ASHLAND, Mont. - St. Labre Indian High School students left their books in their lockers on the day before Thanksgiving and rolled up their sleeves. As part of a pre-holiday service day, 16 teams of high school students performed a variety of service projects on campus and in the community Nov. 21.
A team of seniors worked to clear out the remains of seven vehicles across the highway that had been burnt out when the fires of 2005 encroached just across the highway from the school campus. One sophomore group worked with the Forest Service to load and deliver firewood to elders' homes; another was bused to Lame Deer to work with the Northern Cheyenne Housing Authority at the Shoulderblade Complex. Yet another provided support work for the Ashland Boys and Girls Club. Still others worked with youth in the elementary school, helped clean and decorate the campus chapel for Christmas, and completed mending and hemming of church banners and robes.
Theology teacher Maria Valen, whose team helped at the Shoulderblade Complex, commented, ''The kids seemed to enjoy the chance to speak with the elders ... and I think they realized how much still needs be done for them there, how much more help they could use.''
St. Labre has long been dedicated to instilling the spirit of service to the community as an integral part of education deriving from the mission's cardinal values of stewardship, respect and justice, as well as the goal to provide skills leading to self-sufficiency.
''I think it gave us a chance to give back to the community in a positive way, to set an example of how we can help out ourselves,'' summarized senior Lane Spotted Elk. Fellow senior Clint Gonzales agreed, saying, ''It was good to come together with my classmates to do something good.''