During the Yellow Medicine East School Board meeting Tuesday night, Indian Liaison Roberta Bjerkeset shared stories from the recent trip undertaken by elementary students in the Dakota language class to a Dakota language Bowl.

The competition brought together students from across the region to compete. Students worked together in teams to translate English words and phrases into Dakota. Two teams compete from YME, with one team getting 4th place and the other receiving 5th. According to Bjerkeset, the competition was a great opportunity for students to connect with other Dakota language learners their own age.

In addition to the competition, students also participated in a Wacipi (Powwow) and a picnic. The event organizers also oversee a herd of bison, and will periodically harvest one for special occasions or to help feed the community. Students learned about the cultural background of hunting bison, and got to watch as the animal was skin and prepared for their meal.

In other news:

Superintendent Dr. Rick Clark updated the Board on next steps for replacing the mezzanine railing in the high school. He told the Board that preliminary drawings would be completed by January 9, and a final computer rendering of the design submitted by the 19th. Once the artistic rendering is complete, the district will accept bids from contractors. A final decision is expected by early March.

Bert Raney Principal Lisa Hansen updated the Board on recent events at the elementary school. Students recently helped organize a special luncheon for local veterans on December 15 at the upper level of the Legion. The students sang songs and got to converse with the veterans. Hansen said it was a great event, and they looked forward to doing it again in the future.

Hansen also shared the results of a recent parent survey conducted by the elementary school. The survey asked parents what they think the school is doing well and improvements they would like to see at the school. Parents praised the school for creating a good atmosphere, after school programing, integrating technology in the classroom, emphasizing reading skills, and improving the quality of school lunches.

Although the surveys were generally positive, Hansen said that there were also area parents wanting them to do better. All day preschool, additional snow days, more Sting camps, and more opportunities for volunteering were among the suggestions. Hansen said she appreciated the opportunity to receive feedback from parents, saying, “This was really good for us as a staff to take a look at.”

With the start of a new year, the Board voted to elect Board officers for 2018. All incumbents were renominated to their positions, and all were unanimously re-elected by the Board. Dawn Odegard will serve as Chairperson, Sharon Rupp will serve as Vice Chairperson, Steve Rupp will serve as Board Clerk, and Jeremy Corner will serve as Treasurer. There were no changes either to committee assignments. No motion was required to approve assignments.

The Board voted unanimously to approve a 1 year contract for Superintendent Clark. Clark has already announced that he intends to resign as Superintendent at the end of the year, and the Board is already in the preliminary stages of searching for his replacement. Dr. Clark told the Board that a surge of statewide superintendent vacancies are expected in the coming years, meaning YME “will be on the front end of that.”

The Board listened to a motion proposed by Jeremy Corner urging the Board to say the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of each meeting. Although the Board occasionally began past meetings with the pledge of allegiance, it was never formally part of the agenda and was done so irregularly. “It’s something our kids do, so we should lead by example,” explained Corner. The Board unanimously passed the motion.

Before adjourning the meeting, the Board reviewed upcoming special dates. There will be an early dismissal for staff development on January 10 at 2:30 pm and no classes on January 15. The second quarter ends on January 19 and classes are cancelled on January 22 for another staff development day. The next School Board meeting is scheduled for January 22 at 6 pm and is open to the public. The Board is expected to review superintendent search protocols during the meeting.