Student and Educator Recognitions

May, 2021

Congratulations to Helena High student, Claire Downing, for being selected as a Presidential Scholar. She is one of two in the state of Montana.

Helena High’s Green Group is a winner of the the 2020-2021 SMART Schools award competition.

Members of Green Group are:

  • Neal Bovington                
  • Erin Grossman                  
  • Leif Hogg
  • Lucy Lantz                          
  • Isaac Nehring     
  • Dani Prouty
  • Alexis Reed
  • Izzy Snell

Advisors: Jill Van Alstyne and Roger Scruggs

Helena High made an appearance in the National High School Mock Trial last week which was held virtually.

  • Star Witness awards went to Grace Johnson, Andrew Stanfel, and Isaac Nehring.
  • Star Attorney awards went to Hailey Brewer, Emmi Highness, and Caitlin Matthews.

Other team members include:

  • Sage Eck-Miller
  • Meghan Rake
  • Maddi McNeil

Advisor: Kasey Askin

Congratulations to Capital High Senior, Dani Bartsch, who has been named the Gatorade Montana Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the 2020-20121 season.

Capital High Educator, Sarah Heller, was a NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing winner.

Central Elementary Educator, Katy Wright, was named Montana’s Nominee for NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence.

April, 2021

Capital High Educator, Jim Weber, was notified last week that Capital High School was awarded $15,000 by the Gene Haas Foundation.  Senior students will directly benefit from the generosity of this organization in the form of college scholarships. Thanks for your hard work to receive scholarships for our students, Mr. Weber!

Congratulations to Capital High Educator, Reg Hageman.  He’s this year’s recipient of the Striving for Excellence award from SHAPE Montana.

Ten students competed for Helena High at the virtual State Science Olympiad hosted by MSU.  The team placed 5th overall out of 17 total schools and had five teams in place in the top three.  These 6 students will receive medals.

  • 1st place:  Heath Caldwell and Izzy Kosena in Fossils–GOLD
  • 1st place:  Heath Caldwell and Robert Stimpson in GeoLogic Mapping–GOLD
  • 2nd place:  Jonathan DeWald and Owen Cleary in Chem Lab–SILVER
  • 3rd place:  Jonathan DeWald and Owen Cleary in Sounds of Music–BRONZE
  • 3rd place:  Heath Caldwell and Loreley Drees in Experimental Design–BRONZE

Other top-ten finishes include:

  • 4th place:  Avery Skibicki and Loreley Drees in Anatomy and Physiology
  • 4th place:  Avery Skibicki, Annika Nehring and Loreley Drees in Protein Modeling
  • 5th place:  Avery Skibicki and Robert Stimpson in Codebusters
  • 6th place:  Izzy Kosena in Helicopter
  • 6th place:  Gabbi Cuddy and Annika Nehring in Astronomy
  • 7th place:  Sandra Schuele in Water Quality

The Helena High team of Avery Skibicki, Laurel Maronick, Aimee Wilkerson, Sierrah Paul, and Brynja Severtson won this year’s Montana SCWIT Aspirations in Computing Contest! Anna Ries-Roncalli received Honorable Mention; Laurel Maronick is a repeat winner from last year; and Avery Skibicki is a NATIONAL HONORABLE MENTION – a very rare honor.

Congratulations to our SkillsUSA Montana State Leadership & Conference Award Winners from Helena High:

  • Logan Eckerson: Gold Medal for Extemporaneous Speech
  • Luc Ronan: Gold Medal for Job Skill Demonstration and Silver Medal for Welding Sculpture
  • Byren Stoner: Silver Medal for Combination Welding
  • Nolan Bumgardner: Silver Medal for Job Skill Demonstration

Congratulations to Capital High student, Jenna Rahn, on her 1st place in Legal Office Procedures at the Business Professionals of America state competition.  She was coached by Terri Norman.

The Capital High Girls Basketball team won the 2021 state championship for the second consecutive year.

  • Team: Mara McGinley, Dani Bartsch, Paige Bartsch, Jaymee Sheridan, Rachael Stacy, Kayla Almquist, Parklyn Heller, Audrey Hofer, Carlie Gross, Keetyn Sayers, and Kaliegh Fiest (manager)
  • Coaches: Katie Garcia-Forba (head coach), Tom Dearborn, Matt Reyant, Taylor Hassler, Shelby VanHemelryck, and Savanna Bignell

Our Helena High Boys swim took home individual and team honors at the state meet, including a team state championship!

