Greetings from St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota!

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph's Chaplain

Fr. Anthony, St. Joseph’s Chaplain

The buzz of motorcycle traffic heading west for the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is no match for the buzz of campus as staff eagerly anticipate the beginning of the school year on August 10!

Excitement is growing as we begin All Staff Orientation Week. Around St. Joseph’s campus, this is a time of great anticipation. The orientation process gives new and veteran staff the chance to get to know one another, share insights and ask/answer questions. On Wednesday, all staff will come together for our traditional beginning of the year kickoff. We will begin the day with a prayer service in the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel and culminate with lunch and an all-staff meeting.

The last of our student applications are being processed. It looks like we will start with over 200 students again this year. We eagerly anticipate their arrival this upcoming Sunday!

A female student works on her homework assignment.

Our Lakota (Sioux) Students start school at St. Joseph’s on Monday, August 10!

We are also getting ready to host our next donor luncheon in San Diego, California on August 15 and 16. Iyung and Haille are looking forward to the trip and would enjoy the opportunity to meet you if you are in the area. Please call 1-800-584-9200 for more information or to reserve your spot. . If you are not able to join us in San Diego, our next luncheon is in Dallas, Texas on October 3 and 4.

Since St. Joseph’s Indian School starts classes a few weeks ahead of our local public school, our high school students will enjoy a few more days of summer vacation. The high school students who participate in golf, football, volleyball and cross country will arrive this weekend to participate in preseason practices, while the remainder will return to campus for orientation on August 24 and 25. Classes at the public high school begin August 26. We are excited about a new program for our seniors geared toward preparing them for college through an independent lifestyle program. I will keep you informed on this program as it unfolds.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we prepare for the arrival of our Native American students. Your support allows us to collaborate with one another to offer our students and their families the best programs possible! Pilamayathank you.

May God continue to bless and reward you for your generosity. We keep you in our prayers.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

Lots of activity on St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus today. Despite freezing rain and treacherous icy roads, Chamberlain’s Chamber of Commerce hosted fourth, fifth and sixth grade girls basketball tournaments at the three gyms throughout town. St. Joseph’s hosted the sixth grade action. All of our teams got in three games to end the season. None of them won the championship, but all hustled and played hard.

Fr. Steve and Trenton chat at St. Joseph's Indian School's Christmas store.

Trenton and Fr. Steve talking about what he wrapped up for his family.

Today’s big event was the Christmas Store. All the children had a handful of tickets which they could use to “purchase” different items that donors have sent in. They picked up sweaters for grandpa and clothes for a baby sister, necklaces for mom or a stuffed animal for a younger brother. Once they loaded up their plastic garbage bags with a dozen items or so, they came to the skate room, where Santa Claus waited to greet them, and generous volunteers helped them wrap all the presents to take home and share with their loved ones. Staff also baked lots of Christmas goodies for snacks throughout the day. Each of the nineteen homes had about 20 minutes to do their shopping before the next group came in. The kids are excited and look forward to it, and staff enter into the spirit of the season. Several high school students also helped decorate the room and wrap presents, teaching them to give back to their younger relatives.

Tonight the Chamberlain Area Churches Choir performed a lovely Christmas Cantata in our Chapel. I sat next to the Rooney Home boys (6th-8th grades) but didn’t see any other Lakota students in the church. I was feeling bad that more of the kids couldn’t enjoy the lively harmonies and inspiring message. The Cantata was close to our primary students’ bedtime, so I understood. But then, I heard clapping coming from the choir loft. There was a lively group upstairs, wearing pajamas and bath robes, so they could go right from church to bedtime when all was finished!

There are advantages to having lots of connecting walk ways on our campus. And the choir seemed tickled and appreciative that our students were able to participate.

The William Home girls (4th-5th grade) held their annual holiday open house. The houseparents must have practiced some of questions with the girls so they could be good hostesses and work on social skills. Throughout my visit several of the girls asked me:

  • May I take your coat?
  • Are you comfortable?
  • Can I get you anything else?
  • How was your day?

From the moment they took my coat until the time I left, they were most gracious. Frederika sliced the cheese and sausage and wanted to know if it looked crooked. Trinity wondered how the cookies tasted since she baked them. One of the girls was featured on this year’s Christmas cards, and her face beamed with delight when I brought her a pile to share with her family and friends.

National Family Week is an annual event recognized each Thanksgiving week that celebrates the family and its value to society.  The theme for National Family Week is Connections Count, recognizing that strong families are at the center of strong communities.  Children live better lives when their families are strong!

At our celebration this year, we tried things a little differently.  Instead of dividing the student families up into the homes, we had all of the students gather at the Dining Hall here on campus.  Students sat at their family table.  They made a poster, writing down all the things they were thankful for and then colored it as a family.  Students also received a Christmas ornament on which they each wrote their names.

There was much laughter and talking throughout the early evening.  After their poster was complete, they enjoyed dinner together.  They enjoyed spending time with their family.  After dinner, everyone played Bingo.

All in all, the night was a great success! The students left with gifts to take home for their families and food gift cards to use for their Thanksgiving celebration.

