November 18, 2022
Dear Helena Public Schools Families and Staff,
Only a few more hours to go until our Capital High Bruins take on the Bozeman Hawks for the AA State Football Championship! I hope to see you there! It’s going to be chilly, but nothing a warm blanket and a thermos of hot cocoa can’t beat.
Thank you to our Facilities & Maintenance team for once again digging out Vigilante Stadium, and to our CHS Band, Cheer Team and Dance Team, who will crank up the school spirit as the temperature drops.
Tickets will go on sale at 5 p.m. at the gate – $7 for adults and $6 for students. If you can’t make the game in person, you can stream it on the NFHS Network starting at 6:50 p.m. A monthly or annual subscription is required, so you’ll want to set up your account in advance of kickoff at 7 p.m.
Let’s also celebrate our Helena Tornadoes Special Olympics basketball team, who clinched the SOMT State Championship. Way to go Tornadoes!
I also want to congratulate our Helena High Bengals Volleyball Team, which ended a standout season last week at the State AA Volleyball Tournament in Bozeman.
Watching the exciting seasons of our fall sports teams, I’m struck by how many adults make our extracurricular experiences possible. From sports, to choir, to speech and debate, these enrichment activities are supported by the many teachers, coaches, directors, advisors and other staff who step up to work additional hours on evenings and weekends, spending time away from their homes and families.
On that note, congratulations to Orchestra Directors Zach Harris (CHS) and Molly Kohoutek (HHS), who learned today that four Helena Public Schools orchestra students have been selected to participate in the National Association for Music Education All-Northwest Honor Ensemble. In February, they will travel to Bellevue Washington, where they will rehearse and perform in concert under the direction of world-renowned conductors. These “All-Northwest Musicians” were selected from nearly 3,000 students who auditioned for the opportunity. Congratulations to Capital High’s Hollis Elliott (sophomore, cello), Maren Elliott (senior, violin), Charlie Snellman (sophomore, cello) and Helena High’s Aine Cleary (junior, cello). Thank you for representing Helena Public Schools at this prestigious gathering of the Pacific Northwest’s most talented young musicians!
Whether it’s orchestra or sports, these experiences are also possible because of our bus drivers, who double as super fans on the sidelines or in the auditorium. One of our regular school bus drivers, Theresa Loney, was featured in the Independent Record just yesterday for her efforts to make sure kids have hats and gloves for their morning and afternoon bus commutes. Theresa – who, in addition to her regular school bus route, drove the Bengal Volleyball team to the State Tournament in Butte last week – is an example of the many caring, compassionate adults who surround our students every day.
And then there are the volunteers – parents and grandparents who volunteer in classrooms; professionals who share their expertise with student clubs; speech and debate judges; field trip chaperones and so many more. Their work is often supported by community organizations that donate staff time and facilities to bring our students educational experiences outside the classroom. Among the latter is the Holter Museum of Art. For at least 16 years, the Holter has hosted every third-grade class in the district for an annual field trip (virtual during the pandemic).
This month and next, each of our third-graders will have the opportunity to visit the Holter to experience the immersive “Imagine This” exhibition by Helena sculptor Chip Clawson. The opportunity to see Clawson’s work first-hand is about more than teaching art appreciation, explained the Holter’s Education Coordinator, Anna Lund. The museum visits are also an opportunity to see the work of Montanans who have made art their vocation.
Indeed, in terms of preparation for successful careers and lives, extracurricular experiences are coequal to academics; they are at the heart of our mission to empower each student to maximize individual potential and become competent, productive, responsible and caring citizens. In this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank every adult in our community who is going a step above and beyond to make these life-changing opportunities possible for Helena Public Schools students. We appreciate you.
This includes all of you who support Helena Food Shares and its critical mission. We are grateful for the recognition Helena Food Shares received in today’s Independent Record for the incredible work they do to help students facing food insecurity at home to bridge the weekend gap between school meals. Each week, Helena Food Shares delivers 1,250 Food Packs to students in need across the district, providing sustenance such as beef sticks, milk, oatmeal, juice, hummus and fruit cups to carry kids through the weekend. Volunteers will deliver double packs to our schools to support kids through the long Thanksgiving holiday. Thank you to Helena Food Shares, its volunteers and all of you who donate.
The generosity of our Helena community was also on display at the Great Northern Hotel Wednesday evening, as the Helena Education Foundation and its supporters hosted a fantastic return to the in-person “Great Conversations” event in support of Helena Public Schools. We are deeply grateful for the many ways in which HEF lifts up our students and teachers, year after year.
As you can see, there are so many ways to support our community’s youth and the public schools that serve them. And your efforts benefit our entire community as the kids you support grow up and start their own careers and families. I invite you check out the Helena Education Foundation’s “Great Schools are Everyone’s Business” video series featuring Helena Public Schools alumni – from the owner of the Nosh Café, to employees of George’s Distributing team, to many of our own teachers and staff who have returned to educate the next generation. You can find the videos on the Helena Education Foundation’s website and on their Facebook page.
If you’re interested in sharing your time and talents with Helena Public Schools as a coach, a volunteer, a para professional or in other roles, please contact our Human Resources Department.
To our entire district community – students, parents, volunteers, staff, fans, community partners and so many more – I wish you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with family and friends. Thank you for supporting Helena Public Schools.
Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools