By Kevin Thranow
There have been a number of graduation ceremonies in the area recently, and a few more yet to come. But one may stand out as a particularly auspicious occasion, the first 8th grade graduating class of Sapa Un Catholic Academy in St. Francis, which took place outdoors on the St. Francis Mission campus last Thursday.
Lydia Marie Whirlwind Soldier and Jacob Ian Boltz were the graduating class - not representing the graduating class, they were the entire graduating class!
This special occasion got underway with opening prayers by Fr. James Kubicki and Dave Espinoza, who was joined by the Red Leaf drum group while he conducted a feather tying ceremony for the two graduates.
Lydia gave the greeting and Jacob the farewell address. Sapa Un instructor Megan Kittisopikul commended the graduates for their accomplishments throughout their years at the school, and encouraged them to persevere in all of their future endeavors. She applauded their willingness to participate in extracurricular activities, even though they were often the only participants from the school due to the small class size. Jacob was active in chess, soccer, and the science fair, and plans to attend high school at Todd County or Rapid City next year. Lydia was also involved in chess and science competitions, attended the Phillips Exeter Summer program last year, and will continue her education at Sandy Spring Friends School in Maryland this fall on a Jack Kent Cooke scholarship.
Fr. Jim Lafontaine presented the diplomas, and RST President Rodney Bordeaux was the graduation speaker. After the graduation song, performed by Boltz, Darin Espinoza, Mekhi Krogman, Kaiden Whiting, and Riley Valandra, with coaching by Devin Whirlwind Soldier, attendees adjourned to a reception and meal.