  1. Two Helena High swimmers took home individual state championships.
    Robert Wagner for the 100-yd Butterfly and the 50-yd Freestyle, and Quade Oser for the 100-yd Breaststroke and the 200-yd Individual Medley
  2. Jacob Demmons, Christion Goetsch, Garrett Krattiger, and Robert Wagner won the 2021 state championship for the 200-yd Freestyle Relay.
  3. The Helena High Boys Swim team also won 2021 state championship: Team: Jacob Demmons, Christion Goetsch, Devin Goetsch, Garrett Krattiger, Quade Oser, Ben Vince, and Robert Wagner

This exceptional team was coached by Julia Shannon.

The Helena High “Baker Team” won the 2021 Mock Trial state championship. This team included Hailey Brewer, Grace Johnson, Caitlin Matthews, Isaac Nehring, Sage Eck-MillerMaddie McNeil, Emmi Highness; and was coached by advisor, Kacey Askin.

Six students recently qualified for the National Speech & Debate Meet

  • From Helena High: Jonathan DeWald, Tim Cuddy, and Shy Christensen
    Coach: Jen Hermanson
  • From Capital High: Erin Heaton, Jordyn Shaw, and Brennen Jensen
    Coach: Chloe Smith

Congratulations to HHS student Tim Cuddy on earning the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All American award. From more than 141,000 student members, fewer than 1% of students earn the Academic All American award every year.

Congratulations to all of Helena Education Foundation’s 2021 Distinguished Students and Educators!  To view the full list, please click HERE.  Thank you for your hard work, students and educators, and thank you, HEF, for recognizing these outstanding individuals.

March, 2021

Congratulations to the the Capital High School team who won the 2021 Science Bowl state championship!  Team: Mariah Mercer, Nate Turner, Tyler Almquist, Zach Boles, and Kilian Humbert.  Coaches: DeLacy Humbert and Kendra Lunday

Congratulations to Bruin Wrestlers, Noah Kovick and Carson DesRosier, on winning state championships this season!

HHS Students, Health Caldwell and Claire Downing, competed in the Intel Regional Science Fair hosted by Montana Tech last Wednesday, March 3.

Claire Downing presented on her work “Colonizing Bryophytes Used as a Post-Wildfire Ecosystem Stabilization Treatment in Montana” and was awarded First Place Grand Award, Association for Geoscientists Award, and a Blue Ribbon Gold Medal.  Claire has been invited to compete at the Regeneron ISEF – International Science and Engineering Fair May 3-6, 2021, via video conferencing. Regeneron ISEF finalists compete for nearly $5 million in awards, prizes and scholarships.

Heath Caldwell presented on his work “Comparative Osteohistology within the Long Bones of Rocky Mountain Elk” and was awarded Montana Technology University Biology Department “Best in Show” and Blue Ribbon Silver Medal.

Congratulations to HMS Educator, Halstyn Stief, who was awarded KMTX’s Teacher of the Month!

Congratulations to this plethora of Presidential Scholars!  Way to make us proud, students!

From Helena High:

  • Greysen Smith
  • Myles Adams
  • Aaron Gerhardt
  • Claire Downing
  • Elsie Harrington

From Capital High:

  • Tyler Almquist
  • Auggie Tupper
  • Nathan Turner

February, 2021

After attending a Leaders in Equity seminar last year, HHS Seniors, Claire Downing and Cade Duran, and Megan Goroski, decided they’d take what they learned to create a statewide community service project.  Working with DPHHS and the county sheriff’s department, they’re creating stuffed backpacks for kids entering Montana’s foster care system filled with personal hygiene goods, school supplies, an age-appropriate book, a blanket, and a small toy.

Their goal is to distribute 500 backpacks across the state and have already assembled 100 backpacks with supplies for another 250 to be distributed in May.

While they have received many donations from individuals and businesses, and organized some fundraisers, they’re looking for more contributions to reach their goal.

Want to help their cause?  Cade is handling the fundraising and contributions. He can be reached at or 406.459.5298.

After extensive training, and training of staff, CHS educator, Bill Kaiser, earned the certification Microsoft Innovative Educator Master Trainer.  Way to go, Mr. Kaiser!

Congratulations to Genevieve Anderson, CHS art educator, on her photo “White Horse Ashore,” which was selected from entries across the globe for inclusion in the next international exhibition White at the Blank Wall Gallery located in Athens, Greece.  Wow!

January, 2021

Our music students, and advisors, continue to receive awards. The following students have been selected to the 2021 NAfME (National Association for Music Education) All-Northwest Honors Ensemble:

CHS Students:

  • Zach Boles (Senior) – Cello
  • Maren Elliott (Sophomore) – Violin
  • Braelyn Germaine (Junior) – Viola
  • Rebecca Smillie (Sophomore) – Violin

HHS Students:

  • Áine Cleary (Freshman) – Cello
  • Owen Cleary (Senior) – Violin
  • Fischer Friend (Senior) – Bass
  • Lenny Triem (Senior) – Cello

Director: Zach Harris

December, 2020

Each year, the Capital High Counseling Department spearheads a collection to purchase grocery gift cards for Bruin families who need them most during the holidays. This year, they collected $3,566.18 for their Winter Break Gift Card Drive!  A big ‘Thank You’ to the activity sponsors and staff who helped contribute, parents and community members who contributed, and especially to the Counseling Department for organizing this annual effort!

Capital High BPA members Amanda HaabLilian KeetonJenna Rahn, and Jaida Salois recently competed in the BPA Shark Tank virtual competition and won first place! Their winning product pitched, “Orbit,” is a revolutionary charging hub that provides touchless and wireless charging, eliminating the need for cords and outlets. This awesome sales pitch won the team $450 to offset costs for registration and travel expenses for the Business Professionals of America state and national competitions. Congratulations to these creative entrepreneurs and to Capital High BPA advisor, Terri Norman!

November, 2020

Capital High Science Educator, Sarah Urban, received her official award for earning the 2020 Outstanding Biology Teacher Award (OBTA) for Montana.  Congratulations, Ms. Urban!

Congratulations to HHS Educator, Lauren Gustafson, and the HHS Model UN team. HHS won the ‘small delegation’ award for outstanding group at the 55th annual conference.

Delegate awards:

  • Isaac Nehring, Owen Cleary, Jonathan DeWald, Grace Johnson, and Tim Cuddy

Position Paper Awards:

  • Owen ClearyGrace JohnsonJonathan DeWald, and Tim Cuddy

Top 5 Seniors (each are offered a $1,000 scholarship to UMT):

  • Grace Johnson

Top 25 Seniors:

  • Owen Cleary and Tim Cuddy

Capital High educator, Heather Parrish, through the MATELA newsletter that she co-edits, won an NCTE Affiliate Newsletter of Excellence Award.  Congratulations, Ms. Parrish!

Congratulations to our Lady Bruin volleyball team, led by coach Rebecca Cleveland!  Three state championships: what an amazing achievement!

October, 2020

Fischer Friend, a HHS senior, auditioned for and was accepted to play for the professional Helena Symphony. He’s a product of Helena Schools music programs and would especially like to thank Tysen Ryder at HMS and Kevin Cleary at CRA Middle School for the incredible education and solid foundation they have provided him.  Congratulations, Fischer!  We look forward to hearing your work at the next Helena Symphony performance!

Through participation in HUNCH (High school students United with NASA to Create Hardware), the Capital High Welding Program created and delivered 30 Class IE Single Stowage Locker Internal Close-out Cover Assemblies to the Cargo Mission Contract to be added to the ISS (International Space Station) available inventory.  These assemblies are an accessory to the Single Stowage Lockers and are used to close out the back of the lockers for payloads that require total containment or do not require rear ventilation or other from the Express Rack.

All fabrication and assembly was accomplished before, after and during the COVID-19 situation with the excellent support of our HUNCH students, summer Externs, Hardware Mentors and the entire HUNCH Team. All contributed to the success of this effort. To infinity and beyond!  Way to go, team!

The Back-to-Back State Champion CHS Volleyball team, lead by coach Rebecca Cleveland, just sent a check  for $4,333 to St. Peter’s Cancer Treatment Center from this year’s annual Pink Night Fundraiser.  Thank you, student athletes, for giving back to our community!

It was a snowy Saturday in Kalispell, but that didn’t stop the Bengal cross-country teams!  The Lady Bengals took home the 3rd place trophy for the second year in a row.  Kylie Hartnett ran second and Odessa Zentz ran 14th.  On the boys team, Robert Wagner ran 14th.  All three of these runners took home All-State honors.  Congratulations, Bengals!

Our local musicians are pretty amazing!  The following students received All State Orchestra honors:

From Helena High:

  • Aine Cleary (Freshman) – Cello
  • Owen Cleary (Senior) – Violin
  • Fischer Friend (Senior) – Bass
  • Lenny Triem (Senior) – Cello

From Capital High:

  • Maren Elliott (Sophomore) – Violin
  • Braelyn Germaine (Junior) – Viola
  • Jesse Hruska (Junior) – Viola
  • Jenalyn Slead (Junior) – Violin
  • Zach Boles (Senior) – Cello

Also, two CHS students have been accepted into the All State Honor Choir: Gabriel Beckman and Natalie Renk.  Who else thinks we need a virtual concert in the future?

Congratulations to HHS Student, Heath Caldwell, for placing 8th in the nation in Fossils at the US Invitational Science Olympiad on Saturday.  Heath competed online against 203 teams across the country! Congratulations Heath!

Two outstanding students representatives have joined our Board of Trustees.

Mariah Mercer – CHS Senior: Mariah looks forward to being a Student Board Representative and ensuring that students’ voices are heard.  She is interested in pursuing a career in education and education administration.  She is an advocate for the arts in education.

Mariah is involved in a variety of activities and currently serves as Vice-President of Health Occupational Students of America, is a Niceness is Priceless leader, a member of Science Club, a leader in Math Club, and the co-founder of Girls Supporting Girls.  She takes AP and Honors classes and has maintained a 4.0 GPA.

If she could invite one person to speak to students at CHS she would invite Sal Kahn, creator of the Kahn Academy, because he believes that learning occurs through the mastering of content and should be individualized.  She believes he could inspire students to take charge of their learning and understand that learning is a lifelong journey.

If she could change one thing about her school, she would increase funding for the arts.  She is excited to serve as the CHS Student Board Rep for 2020-2021 and hopes her passion for helping others will help students as they face the many challenges this year has brought.

Claire Downing – HHS Senior: Claire applied to be the HHS Student Board Representative because she hopes to convey the needs of students to the Board by offering a first-hand perspective.  She cares deeply about the success of her peers and their ability to contribute to society as optimistic and respectful leaders following graduation.

Claire’s participation in 4-H and the Forward Montana Foundation have provided her with leadership experience and knowledge in budgeting and finance.  Her involvement in 4-H is extensive and she was recently elected Montana 4-H Ambassador President.  She is also an American Fisheries Society Hutton Scholar.  She has been active in a variety of extra-curricular activities at school and has served as President of the Envirothon Club, Vice-President of National Honor Society, President of 3-7-77 Service Club and is a volunteer at Bryant School all while taking AP and Honors classes and maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

If she could invite one person to speak to students at HHS she would invite Mister Rogers because he devoted his life to educating youth and adults on how to process emotion in positive ways.  He was a pioneer for education and overcame his own struggles with bullying and depression.

If she could change one thing about her school it would be to increase opportunities for career education and life skills classes to allow for a successful transition towards a future career path.

Standout Helena High student athlete, Robert Wagner, has been invited to compete in the West Coast Open Water Championships in Las Vegas.  Wagner boasts 10 state medals including five state titles, and he recently learned that he qualified for four events at Junior Nationals in December.  Congratulations, Robert, and best of luck!

We have what’s sure to be a record-setting year for National Merit Semi-Finalists.  At Capital High, Sarah HellerTyler Almquist, and Victor Scott earned the honors.  At Helena High, four students received awards – Aaron GerhartElsie HarringtonGreyson Smith, and Lenny Triem.  These academically talented high school seniors now have the opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 7,500 National Merit Scholarships. Semi finalists represent less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors.  Thanks for your hard work, students!

HHS Educator, Joan Leik, earned a 2020 SHAPE Montana wellness award.  The SHAPE Montana Awards recognize the outstanding individuals dedicated to students in our field. They serve as an inspiration for our members to continue in the pursuit of excellence as professionals in Health Enhancement, Physical Education, and its allied fields.  Congratulations, Ms. Leik!