themselves, others and groups.  Our stations included:

  • Lakota bowling
  • Hackie sack
  • Regalia relay (switch dressing – the boys put on girls’ regalia and girls put on boys’ regalia)
  • Leg wrestling
  • Arrow toss
  • Hand games
  • Musical chairs (with drum songs)
  • Cat’s cradle yarn art
  • Storytelling

Each game was explained with its historical significance and natural place in our world.  A plethora of adults helped to make the day possible by guiding, encouraging, and even taking part with the group as the students scurried through the rain and mist between the recreation center, the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and the skating room.

I hope our St. Joseph’s students went home knowing why this day was set aside for our tribal people to be honored for our place on this North American Continent, rather than focusing on someone who thought they had found India.  We love the land and the culture that respects our footprints upon it.

LaRayne, Native American Studies teacher

The Lakota students learned to leg wrestle during Native American Day activities.

Leg wrestling was one of many games played in traditional Lakota (Sioux) culture.

Things are a bit NOISY in Chamberlain this week as bikers come through the area on their way out to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota’s Black Hills.  The annual rally starts today and runs the entire week.  It is impressive to see so many cycles out on the highway.  Many stay in the Chamberlain-Oacoma area on their way and stop to visit the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center.

A prayer service kicked off our All-Staff Orientation this morning, as preparations continue for the return of the Lakota boys and girls on August 11 and the first day of school on August 12. It’s hard to believe the summer has gone by so quickly!  We miss our veteran staff members from past years, but are also happy to welcome 20 new staff to St. Joseph’s tiyospayeextended family.  While I’m not sure yet how many students we’ll have this year, there will be around 55 new students.

St. Joseph’s Indian School recently hosted our local Relay for Life event, which remembers those who have died from or are dealing with cancer.  Fr. Steve was the honoree, and the event raised about $30,000.00!

Of that, St. Joseph’s staff contributed nearly $6,600.00!

Every week, staff members participate in the ‘jeans because’ program that allows staff to wear jeans on Friday. This activity alone raised approximately $1,200.00 for Relay for Life! The contributions are used for a variety of charities who work for the cure of cancer.

St. Joseph’s staff member Bryan is being honored for his success in athletics at Chamberlain High School.

Bryan, St. Joseph’s Athletic Director, is a new inductee into Chamberlain High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Congratulations Bryan!

Some good news for a St. Joseph’s employee was in the local paper this last week.  Our Athletic Director and Recreation Coordinator, Bryan, has been selected by the Chamberlain Booster Club to become a member of the high school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.  During his high school years, Bryan was very successful in basketball, football, power lifting and baseball.  Congratulations, Bryan, on this achievement!

I hope you all have a great week!   Keep us in your prayers as we continue to prepare to open the new school year.

Sincerely,

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

The Lakota children enjoyed mild temperatures while playing in the April snow!

An unpredictable South Dakota spring brought lots of snow, but mild temperatures.

As St. Joseph’s Indian School starts to wind down for the year, several factors have come in to play this spring.  It is unbelievable the amount of snow we have received in South Dakota for the month of April!!  St. Joseph’s even missed a day of school due to the weather – that rarely happens since our Lakota students live on campus.  The students truly enjoyed being outside to play in the snow as the temperature was in the low 30’s, which is relatively warm.

St. Joseph’s track team has been diligently practicing, either in the Recreation Center because of snow or outside when the weather is clear. Needless to say, with all the snow, our track meets have been canceled so far.  We are hoping that the next one on Monday will take place as the temperatures are suppose to be in the 70s. Hurrah for the Glorious South Dakota Sunshine!!

Last week, I was involved with the Mr. Relay For Life Pageant that St. Joseph’s Relay For Life hosted at the Oacoma Community Center. The pageant was a spin-off of the Miss American Pageant, but with gentlemen of the community participating as contestants.

It was awesome to see the wonderful turnout from the community to support us in our endeavor to raise money for the fight against cancer! Of course, it really helped that our gentleman were such great sports with their choice of evening wear, talent and interview questions for the night’s competition.  It was an evening enjoyed by many family and community members.

I would like to thank all of St. Joseph’s donors for your support and donations throughout the school year.   You are a blessing to our school and the Native American students.

“Wealth and honor come from you O’Lord; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.

–Chronicles 29:12–

The Lakota students enjoyed playing in the snow in April!

A mild April day is perfect for making a snow dinosaur!

