Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is St. Labre?
A: St. Labre Indian School Educational Association is a Roman Catholic institution that provides quality education and outreach services to Native American youth and their families. The St. Labre schools are: St. Labre elementary, middle and high schools at Ashland, Montana; Pretty Eagle Catholic School at St. Xavier, Montana; and St. Charles Mission School at Pryor, Montana.
Q: Where is St. Labre located?
A: St. Labre is located just off of US Highway 212 in the southeastern corner of Montana. We are approximately 125 miles southeast of Billings, 75 miles south of Miles City, and 62 miles east of the Little Bighorn Battlefield. You can contact St. Labre by calling (406) 784-4500. See our Maps and Directions.
Q: How many students attend these schools?
A: Enrollment at St. Labre: 510; Pretty Eagle: 105; and St. Charles: 130. These numbers change yearly and normally average between 750-800 total.
Q: Does St. Labre offer direct sponsorship of students?
A: We do not operate a direct sponsorship program. Donations made to St. Labre provide equal benefits to all students.
Q: How many people does St. Labre employ?
A: St. Labre employs approximately 300 people, approximately half of whom are Native American.
Q: What Tribes of Indians does St. Labre serve?
A: Primarily the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Indian Tribes. However there are also a significant number of Sioux families who reside in our service area.
Q: Are the youth in this facility available for adoption by non-Native families?
A: No, they are not. St. Labre is not an adoption agency. Additionally, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 established guidelines and restrictions regarding the placement of Indian children. Native Americans of the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Tribes have close ties to their extended families. An aunt or uncle may be considered a mother or father; a 1st, 2nd or 3rd cousin may be considered a brother or sister. There are no true orphans in the Indian family structure.
Q: When was St. Labre founded and by whom?
A: Named after the French saint, Benedict Joseph Labre, St. Labre was founded in 1884 by a small group of Catholic Ursuline Sisters from Toledo, Ohio.
Q: How are St. Labre programs funded?
A: St. Labre’s source of revenue is almost exclusively derived from private donations.
Q: Does St. Labre receive any federal or church funds?
A: We have made a conscious decision not to accept most forms of federal funding available. We do this so that we can concentrate our efforts on the monumental task of providing a quality education. St. Labre, Pretty Eagle and St. Charles Schools are administered under the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings which is already under a tremendous financial burden. Through the generosity of our many benefactors, we are able to operate our schools without Diocesan funds.
Q: Can people come to St. Labre to volunteer/donate time, talents and interests?
A: We greatly appreciate offers of time and talents. However, due to insurance and housing considerations, St. Labre is unable to accept outside volunteers at our schools at this time. We do however have volunteers from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps that assist us throughout each school year. If you are interested in volunteering for a wonderful Christian organization, please refer to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for further information.
Jesuit Volunteer Corps:
P.O. Box 3928
Q: Are contributions made to St. Labre Indian School tax deductible?
A: Yes, St. Labre Indian School is a 501(c) (3) corporation. All contributions are tax deductible (Sec. 170 IRC).
Q: Does St. Labre accept donations of books and clothing?
A: Yes. There is always a need for infant's, toddler's and children’s clothing and toys. We ask that you send only new or good used items. We also welcome donations of books; however, because they must meet criteria set by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, we recommend that textbooks not be sent. We gratefully accept children’s fiction, non-fiction, current reference books and even CD’s! When sending gifts to St. Labre, we suggest that you include your name and address inside the box. Please send your donated items to St. Labre Indian School, 1000 Tongue River Road, Ashland, MT 59004.
Q: St. Labre Indian School has two different zip codes: 59003 and 59004 -- Why?
A: A number of years ago, St. Labre was issued a special zip code: 59004, solely for the use of our benefactors. This separate postal code assures that your letters and donations receive special handling. The 59003 zip code is for the Town of Ashland, Montana, where we maintain post office boxes for other types of mail.
Q: What is the St. Labre Indian School 'Academy' concept?
A: We have used the phrase “Excellence Now…Choices Later.” This phrase is the core belief that excellence is expected and practiced now and students will have choices later. Taking responsibility and hard work is the core to greater opportunities, and with opportunities come more choices for the future.
Students within an academy program are expected to “step up” when they meet challenges. They are expected to work as a team to create a school where all are respected and everyone learns. Academy programs are built on accepting responsibility for ones own actions and knowing that personal accountability excuses and shortcuts are not accepted or allowed. An academy program is designed to inspire students to acknowledge their dreams and convince them that through commitment and hard work, their dreams can come true.
It takes a total school commitment; a commitment of parents, students, teachers, staff and administration to promote a positive learning experience to achieve high student achievement. Parents and students will sign Parent, Family, and Student Commitment letters. These commitment letters outline the responsibilities and document the promise to work hard together to meet the challenges of the coming school year. Teachers will sign a commitment letter reinforcing their commitment to provide high-quality instruction for every student.
This begins the first year our schools will implement the Curricular Trips program. At the fourth grade, all students in good standing will attend a four to five day Science camp in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The eighth grade will tour part of the east coast and the Washington, D.C. area. The eleventh grade will tour part of the west coast. These are not reward trips--but are designed to support the curriculum and expose our students to outside opportunities.
Uniforms are also an important element of our academy programs. All of our students will wear uniforms, polos or other acceptable professional dress, every day. Within the academy philosophy wearing uniforms means there will be no competition in dress, and it provides students with a sense of unity and of belonging to a broader family. Uniforms reinforce our identity as a community and the sense for each student that “I belong to something greater than myself.” Uniforms support our collective responsibility to take care of one another and also helps identify and welcome newcomers.
We will begin a strong careers program Pre-K - 12 so students experience and explore job opportunities. The careers program will keep the focus on the “choices later” element of our hard work and efforts.
Another great plus for students graduating from St. Labre is the scholarship program. Students graduating from St. Labre may receive up to $4,000 per year in college. To qualify, a student must compete two years of high school at St. Labre.
The quote from Plenty Coup says very well St. Labre, St. Charles and Pretty Eagle Schools move toward the academy program. Most people have heard and can repeat the first part of his quote—
Education is your greatest weapon. With education you are the white man’s equal; without education, you are his victim and so shall remain all of your lives.
Following is the part that exemplifies St. Labre’s efforts:
Study, learn, help one another always. Remember there is only poverty and misery in idleness and dreams—but in work, there is self-respect and independence.
He said our motto in this part of his speech,
Hard work = Excellence now…Choices later.
Ivan Blake Small Director of Schools