Reflecting on the Past, Looking to the Future:

2021’s Senior Retreat

Spirituality and campus ministry are foundational elements of a Red Cloud education. Every year Red Cloud seniors attend at least one retreat to reflect and pray during an overnight stay in the Black Hills. But because of the pandemic, this year was different, with new barriers to gathering as a group. Despite those challenges, Red Cloud wanted to honor and celebrate the accomplishments and journeys of the graduating class of 2021 in a way that still honored CDC and Tribal protocols.

This year the retreat was held on April 29th and April 30th. During this time the seniors got a chance to personally reflect, pray, and community build with one another. Students were able to focus on the year ahead and plan for their future.

A select group of Red Cloud students, who demonstrate commitment to service and community, are chosen to become part of the Spiritual Leadership Team. Throughout the year these students serve as mentors in spiritual formation, help guide Lakota-Catholic and traditional Lakota prayer services and ceremonies, and are encouraged to support their peers academically, socially, and spiritually. One of their momentous roles for the year is to help plan and lead student retreats. Every year staff have seen how students on the Spiritual Leadership Team become trusted leaders and present essential support for their peers.

Reflecting on this year’s retreat, a senior and member of the Spiritual Leadership Team, Lyric Clifford said “Senior retreat was really fun, especially being on Spiritual Leadership Team I got to help plan some events and I think seeing it from one side of being a participant and also being a planner was a really fun experience…. I was really excited for this one and I think a lot of people participated more than usual and they enjoyed it a lot…It was really relieving and it gave me a lot of joy to see people actually enjoying themselves.”

Headshot of Red Cloud Lyric Clifford

The seniors gathered at the revered cement Medicine Wheel in front of the Red Cloud middle school gym and were able to take part in the making of prayer ties while Russ Cournoyer, a longtime Lakota studies teacher, said a prayer. They then made their way to the busses to take a trip to Bear Butte, a Lakota sacred site, to participate in a prayer hike.

The next day a virtual retreat was made available in the morning for students to attend. Back on campus, a cookout and bonfire took place in the evening where Emmanuel Black Bear and the Creekside singers sang an honoring song.

“It was very relieving just being able to go to a sacred site with all of my classmates at Bear Butte. I just feel like we were all together again and it was almost like the first day of school, but we’re all close now too. We’re all going to take our own journeys so I feel like we’re just enjoying the time all together” said Wohpe Bull Bear, a senior, and also a member of the Spiritual Leadership Team.

Headshot of Red Cloud Wohpe


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