SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Students at Sioux Falls newest middle school got to learn more about the man their building is named after. The granddaughter of the late Republican Congressman Ben Reifel spoke to students on Thursday and had a special message.
It was a full house in the auditorium of the brand new school. Lisa Moss is used to this environment; she is a teacher on a reservation in Wyoming.
“I’m so excited to be here,” Moss said.
Ben Reifel’s story is unique. Born into humble beginnings on the Rosebud Reservation, he rose to power in Washington, D.C., as one of South Dakota’s U.S. Representatives. A story his granddaughter wanted to share with these kids who will be tomorrow’s leaders.
Moss says she was very close to her grandfather.
“And this fat little thing right here, that’s me. And that’s Ben Reifel,” Moss said.
“He took me everywhere when I was little and wherever I was… He made me feel like I was the most important person in the room,” Moss said.
Moss says she almost burst into tears when she saw the school building named for her grandfather for the first time.
“I think he would be so amazed and humbled and honored by this one in particular because of the fact that he struggled so much to get through the eighth grade and now there’s a middle school named after him,” Moss said.
The school mascot is the bison, appropriate because of the bison significance to Native American culture.
In honor of the visit, the kids even learned the school song.
The one lesson Moss wanted to leave with the students is they are now a part of the Ben Reifel family.
“I mean a community does this right? Community builds a building and so that shows how much they love their kids and so they have tremendous support in order to become whoever it is they are going to be,” Moss said.
“So, thank you so much for the honor of speaking to you,” Moss said as she said goodbye to the students.
Ben Reifel died in 1990. Almost a thousand kids attend the school named after him.