Heaven and School


Heaven with books Heaven, along with the rest of her classmates, picked up her supplies the morning of her first day of school.

Heaven and her brother Jonathan attend the Tiospaye Topa School. We met Heaven during our annual school supplies distribution.

The Tiospaye Topa, translated as Four Families, is located on the eastern part of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. The school is fairly removed from the more populated areas of the reservation. Sandwiched between Eagle Butte just 30 miles west and Gettysburg, 45 miles east, Ridgeview is a small community with a school that accommodates kindergarteners all the way through their high school graduation.

Heaven has been going to this school since the second grade so she knows the layout well. The hallways are divided to give each of the age groups their own space, with the south side of the school reserved for the elementary students.

A large mural in the cafeteria welcomes the students each day as they sit down for breakfast and lunch. A women’s fancy shawl dancer and a men’s Grass dancer move among the “Paints” (Indian horses) that are grazing among the shadows of Bear Butte.

Heaven, along with the rest of her classmates, picked up her supplies the morning of her first day of school. She was undecided about her life and education after high school, but she knew she likes to travel. She said she would like to see, “Germany — I’m interested in the culture and the language.”

She really liked art and painting and quietly talked about her interest. Her mother joined the conversation and proudly shared that, “she’s being modest. She draws portraits and random people all the time. She’s really good.” Mom and daughter both appreciated the supplies they received that day, which better prepared Heaven for the homework that was sure to follow.

large mural
A large mural in the cafeteria welcomes the students each day
as they sit down for breakfast and lunch.

It wasn’t just the students and the parents who valued the supplies. We have received many “Thank You” notes from the school partners each year after the distributions have been completed…

“We really do not have the resources to provide the students with supplies that they need at home to do homework. This program literally allows children to be successful in school and to not have to worry about where they will get supplies or have their parents with multiple school-aged children feel bad about not being able to provide supplies.”

— American Horse School-Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota

“Many of our students would not have school supplies if the school or you did not provide them. With our school budget being cut, the students received fewer items from the school. You helped to assure they will have enough paper, pencils and other supplies.”

— Dunseith Public School-Turtle Mountain, North Dakota

“96% of our students started school with ZERO supplies. The parents/guardians and students are so very thankful!”

— Fort Belknap-Hays, Montana

]]