We Donated Some Books…

May 29, 2014

Dear Families,

A high-school colleague of mine is involved with a yearly drive that brings warm coats and interesting books to children on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota.
I decided that I wanted to help out, so our class donated some of their books-including some of their very favorite ones!
When she came to pick up the books Tuesday morning, Ms. Kennett kindly answered many questions for us. After we helped her take some books to her car, we realized we still had loads of questions we would like to ask. So, we did a shared write.
I opened my laptop, hooked it up to our document camera, logged in to my account, and found Ms. Kennett’s email.
Your children worked with me to craft a list of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions that arose from the discussion. We sent the email right away-and received a reply to each and every question that night!
Here is the text of Ms. Kennett’s reply:

“Hi Ms Seyan,

Thank you so much for the books for the Rosebud Reservation. We are so excited to see the reaction of the children there. I will try and answer your question.

1. How big is your classroom? Is it, like, three classrooms? (170 students
is a lot!) *question by Zariyana; corrected by Nicole
My classroom is regular size. I teach 33-35 students each period and I teach 5 periods.

2. How can you teach so many students at once? *question by Nicole
I only teach 33-35 students at one time.
3. How cold is it in South Dakota? * question by Mikayla
The average temperature in the winter is 5 degrees below zero.
4. How many days have you taught? *question by Riley
I have taught for 25 years. That is 25 time 180. I might need a calculator for that one!

5. Do they have electricity? *question by Allison
On the reservation, families have electricity but they often can’t afford propane gas for heat.

6. Do families have a lot of kids on the reservation? We do!! *question by
Families do have a lot of children on the reservation. Often they have more children than they can take care of so many children live with their grandparents.

7. Why don’t they have that many books? *question by Leah
They have very little money because there are not many jobs on the reservation. There are almost no stores, no Walmart, no McDonalds.

8. Do ALL of the students behave in Mrs. Kennett’s class? *question by Ryan
My students are very, very well behaved. I have no problems in my classroom.

9. Why are they all 15? *question by Austin
They are all in 10th grade and by May they have all turned 15. A few may be 16.

10. What do they do for fun in South Dakota? *question by Trina
In South Dakota

11. How can they get food if they are in their house a lot? *question by
They usually cook their own food.

12. What do they eat? *question by Mayra
They often eat fry bread which is like pizza dough. They grow some vegetables like corn and zucchini and they love junk food, like hot cheetos too!

13. Do you teach high school? *question by Kelana
I teach at Piedmont Hills High School in North San Jose

14. How far is South Dakota? *question by Luis
South Dakota is halfway across the US. It takes 3 days to drive there.

15. Is there money there? (on the reservation) *question by Rodrigo
The people in South Dakota are very poor. 80% of them have no jobs.

16. Why is it so cold in the winter and so hot in the summer? *question by
The wind is very cold on the plains and there are few trees for shade in the summer.

17. Do they have any animals? Do they have any plants? *question by Sethia
Sometimes they have gardens. They may have horses or dogs.

18. What are all your students’ names? *question by Chloe
I can not list ALL of my students’ names but I once had a student named Chloe!

19. Do they have any bathrooms; do they take showers? *question by Braedon
They have bathrooms that are small and the water does not work so well. The water is not hot in the shower.

20. Never mind. *from Isabella

21. Is it cold, even though it is summer? *question by Annabel
It is more than 100 degrees in the summer.

22. Does your husband actually have to drive that far? *question by Victoria
My husband, Mr. Murphy, is a math teacher and he does drive that far every summer.

23. Do they have video games? (question melee for a few rounds here…)
They love video games. Some kids have video games and all the kids love to go to those kids houses!

24. Where do they take showers?
They have showers.

25. How did they post this video of the thing on YouTube?
Some kids have computers. Some times computers are donated.

26. Do they have skateboards and scooters and bicycles?
If they are lucky they have skateboards and scooters and bicycles. They do not have as many of those things as kids here. Most are donations and might be old.

27. Is a lot to teach 170 people?
This weekend I graded 170 essays! That is a lot!

28. Why do you have 170 students? How did that happen?
We used to have smaller classes. Now there is less money for public education so the class size keeps getting bigger.

29. How tall are your students?
Some of my students are tall and some are short. Most are the size of Ms Seyan.

30. Do they have toys in South Dakota?
They do have toys in South Dakota. They like Legos and X-men and Disney Princesses.

31. Why do the kids in South Dakota have different life styles than us?
Their lifestyle is a mix of modern and ancient because they are descendants of the native people in America, the Lakota Sioux.

Thank you so much!
Ms. Kennett
PS this is a video about a young boy growing up on the very reservation Mr Murphy is driving to. It is about 6 minutes I think.

Hidden America: Children of the Plains

Great job, A-3 All-Stars! I am proud of your generosity AND of your interesting questions!

Ms. Seyan 🙂

For more information:

Lakota Coat Drive 2014

“Each year Kevin, travels to South Dakota to visit the people of the Rosebud Reservation and to attend the Sundance Ceremony. Kevin is always struck by the level of poverty of the people he meets and indeed, the poverty on the Lakota reservations is among the worst in our nation. To compound this, the weather there is brutal. The average temperature is 5 degrees below zero in the winter! Children wear what coats they have indoors because the propane heating in their modest homes is so inadequate. The generosity of the people in our community is helping. Each year, we have collected coats at our high school and at our daughter’s elementary school, which have made their way to some very grateful children of the Rosebud Reservation! Each summer Kevin has delivered those coats and has seen firsthand the gratitude and relief of the mothers who have received them. He has called me on these occasions, and I have heard the tears of joy first-hand!
Each year, the most difficult aspect about bringing donations is the transportation. This summer, Kevin has the time and the opportunity to drive an entire U-haul van back to the reservation in South Dakota! We are in the process of collecting the most needed items we can find to fill this precious space. Already our students have collected a roomful of coats/jackets and athletic/casual shoes of all sizes to deliver to the people of Rosebud. We are also including gently used books that the children of our community have outgrown. We are also in the process of boxing up unused novels from our school’s bookroom to send. The Saint Francis Indian School reports that their students have virtually no books in their homes which, as educators, pains us to hear. With the blessing of this entire trailer to fill, we are hoping to share our children’s love of reading with the children of the plains. This is going to be a very special trip for Kevin because it is the largest Lakota Coat Drive that we have ever conducted. The next challenge is to fund the u-haul van and the gas needed to get these precious items to South Dakota. We are asking for $1000 to fund our project.”

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