An Aberdeen native is becoming the president of Dickinson State University in western North Dakota. 

Thomas Mitzel says when he accepted the position as president of Dickinson State University, it felt like coming home.

Growing up in Aberdeen, Mitzel began his bachelor’s degree in English at Northern State University and graduated as a chemistry major. Currently he’s serving as the dean of students at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A Harrisburg High School student is in custody after police say he brought a gun to school and shot the principal. Authorities stress all students are safe and the principal is stable. Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are collaborating on the investigation. The Lincoln County States Attorney is determining what charges the teenager faces.

High school students piled onto bright yellow school buses late Wednesday morning after law enforcement swept the building for threats. 

The University of Sioux Falls and Augustana University are adding women’s swimming and diving teams.

High school senior Bekah Honner suddenly has lots of choices to consider as she starts her application process to swim on a college team.

“It is definitely a possibility staying in state since now Augustana and USF are starting teams, but I still have to weight my options,” says Honner.

Honner is a member of snow fox swimming club in Sioux Falls. She says it’s exciting to see the sport gaining attention.


Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls are adding swimming and diving as a varsity sport. Both schools are searching for swimmers as they look to start completing next fall.

The University of Sioux Falls has a swimming coach, but no pool or athletes yet. Josh Snyder is the athletic director at USF. He says when the city of Sioux Falls started building plans for the indoor aquatic center at Spellerberg Park, he had an idea.

Dr. Brian Maher became superintendent of the Sioux Falls School District in July.  He says the district is in good shape, but a fresh perspective by help school leaders and the community address issues of disparity amoung students.  He joined guest host Kealey Bultena to discuss Sioux Falls' position in relation to the rest of the state based on the 2015 state assessment data.

Courtesy PDR Disabled Youth Hunt

The 8th annual PDR Disabled Youth Hunt takes place in Clark this weekend. Disabled youth from several states are taking part in an all-expenses paid hunting journey that offers them the opportunity to get out in the wild with experienced guides. As SDPB’s Jim Kent reports, they’ll be using state-of-the-art equipment – some specifically designed for their needs.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A coalition of Sioux Falls area leaders is setting priorities for workforce. Business, education, government, and community stakeholders are applying national and local economic data to develop a plan for sustainability. 

Forward Sioux Falls and a company called Market Street services collected data for six months. The information spans across platforms: innovation, economic performance, workforce capacity, quality of life, business environment, labor market, public education, technical programs and higher ed.

SF High Schoolers Construct Affordable Housing

Sep 14, 2015
Erin Mairose

This week a house built by high school students is moving to a permanent home. The home is traveling down 12th street in Sioux Falls – and for a cause.

Wayne Wagner is the housing development director for Affordable Housing Solutions in Sioux Falls. The group helps low income families find cost-efficient housing while helping revitalize deteriorating neighborhoods. Wagner says a partnership with the Sioux Falls School District supports the community.

Erin Mairose

A class of high school carpentry students at the Career and Technical Education Academy is learning skills for future careers. 

Sitting in Bill Pulford’s classroom at the CTE Academy is a house.

From framing, to insulation and cabinetry, this class built the three bedroom home. Pulford says soon moving trucks are relocating the house to a permit location in Sioux Falls.  

Augustana University

Augustana College is now Augustana University. The name change was made official during ceremonies yesterday at the Sioux Falls institution’s Kirkeby-Over Stadium. Augustana is a private, liberal arts college founded in 1860. It first opened in Sioux Falls as the Lutheran Normal School in 1889. It has around 1,800 full and part-time students. Augustana University President Rob Oliver joined Dakota Midday and discussed the name change.

Augustana Changes Name To University

Sep 1, 2015
Erin Mairose

Augustana College in Sioux Falls is receiving a name change. The private liberal arts institution gathered Tuesday to officially unveil its new name as a university.

Augustana students wait in the Kirkeby-Over Stadium as professors file in and freshman take in their surroundings.

Alumni Carol Oakland says she is exciting her alma mater is expanding programs to become a university.

“I think it’s wonderful. It actually makes our degrees worth more- we are now university graduates,” says Oakland.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Preschool teachers in Sioux Falls are learning about a program that helps students recognize gender differences and build relationships. It’s called the Sanford Harmony Program, and its champion says it started when he read the famous book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Tuesday the project’s namesake talks with teachers in Sioux Falls on their first day of Harmony training.

Mock Dorm Burns In Minutes

Aug 30, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

September is Campus Fire Safety Month in South Dakota.   The idea is to raise awareness about the potential for fire in college dorms, Greek housing, and off campus apartments.

The Rapid City Fire Department held a demonstration at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to show students the danger of structure fire.

The department set up a steel trailer with side by side rooms.  Both rooms were filled furniture and then set on fire.

Tim Behlings is an Assistant Chief at the Rapid City Fire Department.   

South Dakota schools have a waiver from No Child Left Behind but it lasts for just one year, and federal officials have put the state on high risk status.

