Part of the success of
the school went to the constant activities involving the students. It seemed
there was never a minute when boredom was entertained. So many clubs,
sports, vocations, socials, church attendance, maintenance duties, choir and
others were exercised. I know I'm not mentioning everything because this is
only what pertained to my own schedule.
This changed when
employee status was gained for me and I was more aware that employees were
expected to attend the socials, too. I knew this because there were always
employees at the socials when I was a student but it had not really
registered that they were there as a part of their job. It wasn't for extra
pay but just an accepted pleasurable duty. Some of the women made the
comment that their lives began and ended at 7:45 p.m. which was the time for
activities to start. One woman even told that she must time her child's
birth for 7:45 p.m.
There was the
customary military grand march entry when everyone marched into the ballroom
together with arms joined. Sometimes when I see old movies depicting a
social on an old western fort it gives me great memories as the actors march
into the room in that fashion.
When we were students
some complained about the employees watching them. “You know they are
gossiping about us,” some of the girls were uncomfortable with what they
felt was too close an observation of their activities.
On the other hand,
while an employee, my new situation made me realize there weren't hidden
motives with staff watching the students. I can't speak for the other
employees but for me it was a thrill to see these students who were just
barely younger than myself, working so diligently to do the social
practices they were being taught. Some were learning to dance and that was
special. Others who were older and had mastered the skill. They were
graceful and charming in their movements. Strong Native American features
made them beautiful with a natural poise.
nervousness I felt when first coming to the school gave me a respect for the
brave, quiet manner these children, young adults had.
activities gave the staff a unity, too. It was as if we felt so good about
the work we did. No matter that some of the jobs were as menial as my own,
that of secretary. Certainly there were teachers and instructors who made
this their life long, dedicated commitment. Even though it took four years
for a child to come into the school and then to graduate, the days were
taken one at a time. These socials were just like a sparkle of a promise as
the students who were dressed in their best suits and pretty dresses whirled
around and about the dance floor.
The dances, ball
games, sports activities, games, church socials, by today's standards
would probably be considered slow. But, at the time, there was nothing
backwards about them.
Pageants in the spring
time around the dark waters of the lake at night alternated every other year
with the operetta presented by the choir. Every part of the pageant was a
production. Lights on performances by the gymnastic groups, vocational acted
out vignettes, gifted soloists and so many other presentations made the
parents proud who had traveled to the school to watch their children with
The operetta was
performed by amateurs but after hours and hours of practice the stage acts
came off as sharp as a real show. Costumes and music created the whimsical
works of Gershwin, Richard Rogers and others.
The values of the
employees during that year of 1956 were above reproach. There were no
shadowy, hidden secret liaisons. To my knowledge the workers were strong
Christian with a tightly established goal and they were a little like
missionaries. They sacrificed their whole lives to see the Native American
be given a chance to learn a trade or go on to college to become good
citizens in society. It was a wondrous opportunity, my working there, and
it added more to my education than any other time in my life.