By Elaine Emery
The Sapa Un Catholic Academy opened it’s doors, Tuesday, September 3, with students ready to learn and the teacher eager to start the school year.
Sapa Un is a private Catholic school located in St. Francis. The school, being in it’s early stages, is currently only offering third grade classes. Taught by former Rosebud Elementary teacher Julie Lambert, the class size of 10 makes for a great one on one teaching environment. Students come from St. Francis, Two Strike, Spring Creek and Rosebud to attend school. In the future, staff is hoping to receive more students reservation wide.
The students are receiving the same education they would have if enrolled in public school. They will also be immersed in the Lakota Culture and The Catholic Religion as a part of the curriculum. The children will be attending religion classes and eventually attending mass weekly.
They will be taught the Lakota Language and Culture daily by Deacon Ben Black Bear. Classes run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as a way to help parents who work 8-5 jobs, giving the students extra time to study.
Teacher Julie Lambert was very excited for the curriculum being taught.
“Our kids need to know where they come from, what their culture is all about, a lot of them don’t have it,” said Lambert.
A feeling of accomplishment at the end of everyday for Lambert come from being able to personally interact with each student giving them a quality education.
Faculty of Sapa Un include: Para-Professional Theresa Lambert, Principal Chris Bordeaux and Teacher Julie Lambert.
For the 2013-2014 school year, the school will only be offering third grade but next year fourth grade will be offered as well. As the years go on and the school grows in size, more classes will be offered for upper level grade students from third grade on up.
Being the first Catholic private school with the Lakota culture as part of the studies, makes this school one of a kind, breaking new ground for the area.
Father Hatcher of The St. Francis Mission has been working on this project for six years, making it his priority to make sure the children that pass through the school are able to enter the world as responsible adults. The curriculum being taught is set in place to teach the kids good manners, how to make good decisions, read, write and speak Lakota and English and The Catholic Religion.
Parent participation is strongly recommended and welcomed at the school as a parent being involved in a child’s life is necessary for that child to feel loved and confident in one’s self.
Sapa Un allows the parents to donate four hours a month in place of paying the fifty dollars per month tuition fee. Lambert says she likes to have an open door policy, allowing parents to come and be apart of the classroom.
The goal of the school is to create a generation of educated people who can help the reservation to grow in a positive way.
Sapa Un Catholic Academy has plans to be around for a longtime with an ever increasing student body and ever growing campus.
By Elaine Emery