South Dakota’s first waiver from NCLB lasted for three years. The latest exemption applies for only one year – and it’s happening because of teacher evaluations.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Members of a state task force are setting priorities to address elder abuse in South Dakota. The group met Tuesday in Sioux Falls. Task force members are trying to figure out how to prevent and punish abuse of aging populations.

The Elder Abuse Task Force is investigating the scope of elder abuse in South Dakota, and members may offer reports and policy suggestions based on what they find.

Parents are expected to pay more this year in school supplies and activities fees. The Backpack Index released by Huntington Bank averages families will spend more than $1,000 dollars preparing two students for school. 

The Banquet in Sioux Falls serves free meals each day. But throughout the year volunteers collect and sort school supplies in the store room behind the kitchen.  Next week more than 6,000 kids will pick out a backpack complete with everything on their school supply list.

Grant Money For Innovation

Aug 14, 2015

Amy Scott Stolz, Sioux Falls Education Foundation Board Chair, and Twaine Fink, principal at Whittier Middle School in Sioux Falls, discussed the decision to increase more innovation in the classroom by increasing grant money for new ideas.  The Board agreed to raise the grants from $1500 to $10,000.  The guests explained how the increase will affect students.

SD Board of Regents

During its annual planning meeting in Pierre this week, the South Dakota Board of Regents asked Governor Dennis Daugaard to make a tuition freeze for resident students the highest priority for the next fiscal year. The goal is to bring the funding ratio from student and government back to 50/50 over three years. Governor Daugaard's support two years ago led lawmakers to approve a freeze during the 2014 session. A similar request was made last year, but wasn’t recommended by the governor or considered by the state legislature.

A new book for children tells the story of how the gift of a cow changes the life of a young African boy’s family. The story is told from two perspectives. A Moo For You, is the boy’s take on the story. The other, All That A Moo Can Do, comes from the cow’s perspective.

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota’s School of Education has a new dean. Donald Easton-Brooks has been on the job for a month. He comes to Vermillion from Eastern Oregon University, where he served as professor and dean of the Colleges of Business and Education for two years.

40 High School graduates have received scholarships to pursue high demand occupations in South Dakota. The Dakota Corps Scholarship program is covering the cost of tuition and fees for students studying to become teachers, accountants, registered nurses, and IT specialists, among other jobs. South Dakota officials are hoping the scholarship will keep the best students in the state. 

The US Senate is debating the Every Child Achieves Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. Senator Mike Rounds hopes an amendment to the measure helps improve the quality of education in Indian Country.

State of South Dakota

Leaders are examining how South Dakota can improve public education. Tuesday lawmakers and education stakeholders on the Blue Ribbon Task Force met in Pierre to review the ways tax dollars fuel education and how the state compares to its neighbors when funding schools and teachers.

South Dakota has an issue with teacher salaries. That’s the position of a senior analyst with the Education Commission of the States.

Photo by Jim Kent

Over the 240 years since American colonists first took up arms against the British Empire on Lexington Green, the branches of the military and their various uniforms have played an important role in our country’s history. SDPB’s Jim Kent recently visited a military uniform display at the 1881 Courthouse Museum in Custer to explore that history and the changes in how our servicemen – and women – dress…both on the front lines and off.

Sioux Falls School District

Tuesday is the last day on the job for Sioux Falls superintendent Pam Homan. She’s retiring after 11 years leading the district. Kearney, Nebraska public schools superintendent Brian Maher replaces her in July.

People from South Dakota are gearing up for the National Education Association’s annual meeting and assembly. This week a group of teachers, education supporters, students, and retired teachers travel to Orlando, Florida. They hope to gain insights from fellow educators from all over the country.

Leaders of the South Dakota Education Association say they fight for every single student to have the opportunity for strong, comprehensive education – both at the state level and nationally.

Mitchell Hosts Annual Spider Conference

Jun 18, 2015
Brian Patrick

Spider lovers from across the world are meeting in Mitchell this weekend for the 39th annual convention of the American Arachnological Society. Scientists will explore the South Dakota ecosystem and share research.

The spider enthusiasts are meeting at Dakota Wesleyan University. Dr. Brian Patrick is an assistant professor of biology. He says he offered to host the conference in Mitchell as the surrounding prairie offers intriguing possibilities for research.

The federal government has awarded a $218,000 grant to the Pine Ridge School for suicide prevention.
Bill Mendoza is with the U.S. Department of Education.  He says the grant money will help restore a learning environment at the school.

Understanding Illiteracy Through Photographs

Jun 17, 2015
REACH Literacy

Reading advocates in Sioux Falls say 15,000 people in the city don't have basic reading skills. Now Reach Literacy is releasing a new book that tells the story of adults who are able to read for the first time.

A new photo series called Journey to Literacy presents the stories of 20 adults learning to read. Paige Carda is executive director of Reach Literacy. She says she started the project more than a year ago.

The Oglala Lakota College is receiving a grant of $25,000 from a tribe in Minnesota. The grant money will fund the Lakota immersion school for kindergarten through fifth grade students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Leaders want to prevent the loss of the Lakota language.

The Shakopee Native American tribe in Minnesota is helping fund the Lakota language program. The grant will allow around 30 children to learn their native language at the childcare facility.