Eastern South Dakota school district recognized for supporting students during pandemic

Local News

IROQUOIS, S.D. (KELO) — Nestled in the plains on Highway 14 just east of Huron, you’ll find the small community of Iroquois. Recently, the school district was nominated for Reader’s Digest’s “Nicest Place’s in America”. Now it’s a finalist.

“Well I was a little surprised,” superintendent Mike Ruth said. “We’re not doing anything different than any other school in the state. Keep everybody going on the right track and feeding them. So I think we had some advantages there too. It’s a great honor, but I was a little surprised when we got the nomination.”

Reader’s Digest compiled a list of the 50 nicest places in America that are united in kindness during a time when everyone could use it the most. In Iroquois, kindness meant making sure every student had a computer, internet connection, and lunch everyday since schools had to close because of the pandemic.

“Our bus service just continued to run our bus routes,” Ruth said. “Our lunch people stepped and just kept on working right through the closure. We had some staff that volunteered their time to deliver the lunches and we were fortunate enough to be able to go door to door to deliver them and that worked out really well.”

The Iroquois School District has about 215 students preschool-12th grade. Being a small community, the support for students was like none other.

“The teachers connected with them daily, and they knew that they could contact them,” parent Jennifer Peskey said. “They always knew that they were there available and that they cared for them. They kept saying that too.”

Teacher, Scott Beehler, wanted to reassure students he was always there for them if they needed help.

“Individual students would email you at 10:00 at night and say, ‘Hey, I had a problem here or I had a problem there. My internet went down. Something wouldn’t open,'” Beehler said. “It was just like, ‘Ok, it’s not a problem. We’ll get through it.’ It’s like we had due dates, but you know, they weren’t hard. If you had problems and you asked for help, we’d give it to you.”

This kind of support doesn’t just come from one person, everyone pitched in to help.

“We just had a lot of good people to step up and help out,” Ruth said. “It really didn’t have to do with any one person, it was just a good group effort.”

You can find the full list of honorees here.

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