October 28, 2022
Dear Helena Public Schools Families,
I hope you have lots of family fun planned this Halloween weekend.
For those with little ghosts and goblins, don’t forget the 10th Annual Helena High School Trick or Treat event Monday evening.
Families can enter through the gym door, Entrance 21 on the east side of the HHS campus, starting at 5 p.m., to enjoy some fun, safe and warm trick-or-treating. Donations of canned and boxed food will be accepted for Helena Food Share. The event ends at 7 p.m. Thanks to the Bengal’s Jobs for Montana Grads (JMG) group for carrying on this holiday tradition!
I’m honored this week to announce that seven Helena Public Schools students are National Merit Semifinalists. These Bengal and Bruin scholars qualified based on their performance on the 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying test, which they took last spring as juniors.
Capital High School
Helena High School
National Merit Semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors and include the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The semi-finalists are now eligible to apply to be finalists, which would allow them to compete for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship.
Thank you to the many educators who have had an influence on these students’ success. Their journey began in our elementary schools, where teachers, volunteers and parents were all pivotal in their success.
Raising successful students is about relationships and community, and you can see that community spirit in action at our elementaries this week as parent-teacher conferences begin alongside wacky spirit day activities spanning everything from “Dress Like a Teacher Day” to “Dress Your Favorite Age Day.” Check out some of the fun photos in your school newsletter.
And thank you to our amazing PTO (parent teacher organization) volunteers, who are cooking up delicious dinners to support our teachers as parent-teacher conferences continue.
“Let’s Talk About Great Teachers” awards
In other exciting news, I want to recognize our outstanding teachers who were honored this week with the Helena Education Foundation’s “Let’s Talk About Great Teachers” award.
HEF selected this year’s awardees with input from administration, teaching staff and parents, focusing on educators who exhibit extra effort by accessing HEF programs and identifying other resources to create extraordinary experiences for their students. Each will be featured in a video to be shown at HEF’s upcoming “Great Conversations” event November 16. Be sure to check out this fun evening of conversation with subject experts on everything from the Webb Telescope to logic puzzles.
Congratulations to our 2022 “Let’s Talk About Great Teachers” recipients: Tom Baty, Choir Director at Capital High; Kristin Bishop, English Teacher Helena Middle School; Ryan Cooney, Government, History and World Cultures teacher at PAL; Joslyn Davidson, Curriculum and Instructional Resources Administrator; Chelsey Davis, Librarian at Four Georgians Elementary; Beth Douglass, math teacher at CR Anderson Middle School; Jill Downing, Title 1 Teacher at Central Elementary, Shannon McNamee, Nurse, Capital High and Buffy Smith, Computer Science Teacher at Helena High.
2022 CTE Teacher of the Year
Congratulations are also in order for Capital High Industrial Arts Teacher Eric Croft, who was named 2022 Teacher of the Year by the Montana Association for Career & Technical Education. Thank you, Mr. Croft, for all you do to prepare students for work and life.
Speech and debate judges needed
Another opportunity for students to gain real-world experience and prepare for the workplace is speech and debate team. On November 5, Helena and Capital high schools will host the Queen City Rumble, the first speech and debate tournament of the season. Organizers are looking for fair and enthusiastic community judges. In addition to serving youth in our community, this is an opportunity to be truly inspired!
Bengal Cross Country Team places 5th at state
Speaking of inspiration, congrats to our Helena High Cross Country Team for their 5th place team finish at the AA Championships in Missoula last weekend. CHS Senior Brody Romano earned All-State Honors with a 13th place finish and HHS sophomore Henry Sund finished 14th.
Internet service assistance
Whether it’s Career and Technical Education, school clubs, or athletics, our HPS mission is to empower each student to reach their full potential. To achieve this, each student must have the tools they need to succeed, including access to reliable Internet.
If your household is eligible for Free & Reduced Lunch or Medicaid – or meets a number of other qualifiers – you can apply for a $30 discount on monthly internet service as well as a one-time discount on laptops or PCs. Income-based assistance is also available. You may also be eligible for additional discounts from your internet provider.
This support is available through the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which was funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Approximately 18 million households in the United States have Internet service, but can’t afford to connect, according to educationsuperhighway.org, a national nonprofit dedicated to closing the “digital divide.” The pandemic pushed the issue front and center as schools shifted to remote and hybrid learning models.
Like districts across the country, Helena Public Schools used federal ESSER dollars (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) and other emergency funds to ensure that all district families were connected. The ACP is now available to help post-pandemic. To find out if your household qualifies and start the application process, visit educationsuperhighway.org.
I wish you a wonderful weekend. Be merry, be scary and be safe out there!
Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools