January 27, 2023
Dear Helena Public Schools Families and Staff,
The beginning of a new year is a season of looking ahead to next steps and new opportunities. In that spirit, I’d like to share a few reminders for our students and families starting new chapters this fall.
For our high school freshman, sophomores and juniors, it’s college planning time. Please be sure to add the following dates to your calendars:
If your student is a freshman, please encourage them to connect with a school counselor to find out how to start planning for their education after high school. You’ll also find great planning resources for Montana students at reachhighermontana.org.
Events are also coming up for students and families making the transition into high school:
Orientations are right around the corner for incoming middle-schoolers as well. Fifth-graders will tour their middle schools in April, when parent orientations are also planned. Middle school staff, meanwhile, will visit each elementary school this spring to meet incoming students. Watch for details to come.
For kindergartners joining us this fall, orientation events will be held in May. If you or someone you know needs to register a child to start kindergarten in fall 2023, please visit our registration page.
Helena Area Summer Jobs Program
Another excellent opportunity to help teens prepare for college and career is the Helena Summer Jobs Program. Now in its fifth year, the program connects high school students, as well as recent graduates, with workplace mentors.
While teens get the opportunity to develop their work skills and explore career options, employers benefit from a more experienced workforce pipeline. The paid work placements run from early June to mid-August and include part-time and full-time positions. Applications for 2023 open in February. If you have a high school student who may be interested, this is a good time to explore the program at American Jobs for America’s Youth (AJAY).
If you’re an employer who would like to participate, please see the employer interest form. The Helena Area Summer Jobs Program is a partnership of the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce & Helena WINS; Helena College; Reach Higher Montana and high schools serving Helena, East Helena, Townsend and Boulder.
TV host and trades advocate visits Capital High
Speaking of job training and career building, Capital High Career and Technical Education (CTE) students were treated this week to a presentation by TV host, general contractor and trades advocate Kayleen McCabe, who shared her inspiring story.
As a girl, McCabe loved working in the shop alongside her dad on cars and carpentry projects. But she never considered a career in the trades, believing that four-year college was the only path to success. After a stint in college, McCabe took a job at an emergency dispatch center, working her way up from mail clerk to dispatcher. While she loved the work, she eventually had to leave it to get away from the trauma she dealt with every day.
McCabe started over, this time pursuing her true passion as a builder. It was a bold move, beginning with a massive pay cut, but it led McCabe to financial success, personal fulfillment and fun on a scale she never thought possible. After working on the crew of the reality TV show “Trading Spaces,” in which neighbors are challenged to redecorate a room in one another’s homes, McCabe landed her own show as host of the DIY Network’s “Rescue Renovation.” As the name implies, McCabe came to the rescue of homeowners in the midst of DIY disasters.
Today, in addition to her work as a general contractor, McCabe is a youth mentor who speaks at schools around the nation to advocate for trade careers and Career and Technical Education. We’re grateful to the Montana Contractor’s Association, which brought McCabe to Helena this week to speak at its Winter Convention and provided the opportunity for her to speak at Capital. See outtakes from McCabe’s presentation at (link)
A note on attendance
While career and college readiness are front and center in high school, the pathway to academic and career success begins in kindergarten. The elementary school years are when students build the skills and discipline they need to take full advantage of their education in middle school, high school and beyond. And one of the strongest indicators of future academic success is good attendance. Here are a few findings from Attendance Works, a national nonprofit dedicated to reducing chronic absenteeism.
If your family is struggling with attendance issues for any reason, please let your child’s teacher or principal know so they can help with solutions around transportation or other issues that are keeping your student out of the classroom.
Student & Educator Recognitions
In addition to academic success, good attendance ensures that your student gets to participate in the many special school activities that happen throughout the year. This month, for example, elementary students are learning about winter ecology and how to snowshoe through the “Snow School” program made possible by a partnership of Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest and the Montana Discovery Foundation.
And earlier this week, Helena Middle School students continued a beloved school tradition – the annual spelling bee. This year’s competition was intense, leading up to a 22-minute spell down between the two final spellers – seventh-graders Erin McNeil and Kale Covey. Kale prevailed, correctly spelling the word “solidarity” to clinch first place.
Congratulations to Kale; Erin; Third Place Winner Maizy Parrett; and the other finalists Timothy Cline, Ollie Grotzke, Kumari Leland – who will compete in the Lewis & Clark Spelling Bee on February 15. Alternates are Jason Davidson, Will Kreissler and Cate Murray. The CR Anderson Spelling Bee is coming up this Tuesday, January 31.
And best wishes to our CHS and HHS Speech & Debate competitors who are in Billings tonight for the State AA Speech Tournament at Skyview High School.
Finally, congratulations to Helena Middle School choir students Drew Eblin, Noah Irish, Jessie Leland and Malin Ryerson, who sang the National Anthem at the Governor’s State of the State Address Wednesday evening. Thank you to these talented students and their HMS Choir Teacher, Kara Nelson, for representing Helena to our entire state.
This weekend is going to be a cold one. While we don’t anticipate any weather delays next week, please remember to check the Helena Public Schools Transportation website – helenaschools.org/departments/transportation/ – or our Facebook and Twitter pages for weather notifications.
Stay warm and safe out there!
Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools