Education | National

Native Sun News: Lakota student helps out with his community

The following story was written and reported by Richie Richards, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Alfonzo Sierra helps when he can at the Club for Boys in Rapid City, South Dakota. Photo by Richie Richards

Teen Spotlight – Alfonzo Sierra
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY –– The Rapid City Club for Boys is a supportive program for the Native American students living in the area. A large part of the success is the dedication of staff and volunteers who give their time and energy to the growth and education of members.

One such young man is member, and volunteer, Alfonzo Sierra (Sicangu Lakota) - a 17 year old senior at Rapid City High School (RCHS). In spite the many challenges in his life, he puts in that extra effort to help the younger kids and lends a helping hand when needed.

When Alfonzo was 7, his father passed away. Some of Alfonzo’s fondest memories are watching his dad and uncle work on cars. They were backyard mechanics who helped their families and friends in need.

This compassionate spirit to help others is a silent personality trait to which Alfonzo carries in his calm nature and quiet smile.

Being raised in a single-parent household is a struggle, but his mother managed to keep her family together and raise admirable children. During this time, Alfonzo began to realize that he “learned differently” than other kids in his classes.

It was in the 8th grade when Alfonzo was diagnosed with a learning disability. Dyslexia is a developmental reading disorder characterized by difficulty learning to read and basic phonologic comprehension. Often, dyslexics see letters or words backwards.

Alfonzo failed all classes during his sophomore year while attending Central High School- the largest school in the state. The large classroom sizes and over-spent teachers could not give Alfonzo the one-on-one time needed to ensure his academic proficiency.

Transferring to RCHS was a huge boost of confidence for Alfonzo. While attending RCHS, Alfonzo was able to get caught up with his credits and will be graduating on time with his class this May. He also recently participated in the “Beyond the Books” program at Western Dakota Tech.

According to their webpage, Rapid City High School is a smaller learning community with a student to teacher ratio of 22:1 which means more support from teachers. The trimester schedule allows students to accelerate or recover credits needed.”

His proudest moment in the WDT program was when he “worked on a carburetor and learned how to take it apart and put it back together.” His smile spoke volumes as his mind drifted through this experience.

After graduation, he will be looking for a summer job. Alfonzo plans to apply for the mechanics program at Western Dakota Tech, but first wants to save up for a car so he can drive himself to classes.

In January 2015, Alfonzo was named “Boy of the Month” at the Boys Club. His picture is proudly posted on a wall and is a symbol of resiliency and triumph for a young man who gives so much.

When asked about his future he says, “I would like to be an auto-mechanic; working on cars like my dad did, possibly owning my own business someday.”

Alfonzo Sierra did not let a disability stop him from accomplishing his goals. He is a diligent thinker with an aggressive drive to be present in today’s society. Even though he is a member at Club for Boys, the staff can always count on him as the first one called upon when there is a need.

“I’m not gonna let my disability hold me back. I try to forget I even have it. I just work with it and find new ways to overcome it,” closes Alfonzo.

For his positive attitude under adverse conditions and his ability to concentrate on his future while struggling with the present, Alfonzo Sierra is our Teen Spotlight this week.

(Contact Richie Richards at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

Join the Conversation