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Eight Crow Creek Tribal School students built this residential home for their CTE Summer Project course in Stephan. (Jordan Steffen/Daily Republic)
Eight Crow Creek Tribal School students built this residential home for their CTE Summer Project course in Stephan. (Jordan Steffen/Daily Republic)

Crow Creek students helping homeless

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life Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

STEPHAN -- A group of students and teachers started a program this summer to not only help improve living conditions on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, but to give students a new opportunity.

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The Career and Technical Education program at the Crow Creek Tribal School in Stephan gave students a hands-on learning experience in four areas over five weeks -- residential building, metal art, entrepreneurship and family living.

During an open house Wednesday, the students showed the public, family and friends what they accomplished.

The most prevalent projects were metal cutouts of horses, American Indians hunting buffalo, and welcome signs with fishing, hunting and flower themes, which were displayed throughout the shop classroom. Many of the pieces on display had already been sold or were for sale, said Nova Griss, business and computer instructor. The money made from the metal artwork goes back into the fund for the CTE program.

Eleven students started in the program this summer, but due to uncontrollable circumstances, eight finished, Griss said. During those five weeks, the students prepared breakfast and lunch for themselves with help from Margie Loud Hawk, family consumer science instructor.

"They did this all from scratch," Loud Hawk said. "And on a tight budget."

A few foods the students made were bread, biscuits, baked beans and potato soup.

Allysson Thompson and Kiona Hawk, both 16, said they were already comfortable with the family living class since they cook at home. However, they both said they learned a lot from the metal art and residential building portions.

"I had a fear of heights," Hawk said. "They really encouraged me to get up on the roof and I'm glad I did."

They both said they enjoyed the metal art class the most, getting to use the plasma cutter and other shop tools needed for the projects they created.

"We got to experiment with something we'd never done before," Thompson said of the metal artwork. "You have a have a really steady hand."

In 15 days, the students and advisers framed up a small one-room house, placed walls, a floor and the roof. They have also shingled the roof, said Orin Voice, woodshop instructor.

He estimated the house will cost $7,500 when it is finished. The Crow Creek Tribal Council and Housing Authority agreed to purchase the home to place on a plot in Fort Thompson for a family of three to four. The money goes directly back to the CTE program to fund the next house project, Voice said.

"Our tribal chairman, Brandon Sazue, came to me and asked how to help the housing and homeless situation for our people," Voice said.

Voice previously worked for the tribal housing authority and had the idea to incorporate a CTE program to help students realize their ability to help their own people.

The house is halfway complete. It consists of one room and will include a walled-off bathroom. Although it is small, Voice said it is more than most families have on Crow Creek. Many homes on the reservation host three or four families.

The entrepreneur class tied into family living, metal art and residential building. Students created brochures and budget sheets for each meal they made. They took receipts from Loud Hawk and estimated how much each meal cost.

They also created brochures about the house they helped build and for the metal art they were selling.

Griss hopes to have the brochures polished up later this year when she chooses students to present the projects to the National Indian Education Association conference in Rapid City.

Voice said he hopes the CTE program will continue to grow and give students more opportunities. He said the class already plans to build another house this fall when the school year begins.

"This experience will give them the idea for better job opportunities after high school," Voice said. "It will hopefully support new interests and send them in the direction they need to go to learn it."

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