Dear Helena Public Schools Families,
I hope your family is settling back into your fall routines as we look ahead to the first full week of school.
We had a fun start to this short week as we welcomed the Class of 2036 to Helena Public Schools. There were hugs on the playgrounds as little ones rushed to greet the familiar faces of their new teachers; familiar because our kindergarten teachers visited each of their incoming families over the summer – the first step in the remarkable work they do each school year to transform our smallest pupils into students.
Tuesday was an extra special day at Bryant Elementary, which launched the district’s new Kinder Sprouts program. Funded by House Bill 352 during the 2023 Legislature, the program is designed to increase the number of students who can read proficiently by the end of third grade. The free, play-based program focuses on language, social emotional development, math and literacy skills. Students must be four years of age to participate and are enrolled in one year of Kinder Sprouts followed by a year of regular kindergarten.
On the topic of literacy, next week every first grader in the district will receive brand new, hardcover books to take home provided by the Helena Education Foundation (HEF) and its donors. HEF presents the books – over 600 last year – at fun-filled Fabulous Firsts events at each elementary school. Parents are encouraged to attend. So, if you have a first grader, be sure to check on your school’s Fabulous First event this month!
HEF will also host the annual Carnival Classic this Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm at Memorial Park. The weather forecast is 75 and mostly sunny – a perfect day to slurp a snow cone, win a goldfish and enjoy loads of other opportunities for family fun. All proceeds support Helena Public Schools and our clubs, teams, Parent Councils and booster groups.
While autumn is full of fun activities, back-to-school season can be stressful for families who are struggling to make ends meet. If your family could use some extra support this school year, please be sure to apply for the Free & Reduced Lunch Program. In addition to meals, participation in the Free & Reduced Lunch program helps the district identify students who may benefit from additional assistance with school expenses such as school supplies and clothing, sports and activities fees, instrument rentals and even fees for academic tests such as the Advanced Placement exam.
The incredible generosity of The Angel Fund and its donors, whose contributions include projects such as Stuff the Bus, Running for Montana’s Future, Montana post-secondary scholarships and back-to-school shopping, are important for helping students in need this fall.
This year’s Angel Fund “Stuff the Bus” campaign was a huge success, raising more than $48,000 for the district to purchase school supplies in bulk. Last year alone, The Angel Fund purchased more than $250,000 worth of items for students and the need continues to grow.
If you would like to donate or receive assistance through Angel Fund, there are more opportunities coming up this fall. The Angel Fund’s “Running for Montana’s Future” running shoe campaign is now underway. All gym teachers have applications. And on October 2, applications will be available for assistance with back-to-school shopping as well as winter coats provided by The Exchange Club of Helena. Please see your Angel Fund Coordinator for information on how to apply. Details on how to give or apply for assistance are also available at www.angelfundhelena.org.
Helena Public Schools is deeply grateful to Angel Fund and its donors and volunteers throughout the community who help students succeed year after year. Thank you!
Finally, I’m pleased to share the first of this year’s Student & Educator Recognitions, which include some exciting achievements announced over the summer. See full details on our Student & Educator Recognitions page
– Helena High Teacher Jill Van Alstyne, who garnered multiple western US regional and state journalism awards.
– HHS students Adara Partridge and Sabrina Braden, who took first place for Southwest Montana in the “Paint the State” competition.
– HHS Track & Field Coach Jesse Zentz, who was named 2023 Girls’ High School Track & Field Coach of the Year for Montana.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools