First Wičhóni Wašte Day builds connections for freshmen, sophomores at St. Joseph’s Indian School
More visits to sacred sites planned for the future
CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. — Sunday, Nov. 6, was a new beginning for freshman and sophomore students at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain as they embarked on the first-ever Wičhóni Wašte (Good Life) Retreat. After consulting with Mount Marty University and the University of Notre Dame regarding similar experiences those schools provide, St. Joseph’s developed the retreat day in response to student feedback.
Mission Integration Director Joe Tyrell and Data and Program Analyst Michelle Eggers began to think about the need for such an experience when data indicated that the first semester of a high school year appeared to result in more student withdrawals. Tyrell asked students what the Mission Integration Team might provide to support them better. Feedback led Tyrell to develop a culturally appropriate experience for students at St. Joseph’s.
Following Sunday Mass, 13 students and two staff piled into a bus and headed for the Badlands.
The terrain provided the backdrop for exploring life’s peaks and valleys through critical reflection on themselves and their purpose in life. The goal was to offer a day of community, culture and relationship building.
“I am very thankful for the trip. It was an amazing experience,” said Kaiden Fleury, a sophomore.
Freshman Latoya Stead agreed.
“I thought about my life and how I can accomplish my goals and make my way to the peaks,” Stead said.
A similar experience is in the works next spring for junior and senior students in the school’s high school program at sacred sites Bear Butte and Black Elk Peak.