Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | February 23, 2024

Dear Families and Staff,

Middle school is an exciting time for students as they discover new talents and passions and begin to think more deeply about their futures.

Exposure to career opportunities during these formative years – when the window of future possibilities is wide open – can play a powerful role in student success and graduation rates. That’s why I’m excited to announce our new “6th Grade Career Exploration” experience.

Over the course of two days this April, every Helena Public Schools 6th grader will explore workplaces in our community in fields ranging from construction, to art, to healthcare, to aviation. Each student will explore up to nine different careers.

For some, this will be a first opportunity to learn about a job outside of their parents’ professions, said District Student Health Administrator Lona Carter, who developed the Career Exploration experience in partnership with Bethany Coe, Lewis and Clark County Prevention Specialist, and Sarah Graham of Youth Connections, Communities That Care and Southwest Montana Prevention.

“By starting earlier, we hope to catch students who tend to disengage in their education for various reasons,” Carter explained. “This includes students who can’t afford a 4-year university upon graduation, students who struggle with the traditional educational track, and students who think ‘When am I going to use this in the real world?’”

Developing goals and a vision for a successful future can motivate students to avoid risky behaviors, stay on track at school and seek out opportunities.

There is no cost to the program, with all organizations donating their time. Business and community partners include AHEC, Dick Anderson Construction, Boeing, Helena College, Helena Regional Airport, Helena Sand and Gravel, Helena WINS, Holter Museum of Art, Montana Contractors Association, Montana Radio Company, Montana Wild, Northwestern Energy, Opportunity Bank, St. Peter’s Health, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.

With the addition of the new program, the district now offers students seven consecutive years of career exploration from 6th through 12th grade. If you have a 6th grader, please watch for more details to come from your school principal.

Group photo of the Helena HIgh School Thespians outside a building at the University of Montana with cutline: THe Helena High School Thespians took home the Outstanding Comedy Award at the Montana State Thespian Festival in Missoula last weekend.DECA & Thespian competitors

Bravo to our Helena High School Thespians, who took home the Outstanding Comedy Award at the Montana State Thespian Festival in Missoula this past weekend! And a huge round of applause to cast member Gibson Grigg, who won the Outstanding Performer Award.

The Bengals delighted audiences with their performance of “Cut,” a quirky, action-packed comedy written by Ed Monk.

Speaking of career exploration, congratulations are also in order for our outstanding Bengal and Bruin competitors who qualified to travel to Anaheim, California, in April for the DECA International Career Development Conference.

DECA is one of our district’s oldest student clubs with a focus on college and career preparedness. In addition to the finalists listed below, Capital and Helena high’s “Bear Necessities” and “Catty Shack” shops were among only six in Montana and 728 nationwide selected as gold-certified school-based enterprises.

It’s exciting to see these talented and entrepreneurial students get a jump start on their careers.


Building bridges to engineering careers

Two important components of career development are building strong skill foundations and making strong connections. Our CHS and HHS math and science students applied those concepts, quite literally, today at the 3rd Annual Morrison-Maierle Balsa Wood Bridge-Building Contest.

More than 120 students put their ingenuity and engineering skills to the test, including a bona fide stress test to determine how much weight their spans could support.

The event was sponsored by Morrison-Maierle, Inc., and Bridge Engineer Russell Lay in coordination with teachers Jonathan Driggers and Brandon Day of Helena High and DeLacy Humbert, Kendra Kurokawa and Kerri Sutkus of Capital High.

I look forward to sharing the results!

Photo of Gibson Grigg standing in front of a building holding Montana Thespian Festival "Outstanding Performer" award certificate.Mr. Lay shared that he fell in love with bridge building competitions as a young civil engineering student at BYU. He now wants to inspire a new generation.

“The future of our company, and really of our community, depends on the rising generation of young engineers, scientists and technicians,” wrote Lay. “Sponsoring this event is a way for us to help expose the young people of our community to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-related career fields … We want to help kids realize potential that might not come to the surface otherwise.”

Thank you to Morrison-Maierle, which provided $1,500 worth of scholarships for contest winners, and Sletten Construction, which donated $500 worth of door prizes for students in the form of gift cards to local businesses.

Have a wonderful weekend,


Signature: Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent








Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools

Student & Educator Recognitions

Bengals and Bruins advance to DECA Nationals

Bengals and Bruins competed in the State DECA competition in Missoula last week, with more than a dozen advancing to the National DECA competition in April in Anaheim, California.

In addition, Capital High’s Bear Necessities shop and Helena High’s Catty Shack are among only six in Montana selected as gold-certified school-based enterprises and are among only 728 nationwide.

Congratulations to the following national DECA competitors:

Capital High

Taylor Ferretti – 5th Place Accounting Applications Series
Byron Lloyd – 8th Place Accounting Applications Series
Taylor Ferretti – 3rd Place Financial Consulting Event
Ryan Ashley – 7th Place Personal Financial Literacy
Kynzie Belcher – 6th Place Quick Serve Restaurant Management
Kate Berg, Brielle Heller, Sarah Logan – 1st Place Sales Project
Addy Perschon, Vienna Teders – 2nd Place Sales Project
Taylor Ferretti, Addy Perschon, Vienna Teders – 2nd Place Start-Up Business Plan
Hailey Sorenson – School-Based Enterprise Academy (School-based enterprise gold certification)

Idil Birgul – School-Based Enterprise Academy (School-based enterprise gold certification)

Nolan Frazier -Ignite Leadership Academy

Daniel Kockler – Ignite Leadership Academy

Mercy Dulaney – Elevate Leadership Academy

Brielle Heller, Kate Berg, and Kynzie Belcher – Gold Status for the Bear Necessities shop in the School-Based Enterprise Competition

Helena High

Layla Riggs – Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
Taya Munden – Retail Management Services
Aysia Phattavong – Entrepreneurship
Cate Hardan and Makenzie Groom – Ignite Leadership Conference
Claire Eaton – Elevate Leadership Conference
Matt Velasquez, Inara Guliyeva, and Michael Leyva – Gold Status for the Catty Shack in the School-Based Enterprise Competition


Photo of the Week

Pic of the Week: PAL (Project for Alternative Learning) Picture of students and staff in a circle about to beat large drums with the cutline: PAL students and staff experienced Taiko Japanese drumming this week thorugh the district's partnership with The Myrna Loy.