Visiting S.T.A.R. Academy

Custer Sign

Custer Sign

The Custer area of South Dakota always amazes me. I traveled out to Custer on Monday morning to interview employees at the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (S.T.A.R.) Academy to create some video testimonials for the South Dakota Careers’ Youtube channel (www.youtube.com/user/sdcareers). S.T.A.R. Academy is a treatment facility for adolescents in need of supervision and therapy.

As I was driving out to Custer, I saw thousands of emerald green pine trees and sparkling blue lakes. I was afraid I was going to get lost because I was distracted by the beauty of the area. I was hoping that I would see some bison, but I think they were under the trees for shade.

Star Academy Sign

Star Academy Sign

After I had lunch at Sage Creek Grille, I drove out to the boys’ campus at S.T.A.R. Academy. I met up with Scott Marsich, and he showed me around the Academy. He showed me all of the recreational activities available for the adolescents: a ropes course, Frisbee golf, gymnasium, recreation room, and a rock climbing wall. I asked him about some of the fences, and he said it was to keep the bison and other animals away from the area and to ensure the safety and security of the youth. He showed me the girls’ campus on Tuesday morning, and they had a softball field and a lovely gazebo area and church. The inside of both of the campuses had inspirational quotes, artwork, dorm rooms, and recreation rooms. The campuses reminded me of my summer camp days in Girl Scouts.

I interviewed youth counselors, teachers, and mental health professionals, and all of them were friendly and personable. One of the activities they were proud to show me was a sand box with toy figurines, and it’s a form of therapy where the adolescents talk about their past experiences. After interviewing everybody, I could tell that all of the employees deeply care about the adolescents and were almost like a family.

I definitely learned a few things about video interviewing:

1)      Always carry extra memory cards

2)      Ensure that the batteries are charged

3)      Try to limit the shakiness of the camera and background noise

4)      Carry extra pens for writing down information

5)      The tripod needs to be light and portable and easy to use

I’m really glad that I had the opportunity to visit S.T.A.R Academy and interview all of the employees. The Custer area is such a beautiful area, and I highly recommend visiting the area. Thank you for reading!

 

 

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