Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | January 19, 2024

Dear Families,  

It’s hard to believe that today is the halfway mark in the 2023-24 school year!    

Parent/Teacher conferences will get underway at our elementary and middle schools starting next week and running through February; It’s always rewarding to see how much our students have learned and grown as individuals in just a few short months.   

Remember that there is no school on Monday, when teachers will participate in training and have time to prepare their reports on your student’s progress.  

I again want to thank our staff – educators, facilities, food services, secretaries, transportation, and so many others – for keeping our schools open for families who needed us as we endured last week’s cold snap.   

I also want to say a special thank you to the officers of the Helena Police Department and the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s Office who worked through the night Tuesday to search our schools in response to a cyber threat that affected districts across Montana. We appreciate all they did to ensure that we could safely return to school on Wednesday morning.   

Unfortunately, cyber threats are an escalating trend across the nation. We will continue to err on the side of caution, taking all threats seriously until proven otherwise by law enforcement; And we will continue our commitment to keeping you informed.  

On the district business front, I want to thank eight community members who took advantage of the state’s dollar-for-dollar tax credit to support Helena Public Schools. The state’s “Innovative Educational Program Tax Credit” program allows taxpayers to request to have up to $200,000 of their state taxes go directly to their local school district – money that would otherwise flow to the state.  

We’re grateful to the individuals who took advantage of this opportunity, directing a total of $15,500 to Helena Public Schools.   

The 2023 Legislature expanded the opportunity for citizens to lower their tax bill while supporting their public schools. Learn more about the Innovative Educational Program Tax Credit here.  

In other news, I’d like to recognize our high school principals, Steven Thennis (HHS) and Brett Zanto (CHS), for joining 38 other Montana principals in penning a recent opinion piece in the Independent Record and other newspapers across the state on the dangers of vaping.   

More than one in four Montana high school students reported vaping in the most recent Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent or anyone else who has a teen or tween in your life, I encourage you to read this informative piece to learn what’s driving this troubling trend and what resources are available to help.    

Finally, please join me in cheering on our high school Speech & Debate teams as they compete in the State AA Tournament in Missoula next Friday and Saturday (Jan. 26-27). Go Bengals and Bruins! See details below on how to support these outstanding orators by serving as a volunteer judge for the National Speech & Debate Qualifier here in Helena Feb. 9-10.  

Enjoy the long weekend with your families,  

Signature: Rex M. Weltz

Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools

News & Recognitions

Prepare to be amazed!  

If your New Year’s resolutions include volunteer work, our Speech & Debate teams have a rewarding opportunity for you. Students from across Montana and beyond will gather in Helena Feb. 9-10 for the Western Montana National Speech and Debate Tournament Qualifier.   

The National qualifier requires more than 50 judges per round.    

All events will be hosted at Helena High School. No experience is needed, and optional training is provided.  This is your opportunity to enjoy presentations and discourse by some of the most talented students in Montana and surrounding states.  

Sign up online at:    

Central student wins culinary contest  

Congratulations to Elena Ferguson, of Central Elementary, who is the first winner of the district’s “Snack Strong Challenge.”   

Elena made a healthy and delicious dip for apples – the featured crop for the November Harvest of the Month. With a little help from mom and dad, she entered her dish in the #SnackStrongChallenge and won a special culinary event for her school. Thanks to KTVH for capturing Elena’s big day. Check out the January Wellness Update to learn how to enter the #SnackStrongChallenge and win a culinary event for your school!   

Bravo Broadwater 
Record-breaking temperatures didn’t stop the heroes of Missoula Children’s Theater (MCT) from casting, rehearsing and staging a production of the play “Hercules,” featuring an all-student cast, at Broadwater Elementary last week.  

Later this month, MCT’s road warriors will bring their arts enrichment program to Smith Elementary. We’ll keep you posted on performances, which are open to the public.  

HHS American Welding Society Club holds 12th Annual Weld Off
Congratulations to the winners of the Helena High School American Welding Society Club 12th annual “Weld-Off” held yesterday evening: 

1st Place: Helena High School – Jackson Cosgrove, Aidan Van Wyk, Kelton Holzar, RJ Berndt 

2nd Place: East Helena High School – Ryder Finstad, Sawyer Finstad, Cooper Larson, Izak Longcake 

3rd Place: Helena High School – Tithen FitzGerald, Haiden Hill, Casey Rule, Corey Rule 

The timed event challenges students to dig through scrap metal donated by local businesses. Teams have four hours to design and weld a project using their chosen scraps. 

Special thanks to our community partners who gave time, talent and scrap metal to allow students to put their skills to the test in this popular annual event. 

12th Annual Weld-Off Judges
Pacific Steel: Rhett Schoppe and Eric Kelley
General Distributing: Matt Storey
Iron Workers Union Local 732: Brian Riby, Seth Bergan and Wesley Scott
Helena Sand and Gravel: Paul Fantry
Western Water Wells: Brandt Netschert and Lane Grove
Wyatt Winfield “Be Tough” Memorial Foundation: Brigette Bellefeur
FarCountry Press: JoEllen Wood
Realty 406: Steve Netschert
Joe Wood: Parent 

Scrap Metal Donors
Pacific Steel & Recycling, Dick Anderson Construction, General Distributing, Northside Welding, Iron Workers Union Local 732, Boilermakers Union Local 11, Helena Sand and Gravel, Rock Hand Hardware, Home Depot, Costco, Power Townsend, FarCountry Press, Realty 406, McDantim and Albertsons.