December 9, 2022
Dear Helena Public Schools Families and Staff,
I want to start out by thanking our parents and staff for your cooperation today as we dealt with “swatting calls” that were made to entities across the state.
We’re also grateful to the Helena Police Department for their prompt response and guidance as we navigate this terrible form of harassment, and to the Montana Department of Justice, which is investigating the source of the calls.
As we look ahead to next week, I want to reiterate that the safety of our students and staff is my first priority and I will continue to keep you updated alongside law enforcement.
We also saw much joy this week as the first of our winter programs began. Jefferson School kicked off the district’s first performance yesterday to rave reviews, and students elsewhere are busy rehearsing for shows scheduled throughout the next two weeks and into the new year.
Our music teachers put many, many hours of work into staging our beloved winter programs. If you’ll be in the audience for a performance, please give your music teacher a special round of applause for bringing these holiday memories to your family. I also want to thank our families for your support. Winter performances are one of the ways we engage families as we approach the middle of the school year, and it’s heartening to see friends and relatives exchanging holiday greetings in our gyms and auditoriums once again.
Meanwhile, our middle school and high school students have a full slate of holiday concerts planned. From jazz ensembles to choral music to band, these free, quality performances will feed your soul and lift your holiday spirits! See the full schedule at helenaschools.org/calendar.
Elementary report cards sent home today
It’s also the time of year for elementary school fall report cards, which were sent home with your student today in paper format. Please take time to sit down with your child, free of distractions, to review their progress. This is an opportunity to celebrate your student’s successes so far this school year and to develop strategies for growth moving forward. Your child’s report card should be reflective of the strengths and growth areas reviewed at your Parent-Teacher Conference. Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher with any questions.
Helena High students receive military academy nomination
I’m honored this week to announce that the academic accomplishments of three Helena High School students have earned them the nomination of U.S. Senator Jon Tester to be considered for one of our nation’s four prestigious military academies.
Charles Fox, Paisley Karlin and Joseph Saliskar are among 21 students statewide nominated by Tester. The nomination of a member of Congress is the first step in applying to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
In a recent letter, I shared my thoughts on the essential role that extra-curricular activities play in student success, and that’s what stands out as I read each of these students’ bios. Extracurricular activities represented by these three scholars span student government, Key Club, National Honors Society, cross country, Science Club, wrestling, track and field, golf and football. Charles, Paisley and Joseph: I wish each of you the best as you begin this rigorous pursuit to pursue higher education in service to our nation.
Principal and teacher honored
I’m also honored to share two exciting staff accolades. As we celebrate the return of our winter music programs, it feels fitting that Central Elementary Principal Nick Radley has been named the Montana Music Educator Association’s 2022 Outstanding School Administrator.
The award recognizes administrators who demonstrate a commitment to music education in their district.
Mr. Radley has made building resources available to local musical theater groups, advocated for $155,000 worth of new instruments and materials for the elementary music program, and has been instrumental in Helena’s efforts to host music-specific elementary professional development opportunities. In the words of HPS music teacher and nominator Jennifer Skogley, “Mr. Radley claims to know nothing about music, but he knows perhaps the most important thing: that music matters in education. He realizes that music makes an impact on our young students and has become a true supporter of this art form.”
Bravo, Mr. Radley!
We also learned this week that Capital High Mathematics Teacher Adam Clinch has earned the Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction Award from the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHHS).
What makes this award special is that it is student-driven, based on nominations from students who have experienced the positive impact a teacher can have on their academic and career path. In this case, the nominator was Ethan Hull, a Capital High student who has been in Mr. Clinch’s math classes for multiple years.
The honor recognizes those whose passion and devotion inspire their students to grow and develop as scholars, leaders and citizens. Mr. Clinch also will have the opportunity to apply for classroom grants this spring.
Thank you, Mr. Clinch, for your outstanding work and thank you, Ethan, for recognizing the profound impact educators have on students’ lives.
Water quality notice
Finally, I want to touch on a notice you recently received from the City of Helena if you are connected to city water service. Recent testing of the city drinking water supply revealed a violation of drinking water standards. Helena Public Schools has been in contact with the City of Helena and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, whose experts have advised the district that no action is needed at this time. That is because the organic material that entered the water via a main break was quickly flushed from the system. The organic matter that entered the system does not represent an acute health risk – meaning it would pose a health risk only if it were consumed on a routine basis over an extended period of time. Detailed information is available on the city’s public engagement site at beheardhelena.com
As we enter another fun-filled holiday weekend, I’ll leave you with some outtakes from our first winter program performances this week at Jefferson, Broadwater and Hawthorne elementaries.
Thank you again to all the staff, volunteers and families who make these special moments possible for our students.
Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools