South Dakota 
Masonic program for students at risk 
Helping South Dakota schools, children and teens in an age of drugs, violence and suicide
Yes! There IS a way teachers can learn to recognize kids at risk for drugs, suicide and violence...

By Lowell Holmgren
State Secretary, S.D. Masons 
Rapid City, SD

HURON -- A national program to train South Dakota teachers to identify and help students at risk  of drugs or violence graduated its second 70-person class the fall of 1999 after a three-day seminar in Huron Oct. 12 through 14.
     The nationally-accredited program hosted 14 school districts at the free accredited training -- including three districts that participated in the first session in January that sent additional teachers to expand their crisis intervention team, according to seminar sponsors.  
     The seminars are free to teachers and school districts and are entirely paid by South Dakota Masons, according to Art Parsons of Watertown, chairman of the program which now has trained 140 teachers in the state in less than a year.
     The first seminar was in the spring of 1999,  Parsons said, adding that the first seminar at Watertown already has brought many schools new intervention teams that have been working with young people at risk.  
     Parsons said the nationally-accredited program originated 16 years ago in Pennsylvania where now every school building is required to have a teaching team trained in the Masonic Model Student assistance Training Program.

     Schools sending a second team of teachers to the seminar include Watertown, Deubrook and Sioux Falls, which Parsons said is a testimonial to the program's effectiveness.
     "Although Sioux Falls and Watertown are in larger communities where you might expect more concern," Parsons said, "The fact that Deubrook also has signed on for a second seminar shows smaller schools recognize that these aren't just problems in our cities."

    He said, "It's easy for kids to get lost in the darker areas of society when a child is under stress from neglect or abuse or from psychological problems. 
    "Some commit suicide, some try to hit back at the community that causes their pain -- as shown in recent headlines about gang warfare and bizarre shootings." 

        He Added, "When this was first developed, Pennsylvania schools wanted the program, but didn't have funding for the teacher programs.  Masons there took up the cause as a community project and it has since been emulated all across the country."
     "It has grown because teachers and school administrators see it succeeding in identifying problem youth and helping design intervention programs for specific kids even before teachers complete the entire seminar, " he said.
     "There are many children at risk in our communities from the most affluent to the most impoverished homes," Parsons said.
     "The state's Masons are proud to be the spark to get this proven preventative program going in our state as one of the most effective ways to keep students on course to a productive adulthood," he said.

If your school district may be interested in having
access to this FREE teacher training program, or
want to learn more how you can help this proven
program for South Dakota young people, 
call our toll-free state hotline:

Masons Look for an answer
 and find one

By Del Ripley
Head of S.D.Masons
Gettysburg, S.D.

     Masons realized there was a growing problem in our state with our young people using more and more drugs, becoming more violent.  They saw growing teen suicide rates and doing more self-destructive acts than in the past. Like you, they figured "somebody else" would find a solution.  But in Pierre a rash of teen suicides startled everyone in the community.  In Rapid City school violence shocked other students, parents and the whole Black Hills community.
     Every other town, large and small, began to discover they had the same problems with kids feeling that nobody cared, that nothing made any difference in their lives.  Whether or not a child or teen died, people in every town saw there had to be a way to find what kids were most at risk for acting out the way they felt...
     Masons stopped believing "somebody" would help.  They started to believe they had to do something.  Strangely the answer was found from other Masons, the Masons of Pennsylvania.  Education experts in Pennsylvania saw the same problems we have in South Dakota today -- but because of bigger towns, the problems were obvious 15 years ago.

How can we help young people in an age of drugs, violence, and self-destructive behavior?


     The experts developed a program for Pennsylvania public schools.  Other educators saw it was a good, common sense program they should have.  But there wasn't the money in  state government to teach the state's teachers how to recognize kids with these problems -- and then how to help these young people find healthy ways to find themselves in their communities.
   Who would pay?  Pennsylvania's Masons heard about the program and the need for cash to put the idea into reality.  They stepped up, raised the money and told the state education department they would support the program. It worked.  It still works.  Now every school building in Pennsylvania has a team of teachers trained in this "Masonic Model Student Assistance Training Program."
  South Dakota Masons found their answer -- and put their ideals into action with the funding to make it work.  South Dakota schools large and small responded.  Now the Masons here are continuing to work to see the program work.  But to make things go faster, even more funding could bring more classes... and help more kids.
Why do 
South Dakota Masons help 
these kids at risk?

By Art Parsons
Director, MMSAP
Watertown, SD

     Like most South Dakotans, I had the freedom to grow up in a rural community.  And like most adults, I put most of my life into my work.  Like most Americans, I was bothered by the way drugs and other self destructive acts seemed to be a growing problem for our young people.  
     But like my neighbors, including other Masons, I didn't have the slightest idea what I could do about it.  At church we would talk about more kids using drugs or committing suicide.  We talked over coffee about kids being so much more violent than when I was growing up.  
     When I was asked to be on a new South Dakota Mason's committee to investigate a program proven successful in Pennsylvania -- where I grew up -- I said, "Yes, I'll do it."  What our committee saw was a program that works.  We saw it work in California and a dozen other states.  And we saw Masons leading the way to pay for it.

     Masons helped start the first public schools in America.  Now we saw in South Dakota we could do something just as important: We could lead the way to answering a new problem in education.  We started the program.  It works.  South Dakota teachers tell us it works.  That's why it's got to stay.


How do the programs Masons brought to South Dakota work for kids?


    Burt Seifel

 Ask police juvenile officer
 Burt Seifel

By Milo Dailey
Head of Dakota Lodge of Masonic (Historic) Research
Watertown, S.D.

     WATERTOWN, S.D. --- After more than 15 years of law enforcement --- four as a juvenile officer -- Burt Seifel found a new way to look at kids and their problems with the Masonic Model Student Assistance Training Program.  
     Since the first South Dakota class was in Watertown, Seifel was one of the first to register.  His work with young people already included no only being a D.A.R.E. officer teaching kids the problems that come from using drugs, but also teaching other officers how to teach the program to the kids.
     He's a D.A.R.E. Mentor with a statewide reputation.  Still, Seifel said, the MMSAT is a tool he wishes he had known about earlier to help him help kids.  "The way that it can do that is that it goes outside of the academic field that other programs in schools have used," he said.

     Since it takes a broad view of a young person's problems, the program has taught him and others how to involve as many resources in the community to help deal with kids who are troubled or headed for trouble --- and their families..
     Before MMSAT, a teacher generally had few school resources, a lawman like Seifel had the juvenile court system --- and parents often wouldn't know where to turn for help with a child who seemed aimed for problems..
     "And,: he said, "the MMSAT program uses the resources of the community and involves them  in the treating the problems that the kids have as well as the problems that the parents have in dealing with the kids."
     Seifel said, "If a teacher sees a kid having a problem academically or socially an inability to interact appropriately with his peers, can refer the student to the MMSAT team."

     Who is the team? 
     Said Seifel, "That's all of the individuals who have been trained and know how to do the brainstorming for the MMSAT program.  It includes counselors, administrators, law enforcement, teachers, and human services personnel -- and anyone else who goes thru the MMSAT training."
     The Idea is to have many viewpoints going into a study of a young person's problem -- analyzing it and figuring how to use the best community resource or resources possible to help the young person and family. 

     Seifel said the program even has changed how he handles his daily work with kids.   As a juvenile officer, he works both in school and with young people wherever they're having a problem --- at home, at the mall or city park..
     "The MMSAT training taught me outside my law enforcement training how to look at a different set of resources," he said.  Instead of being basically "alone" with a book full of laws to follow, Seifel said it taught him how to work with other trained professionals to brainstorm a problem for a young person before there's a problem that requires the courts.

     "It's how to approach a certain problem, how to document appropriate information to send along to another agency to help get the best assistance for the student and family."  It already has helped him help kids --- about a dozen.  "I've used this brainstorming process in trying to think of different ways to help a kid, made calls and had conversations with other people ... and that's using the process in trying to resolve the problem."

     "It's just in trying to help kids and parents find a solution to problems they're having or problems they're maybe going to have," he said.  "You just use a whole different thought process," he said.  "I think it's done a lot of good.  It's gotten kids started in the right direction sooner than they might have..."

     It's more than just something for schools, he said, but in his profession: "Just not enough people know about it."  He hopes to get other officers involved when the program returns to the Watertown school district.  He said, "It's a valuable tool.  It gets you more involved in being able to help kids."

     "Any law enforcement officer who is a school resource officer or liaison officer should contact their school and find out if they have a Masonic Model Student Assistance Training Program in place --- and then they should go to the MMSAT training and become part of their team."  Although he's a proponent of the expanded D.A.R.E. drug program, he notes it's a prevention program.  "This is a prevention, intervention and repair program."

     In Watertown schools, he said, "Due to the size of the district, the MMSAT program is being gradually implemented and there is a plan to implement the whole program in the school district."  "The gracious support of the Masonic Lodges and brothers in the state have allowed numerous people from throughout the local district and in the state to become trained and assist as part of the team."

     "You start something like this," he said, "Once they see it and get to used it, they want it and it gets bigger and bigger and you've got to train more people."
From South Dakota's Senior Mason

   By Del Ripley
   Head of S.D.Masons
   Gettysburg, S.D.

We will continue the Masonic Model Student Assistance Training sessions and will need to work to raise additional funds for the upcoming sessions.  This is a giant task we have undertaken.
     With all the schools in the state, where large as well as small are susceptible to the problems of abuses, suicides, and acts of violence, our presence is needed at all locations.  
      Every contribution dollar counts.  Several brothers have suggested ways to raise money through this coming year and into the next.
     Masons have "taxed" themselves with a new per member in their local Lodge dues earmarked for support of Student Assistance Training will not be a reality until February 2001, so this needs to be addressed quickly.
    We will be talking about fund raising methods at Grand Lodge Officers meetings and District Masters meetings.  The need is urgent and now!
     If you have anything planned that I may be of some help to you, please contact the Grand Lodge office or my office at 1-800-773-2427.  This will be the year of Masons working together to leave it better than we found it.  

We Masons care about our South Dakota youth ...
How can others help?
First, learn about the program for your own school district, whether you have kids in school or not.
Second, consider joining an effort to help schools and other professionals in heading off disasters for hour kids before they happen.
You can help make a difference . . .
Contributions may be made at any time to the Masonic Model Student Assistance Program.  Outright gifts of cash, securities, real estate, insurance policies or personal property are welcomed in our mission of helping children in need.
     Wills:  Designations of bequests should clearly indicate the South Dakota Masonic Model Student Assistance Program. Bequests under wills may reduce estate taxes.
     Securities: Contributions of securities are easily accomplished in most cases.  If the securities have appreciated in value at the time of the gift, there may be additional tax advantages.
    Trust agreements:  Irrevocable charitable remainder unitrusts or annuity trusts may be established for lifetime payments to named beneficiaries. 
After the lifetime of the surviving income beneficiary, assets could be utilized for the MMSAT program for its charitable purposes.  These trusts may be useful for some retirement plan assets, such as IRAs.
     Insurance:  MMSAT can be designated as both the irrevocable beneficiary and owner of an insurance policy.  Income, gift and estate tax charitable deductions may be allowed for a gift of an irrevocable life insurance policy under most state laws.
    For additional information, contact:

South Dakota State Masonic Headquarters
1-800-462-7661, toll free in South Dakota
P.O.Box 468
Sioux Falls, SD 57101-0468

- - - - - - - - - - - -  Print this page, complete, and mail - - - - - - - - - - - -

Enclosed is my check for $_____________ as a contribution to the Masonic Model Student Assistance Program in South Dakota.

Name: _________________________________________________
Address: _______________________________________________
City: ________________________ State: ______ Zip: __________
Make checks payable to S.D. MMSAT
Mail to SD Masonic Headquarters, P.O. Box 468
Sioux Falls, SD 57101-0468

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Call these Masons in South Dakota

Brookings: Doug McFarland   605 692 1295
Rapid City: Lowell Homgren   605 341 6613
Carl Pengra      605 923 5551
Sioux Falls:  Ron Lockwood  605 338 3570
Arthur Kriens   605 336 7333
Mark Ingalls  605 371 2709
Watertown: Bill Dempsey 604 882 9760
Yankton: Charles Bryan 605 665 2414


S o u t h   D a k o t a   M a s o n s   a n d   M M S A T

Helping South Dakota schools, children and teens in an age of drugs, violence and suicide


Copyright 1999, 2000 - Grand Lodge of South Dakota, All Rights Reserved
For problems or questions regarding this web page contact
Last updated: October 26, 2012.