Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | January 26, 2024

Dear Families and Staff,

Earlier this school year, I shared details of the district’s plans to establish three charter schools – a possibility opened up by the 2023 Legislature under HB 549.

I’m pleased to announce that our applications were all approved last week by the state Board of Education, offering three exciting new educational choices for Helena families:

  • Expanded Project for Alternative Learning: (PAL): The district’s existing PAL program provides an alternative learning environment for 10th through 12th grade students who need a smaller learning environment.
  • Montessori Charter School offering expanded Montessori opportunities.
  • Mount Ascension Learning Academy offering a choice of online learning or a blend of virtual/in-person instruction to students grades 6 through 12.

We plan to open these new and expanded programs in fall 2024, and I look forward to updating you as work progresses.

In other good news, the district received a special delivery this week from our team of School Resource Officers (SROs) with the Helena Police Department: Jessica Cornell (HMS), Scott Finnicum (CRA), Sean Schoenfelder (CHS) and Bret Haux (HHS).

The SROs dropped off 19 AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) – life-saving devices that can restart a heart in the event of cardiac arrest. The Helena Police Department is replacing the devices, which are still in good working order, with newer models.

Thanks to this generous donation, we will now have AEDs installed in every school in the district, with additional devices for our main gyms. I want to extend our heartfelt thanks to our community partners at the Helena Police Department.

Helena High School Principal Steve Thennis is back in district news today with some exciting travel plans.

Next month, Mr. Thennis will travel to Japan to visit Helena High’s sister school in the city of Tamana in Kumamoto Prefecture.

The bond between the two schools started back in 2013, when a delegation from Tamana, including teachers, administrators and 13 band students, visited Helena High. The two schools have corresponded ever since, and in 2020 they formalized their sister school status.

Watch our district Facebook page for photos from Mr. Thennis’ adventure. In addition to touring Tamana’s school district, Mr. Thennis will deliver a commencement address to the high school’s senior class, an art at which he is especially gifted.

A great deal of talent, skill and practice go into the delivery of a moving and memorable public address, a fact that is not lost on our high school speech and debate competitors who are putting their oratory skills to the test right now at the AA State Speech & Debate Tournament  in Missoula. I wish them well and look forward to sharing results next week.

In other student highlights, please enjoy this clip from last night’s evening of jazz presented by the HHS Jazz Band and HHS Ambiance Choir – the perfect vibe to start the weekend.


Signature: Rex M. Weltz

Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools