by: Aileen Napoli
Partnership Rapid City directors recently attended a dropout conference where the majority of adults spoke about the issues surrounding many communities.
The directors were very unsatisfied with the conference because they only heard what the adults had to say. Though distraught, a brilliant idea sparked their minds and they immediately contacted Jackie Swanson to be part of it.
When asked about how they contacted her, she said, “I received a call from the Director of Indian Education and the Director of Partnership RC asking me if I would teach and create this pilot program. They also bribed me with the green van.”
Jackie Swanson become the head of the program and started forming groups all over Rapid City high schools starting in the summer. Soon after, the class, named Solutions because of its purpose to find solutions for community and school problems, has become known all over our community.
Mrs. Swanson added, “The main purpose is to get the students involved in their community, think about their careers, and most importantly, find their voice within; the voice that is often silent regarding important issues to them and their peers.” According to Partnership Rapid City’s website, instead of sitting with a textbook in a high school classroom, students are gaining “hands-on” experience in business, industry, college, and technical classes in Rapid City.
When October came, Jackie Swanson started giving out applications to the students, especially the Native American students. Not only are they benefiting from class, but they are also given a 0.5 credit to complete the class in the semester. She is currently coordinating groups from Central, Jefferson, and starting a group from Stevens. Imagine how challenging that is for her to handle the groups by herself and juggling all the community projects.
Swanson currently has group projects going with five different classes. The boys are building dog houses for the Humane Society, which will be given to schools around town to decorate, showcased at the Rushmore Mall in January. Every community member can come and vote for their favorite for a dollar. Another group from Central is selling suckers to donate at Humane Society for the Kitty City. They are also organizing “Cobbler Threads” which people can donate clothes for students who are in need for clothing. Miranda, one of the girls in Solutions said, “We’re not really asking too much from people. We’re only asking them to donate something that they don’t normally use anymore and they can be a big benefit from others.” All of these students are very hard working and consistent of meeting their goals for this year. There are other groups working on teen pregnancy and helping parents talk to their teens, another group is helping the 265 unaccompanied students in the Rapid City schools, and the first group is spreading the word about Solutions and Partnership Rapid City.
Not only are they organizing these projects but some of the girls are given an opportunity to learn about Medical field at SDSU. “I love the fact of helping other people and being in nursing, but I hate how busy it gets sometimes. We’re staying at school until 6-7 PM weekdays. If we’re not in Solutions, our remaining time is dedicated in working. It’s just frustrating to always change the plan because our schedules never meet,” Miranda confessed.
From the looks of it, it’s not easy to be part of this group, although Swanson works around a lot of the students’ issues. The students need a lot of drive and work ethic to withstand all the challenges. These students are indeed making a change in our community. Now, they are learning to be more appreciative about their community and finding out what they truly want in their lives.