Note: Mike Tyrell is executive director of Child Services at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, SD. Periodically he sends reflections to the St. Joe’s staff with “a note of thanksgiving, because we are all very lucky to be working with our mission here at St. Joseph’s Indian School,” he said.
The Rec Center at St. Joseph’s Indian School provides recreation, athletics, and other activities for students and staff. The facility houses a gymnasium, exercise room, student game room and an indoor pool. Three Rec Center staff and a custodian oversee programming and facility upkeep.
On Saturday morning I happened to find myself in one of those unique but fun 20 minutes in our Rec Center. As I was winding down my workout, a houseparent came into the workout room with one of the boys from his home. He was working with the student teaching him to properly lift weights. It was nice to see the mentoring going on and the student following the houseparent’s lead.
As I left the workout room, I found the Ambrose Home students waiting rambunctiously to go to wresting practice. We have not had a wrestling program in a few years and it was their first practice. As we do not have a wrestling mat, the kids and houseparents were waiting for the mini-buses to take them to the public school’s wrestling room. The boys looked as if they were on tender hooks as they waited to get going.
I then wandered into the Rec Center gym where two houseparents were setting up an Archery Course for the students. Today was the first day of training our students on how to safely shoot a bow and arrow. The staff, who were recently certified in archery training, were eagerly awaiting the students’ arrival. In talking with the staff, you could tell they were excited by their enthusiasm for the activity.
As I left the gym, I noticed two students reading books. Apparently these students were in trouble and reading was part of their discipline. One boy showed me that he was reading The Prince of Egypt and I wondered if I could get an oral book report down the road. Both boys were also watching the archery range being set up with great interest. If this was discipline, they appeared to be having a good time.
As I was leaving the facility, the second of two Rec Center staff showed up. They were looking forward to a busy morning followed by an afternoon of bowling. As I left the building, the snow was falling heavily and piling up. It was surreal as I thought of all that was going on at the Rec Center and across campus on this cold, snowy January day. It made me thankful for the fact that we are fortunate in what we are able to provide for our students.