The first significant snow of the winter blanketed our campus in white. It began with a couple of inches on Friday, another couple Saturday morning and about 5 more inches overnight. While the kids were riding bikes just a few days ago, this weekend they dug out the sleds and snowboards and saw who could make the longest slide down the hill to the football field. With strong winds and cold temperatures today’s powdery snow drifted thigh high in some places around campus. But with the morning light our crew was out in force clearing a path for students and staff, in vehicles or on foot.

The Native American girls did great dancing!

The girls did great!

We gathered in church more often than our usual weekend. Saturday morning is usually a bit of a sleep in day, but the Immaculate Conception Holy Day found a sleepier than normal group of Lakota students in the pews. St. Joseph’s regular Sunday mass is at 10:00. This morning we also added an 8:30 mass so the girls participating in the Dancing Dolls recital would enough time to get ready for their show without rushing. I rather enjoyed the more intimate, homogenous group to pray with and preach to. It’s hard to find messages that resonate well week after week with both first graders and high school seniors. Today I had a group of about 30 girls in 1st – 5th grades. In a dialogue homily style, I got them to tell me about their dance practice and preparation, and make the connection between getting ready for a big event like that and getting ready for the Lord as we enter more deeply into Advent.

Snow and ice closed the Interstate between Sioux Falls and Chamberlain and kept some of the crowd down, but the Dancing Dolls and Dudes performance was lively and fun anyway. The preschoolers are always the most heartwarming, doing simple steps and movements. The older kids have a little more razzle dazzle. And every grandparent in town vied for the front row and a good picture taking vantage.

As my own pride swelled seeing our St. Joseph students performing, I had a good idea of how grandparents might feel. The fruits of the kids dedicated practices showed. We’re grateful for the people in town who volunteer to organize the program every year, and give our students the exposure to fine arts and a fun opportunity.

Happy birthday Fr. Gary!

Happy birthday Fr. Gary!

77 year old Fr. Gary is a retired SCJ, part of our Chamberlain community. For his birthday we treated him to lunch downtown at the Anchor Grill. Santa Claus was making the rounds of local businesses and stopped by our table to pose for a mug shot and wish him the best. (He knows if we’ve been naughty or nice, but isn’t telling). Happy Birthday Fr. Gary!

Placing the finished box of staff Christmas cards on Carma’s desk in payroll gave me a feeling of freedom. I could just sign my name and be done quickly, but I try to write a personal note to each because everyone here has an important role to play in making a difference in the lives of our Lakota students. I feel blessed and grateful to be surrounded by so many passionate, creative, hard working folks with lots of ideas and the knack for following through to make things happen. My next task will have to be attending to the incoming pile of Christmas cards growing on my desk . We hear from lots of donors this time of year, and I’m humbled by their generosity.

Last night the five high school homes had their community meeting and announced who gets possession of the traveling academic trophies. The boys of Carola Home not only retained the trophy for the least missing assignment, but passed the Hogebach girls for the highest GPA. Hogebach had the trophy on a shelf near their dining room table. When I walked by the boys home this morning, I saw both trophies sitting in the window, out there for everyone to notice. That kind of pride and competition is OK in my book, and hope that our Native American students continue to push each other to learn and grow to their potential.

This past mid-term, five of our boys were on the honor roll and two were very close, which is awesome for freshman.  We call that success!!

This past mid-term, five of our boys were on the honor roll and two were very close, which is awesome for freshman. We call that success!!

Hey everyone, this is Mike and April from the Carola Home.

This time of year our boys are balancing school and athletics as well as preparing to go home for the holidays. This can be an overwhelming time for all the boys, but especially the freshman.

Freshmen have already been adjusting to new houseparents, new school, new curriculum and new friends. Our four Juniors have had a couple of years to learn what works for them to succeed in all areas.  However, our three Freshmen still have a lot to learn and this is usually the hardest time of their high school years.

Thankfully, our Juniors have taken our Freshmen under their wings and given them advice on how to deal with homework – number one being do not get behind with missing assignments – classes and teachers, where to go and who you may have to be extra nice to. :) And of course advice on their houseparents – don’t try that, they won’t let you get away with this, handle your business and they won’t make it theirs.

Each student has their own ways to succeed and all seven of our boys are doing just that, succeeding. With all that high school life brings to offer our boys, they are doing an amazing job keeping up with it all.

In our eyes my boys are all number one!!!!

In our eyes my boys are all number one!!!!

St. Joseph’s gives the boys a lot of support with the learning center, which is run by our High School Academic Advisor, Steve. Steve works with Chamberlain High School to help them with their homework.  Our Transitional Specialist, Pam, helps our Juniors with upcoming college trips and helps them plan for the future after St. Joseph’s.

Basketball season has started with Errol, Cody, William and Kyle playing for the Chamberlain Cubs. Our home will be attending many games in the next couple of months to support their fellow classmates.

Shawn is involved in CHS’s Wrestling Team.  We also have one student Dean, who has been actively preparing for the past several weeks to attend LNI (the Lakota Nation Invitational), to participate in the Knowledge Bowl Competition. Trey, one of our Freshmen, is not in any sports. He thought it would be best to give all his focus on his schoolwork, so he can continue his streak of no missing assignments and A honor roll.

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