With a successful summer coming to an end, it was back-to-school time for the Tribal youth, who hit the ground running and were excited about the new year. Keeping with the times, the youth also celebrated National School Success Month.

Each student and parent did a “My Success Plan,” which includes giving the staff access to the students’ grades thru the online gradebook. Each student sets a long term goal, with adult input and guidance as needed. The family and staff will discuss how the “My Success Plan” will be monitored and evaluated over the next six months, while the parents conduct a short survey on their view of the P.L.A.C.E.’s work in the community and with their youth.

Ben McAlister, the academic support specialist, and Wilson Littlehead, the prevention specialist, started the college prep class for our youth who will be advancing on after high school to higher education. This class will help the youth be better prepared for college.

The tribal youth kicked off a new reading program aimed at encouraging the reading of more books. The participants will set monthly goals on how many books they will read and will go year-round. Each reading winner will get a free personal one topping pizza from FireLake Pizza for meeting their goal.   We also got the S.T.E.M. Robotic program up and going, with the group’s main objective being to establish a goal and have a date for the first SeaPerch competition. The plan also is to get involved in the Lego Robotic Competition.

Justin Neely and staff began the Potawatomi language class. This class teaches the Tribal youth how to speak the language. It is an eight week class and there will be a Potawatomi language contest and the winner will get a grand prize.

It’s not always a focus on the minds though, as our participants also will be taking an educational class to learn about cholesterol, it’s levels and when they’re bad for health and how to eat healthier in order to avoid those higher levels.

The 100 mile challenge kicked off too, with each student being encouraged to walk 100 miles to stay fit. Each student who successfully completes the challenge will get a t-shirt and the overall winner, in terms of who achieves the 100 miles first, will get a grand prize.

In other activity related news, the tribal youth began the inaugural P.L.A.C.E. Intramural Program with a four-on-four indoor soccer league, indoor flag football league and volleyball league.

We will also be holding a disc golf tournament and ping pong tournament during the month, while in honor of the football season kicking off, our youth are taking part in the newest activity, “Big Ben’s NFL Pick’em,” which each youth will pick the current week’s NFL winners.   We’re always looking for more participants if we can accommodate them. If you would like to learn more about the FireLodge Tribal Youth program, feel free to contact me at dgreene@potawatomi.org.