According to the Civil Rights Project study The Dropout/Graduation Crisis Among American Indian and Alaska Native Students, less than 50% of South Dakota’s Native American students graduate from high school.
Many factors are behind this number. Alcohol, drugs, poverty … there are so many challenges in life for young Native Americans, especially on South Dakota’s reservations.
To help these students achieve this milestone in their lives, St. Joseph’s tested a high school initiative in 1976. Today, a collaborative partnership exists between St. Joseph’s Indian School and Chamberlain Public Schools.
As part of St. Joseph’s high school program, students live on St. Joseph’s campus in residential homes — not dorms. Each home is run by two specially-trained houseparents. Much like St. Joseph’s younger children, our high school students are expected to be participants in family living.
There are responsibilities from preparing a meal to completing homework independently. Students have the freedom they need to grow, learn and thrive; however, they also abide by rules and expectations put in place to protect and guide them.
Unlike elementary age children, high school students do not attend school on campus. Instead, St. Joseph’s high school students attend the local public high school. Working together, we ensure each of our high school students have the same opportunity to thrive in a public school setting.
High school homes are extremely busy with students working part-time jobs after school, participating in extra-curricular activities and preparing for higher education.
“I was truly blessed to have St. Joseph’s as my second home because there are so many people there who want me to succeed; it is something that I know will be very difficult to find anywhere else.”