Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | March 15, 2024

Dear Families and Staff,

This morning we received an email from Capital High School Teacher Kimberly Cook.

Ms. Cook wrote to share an exciting collaboration between her advanced art students and second graders at Four Georgians Elementary School. Together, the students explored a theme that we can all relate to: Monsters.

I’ll allow Ms. Cook to explain:

“Sometimes when we are young (and a bit older, too) things may seem scarier than they really are,” she wrote. “However oftentimes when we have more information or understanding, the thing that was once frightening becomes less so.”

Ms. Cook asked the Four Georgians students to draw or paint a scary monster. She then asked her advanced art students to help the second graders tell the monsters’ stories through “imagery and compassion, transforming these monsters into beasts of kindness, love and acceptance. Without changing the outward appearances of these monsters, they will teach younger kids that sometimes what’s on the inside is what truly matters.”

Thank you, Ms. Cook, and Four Georgians Teachers Shay Coil and Erika Henschel, for sharing this innovative use of art to foster mentorship, role modeling and positive ways to manage emotions – lessons we can all benefit from at any age. Please enjoy this gallery of the students’ pieces.

Elementary students from across the district had the opportunity to experience another art form last weekend, testing their culinary creativity at the annual Sodexo Future Chef Challenge. The winner of this timed, TV-style cooking competition was Addy Uthman, a fifth grader at Rossiter Elementary.

Addy received an impressive trophy for her creation and she deserved all four feet of it! She will now advance to Sodexo’s regional Future Chef Challenge competition. Congratulations to all of our young chefs and good luck at regionals, Addy!

A cookbook of the winning recipes from all 12 finalists in last weekend’s competition can be found here. Thank you to the Independent Record for capturing the flavor of this exciting event.

Be it paint or pastries, these creative activities help students develop talents, discover lifelong passions and even align with potential career paths. And more opportunities await in high school. Students in Joan Leik’s Culinary Arts class at Helena High recently made dessert for more than 800 guests at the recent Mansfield-Metcalf dinner, baking up 700 tarts, 500 truffle brownies and 350 State of Montana cookies!

None of these activities would be possible without the innovative work of the teachers who create them and whose efforts truly change the course of students’ lives. Fifty of these teachers were surprised this week by students who nominated them for the Helena Education Foundation’s Distinguished Educator Awards. Each was chosen by one of 50 students who recently received HEF’s Distinguished Student award.

All will be honored at HEF’s Celebration of Excellence banquet later this spring. Congratulations to each of these exemplary educators and students! See photos of this week’s surprise award presentations on HEF’s Facebook page.

Looking ahead, this week marks the start of our spring sports! I wish our softball, track and field and tennis athletes a winning season.

And, as one middle school teacher recently put it, there are only “five more wakeup times” before Spring Break. I hope you’ve scheduled in some family fun for your time away.

If you’re already planning for next year, I’m happy to share that the official district academic calendar is now available on our website. Thank you to the members of our calendar planning committee: Josh McKay, Jane Shawn, Gary Myers, Thomas Baty, Shannon Callahan, Chelsea Kingston, Nancy Peterson, Kathleen Prody, Jonna Schwartz and Leighann Wilson.

Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the sunshine!


Superintendent Rex M. Weltz signature







Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools