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Opening Day Energizes St. Joseph Indian School's Staff and Students

By: Clare Willrodt, St. Joseph's Indian School

St. Joseph's Indian School Welcome Back Parade

(Chamberlain, S.D.) – Staff from all over St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus and Native Hope turned out for an outdoor parade on Tuesday, August 10, to welcome back 133 first through eighth-grade students. The event started this past year with social distancing, and everyone so enjoyed it that there was no question it would happen again this year.

Laughter, music, colorful signs and bubbles filled the air as students walked the campus. Horses from the school’s equine therapy program took up the rear, adding to the parade atmosphere.

Grade school students began returning to campus on Sunday, August 8. Safety measures are in place because of the persistence of COVID-19. The Dehon Health Center staff screened each child for the virus on arrival, and masking is required in some circumstances. The administration regularly monitors the situation and will make adjustments as needed. The high school program begins next week.

Return day also was a joy-filled event. Sixth-grader Rylee Bagola said upon exiting the car, “It is good to be back. I am excited about playing an instrument this year.” She shared hugs all around with family before bounding into her campus residence..

Parent and guardian TroyLynn Peneaux, herself an alumnus, said of her five children, “They have been all excited packing this week.” Asked what the day was like for her, she noted that it feels lonely but added, “But I know they are getting a good education and have a good support system here. They are going to be fine.”

Staff shared the excitement. Student Coordinator Jennie Schilling remarked, “It is one of my most favorite days of the year. You get to see their faces, and they bring so much energy to campus.”

Residential Liaison Colton Anderson’s feelings mirrored Schilling’s. “We come in for three weeks of training, and you get to where you just can’t wait for the kids to get here.”

New Campus Chaplain Fr. Greg Schill, SCJ, who joined the staff July 1, described his first return day. “It is quite a hot day, but it is nice that it is finally here after waiting over a month. I want to meet as many students and parents as possible and support the staff. “

More than 170 Native American students in second through twelfth grade returned to find hope and opportunity through our educational, counseling, and residential programs. Strengthened by spirituality and culture, St. Joseph’s Indian School, a member of the American Indian Catholic Schools Network, transforms lives—mind, body, heart and spirit—every day. Visit us at www.sjiskids.org and www.stjo.org.

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