September 23, 2022
Dear Helena Public Schools Families and Staff,
With the passing of the autumnal equinox yesterday evening, it’s now officially fall. We have a number of student and educator recognitions to celebrate as we enter the new season!
First, I’d like to share a few updates on district business, including a change to the format of the Board of Trustee’s monthly work sessions. Trustees have traditionally held these sessions in the evenings, meeting at a different school each month in order to spend time on each of our campuses. Trustees are now taking this concept a step further, meeting during the school day so they can see our students and staff in action.
In my last update, I shared that we’re conducting a districtwide security audit next week. The audit will be led by Michigan-based Security Education Consultants (SEC), an outside firm jointly contracted by a group of Montana AA schools to help us identify, prioritize and address school security needs.
Also next week, school administrators will attend a comprehensive Behavioral Threat Assessment & Management training session to support a consistent, districtwide approach to assessing and managing behavioral threats. The training will be led by Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP, LPC, who is a nationally certified school psychologist, licensed professional counselor and licensed special education teacher. Dr. Reeves has coauthored multiple books and publications focusing on school safety and trauma and is an advisor for Safe and Sound Schools, an organization founded by two parents who lost their children in the Sandy Hook tragedy. Attendees will include all school counselors, principals, and assistant principals, as well as myself. We’ll keep staff informed as we move forward with concepts from the training.
On the communications front, we’re going to simplify things by no longer sending you a text when this Friday message goes out. You’ll receive the Friday update as usual in your email inbox, but there will no longer be an accompanying text notification. You will continue to receive text messages in the event of an emergency or when we have other urgent or critical information to share.And now for our news and recognitions:
Last Chance Pow Wow Sept. 30 – Oct. 2
If you were in the neighborhood of Capital High School last week, you may have noticed the beautiful tipi set up on the lawn. Indian Education for All Tutor Joseph Pichardo and his students set up the tipi on Monday for the community to see. Each tipi pole represented a family member, while the canvas represented a blanket that brings the family together to create a home. “We hope that sentiment is shared here in our Helena community as we are starting this new school year,” Mr. Pichardo explained. I couldn’t agree more.
Looking ahead, next weekend September 30-October 2, is the Last Chance Pow Wow at the Exhibit Hall at the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds. A number of HPS students will compete in events and fourth-graders from across the district will take field trips to the pow wow to participate in song and dance through Indian Education for All. The public is invited to the weekend-long event and admission is free. In addition to drumming and dancing, you’ll find vendors, concessions and more.
Capital High receives excellence designation from Special Olympics
In other announcements, Capital High learned this week that it’s among only three schools in Montana, and approximately 100 across the country, to be recognized as a Special Olympics national banner Unified Champion School. To achieve national banner status, CHS had to demonstrate commitment to inclusion by achieving 10 standards of excellence, such as offering Unified Sports – fitness programs that include an equal number of students with and without intellectual disabilities – and recognizing these sports in a similar style to other athletics.
Special Olympics International wrote in its announcement that CHS is “redefining the future as you make your communities more inclusive of people with intellectual disabilities, and in doing so, making the world a more accepting place for all.” Congratulations to Business Education Teacher Terri Norman and all who helped achieve this important milestone.
Helena High was recognized as a Special Olympics national banner Unified Champion School several years ago.
Thank you to our NAMI Walk volunteers
And thanks to our Helena Public Schools students and staff who participated in the NAMI Walk Sunday to raise awareness of mental health. Staff and student volunteers hosted face painting, led stretches, provided music, volunteered along the route and pitched in other ways to help make the event a success!
Two more great opportunities to support our community are coming up.
Helena Sun Run Oct. 1
If you’re looking for your next 5K or just a chance to walk for a good cause, mark your calendar with the Helena Sun Run on Saturday, October 1, at Central School. This annual event supports clean energy and climate solutions in Helena, with all proceeds from this year’s event supporting the installation of solar panels at Bryant Elementary.
Angel Fund Charity Night Tuesday
You’ll have another chance to support a good cause on Tuesday, September 27, at the Angel Fund Charity Night at Copper Furrow Brewing. The Angel Fund expects to help more than 1,000 Helena students in need purchase school clothes this fall. The application period to participate in the clothing program opens October 31. To apply for assistance, visit angelfundhelena.org/HowToApply or stop by your school’s main office.
PAL Student wins Helping Helena Vote poster award
Finally, I’d like to congratulate Phoebe Hale, a senior at PAL (Project for Alternative Learning) for winning the Under-18 Category in the Helping Helena Vote Poster contest. Great Job Phoebe!
Keep up the good work everyone! And don’t forget that Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs) are right around the corner. Check the district calendar for your school’s PTC dates and watch for information from your teacher or principal on how to schedule your family’s conference.
Enjoy the beautiful weekend!
Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools