"Mitakuye Oyasin"

When I'm not on the road, one of the highlights of my day is having lunch with our Sapa Un Catholic Academy ("SUCA") students. I always come away physically and spiritually nourished. I'm energized for an afternoon of office work, thinking to myself: these kids are the reason I'm doing all I can to keep St. Francis Mission strong.

Our new coach and physical education teacher, Ky Medicine Eagle, told me that when he joined us last summer he expected "a normal school." What he found was "a family." The main difference, he said, is "how close everyone is, how everyone feels related." SUCA truly embodies "Mitakuye Oyasin" ("All my Relatives"), the traditional Lakota ending to prayer.

Lunch, served family style, begins with traditional Catholic and Lakota prayers. Children are assigned tables so they learn to interact with diverse ages and personalities. As a result, Ky said, "it feels like we're at home, not at school." The older students help the younger ones, who, in turn, "always watch the older ones." The food is healthy: a main dish, homemade bread, a vegetable, salad, and fruit. After lunch, everyone brushes their teeth.

Every month, a different Lakota virtue is chosen as the focus for our school community. When the monthly virtue was COMPASSION, a "Compassion Calendar" was created showing a different way to practice compassion every day.

Each morning begins with a prayer circle. Here the children learn to deal with their challenges. Although we don't have a problem with bullying at SUCA, at times joking and negative humor can be hurtful. The prayer circle helps the children learn about respect and how to deal with emotions like impatience, discouragement and anger.

Our mission at SFM is Wellness that fosters a Community in which Leadership can grow. Thank you for your help in fulfilling our mission. We couldn't do it without you!

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