Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | April 19, 2024

Dear Families,

We have much to look forward to as we approach the end of the school year! I’d like to share some key dates coming up for families and staff.

The first is the Centennial Vigilante Parade on Friday, May 3 – just two weeks from today! Each year, our parade fundraising committee seeks community donations to make the parade possible. However, support is lagging this year, with just a handful of donations so far.

As we celebrate 100 years of this treasured community tradition, please consider a donation of cash, gift certificates or merchandise to help pay for float supplies and provide prizes for the winning floats! If you’re able to contribute, please visit the link for donations to Helena High or Capital High.

In honor of the centennial, our award-winning student journalists for Helena High’s school newspaper, “The Nugget,” teamed up with the Montana Historical Society to explore the rich history of the Vigilante Parade. Believed to be the nation’s oldest continuing community parade, the annual procession was disrupted only a handful of times; The parade was cancelled from 1942 to 1945 during World War II and converted to a virtual parade (2020) and then a drive-by format (2021) during the pandemic.

In addition to a fun list of historically based float ideas, The Nugget reporters created an online collection of “Helena History Facts That Might Surprise You.” Among them, is that Helena’s first opera, a work titled “Pinafore” performed in the winter of 1879-1880, was a fundraiser for public schools and the public library

It’s been a stellar month for our HHS student journalists, who also took top places this week at the University of Montana’s “High School Journalism Day.” In addition to an awards ceremony (see results below), the students participated in workshops on topics including artificial intelligence, podcast production, media law and investigative journalism.

Congratulations to our Bengal student journalists! And thank you to the Helena Education Foundation, which made the trip possible through a Great Ideas Grant sponsored by Pat Hunt in memory of her late husband, renowned Montana political journalist Chuck Johnson.

Moving along through the calendar, ballots for the 2024 School Levy Election are due May 7. You will receive your ballot this Wednesday or Thursday. Please watch your mailbox and be sure to drop your completed ballot in the mail so it arrives at the Elections Office by the May 7 deadline.

During the last two weeks of May, our choir, band and orchestra musicians will take the stage to showcase all they’ve learned this year. I hope you’re able to enjoy at least one of their concerts.

 From our drama departments, Capital High opening its production of “Shakespeare in Hollywood” last night. Described as a “whimsical journey through Tinseltown,” the production runs tonight and tomorrow and April 25-27 at 6:30 p.m. at the CHS Theater. Tickets are available for purchase at the door and online at

The Bengal’s end-of-year production, “School House Rock Live Jr.,” opens Saturday April 25th at 6:30 in the Helena High Theater. Watch for more details next week.

Meanwhile, our high school musicians are preparing to send off our seniors at the 2024 Commencement Ceremony June 1.

The last day of school is Thursday, June 6, for grades K-11. I know I’m not alone in how school years seem to go by faster and faster!

In district business, we received news this week that the district can move forward with opening its three charter schools in time for this fall. Earlier this year, the district was approved to open three charter schools: An Expanded Project for Alternative Learning; a Montessori Charter School and the Mount Ascension Learning Academy – a new, hybrid program offering a choice of online learning or a blend of virtual/in-person instruction to students in grades 6 through 12. Watch for registration details to come soon.

I would also like to congratulate our Helena Public Schools Business Office on yet another year with a clean district financial audit, meaning a third-party reviewer, Wipfli LLP, conducted an extensive review of the district’s spending and financial practices and found no deficiencies.

Auditors looked at internal controls and compliance with laws, regulations, contract terms, grant agreements and other financial requirements. For the 2023 report, this included the district’s use of federal ESSER funds (pandemic aid), federal Title 1 education funds, and the Montana Comprehensive Literacy Grant.

Our district is fortunate to have a top-notch business office under the direction of Business Administrator Janelle Mickelson. Janelle is recognized as a leader in school finance in Montana and we appreciate the work of her team to carefully and responsibly manage our school finances!

Finally, kudos to the Helena Police Department, the Highway Patrol, and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officers who responded this morning to the cow moose that was hanging out uncomfortably close to Capital High School. We’re grateful for these pros who successfully redirected her to keep everyone safe – people and moose.

I’m reminded of how fortunate we are to live in beautiful, wild Montana.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Signature: Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent








Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools

Student & Educator Recognitions

HHS Student Council named “National Council of Excellence”

The Helena High School Student Council was recognized this month as a 2024 National Council of Excellence (NCOE) winner. NCOE writes that the award “is testament to the highest standards of quality, leadership, innovation, and community engagement that your council consistently demonstrates in its operation, and its projects and activities.” Thank you to Advisor Samantha Humphrey and congratulations to each of these young leaders.

Members are: Ella Carlson, Ethan Carlson, Carlee Coil (Executive Board – President), Tessa Coil, Anyah Douglas, Emma Flinders, Cate Hardan, Adella Harris (Executive Board – Vice President), Shannon Hartnett, Taylor Larsen, Gabriella LaVoie, (Executive Board – Secretary), Glacia Lucchetti (Executive Board – Treasurer), Pacer Lybbert (Sophomore Class Representative), Summer Marsh (Junior/Senior Class Representative), Ella McCarthy, Masie McCarthy (Executive Board – Social Media Director); Rhett Neal (Freshman Class Representative); Aysia Phattavong, Tyson Schulte (Freshman Class Representative)








HHS Journalism Students Earn Top State Awards

The Helena High School Nugget staff won four awards this week in the Montana High School Journalism Contest 2024. Awards were presented at the University of Montana by School of Journalism faculty members. More than 170 students from a dozen high schools attended the event in Missoula, which featured a variety of journalism workshops. Only 1st and 2nd place awards were given in each category.

Results are as follows:

Nick DeWald, senior: Second Place, Audio

Jack Royal, freshman: Second place, Opinion Writing

Will Eaton, senior (Nugget editor): Second place, News Writing

D.J. Knickerbocker, sophomore, and Sey Roberts, sophomore:

First place, Editorial Cartooning

Congratulations Nugget journalists!

CHS student earns first in state for machining

Congratulations to Capital High’s Allen Christopher, who took 1st Place statewide in CNC Machining at the recent SkillsUSA state competition in Helena. SkillsUSA represents nearly 400,000 career and technical education students and teachers nationwide, with chapters at the middle school, high school and college level.

Music students earn high marks at district festival

Our Bengal and Bruin musicians earned top marks at the District Music Festival held in Helena and Bozeman last weekend! Click here to see results. Congratulations to our student musicians!