Thursday, March 26, 2009
This is what I said to myself (to revive positive spirits) when we received one of the craziest bouts of SD weather in my recent memory. Here's the story...
Sunday, after a warm and sunny walk, I said goodbye to my dear boyfriend who accompanied me to all three games of the boys State A tourney in Rapid this past weekend. (For a sports news update- Red Cloud finished with a 7th place victory on Saturday- definitely not the anticipated outcome, but a win to end it all, nonetheless.) So- back to the weather story... On Sunday I took not one, but TWO walks up Manderson Road- a winding, hilly, and quite scenic dirt road just across the highway from Red Cloud. The weather was so beautiful, with 70 degree temps and life-giving sunshine. I heard the prediction of a possible blizzard, but I blew it off, since I couldn't fathom that while also enjoying the seemingly 'summer' warmth.
Well, I should have remembered the 'wonderful' world of SD weather, because the next day (Monday) we had already cancelled school at 12:30pm for bus travel reasons, and by Tuesday morning, we were drenched in a thick blanket of snow- I mean, piles and piles (thanks to the 50 mph gusts) we also gained a few extremely deep drifts... so many across the Rez, in fact, that we had both Tues. and Wed. off school since a majority of people were stuck in their homes. I have caught myself saying over and over again, "This is CRAZY!!!" I mean, I expect SD to be crazy, but it never ceases to amaze me.
No, I'm not just telling you this for a good story (although it certainly IS)... but it actually happened! I should have taken pictures- well, I still could, for that matter, since it began snowing again today! For a bit of a perspective- A few friends and I decided to walk up Manderson on Tuesday (2 days after our initial summer frollick)... because we wanted to venture into the snow drifts... and after running a few yards through knee-high drifts, my exhaustion kicked in and I began walking- only to discover that in some areas my legs were sinking in mid-thigh! No joke. SD weather can change by 50 degrees in less than 24 hours- and pile on snow so thick you'll forget that warm weather even exists!
But alas, I'm holding on to my recent memories of spring, hoping beyond hope that with the end of March comes the end of cold weather. Being a native SD girl, I should realize this is silly- but I guess my sillyness is what gets me through a lot of days, so I'll stick with a childish hope of spring! :)
Yes, this week at Red Cloud has been pretty laid back. Of course I can always find ways to fill up a few snow days (much of which involves sleeping)... but I am glad to be back in school today, to see the kids, have them tell me their digging out of 10-foot snow drift- stories, or snowmen-building escapades, you know- the sort of things you can enjoy in a rural snowy wonderland. The senior retreat, which I was thoroughly anticipating, has been post-poned due to the weather... but that's alright, since we were able to reschedule at a good time in April.
We are meeting this week about Prom with the Juniors, and I am pleased to announce that we have received a few of the shipments of supplies- so I'm getting a bit antzy to set things up- but of course that must wait; it'll give me (us/ whomever is interested) time to mull over various decorating possibilities for the nearly impossible-to-decorate gym.
Other than that, I cannot say that I have much to report concerning Red Cloud. The students closest to Casey (the student who passed away last week) are back in school, which I think will be really healthy for them... to continue with their studies, etc. I will be headed this weekend to help with the hunting lodge which AJ manages- and will see my brother for the hunt as well!
I'm off to the junior meeting with ideas for prom favors. wish me luck! :) Ha, no, I'm not sure I exactly need luck. More like patience. :)
Sending my love from a warm heart (and cold hands)...
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
It is time once again for a Pine Ridge life update. This week has actually been full of roller coaster emotions. I say this because of extreme circumstances... First of all, plenty of excitement is surrounding the State Tourney (at which our boys are ranked 3rd and stand a good chance of pulling off a championship)...but also, Thursday night a tragedy occurred in the Red Cloud community, sending so many people into a state of shock and grief. Casey Zimiga, a Red Cloud 2008 grad, passed away in a car accident- which involved several Red Cloud students, both graduates and currently attending. The accident was on a gravel road, with the driver losing control. A two-car caravan was traveling together, so the first car turned back and discovered their friends and siblings had crashed. It is all still so awful- and I've wept on multiple occasions- partly in grief for the loss of Casey's young life, and partly in empathy for the pain the living students and family are going through. The wake begins tonight, and the funeral will be tomorrow morning- hence, the roller coaster emotions, since later that evening we are going to get our 'pep' on for the 1st round BB game!
In some ways this whole experience of Casey's death has taught me that I do feel a definite love for these students. I'm pretty sure that if any student in Red Cloud would lose his/her life, I would feel an equal grief and empathy, and it breaks my heart knowing that these tragic deaths occur at alarming rates here on the Rez... We had a prayer service both on Friday and on Monday- the latter involved his family and friends as well. I was asked to say the opening prayer, and I hadn't even begun yet before I was weeping. Death is a crazy thing- and I know it is just as much a part of life as life itself, yet when it happens so suddenly and to someone with such a zest for life, I have to question it. Inevitably death also necessitates prayer, since we know so little what to do or how to feel in response to death; thus, we must acknowledge the love of our Creator. Prayer is the only solace I know of in times of grief.
Speaking of loving the students- I have begin to see some major developments with a few students with whom I'm particularly close. One student, Daisa, (I believe I've mentioned her before) is a remarkable young woman- so driven, so dedicated to her heritage and family, so fun-loving and fashionable, so kind-hearted and other's-focused, and as confused as ever about boys. You know, the general female adolescent experience. :) The other day she was in my office speaking about a few particular guys in her life, and the way she speaks now is such evidence of her growth in self-confidence and maturity, especially from being a timid sophomore to an outgoing junior. I let her know I saw these growing qualities in her, and Daisa's response touched my heart. She agreed with me and said, "And Emily, you know it's all thanks to you!" Of course that's not entirely true, and I let her know she was the one responsible for discovering her self-worth. Yet to think I was able to inspire that- even in the least- gives me such joy!
Just a few minutes ago a young man whom I spoke of before, Chandler, came into my office and asked me to read something he had written. It wasn't an assignment or school work at all...it was a self-reflection, which I read with a good amount of surprise. I told him I wouldn't repeat what he said, but it basically is a plea for understanding- and a cry for help from the black hole of pain he is experiencing. I say I read this with surprise, since he is one of the happiest and kindest students I know. He struggles with classes, and socially, yet his heart is so pure and full of love. It amazes me how students can completely ignore the good in one another and in themselves. Perhaps I am wired to see the good in others, but for whatever reason, I cannot help but to see the beauty that is within each soul. And it hurts me to realize that so much pain exists behind the curtains of resiliency or a survival facade.
The one bit I want to share with you about Chandler coming in just now brings me to tears. Another student (in my office) asked what it was he had written and he responded with, "Just something I wanted to share with people who I consider like family to me... like Emily." If I have ever received a greater (and more humbling) compliment from any student, I'm not sure what it would have been. And to think that I'm leaving in just a few short months. Wow, I think I'm going to have an emotional breakdown when the time comes for goodbyes.
Another caveat about Daisa. Today I wore a shirt with Minnie Mouse on it (I think I got it for $1.00) underneath my black sweater... and she looks at my shirt, gasps, and says, "Emily! I have Mickey Mouse on my shirt today too!" I showed her the writing on top of my shirt, which says, 'taken', and she responds with, "By MICKEY! That's me!" Just an example of the exuberance she possesses, and one of the many reasons why I find it so enjoyable to love these students.
Okay- we have a big weekend ahead, with State Basketball- and possibly 2 fan busses...woohoo! I shall report the outcome next time, and hopefully have a few pictures to include as well! Next week we also have the spring senior retreat, so I will be having quite the emotional time! Ah, to be honest, I think the emotions of leaving have begun, and I don't think they'll stop. My goal is to be as present as ever (something I solidified in my mind during this past weekend's volunteer retreat). I forgot to mention the retreat, yet it was a wonderful time- truly soul-restoring.
'Tis enough for now. Thanks for your continual interest, I love sharing this life with you- whether or not I know you- I still appreciate that you take the time to read. Until I can write again and report that Red Cloud took the state championship! :):)
Sending my love from a slightly cloudy head, and a fully grateful heart,
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Above: NOT fan bus participants...lovely cheerleaders with random baby.
Okay.... so now you have a few faces of the fans... the fans which readily cheered on both boys and girls BB teams throughoug the season. As much fun as BB season is around here (and believe me, I was thoroughly awaiting its arrival)... I can say that I will breathe a sign of relief when the craziness has ended. Not to short the festivities, because I am still all about cheering the boys on at state. (I just found out I won't be driving the team, as originally anticipated...) So, fan bus anyone? :)
This week we have also been hosting a number of students from Creighton University. 5 undergrad students interested in volunteering after college (not necessarily here) have been staying at our humble abode- the gray house! It has been a burst of energy for us, especially for my elementary housemates (who aren't as immediately involved in the basketball hoopla and have been experiencing a long 'marchuary' season).
The weather is still pretty cold here, but next week is looking up! Finally, some spring weather headed our way... just in time to give me a boost in my running routine! :) Hopefully. The treadmill scene takes its toll on my motivation during the winter.
I feel as if I should have so many good stories from the students, and I'm sure I do- but when I'm in the midst of the chaos, its difficult to reflect, you know? I do know that I'm excited to actually do a bit of retreating this weekend, as the volunteer crew and I are all headed up to Storm Mountain for a discernment retreat! Yeah. Yeah. (I'm excited).
Well, on to the after-school entertainment portion of my daily Red Cloud show. I'm signing out now, because when dealing with the students after school- there is definitely NOT room for blogging. My sincere apologies for not giving you a live news feed or something- because I KNOW you'd find it entertaining too! :)
Sending much love to a continually known yet expanding audience!
Until the next time our good Lord inspires my little fingers.... :):)
Monday, March 2, 2009
I decided to use this reference to birds today, since the birds are ushering in March (which conveniently coincides with the warm weather), giving me hope of more pleasant days to come.
Actually, recent days have already been pleasant, yet with the added bonus of nice weather, I become nearly estatic in this place! :) Today I am full of sunshine. Literally- I did receive my daily dosage of Vitamin D during lunch as I prefected outside. And Figuratively- since I am quite happy and at peace with my life and with God. It is a theme I am striving for during this Lenten season- becoming more in tune with my relationship with God by journaling and praying consistently. Thus far- all positive.
Last week was a bit of a whirlwind, with Pennies for Patients finishing up... we announced the winning class this week- the FRESHMEN! It was really cute, just a few minutes ago a freshman who happened to be a major contributer to the coin jar came in to confirm (and secretly celebrate) the fact that the Freshmen had won. He smirks as I congratulate him and give him a high-five... then he says with a smile, "Well, at least the freshmen won something, huh?" Such a humble remark made with the best of intentions. I am really happy they won, actually- even though it means baking more brownies for Wednesday!
We decided early Friday morning to take a Fan bus to Rapid City tomorrow (Tues.) for the Girls' basketball Regional championship game- and as haphazard as fan busses can occasionally be, I am thoroughly excited for this! This means the girls are one victory away from attending the State Tournament in Watertown, SD once again this year. We shall see! And the fan bus is the first of the year! Crazy, I know... Get ready, folks, because last year my several fan bus experiences often elicited some pretty funny tales, to be sure!
Our after-school program is going pretty well. Numbers are down this semester from last semester, but it really doesn't mean much, since we have a large number of students involved in other sports and such, which are not counted in my A. S. P. numbers. And a few of the clubs are just getting under way once again...so have no fear- March madness will become a phrase pertaining to more than just basketball... it will carry over to our A. S. P. as well! :) I wish that if you could experience any part of my job here, you would come and see the chaos which ensues from appx. 3:08-3:30pm every day. It's exhilerating!
I believe it's about time to compile a list of the students interested in taking the fan bus tomorrow. If you feel like cheering for Red Cloud, this is a good week to begin- the boys play two district games on Mon. and Thurs., and the girls play regions tomorrow. Basketball updates will surely be in store here- considering it is now post-season play! The 'big times' around here. Hmmm, random note to self (which I, for some reason, assume you'll be interested in) ... I need to start taking more pictures of the kids! I will get on that soon, and post for your viewing pleasure!
I hope this little blurp is finding you all well and well-cared for by our loving God. Until the next time my little fingers fly across the keyboard.....
Sending my love and appreciation for life,