Last week St. Joseph’s High School Staff met with our eighth graders who will continue on in our high school program. A few of our Lakota (Sioux) graduates already have plans to go back to their home reservations and finish school there. They will meet with their Family Service Counselors to prepare for that.

Those who will remain here receive the schedule and expectations for the 3-week high school prep program. They were asked to pick one of our current high school students – often a sibling or relative – to shadow in the next few weeks as they learn what it will be like to go to the larger Chamberlain Public School.

While some people ask if we’d ever consider our own high school, we have a good working relationship with Chamberlain. If our students can make the jump into a mainstream high school, I believe it makes taking the next step to college or vocational training that much less scary and more attainable. We continue to see the importance of support and encouragement for the students through all the important times of transition.

 Our St. Joseph’s staff has been active in supporting efforts to help those in our community who are battling cancer.

Our Relay for Life team decided to have some fun with a different kind of fundraiser last weekend, and tried a “beauty pageant” for 17 men in our community.

All the contestants in the “Mr. Relay for Life” competition were incredibly good sports. Several of our staff joined Chamberlain’s mayor and other local dignitaries in scouring our St. Joseph’s Thrift Store for evening gowns and fancy get ups for a runway walk. They were each give a humorous philosophical question to answer. And, of course, the night had to include a talent competition. Contestant challenges ranged from juggling rubber chickens, to catching tennis balls with a fishing net, and stringing plastic Barrel-O-Monkeys together.

The crowd who poured into the community center filled the bleachers, and extra chairs had to be brought out. There were constant belly laughs and a tremendous spirit of fun and community. Originally, the committee had hopes of raising $500 for the cause, but as spectators voted for their favorites by filling donation jars, over $4400 raised in support of local people with cancer!

When the Master of Ceremonies read the thank yous and included the names of a dozen St. Joseph’s staff on the planning team, I overheard a person in the bleachers behind me surprised that we could get so many volunteers. In our community, volunteerism is not dead. Besides their commitment to their jobs on campus, I’m impressed by the spirit of our staff to make a difference in the community.

St. Joseph’s Relay for Life Team hosted the Mr. Relay for Life Pageant. It was a great fundraiser for the fight against cancer!

Several men from the community came together to make the Mr. Relay for Life Pageant a great success!

Our Student Leadership Committee decorated campus with red ribbons during Red Ribbon Week.

Our Student Leadership Committee decorated campus with red ribbons during Red Ribbon Week.

St. Joseph’s students and staff observed Red Ribbon Week (RRW) during the fourth week in October. Many of our students have been exposed to drug and alcohol abuse, so RRW is an important opportunity to educate and remind students of the negative effects drug and alcohol use can have on their lives.

RRW is the largest drug prevention campaign in our country. It originated because of DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena – he was kidnapped, tortured and brutally murdered in 1985 by Mexican drug traffickers in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Camarena was on the trail of Mexico’s biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers, and was close to busting a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline. The first RRW was held in 1988 so young people and communities could pledge to be drug-free and pay tribute to Camarena.

Grace tries to make a basket on the Extreme Sports Challenge during the inflatable party.

Grace tries to make a basket on the Extreme Sports Challenge during the inflatable party.

St. Joseph’s Substance Abuse Prevention Committee plans fun and educational RRW activities every year for our students. We started the week off by having an inflatable party at our rec center which is always a big hit for everyone!

On Monday, students and staff dressed to the theme “Follow Your Dreams, Don’t do Drugs!” by wearing pajamas. It was a cozy, comfy way to start the week!

On Wednesday, we wore shirts with Gandhi’s quote

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

We are planning to wear these shirts again during our Spring Sobriety Walk in April. We ‘elected’ to be drug-free on Friday by wearing red, white and blue.

Third grade students enjoy the school day in their pajamas.

Third grade students enjoy the school day in their pajamas.

All the homes enjoyed competing in drug and alcohol trivia contests over the intercom after school. Prizes were given to the home that called first with the correct answers. The Ambrose Home won the first two contests, but they failed to make a clean sweep when the Raphael Home won the final contest.

We tried something different this year by holding Red Ribbon Relays, which were partially planned and organized by our High School Leadership Committee.

The homes competed against each other in relay races, a potato sack race and a three-legged race, and they used red ribbons as batons. Students painted their faces blue before the races because they pledged to say “NO” to drugs until they are blue in the face!

Everyone enjoyed an ice cream sundae bar after the races, so the evening had a ‘sweet’ ending.

RRW activities are possible because of your generosity. Pilamaya – thank you so much for everything you do to support these amazing children!