Friday Message from Superintendent Weltz | Sept. 22, 2023

September 22, 2023

Dear Helena Public Schools Families,

The end of September is always a special time in our district as we celebrate and honor our Native American staff and students.

The fourth Friday of the month is the official American Indian Heritage Day for schools across Montana. The tradition dates back to the 1997 Legislature, which set aside the fourth Friday of September for schools to honor Montana’s First Peoples.

This year, however, the Gregorian calendar was generous, granting us an extra Friday in September and leading to a lucky legislative coincidence: The 2009 Legislature designated the last Friday in September as a day for all Montanans to honor and reflect on our state’s American Indian culture and heritage.

Because today is the fourth Friday in September and next Friday is the last, we get to celebrate twice.

Activities started at Capital High School late last week, as the Dakota Lodge was raised on the west side of the campus by CHS Title VI Indian Ed Tutor/Mentor Joe Pichardo and his students. The lodge travels from campus to campus each fall and spring, providing a space for students to learn about those who first called Montana home. It’s also a place for our Native American students to connect with their peers and to learn and teach a part of their story. The lodge will move to Four Georgians Elementary on Monday.

This week also saw a special ceremony at Helena Middle School, where a long-forgotten event in our state’s tribal history was memorialized.

On Wednesday, the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians unveiled an engraved stone medallion memorializing the site across the street from HMS – in the park-like area now known as the “Lazy Green” – where Chief Little Bear of the Rocky Boy’s Band held a Sun Dance July 5-7, 1908. The following day, Chief Little Bear participated in a council at the home of U.S. Senator Thomas Carter, where he asked for a reservation for his people, known as the Landless Indians of Montana. More than a century later, in December 2019, the Little Shell were finally granted federal recognition, but they remain a landless tribe.

The circular place marker was provided by Little Shell Tribal Member Dan Pocha, who was joined in the ceremony by Little Shell Tribal Member and 2023-24 Montana Poet Laureate Chris LaTray as well as Office of Public Instruction (OPI) Indian Education Specialist Mike Jetty.

On Thursday, Little Shell Leaders and OPI representatives returned to Helena Middle School for a special assembly where they shared the history and cultural significance of the new memorial. Helena Public Schools is honored to be part of this event recognizing the Little Shell people past and present. I’m also grateful to the Independent Record for capturing this week’s historic dedication.

While September offers special opportunities to celebrate tribal cultures, we embrace our constitutional duty to educate students about the history and heritage of Montana’s First Peoples throughout the year. A huge thanks goes to our outstanding IEFA team members for ensuring that all students have the opportunity to thrive and benefit from the knowledge of our Montana tribes’ history, culture and people.

A great opportunity to support our Native American students and staff is coming up at the end of the month at the Last Chance Community Powwow. Fourth graders from several schools will take field trips to the powwow’s Demonstration Day to participate in song, dance and other cultural activities. The event is free and open to the public September 29 through Oct. 1 at the Lewis & Clark County Fairgrounds. Mark your calendar and make it a weekend family outing!

Fall activities update

It’s good to see our students performing and competing again this fall, whether it’s on the stage or the field.

On the football front this week, we’re between the Capital and Helena High homecoming games and festivities. Congratulations to the Bruins, who overpowered Missoula Hellgate 62-2 at last week’s Homecoming Game. Next up are the Bengals, who take on Kalispell Flathead for their homecoming matchup next Friday, September 29. In the meantime, our home teams go head-to-head at tonight’s crosstown game at 7 p.m. at Vigilante Stadium. There’s a little rain in the forecast. But our band, dance and cheer teams won’t let a little precip dampen our school spirit!

In crosstown soccer, the Bruin boys beat the Bengals 3-2 and the girls ended with a tie Tuesday evening at Nelson Stadium at Carroll College. Congratulations Bruin boys! I’m excited to see where our outstanding soccer athletes take the rest of the season. I would also like to thank Carroll College for hosting our crosstown games at their beautiful stadium.

Crosstown Volleyball is at 7 pm Tuesday night at Helena High. Go Bengals and Bruins!

Congratulations are also in order for our Capital High Girls Golf Team, which took first place at the Western AA Divisional Golf Tournament this week here at home at the Bill Roberts Golf Course. Best of luck to our Bruin boys and girls and our Bengal girls as they head to the state golf tournament in Billings next week, as well as to our CHS and HHS Cross Country athletes who will compete in the Great Falls Invitational on Friday.

Meanwhile, our Bengal and Bruin thespians are busy rehearsing for this fall’s crosstown comedy, “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” Show dates are Nov. 9-11 and Nov. 16-18 at the CHS auditorium. Tickets go on sale in October. Mark your calendar!

There’s plenty of family friendly fun around town this weekend, including a premiere of “The Little Engine that Could” at the opening of the Helena Symphony’s “Kid Symphony” series. See below for details. For parents of juniors and seniors, please encourage your student to attend the Montana College & Career Fair at Carroll College on Monday afternoon (see details below).

Finally, a reminder that the season of sniffles is upon us. Please help us keep our schools healthy this fall; wash your hands, cover your cough and please keep your student home if they’re sick.

Have a healthy and happy weekend!


Signature: Rex M. Weltz

Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools

Helena Symphony to Premiere “The Little Engine that Could”

The Helena Symphony has an exciting opportunity coming up for elementary-age kids. On September 30, the Helena Symphony Orchestra will launch its “Symphony Kids” concert series with the premiere of “The Little Engine that Could.” These free, 30-minute performances are a fun way to help kids build arts appreciation while supporting one of our essential community partners.

Thank you to the Helena Symphony and its talented musicians for making these free concert opportunities available to Helena kids!

The Symphony is just one of the many community partners that we are thankful for who help Helena Public Schools support students in ways we couldn’t achieve alone. And it’s amazing what can be accomplished when organizations work together.

Carroll College to host Montana College & Career Fair

On Monday, Sept. 25, Carroll College will host the Montana College and Career Fair from 1:30-3 p.m. in the Carroll Recreation Center. Monday is early release, so students won’t need to be excused to attend after school. If you would like your students to attend before school is over, please call the office to have them excused. Students who pre-register and attend the fair will be entered to win a $1000 scholarship! Learn more at