Montana's Public Schools in the News!

Great things are happening in Montana's public schools every day of the school year. The following are a few of the items profiling the great work of Montana's public schools that have appeared in Montana news media.  By clicking on a link, the reader is taken away from the MTSBA website.  Any payment required to access a particular website is the sole responsibility of the individual reader.  Articles and opinions appearing on this page do not necessarily reflect the policies, positions, opinions or views of the MTSBA Directors or staff.


Flathead Valley's high school students set to graduate
The high school Class of 2022 will be graduating from six high schools in the valley. Commencement ceremonies for Linderman Education Center and Whitefish Independent High School graduates will be held Thursday, June 2. Whitefish Independent's commencement ceremony begins at 1 p.m. on the south lawn of Whitefish High School, 1143 E. Fourth St. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will move indoors to the Black Box Theater. Linderman's ceremony starts at 7 p.m. Ninety-two students are set to graduate. Linderman is located at 124 Third Ave. E., Kalispell. Commencement ceremonies at Flathead High School and Stillwater Christian School are scheduled for Friday, June 3. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for Flathead's ceremony which starts at 7 p.m. in the main gym. No tickets are required. About 349 students are expected to graduate. Flathead is located at 644 Fourth Ave. W., Kalispell. Stillwater's ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. at the school located at 255 FFA Dr., Kalispell. Sixteen students will be graduating. Bigfork, Columbia Falls, Glacier and Whitefish high schools will hold commencement ceremonies Saturday, June 4.

WHS senior sets sights on advocating for others
Even as a youngster Emma Trieweiler wanted to be a lawyer, but an experience in high school focused that goal into working toward becoming a civil rights attorney. Part of a trio of Whitefish High School students who approached the Whitefish School Board in the summer of 2020 asking that the district boost the integration of diversity studies in the schools, Trieweiler became part of an advisory committee that made suggestions for improving the district's curriculum. Trieweiler, who graduates Saturday with the school's Class of 2022, says the pitch to the board came in the wake of the death of George Floyd and as the Black Lives Matter movement spread, including to protests in downtown Whitefish. "A group of students I started talking with had been at a lot of the protests and all the things that were happening was opening their eyes to things they had never thought about partly because of where we live because there isn't much diversity in our town and in our school," she said. She noted that those conversations led students to notice what they saw as lacking in their school lessons in terms of presenting diverse perspectives in literature and history. "I spoke about the experiences I had and the lack of sensitivity in knowing how to talk about these subjects because they've never needed to learn how to talk about these subjects appropriately," she said. "But also what was missing in learning about different backgrounds and cultures. We took it to the school board and they thought it was a great idea."

Class of 2022 Academic All-Stars: Olivia Reifenberger of Great Falls High School
Olivia Reifenberger is the daughter of John and Brenda Reifenberger. The Great Falls High senior enjoys being outdoors whether it's hiking, kayaking, swimming, fishing, boating, and so on. Reifenberger also enjoys spending her weekends at her grandma's house playing games, gardening, baking or watching movies. Volunteering has been something she has enjoyed over the past few years as well. Moving to Great Falls her freshman year, she began getting involved in the community through Key Club, Leadership High, and National Honors Society.

Ashton Blake chosen as Class of 2022 Academic All Star for CMR
Ashton Blake, son of Rodney and Anamarie Blake, has participated in a various organizations in leadership positions during his time at C.M. Russell. He enjoys reading, playing board games, and staying up to date on political news. During all four years at CMR, Blake played percussion in the Symphonic Band for four years and actively participated in the school pep band and drumline. Additionally, he has been on the speech and debate team (three years), ran cross country (four years), serving as boys' team captain this year. He stated that student government is also a passion of his and has been able to serve, currently serving as class vice president. He is currently the National Honor Society president and participated in the Leadership High School Program.

Bozeman student chosen for Carnegie Hall concert
Carnegie Hall will feature a Bozeman performer next month - alto saxophone player and eighth-grader Kei Braun. Braun, who attends Bozeman's Chief Joseph Middle School, will travel to New York City and spend five days rehearsing and sightseeing, culminating in a performance on June 18 with the National Middle School Honor Band in Carnegie's biggest auditorium. "Honestly, I still can't believe I made it in," Braun said. "I didn't think I would get in whatsoever." There are student performers from 39 states and Canada playing with the National Honor Band, which will be performing classical music. According to his parents, Braun is the only student chosen from Montana this year.

GFPS students help create 'Safety Town' for kids
Thursday saw a special delivery to the Skyline Early Learning Center. Students from Great Falls High School unloaded two buildings and several street signs for what will eventually be turned into a miniature town called "Safety Town." One of the buildings was modeled after the Milwaukee Station depot near downtown Great Falls. "I've been waiting for this today for a long time," said Bison sophomore Houston Waddell. "My class built one of 'em and a different class built the other one. We all worked together and it was just a good learning experience for all of us." Starting in June, Skyline will host a series of camps where children entering kindergarten can learn how to be safe pedestrians and drivers in the mini-village. They will ride their tricycles through the streets of "Safety Town," learning about stop signs, cross walks, and traffic safety.

Great Falls teen gets a jump on college and a career through apprenticeship
A Montana Department of Labor program is helping Great Falls High School student Madison Hewitt get a jump start on college - as well as her career, as her love for childcare is paving the way for her future. "I've always had a connection with kids and I've always liked working with kids," said Madison, who graduates this weekend from GFHS. If you spend time watching Madison, or Madi as she likes to be called, interact with kids at St. Thomas Child and Family Center, its apparent she's on the right path. She took early childhood development classes as a freshman. In her sophomore year, she committed to a rigorous early childhood apprenticeship program through the Department of Labor, Family Connections, and GFPS.

Area students win statewide and divisional awards for wildfire prevention artwork
A Columbia Falls High School sophomore's art was selected as the statewide winner of a wildfire prevention art contest. Sophomore Madysen Martin's art encouraging Montana residents to do their part received first-place in Keep Montana Green Association's 61st annual wildfire prevention contest. She will receive a cash award. Second and third place were awarded to students in Plains High School and Lewis and Clark Elementary. The top three entries were chosen from among more than 600 submissions from Montana students in grades K-12, according to a press release. The art contest is a time for educators, such as Columbia Falls High School art teacher Kate Daniels, to teach students about wildfire safety, prevention and conservation. "Fire prevention is such an important topic to our area," Daniels said. The contest is meant to increase public awareness of the dangers of uncontrolled wildland fires, reminding people to be careful with fire-causing hazards while enjoying Montana's forests, campgrounds and rangelands. "It's art with a message," said Daniels.

West Elementary students learn that kindness 'rocks'
When word spread that hate flyers were found in the yards of several residents living on Butte's westside, staff and students at West Elementary decided to do something. The flyers were discovered Monday in baggies, which included rocks. In the last couple of days, each student has been working diligently to do his or her part to counteract hate. Whether it be through a kindness card with words of encouragement, a craft item, or a painted rock, they all contributed. On Friday, those same residents will be getting an entirely different bag. Enclosed in each will be positive notes, crafts and painted rocks, and all will be delivered by the school's fifth- and sixth-grade students.

21 graduating high-schoolers awarded 2022 Mariah's Challenge Scholarship
After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, 21 high school seniors who committed to abstaining from illegal drug use and underage drinking were honored at an in-person Mariah's Challenge Scholarship Ceremony on Wednesday in the Montana Tech Library's auditorium. Mariah's Challenge was officially launched on Feb. 2, 2008, in honor of Mariah Daye McCarthy, a 14-year-old girl who was hit and killed on Oct. 28, 2007, by a 20-year-old man driving under the influence of alcohol. She was walking with two friends to her house for a sleepover at the time. Her friends lived through their injuries. Leo McCarthy, Mariah's father, founded Mariah's Challenge to educate kids and their parents about the dangers of drinking and to foster a change in Butte, a town with a long history of alcohol use and abuse. "Mariah's Challenge is something that has, in my opinion, changed our community, I think, top to bottom," said emcee Paul Panisko at the ceremony. "I think kids growing through it have changed, I think adults have taken their consequences a little bit more seriously and changed."

Capital High welding students craft new benches for Mount Helena
Capital High School welding students recently completed a project that gave them a chance to develop their skills while helping trail users on Mount Helena. For the last few weeks, about 15 students in Tom Kain's welding 1 class spent about an hour a day constructing two steel park benches that will be installed along Ambrose Trail in June. City of Helena officials said one will be installed near the trail's junction with Mike Cormier Trail and the other will go near the junction with Daisy Hill Trail.  "It's just cool to get to do something like that in class to benefit the community and also do some welding," said Brody Romano, a junior in the class. Kain said his students previously completed several smaller-scale projects for schools and individuals, but "this is probably the biggest thing we've done." Tombstone Kiwanis Club in Helena provided funding for the project, which also included sandblasting and powder coating completed by third-party vendors. The total cost of the project came out to about $1,600, member Chuck Amdahl said.

Ruby Valley rotary club awards 2022 scholarships
The Rotary Club of Twin Bridges / Ruby Valley awarded scholarships of $1,000 each to four Ruby Valley students based on academic achievement, probability of success, service to school, community and public services and financial need. The Rotary Club awards two scholarships to two graduating seniors from each high school annually. One scholarship is for students attending a Montana college in a four-year curriculum. The other scholarship is intended for students attending a college of technology, two-year curriculum in any state. Following are the Rotary Club of Twin Bridges / Ruby Valley 2022 scholarships recipients.

Seniors conduct "Graduation Walks" at Great Falls elementary schools
As graduating high school seniors in Great Falls prepare to walk the stage and receive their diplomas, they first took a quick trip down memory lane. "Graduation Walks" are a six-year-old tradition in Great Falls, and seniors from both Great Falls High School and CMR High School were excited to walk the halls of their old elementary schools one last time before throwing their caps. "It's so surreal," said Jordan Belote, a soon-to-be CMR graduate. "It's crazy that not long ago, we were going to school here and now we're back while ending a whole entire era of our lives." Teachers also felt the nostalgia by seeing some of their students come back. "In a way, it's just kind of an honor to see them grow up and make those accomplishments and yeah, I'm ecstatic to see them walk. It's really going to be fun." said Dennis Hogan, a fourth-grade teacher at Riverview Elementary School.

Capital High seniors celebrate their success through a "grad walk"
Fifteen Capital High school graduates are taking a step back in their past by walking in their old elementary schools in preparation for graduation. For graduate Emma Hopkins, seeing her elementary school teachers was a happy moment. "It's a little surreal, there is a lot that is changed, I do not know. I am just excited to see everyone. It is really cool seeing my old teachers," said Hopkins. After graduation Hopkins will be going to Western Washington. University for computer science and says she is nervous but excited for the future. "A little nervous for it, but I do not know but it is exciting. I am not counting it down, I am just trying to live my days in high school out," said Hopkins. For Jacob Curry, he had an exciting time walking along the Kessler School playground high-fiving the elementary school students.

2022 elementary out-of-school-time scholarships available
The Montana Early Childhood and Family Support Division recognizes that the need for summer care and summer programming for school-age children is important for a child's development and to the economic viability of Montana. The scholarship is for children entering kindergarten through fifth grade in the fall of 2022. Parents must be employed, attending school or have special circumstances. Families must demonstrate they are paying for summer care - summer/sports camps, Boys & Girls Club, babysitters, nannies, and such - by providing a receipt or letter of acknowledgement. Parents have the option to choose a grant amount of either $1,500 or $2,500 per child.

1975 Montana champ from Helena recalls lessons from National Spelling Bee
In 1975, Marie Grose Campbell - then a 14-year-old eighth-grader at C.R. Anderson School in Helena - won the Treasure State Spelling Bee and a trip to the 48th annual National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. She represented Lee Newspapers of Montana. Now, 47 years after winning the state bee and going to the National Spelling Bee, Campbell is a third-grade instructor at Basha Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona. "I tell my students that spelling is important because people need to be able to read what you've written, and your writing is also judged on spelling and handwriting when it is on display," she said. Winning a seat in the National Spelling Bee "taught me the importance of education, of working hard and being determined, of setting goals and working to achieve them." Those are words of wisdom for eighth-grader Ellette Whitcomb from Sussex School in Missoula, who won this year's Treasure State Spelling Bee in March.

Busy Big Sky senior sets sights on Georgia Tech to pursue computer science
Taking advantage of any opportunity that presents itself and making the most of it might be Ben Carter's secret to success. The Big Sky High School senior's resume includes high marks in the Health Occupation Students of America, hours of service with Key Club and highest ranking cadet of the Civil Air Patrol. All of that and more he juggled with rigorous academics through the school's Health Science Academy, topped with a number of International Baccalaureate and other dual-enrollment classes, while also being a three-sport athlete. "He handles all these myriad of activities with diligence and grace and a maturity beyond his years," wrote Heather Williams, Carter's high school counselor of three years. Though much of his time in high school was spent in classes related to health careers, his true passion lies in computer science. Carter didn't have a personal computer or a cellphone until he began high school. His dad was a software engineer for a time.

Beethoven goes back to school: Bozeman Symphony performs for local fourth graders
The Willson Auditorium filled with pre-concert bustle Friday as the performers of the Bozeman Symphony came in from the spring snow. The symphony's audience that day was 900-some fourth graders. Conducted by Norman Huynh, the Bozeman Symphony performed the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, "Ode to Joy." Seventeen local schools and 15 home-schooled students attended, according to Andrew Loftus, director of fine arts for Bozeman Public Schools. This was the latest of the Symphony's annual performances for fourth graders, who can choose to join their school orchestra, band, or chorus when they enter fifth grade.

Hamilton Middle School presents 'How to Eat Like a Child' May 26, 27
Hamilton Middle School is producing "How to Eat Like a Child" on May 26 and 27 in the HMS Auditorium.  Director Faylee Favara said the production is a wonderful musical written by Delia Ephron with music by John Forster. "This musical romp through the joys and sorrows of being a child is hilarious," Favara said. "Children give 23 lessons in such subjects as how to beg for a dog, how to torture your sister, and how to act after being sent to your room. The pace is fast, the tone subversive, and the recognition is instant."

Quieter than a mouse sewing':  Montana kids describe their town in poetry
Drummond is where you can know everyone," the poem goes. "Drummond is 15 trains a day," and it's "always going to smell like dried grass." No, this isn't Richard Hugo. These young writers are fond of their hometowns. By their reckoning, "Drummond is like a scoop of ice cream," and "where my family moved because it is perfect." Each line in this poem was written by a Drummond fourth or fifth grader with the guidance of April Cypher, their poet/instructor from the Missoula Writing Collaborative.

Cayuse Prairie administrator selected as superintendent of the year for Northwest Montana
Cayuse Prairie School Superintendent and Principal Amy Piazzola has been chosen by her peers as the 2021-22 Superintendent of the Year for the Northwest Montana region. "I feel very humbled by it because I know the great work that everybody does in the valley and beyond in Northwest Montana," Piazzola said.

Darby High School students heading to national SkillsUSA competition
Darby High School students are heading to the National SkillsUSA competition after placing at the state conference in Helena with the theme "United As One." DHS Chapter advisors are Mikey Meves, shop teacher, and Courtney Bennett, career specialist. "We're pretty excited," Bennett said. "The kids did so great." DHS Principal Christopher Mothorn said is it a worthy program for Darby. "SkillsUSA is a great opportunity for our students to compete with other students in real-world skills that will help them in the job market and life," Mothorn said. "This is our first year participating in the program and our students are excited to see the program grow next year and in the future. We are excited to be sending students to compete at the national competition in Atlanta this June"

Jefferson High students offer welcoming sign to MHP
Many folks just bring flowers, champagne or a casserole when they want to welcome a new neighbor. Some Jefferson High School students said hello to some new neighbors, the Montana Highway Patrol, with a metal sign. Students from Dave Heimann's welding and drafting class made a 42-inch by 38-inch sign that was unveiled Monday in front of the MHP's new headquarters in Boulder. The sign, which was donated from the school, says "Montana Highway Patrol" and it includes a U.S. flag in the shape of the state of Montana sitting atop some mountains and next to some tall trees. At the bottom of the sign is "3-7-77," reflecting the first organized law enforcement in Montana and part of the MHP trooper's patch since 1956. Heimann, a vocational trades teacher, said the idea came from above: Tim Norbeck, the school's superintendent. "Mr. Norbeck said we should make a sign for our neighbors and we took it from there," he said. A quick unveiling ceremony was held Monday at the MHP administration building, along with Attorney General Austin Knudsen and Col. Steve Lavin. The school is just down the road from Jefferson High School.

Work gets started Monday on Baxendale Schoolhouse
Work got started Monday on the Baxendale Schoolhouse, which is now being relocated on land leased from the Archie Bray Foundation. The school, which Preserve Montana adopted and moved in 2019, will be placed onto a foundation this summer at 2965 Country Club Road. Built in 1890, the school is one of the best-preserved rural schools in the Helena area, Preserve Montana officials said. It originally served the mining settlement of Baxendale west of Helena, and later moved to Highway 12 West to keep serving as a school and then a community center. The total cost of the project, including the moving and restoration, will be about $200,000.

Flathead High awards its first varsity letters in science
Three students recently received the first varsity letters awarded for excellence in Science Club at Flathead High School. FHS junior Kenna Anderson and sophomores Dyson Linden and Keanu Ng were awarded the varsity letters during an awards ceremony May 2. "We wanted to award these because we think it's important to recognize academics as much as athletics so that's why these letters are really important to us because we really value the studying, the learning - and all the work that you did to learn more about science this year," said Lynette Johnson, Flathead Science Club co-adviser and science department leader. To receive a varsity letter, Science Club members earn points based on meeting attendance and participation, offices held, volunteer efforts and the number of science fairs they compete in and place in, among other criteria. "The science fair season starts in October and it really doesn't ramp up until March. It's probably the longest season of any team event we have," said Renee Cordes, Flathead Science Club co-adviser and International Baccalaureate teacher.

Photo: Former NATO commander Wesley Clark visits Helena school
Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Wesley Clark, center, poses for photos with Helena's Project for Alternative Learning students and faculty Wednesday morning. Students and faculty, from left, Asa Drake, Trenton Houde, Principal Matt Carey (back row), Charles McLaren (behind Clark), True Hooft, and Kaleb Dullum got to meet the former presidential candidate and ask him questions. Student Tucker Anderson is not pictured. PAL faculty member Ryan Cooney, bottom right, said Clark was in Helena for a breakfast fundraiser for the World Affairs Council before making a stop at the school.

HHS Envirothon teams place first and second at Montana competition
Hamilton High School's Envirothon team earned their second consecutive state championship title and a second HHS team took second at the Montana competition in Great Falls at the end of April. The coaches were Marie Antonioli and Birch Fett. Antonioli said it is unprecedented for one school to take the top two spots at the state competition. "It was amazing, it was phenomenal, we are doing so great in all these science competitions," she said. "It is a testament to the smart kids we grow in this community. Bronc Envirothon teams earned first place in every test, first in the oral presentation and first in the written tests, which is incredible. The kids were so amazed, elated and proud of all their efforts." It is HHS's fourth state championship, but only their second in a row. HHS has two varsity teams. 

Two Bozeman private schools to study climate change in Alaska
Audrey Keith is excited to see whales, Rosemary Davidson is looking forward to exploring glaciers up close, and Lillian Williamson is glad she gets to experience it all alongside her classmates. Students from two Bozeman area field schools - Peak Potential Academy and Bozeman Field School - are anticipating their upcoming expedition trip to get hands-on experience studying the effects of coastal climate change in Southeast Alaska. Tongass National Forest and Glacier Bay National Park are on the agenda, where students will have the chance to study glaciers, chat with experts in the field and search for whales, sea otters and other wildlife. Peak Potential - a fourth through eighth grade school - and Bozeman Field School - a ninth through 12th grade school - have partnered for an eight day trip on the National Geographic research vessel Sea Lion with Lindblad Expeditions. The students, along with teachers and a handful of parent chaperones, depart on May 13. "Climate change is a big, difficult and complicated subject. When you see it right up in front of you, when you're seeing glaciers up close and personal, the effects of climate change make sense," said Rab Cummings, co-founder of Peak Potential. "… We believe in having kids get their feet muddy and their hands dirty." 

17,000 donuts are on their way to school district 2 students
The Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools will surprise students across School District 2 this week when a huge contingent of volunteers work together to distribute 17,000 donuts to students on May 10, 11 and 12. Over the course of three mornings, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, more than 35 volunteers will descend on the schools between 7:15 and 8:30 a.m. to hand out donuts to all the students. Volunteers will also have gluten free options for kids with allergies. "We've done one small gesture of thanks to all the teachers and support staff each month this school year, and we wanted to take a moment to also thank the students," explains Kelly Edwards, appreciation committee chair and foundation board member. "These kids have been put through the ringer the last two years as well, so this is a small way for us to say thank you." The Education Foundation, thanks to the support of generous donors including Century Gaming and H2 Lawn and Snow, is working with Krispy Kreme to purchase and distribute the donuts. Given the high volume needed, Krispy Kreme is working overtime over the course of several days to have all the donuts needed.

Riverview Elementary students sign beams for Montana Museum
On Wednesday morning outside of Riverview Elementary School, fourth grade students lined up to sign beams that will be used in building the Montana Museum. Brandi Voss from Sletten Construction brought the beam on a trailer, with signatures of other students from across the state. "It's a major part of history, especially since these beams will be exposed for the entirety of the building, unless its tore down," said Voss. Schools from Billings, Livingston, Polson, Bonner, Boulder, Wolf Point, Glasgow, Browning, Riverview, Shelby, Cascade, Helena, and East Helena are the schools that Sletten have chosen for the signing. Helena will be the last trip on the signing tour before the topping out ceremony on May 17. The governor and the Washington family will also have a opportunity to sign.

'Topping Out' ceremony is May 17 for new Montana Heritage Center in Helena
The Montana Historical Society is hosting a "Topping Out" ceremony at 1 p.m. May 17 in celebration of the completion of the steel framing of the $81 million Montana Heritage Center in Helena. The public is invited to join Montana Historical Society Director Molly Kruckenberg, Gov. Greg Gianforte, Contractor Erik Sletten and Dennis and Phyllis Washington, whose foundation donated $25 million to the project for the event at 225 N Roberts St., Helena. "Topping Out ceremonies are held to celebrate a major milestone in a construction project," Kruckenberg said. "The steel beams, which will be put in place during the ceremony, will signify that the highest point of the new Montana Heritage Center has been constructed." The center will be home to an expanded Montana Historical Society, in which visitors can learn about Montana's history, stretching back 14,000 years to the days of the woolly mammoths, through the present day, officials said. 

Filmmaker who graduated from Helena High returns for special presentation
Helena native and filmmaker Bryan Ferriter returned to the Helena High School classroom this week to share his expertise with students of Geoff Proctor's college literature class. Ferriter, who graduated from Helena High School in 2005, showed rough film cuts from his upcoming movie, "Hamlet," with the class on Tuesday and Wednesday. He stars and directs in the film. "It was just really special for my students," Proctor said Thursday in a telephone interview. "They were pretty enthralled." Proctor called "Hamlet" a play that was "timeless." He said Ferriter, who is also a Carroll College graduate, is finishing up filming "Hamlet," adding that some scenes were filmed in the Cathedral of St. Helena. He said Hamlet will be Ferriter's fifth film. His fourth finished film, "Wuthering Heights," will air in a special presentation at The Myrna Loy on June 16.

Valley Credit Union awards high school entrepreneur $5,000
Danielle Brower, an entrepreneur from Skyview High School, won $5,000 during an event called The Hive. Kylie Swanton, also a Skyview student, took the second-place $2,500 prize for her business (Kylie's Calligraphy), and Caden Dekievet, Career Center, took home the $1,000 third prize with his clothing line business. Six high school entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas in a competition called The Hive that took place at the Babcock Theatre last Wednesday. This is an amazing opportunity for students to present their companies and encourage small business in Billings. "I created this business using my art tactics and a solution to a problem of losing your lip balm holder all the time," Brower said. "So, I created lip balm holders and eco-friendly sustainable stickers." Her business, Nellie Nicole Designs, has been running for two years. "Don't shy away from the challenge, don't shy away from your problems," Dekievet said. "I want people to improve and change and be passionate about something. I also want them to be comfortable and confident because confidence is the main thing and they both go hand in hand. And that's the need that Don't Shy Away fulfills." Dekievet has a clothing line called "Don't Shy Away" that encourages people to be confident.

MCPS adds another elementary school to zero waste initiative
Missoula County Public Schools is partnering with community organizations on a zero-waste cafeteria initiative. The program expanded into Lewis and Clark Elementary school on Thursday. "Back in 2019, at Jeannette Rankin Elementary, before we launched their program we sorted through their trash for a couple of days," Strategy Zero Waste Solutions principal Jeremy Drake said. "What we found in the cafeteria trash was that 20% of everything that was being thrown away was unopened edible food that could be sanitized and served again. More than half was compostable." In 2019, Drake and Strategy Zero Waste Solutions began working with MCPS to offset their waste.

Flathead High student named Presidential Scholar semifinalist
Jillian Wynne of Flathead High School is one of six students in Montana and about 650 candidates nationwide to reach semifinalist status in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Semifinalists were evaluated based on academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities and essays. The White House Commision of Presidential Scholars, a group of citizens from across the country appointed by the President, will review semifinalists and select up to 161 Presidential Scholars in May. The program was established in 1964 to honor distinguished graduating high school seniors, according to the U.S. Department of Education. It was later expanded to honor students in the arts and career and technical education. Application is by invitation only. Other local scholar program candidates included: Whitefish High School students Willem R. Gray, Jacob M. Henson, Niko G. Hunter and Josie Schneider; Flathead High School student Evan J. Sevaly; Glacier High School student Finnegan Davidson; Stillwater Christian School student Taylor D. Gray and home-school student Nicholas L. Starring.

Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders: Flathead student is self-starter motivated by helping people in need
Jillian Wynne is a self-starter when it comes to applying her talents to help out the community and take on leadership roles. The Flathead High School senior was recently honored as a Today's Achiever, Tomorrow's Leader honoree. "Truly exceptional in so many ways, Jillian is the kind of student you encounter only a few times in a career. She has incredible natural academic talent, and she is a gifted learner at all times and in all situations," FHS Career Center Director Mike Kelly stated in his nomination letter. Academically, he describes her as a strong writer, a creative and critical thinker and a talented communicator. He also noted how Wynne excels in math and currently takes calculus through the University of Montana. She is also an International Baccalaureate student and golfer. "Jillian holds herself to an incredibly high standard," Kelly continued. This high standard has resulted in her achieving National Merit semifinalist status in 2021, among other accolades. Most recently, she was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalist.

A return to normalcy: Vigilante Day Parade is back after COVID disruptions
The last nails are pounded while final coats of paint are brushed on. Cowboy hats and pioneer skirts are laid out. Trailers sit loaded down in driveways with an assortment of historical props. Helena-area high school students are busy putting the final touches on their floats in preparation for the 98th Annual Vigilante Day Parade on Friday. This year marks the parade's return to its traditional format running through downtown Helena. In 2021 a "Reverse Parade" was held as people drove by floats that were set up at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds to better comply with COVID-19 restrictions. While last year's format ensured the continuation of the parade, students are ready for the return to normalcy. "We've seen an increase in students wanting to get involved in things - everything from clubs to the Vigilante Parade," said Brett Zanto, Capital High School principal. "Students are wanting to get back to normal."

'Every child deserves to learn how to read': Inside Bozeman School District's revamped literacy programs
Sitting on an alphabet rug in a circle, the group of preschool students trace the arc of an imaginary diver with their right hand, until it lands in their left. Throughout their diver's journey, they sound out the word "hot", until they reach the end, where a chorus of children make the T sound around the rug. For the next word – sun – the students start sounding out the word at the top of their diver's arc until it lands in their left hand with the soft thud of the n sound. Megan Roth, an early literacy teacher with Bozeman School District, leads the group of children at the Hawk's Nest daycare through that exercise and others designed to introduce students to the phonics, or the sounds, of reading.

Joliet 'Code Girls' win 2nd place in congressional app competition
Middle school students from Joliet Public Schools will be recognized for their work in creating an app that earned them second place at the national level in Code Girls United's Congressional App Challenge. Entries are judged on platform, functionality, content suitability, and originality. Kevin Kriskovich and his team of four girls, Bailey Shettel, Linden Schenk, Kaidence Jensen, and Madigan Sullivan created the GreenFitness app. The app gives users the opportunity to create reminders to exercise and drink water enabling them to be healthier. The students were combatting the concern that students spend too much time on their phones not being active and hydrated. Kriskovich stated, "the girls have put in an incredible amount of work, about 2.5 hours a week since January. Seeing these students utilize teamwork skills to overcome challenges and grow has been fun to watch."

Havre Middle School student places 10th at state spelling bee
Havre Middle School eighth grader Lyvia Little, after placing first in the Hill County Spelling Bee, placed 10th in the Treasure State Spelling Bee earlier this year. "It was pretty nerve-racking, but more exciting," Little said. "... It was a good experience." She said the event was more or less normal this year, with no COVID-19 protocols after being canceled in 2020 and administered as a proctored test in 2021. Little made it through many rounds during this year's bee without trouble, saying each word she was given was one she was confident she could spell perfectly.

Flathead teacher realizes dream of career in classroom
When Pat Reilly lost his job during the last economic recession, he returned to college as a nontraditional student earning his teaching degree. Now after 10 years in the classroom at Flathead High School he's preparing to retire. "The best thing I ever did was get my degree," he said. "When I looked back I would have regretted never accomplishing that." Reilly had a long journey to finally realizing his early goal of becoming a teacher. He teaches history and government at FHS. Growing up in Washington, he earned a football scholarship to the University of Idaho, and was working on his degree but then he got an offer to work at the Hanford Atomic Nuclear Reservation in Richland, Washington. "You don't reject that kind of money," he said. "I figured I could always go back to school to teach, but four kids later and that kind of put a damper on that." Roughly every two years he switched jobs. He was a carpenter, a surveyor, a facilities planner and managed a photography studio. He also spent 40 years as a football coach at Flathead and elsewhere.

Flathead High School band marches toward new uniforms after 50 years
At Flathead High School, band director David Johnke unzips a black garment bag to reveal a flash of brilliant orange appearing on the left side of the school's new marching band uniform jacket, contrasting against gray and black. Diagonal stripes of silver jut out from the edge of the orange, which takes the shape of an "F," a detail repeated on the hat. 

GFPS Annual Art Show announces Zach Culliton Merit of Distinction in the Arts award
Great Falls Public Schools Annual Student Art Exhibition is now on display for the community until May 19, 2022. Visiting hours at The Square are Tuesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday/Monday closed. The exhibition is a K-12 student Art Exhibition for GFPS. In 1977, educators, artists, and community activists were able to renovate and reopen the former high school as Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art. Paris Gibson Education Center's Hannah Davis has been announced as the 2022 recipient of Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art's Zach Culliton Merit of Distinction in the Arts for her "Gonna Be Okay" logo design.

Hamilton Science Olympiad team wins state title for fourth year in a row
The Hamilton High School Science Olympiad team earned the state champion title for the fourth year in a row at the annual tournament held at Montana State University in Bozeman on Friday, April 15. In Montana, Science Olympiad is one of the largest science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions. Each year hundreds of students participate in events covering life sciences, chemistry, engineering and other topics. HHS Head Coach Vanessa Haflich said HHS had 15 students on the varsity team competing in 14 different events and the victory was exciting. "Every single varsity student medalled in at least one of their events," Haflich said. "Which means they got first, second, or third in the whole state, which was pretty cool to see. I couldn't have asked for more from this talented and dedicated team of students. I am so proud of them and excited to see them represent the state of Montana at nationals."

Gov. Gianforte visits Sunnyside school in Havre
Gov. Greg Gianforte visited Sunnyside Intermediate School Thursday, where he met with educators and administrators, visited a few classrooms of students and answered some of their questions. After being greeted by the student body Gianforte sat down with some Sunnyside teachers and discussed the TEACH Act, which incentivized school districts to raise starting teacher pay, which Havre Public Schools, as well many other schools, have done. Two HPS school board members, Garrit Ophus and Cindy Erickson, attended and when Gianforte asked them why they decided to take advantage of the TEACH Act, they said it was a "no-brainer." Later during the visit Gianforte said an interaction he had with a young rural Montana teacher was the motivator behind the TEACH Act. 

Helena Public School students plant trees for Arbor Day
April 29 marks Arbor Day in Helena. For the occasion, the Helena School District and Growing Friends of Helena planted 16 trees on the two high school campuses. Although it was a rainy and gloomy start to the day, Growing Friends of Helena Member Ben Brouwer says it was perfect for the trees. "It's a great day for planting trees. The trees love this kind of weather, so we're happy for it," said Brouwer. Brouwer says the trees that lined Brady Street by Capital High needed a facelift.


April 2022 GREAT NEWS

Montana Teacher of the Year from Arlee visits White House
It's not every day that a high school science teacher from Arlee, gets to be in the same room as the president. But on Wednesday, that's exactly what happened. Montana Teacher of the Year, Bill Stockton, traveled to Washington D.C. this week for the National Teacher of the Year Program's annual Washington week, along with 54 other teachers from across the country. "I got an invitation this week, via email to go to the White House, and it just seems so surreal right now," Stockton said. "But I'm really excited to represent the state of Montana, and I'm really excited to represent all of the teachers in the state."

Whitehall Band/Choir Students on to State Festival
The WHS Band and Choir traveled to District Music Festival in Deer Lodge over the weekend and had a strong showing of talent. The WHS Band brought home a II rating of Excellent, while the Choir earned an I rating of Superior. The Golden Quartet, which is comprised of Kyra Oliverson, Payton DuBois, Gabriel Popalis, and Emerson Bourbanis-Carter earned a II rating. Superior ratings were earned by the following students: Kyra Oliverson (vocal), Emerson Bourbanis-Carter (vocal), Emily Smith (flute), Gabriel Popalis (vocal), Marissa Ellison (baritone), and Zoey Crain (baritone).

Shelby FFA seniors honored
The National FFA Organization is set up to continually encourage kids to achieve and perform at a high level in leadership and agricultural experience. Starting in seventh grade, FFA members aspire to first earn their greenhand degree by the end of ninth grade. The greenhand degree gives rise to a chapter degree and the MT State FFA Degree. The MT State FFA Degree journey takes most FFA members three to four years to accomplish. Requirements of the MT State Degree include: earning or investing $1,000 into a member's Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), working 450 hours at their SAE, contributing 25 hours of community service, completing 360 hours of agriculture class and participating in five FFA activities above the chapter level, among other requirements. Two Shelby FFA members recently completed their journey to the coveted degree. Aidan Torgerson and Harold Miller were recognized at the 94th annual State FFA Convention in Bozeman at MSU at the beginning of April.

County Superintendent Hall receives state award
Lake County Superintendent of Schools Carolyn Hall received the state's County Superintendent of the Year award last weekend at Lewistown. Hall is in her seventh year in the position, which has financial oversight over every school district in Lake County, including three rural districts - Dayton, Valley View, Salmon Prairie - that have no local administration. School Administrators of Montana Executive Director Kirk Miller presented the award. Lake County Commissioner Gale Decker attended the ceremony as well. Hall said constituent letters of nomination, primarily from parents, clerks and trustees, are sent to the County Superintendent Committee, which names the award winner each year. "I don't do this job alone," she said Monday. "It's all of the administrators, the teachers, the superintendents. We all do this together." Hall said she was humbled by the award, but "felt like an imposter. I'm the one who gets all the praise. I'll just accept it on behalf of all the county superintendents who all do this job, or have done it."

St. Ignatius chosen for Farm to School program
St. Ignatius School District is one of three districts across Montana selected to participate in a one-year program offered by the Montana Farm to School Institute, which is intended to ignite, grow and sustain farm to school action within Montana schools and communities by providing training and support and by facilitating team building and action planning. The Montana Farm to School Institute is hosted by the Montana Team Nutrition Program at Montana State University, the Montana Office of Public Instruction and other program partners. Power Public Schools and the Hamilton School District also were chosen to participate. The program will kick off with a three-day summer retreat, where the three school district teams will develop one-year farm to school action plans to be implemented during the 2022-2023 school year. Action plans will encompass goals, activities, roles and timelines focused on the three core elements of farm to school: local procurement, education and school gardens/farms. Each team, ranging from four to eight members of the school community, will be assigned a Farm to School coach who will support the team with development and implementation of the action plan. "The Montana Farm to School Institute is a great opportunity for our Montana school districts to grow their farm to school programs," Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said. "The continued partnership between MSU, my office and Montana school districts, with focus on our Montana agriculture producers, provides our students with a unique learning experience. Utilizing pathways to fresh locally grown foods benefits our Montana schools, students, farmers and ranchers."

French students experience the Flathead Reservation
On April 21, 20 students from Troyes, France, aged 14 to 17 and two adults visited the Flathead Indian Reservation as part of the Corvallis Hosting Program. Every two years, French students visit and reside with host families in Corvallis. Craig Clairmont, a French studies teacher at Corvallis Middle School, established The Corvallis Hosting Program in 1995; this was the 13th hosting. The program's goal is to bring the French language and culture to Corvallis and make it an unforgettable and educational experience for all. On the last day of their two-week adventure, they spent it beading with Aggie Incashola at Three Chiefs Culture Center.

St. Regis graduate interns with Sen. Daines
The closest the average citizen gets involved with democratic processes of America is usually earning their "I voted" sticker each election year. And for most Montanans, the ins and outs of government and representatives is unchartered territory. But for one young Mineral County native, he's just returning home to the Treasure State after spending the last four months in Washington D.C., working on Sen. Steve Daines' internship team. A 2018 St. Regis graduate, Connor Dunlap shared, "As you could imagine life in D.C. is a lot different from the town I grew up in. People end up being taken back when I tell them I graduated in a class of eight people." And after leaving the small town of St. Regis, Dunlap enrolled at the University of Montana where he is majoring in political science with a minor in philosophy. "Moving to Missoula for college and living in Seattle for a short time in high school made me a bit more prepared for life in the big city. I am still not an expert with the metro system here but I have managed very well since I arrived and have enjoyed living in the beautiful city immensely," he said.

Two Eagle River School student receives national recognition
A photography student at Two Eagle River School, Katie Medicine Bull, was selected as one of 20 students nationwide to have her art featured in a show at the acclaimed Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Part of an open call for the joint "Reconnecting With" program between the community-focused organization Amplifier and Getty, "Unshuttered" meant to give teens a positive creative outlet during the challenges of the 2020s. Medicine Bull said the project came together rapidly. "It was a short, but also kind of long process," Medicine Bull laughed. "It's surreal… it all happened so fast." Photography teacher and Our Community Record program developer David Spear had heard about the open call back in January, and in April decided to put a student forward who he felt had been working steadily. So, he said, he approached Medicine Bull.  According to her mother Tracy, Medicine Bull had always been very creative, but as she was a new student Spear said this was his first opportunity to see it.

School approves baseball for 2023; Swimming will see school funding
The Columbia Falls School Board last week voted unanimously to support a new high school baseball team. The team, under an agreement with the school, would be privately funded through the newly-formed Columbia Falls Baseball Association. About 20 members of the public attended the meeting to support a baseball program. The Montana High School Association approved baseball as a high school sport earlier this year. Prior to that, baseball in Montana was primarily through Babe Ruth leagues or Legion baseball. Montana was one of the last states in the union to approve high school baseball. Wyoming and South Dakota don't have it. Games would be played at the Sapa-Johnsrud field, which is owned by the state, but leased by the Babe Ruth league. The season would start next spring.

Stevensville School will host an open house on Thursday
Stevensville School District is hosting a grand reopening on Thursday to show the new construction, remodels, and expansions that have taken place over the last 24 months at the primary and high schools. Stevensville Public Schools Superintendent Bob Moore, Ed. D., said the project has been a major focus for the past 24 months. "It's not totally complete but we're ready to show it off," Moore said. "We're extremely proud of the construction team of MMW Architects, Quality Construction and the school district. We're proud of the work we've been able to accomplish in the last 24 months." The community is invited to the open house and walking tour from 4 – 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 28. The school will open the entrance doors at the parking loop, south of the elementary school and the east door into the main lobby at the high school. Tours will begin in the high school lobby and then walk through to the elementary school.

Ramsay student receives accolades for science fair project
Ramsay School sixth-grader Adelaide Thomson won a gold ribbon at the 67th Annual Montana State Science Fair March 28 for her project "Dirty Pipes." But that's not all. She also won the Peterson Grand Award for sixth grade physical science and was nominated to compete in the 2022 Broadcom MASTERS, a national middle school STEM competition put on by the Society for Science. MASTERS stands for Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars. When asked how she felt about earning these awards, Thomson said, "I didn't really think about that. I just had a lot of fun." The inspiration behind Thomson's project came from her noticing the water from the modules, where the sixth- through eighth-graders go to class, tasted "different" than the water in the main building. Thomson said that some of her friends also thought the water in the modules tasted soapy, like chemicals or left a lingering nausea headache after drinking it. When her school science fair came around, she thought it would be a great opportunity to get to the bottom of why the water from the modules tasted different than the water in the main building.

Students learn about bison's importance to Native culture
Students from Great Falls recently took a field trip to learn about the importance of bison to Native American history and culture. The event took place on a ranch outside of Choteau and was hosted by the Great Falls Public School's Indigenous Education program. About 30 students from middle schools and high schools participated in the event, learning how bison were used for food, clothing, and weapons.

'Every child deserves to learn how to read': Inside Bozeman School District's revamped literacy programs
Sitting on an alphabet rug in a circle, the group of preschool students trace the arc of an imaginary diver with their right hand, until it lands in their left. Throughout their diver's journey, they sound out the word "hot", until they reach the end, where a chorus of children make the T sound around the rug. For the next word – sun – the students start sounding out the word at the top of their diver's arc until it lands in their left hand with the soft thud of the n sound. Megan Roth, an early literacy teacher with Bozeman School District, leads the group of children at the Hawk's Nest daycare through that exercise and others designed to introduce students to the phonics, or the sounds, of reading.

Victor students organizing Alumni Prom Night on April 29
The Victor High School junior class is organizing an Alumni Prom Night on April 29, the night before their prom, and have invited all "oldsters" to enjoy the venue, the night and their decorating efforts. VHS class co-advisors Laurie Wildey and Nathan Beckwith said the juniors are responsible for this Alumni Prom. "The idea came about that normally we have a middle school dance but they decided not to do that," Wildey said. "One of the juniors said, 'When my mom went here her class had a parent prom.' The juniors thought that was a good idea and here we are." The number of adults who will attend is unknown. Tickets cost $10 each or $15 per couple and can be purchased in the Victor High School office ahead of the event or at the door that night.

Governor visits Terry
Gov. Greg Gianforte served as an evangelist for entrepreneurship when he visited Friday with about two dozen Terry Career and Technical Education students.

Hot Springs students revive local museum
A group of high school students in Hot Springs were awarded a $5,000 grant on April 14 from the Montana History Foundation for their upcoming work on the LaRue Hot Springs Museum.

Youth traverse media journey by following MAPS as a guide
Since 2004, Media Arts in the Public Schools (MAPS) Media Institute has provided professional media arts education to Montana students who have an interest, talent, or skill in the field of media art. 

Park High School to unveil solar panels at Friday event
Members of Park High School's Green Initiative have been busy celebrating Earth Week and it will culminate Friday on Earth Day with the unveiling of the school's new solar panels.

DCHS Key Club earns honors and awards at District Convention
Dawson County High School Key Club students attended the organization's annual District Convention recently where several officers received awards.

GMS Student Makes It To State In Spelling
Glasgow Middle School seventh-grader Karsyn Sillerud represented Valley County during the 57th Annual Treasure State Spelling Bee in Bozeman on March 12.

Two Win Bronze Medals at Science Olympiad
Two teams from Chinook Junior/Senior High School (CHS) traveled to Bozeman on April 14 in order to compete in the 37th Montana Science Olympiad. From the Division C team competing in Dynamic Planet, Liam Edwards and his brother Quentin won bronze medals.

French students visit Montana through CMS hosting program
The French hosting program is underway through Corvallis Middle School where families host visitors providing a Montana experience. The program lasts for two weeks with 20 students ages 14 to 17 and two adults from Troyes, France, which is 60 miles southeast of Paris. Some of the kids are older as they missed the opportunity to travel in 2020 due to COVID. Rather than cancel, their trip was postponed. CMS educator Craig Clairmont said the program was started in 1995 and continued every other year, taking a break in 2020. "The program brings culture to our kids, families and community," Clairmont said. "It is a good diplomacy program that is very rewarding. I enjoy seeing the reactions, communication and lifelong relationships that are developed with students, families and French students."

Butte High's All-Night Chemical Free graduation party set for June 2
The parents of the 2022 Butte High graduating class are planning this year's All-Night Chemical Free Party from 10:30 p.m. Thursday, June 2, to 5 a.m. Friday, June 3, in the Butte High Gym. Approximately 277 will graduate this year. Tickets are $20 and will be sold at Butte High School from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, May 4-5, and again on May 11-12 in front of the Butte High Commons.  The last chance to purchase a ticket will be at the graduation rehearsal on Thursday, June 2, at the Butte Civic Center. Butte business owners who would like to make a tax-deductible donation toward the party can contact Angie Poole at 406-565-0305. Banners representing graduates will again be on display in Uptown Butte. Parents can contact Kristen Manson at 406-560-5363 if they haven't yet purchased banners for their students. Banners are $45. The next planning meeting for the chemical-free party is at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in the Butte High Commons.  All parents of seniors are welcome to attend.

Helena-area high schoolers invited to event promoting health care careers
Through a partnership between Carroll College and Helena WINS, local high school students and their families are invited to an upcoming event that will highlight the pathways and programs available for those interested in the health care field. The Healthcare Pathways event is scheduled for 8:30-11:30 a.m. April 23 in the lower Campus Center at Carroll College. Everyone is welcome, and snacks and beverages will be provided. Following presentations from Carroll College and Helena College, area employers will discuss the opportunities available in Helena. There will be an intermission time for students and families to visit one-on-one with faculty and employers, as well as at the end of the event, in addition to optional tours. According to a press release from Helena WINS (Workforce Innovation Networks), health care is one of the fastest growing industries in Helena and one of the largest private industries in Lewis and Clark County. 

HHS senior organizing concert to combat human trafficking
Hamilton High School senior Lauren Roberts is working with the Bitterroot Performing Arts Council to organize a benefit concert featuring the Mark O'Connor Duo with Maggie O'Connor on Friday, May 20. All proceeds from the concert will go to Unchained, a nonprofit group working to find missing and murdered Indigenous persons (MMIP). Roberts said she's fulfilling her goal of using music to provide service. "I always dreamed of working with Mark O'Connor and human trafficking is a really big issue," she said. "It means a lot to me that something is done about it as nobody is talking about it. I thought a concert would be a good idea to get people to help because all they have to do is sit and listen to great music."

Sunnyside trade fair sees triumphant return
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused plenty of changes through the past two years. The ramifications of it have even been seen on a smaller scale such as the absence of the Sunnyside Intermediate School's trade fair in 2020. The fair was then delayed from the fall of 2021. But Tuesday night, at the Sunnyside Gymnasium, the trade fair finally made its return.  "We're just really excited to have it this year," Sunnyside Principal Pax Haslem said. "It's nice to have it back and it's nice to have our parents back in the building. Our kids did a really good job, and we're really proud of it."

Hamilton teens selected for Special Olympics Youth Leadership Experience
Special, inclusive and fun. Special Olympian Claire Carmody and her unified partner Fern Stewart will attend the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, Youth Leadership Experience, June 5-12, in Orlando, Florida. Carmody graduated from Hamilton High School in 2021 and Stewart is a junior at HHS this year. Carmody said she is excited to go to Disney World in Florida and has been far from home, but never without her parents. "I'll have Fern, I'll be fine," she said. "I cannot wait. Hopefully, I will have fun. It's okay if celebrities are there or not but I hope there will be a surprise. I'm excited and nervous. It will be eight days and I'll be busy but hopefully, I'll get a break or two." Stewart said she hadn't seen a schedule yet.

Townsend named first Purple Star School District in state
Gov. Greg Gianforte and Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen joined military-connected students, teachers and staff at Broadwater School and Community Library on Monday to honor Townsend School District being named the first Purple Star School District in Montana. The award recognizes schools that go above and beyond in supporting the children and families of service members. While other districts in Montana have Purple Star schools, Townsend, which has 680 students in its three schools, is the first district to get the honor. The designation was made by the Montana Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission, which was adopted by the Montana Legislature through Senate Bill 203 in 2013. The commission aims to remove barriers to educational success faced by children of military families in which key educational transition issues are addressed. During the visit to Townsend, the governor signed a proclamation establishing April as Month of the Military Child and Tuesday as Purple Up! Day in Montana to support the children and families of service members.

Havre Middle School's Students of the Month
Havre Middle School's Sixth-Grade Student of the Month for March is Ava Bitz. Ava is the daughter of Wade and Holly Bitz. She has one sister, Emma Bitz. At the middle school, Ava strives to maintain a high GPA. She also plays tuba in the HMS band. In her free time, Ava sings in the community choir, helps on her family's farm and enjoys reading. Ava is an extremely polite and kindhearted student at HMS. She is always willing to lend a helping hand and sparks others to follow in a positive direction. Her personality lights up the middle school and makes it a great place for everyone. In the future, Ava plans to pursue a career in farming, become an author or photographer. March's Seventh-Grade Student of the Month at HMS is Signe Riggin. Signe is the daughter of Aaron and Hillary Riggin. She has one sister, Willow Riggin. Signe plays the clarinet in Havre Middle School's band. Outside of school, she enjoys swimming and spending time with family.

Montana students strut their skills at SkillsUSA conference in Helena
Peyton Seymour seems to have welding in his blood. The 16-year-old sophomore from Butte can rattle off the names of one relative or another who are skilled welders. He is taking classes now that he hopes will someday lead him to be an underwater welder. Emma Edwards may surprise you. The 16-year-old Great Falls High School student is taking welding as well. She said she also drives race cars, Midwest Modifieds, in her spare time. They were among the 254 students from throughout Montana who were in Helena this week as part of the SkillsUSA Annual State Leadership and Skills Conference at Helena College's airport campus. SkillsUSA serves middle school, high school and college post-secondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled-service occupations. It involves more than 333,527 students and instructors annually. It's the first time the event was held in Helena. It had been held at Montana State University Northern for nearly 45 years, said Mary Heller, the state director for Skills USA, a nonprofit formerly known as VICA (the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America).

Florence student wins scholarship for sticker design
Allison Streekstra, a Florence-Carlton High School student, will receive a $1,000 scholarship for winning third place in Reach Higher Montana's Design-A-Sticker, Win-A-Scholarship competition. In addition, the art program at Florence-Carlton High School will receive a $250 donation from Reach Higher Montana to purchase supplies for the program. Streekstra's design is titled "Find Your Path."  Over 350 sticker designs were submitted from students throughout Montana. The top 20 designs were voted on by the public, and Streekstra's design received the third-highest number of votes. The top six sticker designs will be used by Reach Higher Montana to encourage and inspire students to find their paths to their future careers. In addition, Streekstra's design will be featured next fall in Reach Higher Montana's Stick with Scholarships campaign, encouraging students to explore and pursue scholarship opportunities as part of their funding strategy for continuing their education beyond high school.

Hellgate High School students release rainbow trout into Silver's Lagoon
Two-inch long rainbow trout fry swam around the confines of a white bucket just off the shore of Silver's Lagoon at McCormack Park, unaware of the new habitat they were about to be released into this week. Laurie Lane with the WestSlope Chapter of Trout Unlimited carefully exchanged old water from the bucket with new water from the pond multiple times to help the fish get acclimated before being turned loose. "Okay you sweet little babies," Lane said gently while standing over the bucket. "This is your taste of wildlife here. "Freedom, in a contained pond anyway," she continued. On Wednesday and Thursday, students from Hellgate High School walked to Silver's Lagoon to release the trout they helped raise through the school's first ever Trout in the Classroom program.

Flathead High School students test their business acumen at state
The Flathead High School Business Professionals of America (BPA) team tested their knowledge recently at the state leadership conference in Billings with several advancing to nationals. At state, students may compete in events in the areas of finance and accounting, business administration, management information systems, digital communication and design, management, marketing and communication and health administration, according to bpa.og. First-place finishers included Dylan Turcotte in Computer Security and Gabe Wendt in Device Configuration and Troubleshooting. Wendt, Turcotte and Wendt qualify to compete at the BPA National Leadership Conference in May in addition to Simon Gugler, Baylanna Brash and Alaura Olszewski. BPA is a Career and Technical Student Organization where students develop leadership, professionalism, career and community service skills.

Glacier High School French program wins national award
Glacier High School's French program was recently honored with a top distinction by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF). The Glacier High School French language program was one of five in the nation designated with the AATF Exemplary Program with Honors distinction, according to a press release. French teacher Stephanie Hill said this is the third time the program has received the distinction, which honors the outstanding quality of high school programs around the nation. The school offers Advanced Placement classes and, at the middle school level, early language learning opportunities. Glacier's French program also participates in the association's National French Contest and offers numerous cultural activities outside the classroom. Over the years, enrollment in French classes has increased with many students maintaining high grades to be inducted into the National French Honor Society annually. Hill's and fellow French teacher Adam Harbaugh's dedication to the program and commitment to professional development was also recognized. "Strong language programs make a difference in not only our local community but also our global one," Hill said. "In our program, students learn another language but they are also taught to embrace kindness, curiosity, and a dedication to a greater good. I'm proud to work in a valley that values these attributes and am so thankful of the enormous support our community has provided to our students within the program."

Reading event gets a running start
For nearly 40 years, students at Thompson Falls Elementary have participated in the school's Running Start Program. A program geared toward encouraging students to read for fun. On Friday morning, Elementary Principal Len Dorscher gathered students in K-6 for the traditional run around the basketball court to symbolize the start of the program. "I've been leading the run for all nine years I've been here," Dorscher said. "This is the longest running program of any sort we've done at this school." Students have the month of April to get as much reading done as possible. To help students with their reading journey, Thompson Falls Woman's Club (TFWC) and First Security Bank teamed up and donated $700 in Scholastic Books to the school. "We donated 386 books this year," said Karen Gustavsen with TFWC. "That's enough to give every child a book plus extra for the classrooms and the library."

Kindergarten teacher recognized as Early Childhood Champion
During the Week of the Young Child April 2 – 8, Healthy Start Missoula recognized Seeley Lake Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Sheila Devins during the Early Childhood Champion Award Celebration. Devins was among five recipients this year who were honored for their excellence in supporting young children and their families working in direct service (child care providers, home visitors, etc.), as advocates, as volunteers, or as an entire organization. For the past five years, Healthy Start Missoula has recognized community members that have gone above and beyond to help children in their early years with the Early Childhood Advocate Award, Early Childhood Direct Service Award, Early Childhood Volunteer Award and Exceptional Early Childhood Organization Award. "[We realize] that people that work with young children don't often get recognized and it takes a lot of skill to do it well," said Anna Semple, coordinator with Healthy Start Missoula, an early childhood coalition through the Missoula City-County Health Department. "We want to elevate the profession and really honor the excellent people we have in the community."

MSU student from St. Ignatius wins prestigious Goldwater scholarship
Two students who have contributed to research in zoonotic diseases and optical sensing for detection of algal bloom in waterways are the two most recent Montana State University recipients of prestigious national Goldwater scholarships honoring undergraduate academic and research excellence in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Brooklin Hunt, a junior majoring in microbiology and biotechnology from St. Ignatius, and Shannon Hamp, a junior majoring in electrical and computer engineering from Broomfield, Colorado, are MSU's two newest winners of the scholarship given by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The foundation announced last week that 417 undergraduates received the competitive scholarships honoring the top undergraduates in the country pursuing research in STEM fields. The scholarship comes with an award of up to $7,500 per year for tuition, books and room and board. MSU is one of the top colleges and universities nationally in the number of students who have received the prestigious awards with a total of 84 since the scholarship was established in 1989.

Freezeout Lake Field Trip Awes Lincoln High School Students
March 24 was a school day "on the bus" for Lincoln High School students. A field trip to Freezeout Lake, between Fairfield and Choteau, was originally scheduled only for Nancy Schwalm's Wildlife Biology class, but when word leaked out about the adventure, the administration decided that all students in grades 9-12 would go. Have you ever tried to get a teenager out of bed at 4 a.m.? Everyone had to be present at the school at 5 a.m. for a bus departure that would get the group to Freezeout Lake before dawn to watch the thousands of snow geese as they took off from the lake to feed on the grain in the surrounding barley fields. This incredible sight is a once-in-a-lifetime experience never to be forgotten.

Reach Higher Montana is celebrating the Class of 2022
Reach Higher Montana is celebrating the Montana high school class of 2022 with a Senior Send-off event on May 6th.This year's event will again see more than $30,000 in the form of scholarships, tool/ equipment packages, laptops, iPads, and AirPods given to participating high school seniors. "We want to know what the class of 2022 is going to do after high school, whether that is college, military, apprenticeship, or straight into a career field" says Kelly Cresswell, RHM Executive Director.

GHS Presents Freaky Friday
For the first time in two years, Glasgow High School students will once again grace the stage and put on a production for an audience. This year's show, Freaky Friday, is the musical adaptation of the Disney Channel original movie about a mother and her teenage daughter who experience the biggest freak-out ever when they magically swap bodies. By spending a day in each other's shows, Katherine and Ellie come to appreciate one another in a way they could never imagined. In the end, both learn the true power of love and the strength of the bond between a mother and daughter.

State degrees

Last weekend, the local FFA chapter traveled to Bozeman for the 92nd State FFA Convention. The chapter competed in Livestock Judging, Farm Business Management, Sales & Service, Mechanics and Extemporaneous Speaking. Along with attending sessions, workshops, and delegate meetings, Kenzie Tooke (right) and Darin Schallenberger (left) received their State Degrees. 

Beaverhead FFA earns impressive returns at state
The Beaverhead FFA Chapter won an impressive fifth straight State Star Chapter award, 17 members of the Dillon group attained their Montana State FFA degrees and Theo Van Daren won first place in the Agriscience contest and four members teamed to claim first place in the Vet Science competition at the 92nd Montana State FFA Convention on the campus of Montana State in Bozeman over the weekend."It went about as good as you could hope for," said Beaverhead FFA advisor Caleb Igo.

CHS students become blood donors
Inspired by stories of her grandmother, Choteau High School senior Amy McKenzie has donated blood, plasma and platelets since turning 16 and organized the first Red Cross blood drive to be held at Choteau High School in at least 10 years. McKenzie never met her parental grandmother LaDonna McKenzie from Lewistown but heard plenty of stories of her donating blood over her lifetime. "I don't recall how much she donated but it was a crazy amount," McKenzie said. "She died before I was born but my dad told stories about her and she became a role model to me." The daughter of Larry McKenzie and Jannie Munoz, McKenzie began donating as soon as she was eligible. The March 26 blood drive at the school was the eighth time she has donated. She also do-nates plasma and platelets in Great Falls as often as possible. With the shortage of blood and having O negative blood type, a blood that is more in demand for being the "universal donor," McKenzie gives as often as she can.

The Wizards
The Wizards Claire Pfeifle, Grace Toeckes and Jessica Toeckes are all smiles during their scene at one of the two performances on April 2 of the MCT production "Rumpelstiltskin Synopsis" at the Power School.

Broadus FFA Competes At State Competitions
Congratulations to the Broadus FFA members who competed at the Montana FFA CDE Days competition March 21 and 22 in Miles City, and the Montana FFA State Convention, held March 30th through April 2nd in Bozeman. Both events consisted of state-level competitions. Here are the results. At CDE Days, our Tractor Operation Team placed 6th, with Kaydin Trent placing as the 8th high individual. The team consisted of Alex Edwards, Aidan Kenelly, and Kaydin Trent. Our Horse Evaluation, Meats Evaluation, and Food Science Teams all placed at or near the top half of the state. The Horse Evaluation Team consisted of Alex Edwards, Mia Mader, and April Wood. The Meats Evaluation Team consisted of Aidan Kenelly, Seth McDowell, and Kaydin Trent. Finally, the Food Science Team consisted of Becca Aye, Oliveah Schaffer, and Rheanna Schroeder.

Swinging for the seats in Louisville: Speech standouts heading to national tourney

Practice and more practice plus commitment. And more practice yet. That describes Adam Williams' formula for chasing success in speech and debate competitions. "With practice comes more realistic and more entertaining content," he said. "It becomes more lifelike and enjoyable." He should know. Williams, 17, and three other speech and debate standouts at Butte High School have qualified to participate in June in the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky. The other qualifiers are Mack Williams, 14, a freshman (and Adam's brother); Garrett Monson, 18, a senior; and, James Hadley Jr., 17, a junior. Now, practice and commitment must shake hands with fund-raising. The young men and team supervisors calculate that each student will need to raise about $3,500 to get to Louisville and back, claim a hotel bed and have a few meals.

Billings school board advances plan to extend education for all 19-year-olds
Billings' West High junior Emily Pennington is one step closer to attending her senior year. The school board passed the first reading of a change to policy that will allow all students up to age 20 to enroll in high school. The change was prompted by Pennington, who has Down syndrome, and her parents' intense efforts to persuade the district to enroll Emily for her senior year, and let her graduate with her class. The change will affect students whether they are special-needs or are not. Policy 2050 had barred any student who turned 19 before Sept. 10 from enrolling in school. The new policy changes 19 to 20, and allows for students meeting certain special-needs criteria to enroll, provided they do not turn 21 before the Sept. 10 deadline. Pennington is 18 years old and turns 19 in July. The policy will be read a second time at the regular board meeting on April 18 and the members will vote on it again.

Bozeman High graduate organizes fundraiser, raffle to benefit food bank program
A fundraiser and raffle organized by a recent Bozeman High School graduate aims to raise money and awareness around food insecurity for students in Gallatin County. The fundraiser is organized by the Bozeman Schools Foundation, with gift card baskets being raffled off online and Urban Kitchen donating a portion of its sales to a program that feeds students when they're not in school. Nina Romano, 18, graduated from Bozeman High School a semester early in January, and has spent the last few months interning with the Bozeman Schools Foundation. Romano, whose parents Joe and Megan own Nina's Tacos and Urban Kitchen, organized the fundraiser and raffle to benefit the KidsPack program.

PEO program helps Polson girls reach educational goals
P.E.O. Chapter CA, Polson, presented its Ready? Set-Goals! program to Polson's eighth-grade girls March 17 at the Polson Middle School. RSG is a program designed specifically to assist today's young women in preparing for their future educational goals. There were 20 girls in attendance along with their parents. The students who attended were Innocent Arnold, Becca Robertson, Mara Ramirez, Alexia Wilson, Lilly Brush, Grace Brush, Vivian Grainey, Phoenix Schreckendgust, Aria Tyler, Lauren Rauch, Madison Lake, Josie Henriksen, Ariella Mihara, Violet Humble, Carissa Fanning, Liliana Ramos, Juliett Boen, Elyanna Crego, Aniya Rosenbrock and Abagail Lei. Throughout the program, the students were encouraged to start early by staying organized, writing everything down and tracking all their community service and extra-curricular activities. A three-ring binder was presented to each student as a tool to hold all transcripts, essays and awards. When it comes time to fill out job, military, college or scholarship applications, the information will be organized and readily available. Another part of the program explained different aspects of P.E.O. loans, grants and scholarships available to women. Information was provided on Cottey College, a fully accredited four-year independent liberal arts and sciences college for women offering baccalaureate and associate degrees. Located in Nevada, Missouri, it has been owned by the P.E.O. Sisterhood since 1927.

Billings students pitching engineering projects to NASA in Houston
Houston, we have a solution. Four teams of students have engineered projects at the Billings Career Center that were chosen by NASA to potentially use on the moon or in the international Space Station. Students will travel to Houston in April. The class competed with upwards of 250 teams and 100 schools that worked on the same assignments, in the category of design and prototyping. Teams in Eric Anderson's aerospace engineering class chose from 10 assignments, via the High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware program. Two teams were also semi-finalists. "I was super happy and I immediately called my mom and told her," said Barbara McGregor, a senior. Her group engineered lunar shoes. McGregor's team began half-joking as they built their prototype about "going to Houston," McGregor said. "As we got closer we realized we were doing really well and that we might actually have a chance." 

Safety first: Elementary school parents increase crosswalk presence
Parents and staff at Hawthorne Elementary School are stepping up their presence at the school's crossing walks after a crossing guard was hit by a car earlier this spring. Parent volunteers are paired with trained staff members and stationed at the street crossings near the school along North Rouse Avenue, East Lamme and East Mendenhall streets, according to school officials. Peter Brown, a parent at Hawthorne Elementary School, said the effort began shortly after the crossing guard was hit. The instance happened a week or so before spring break, according to Brown. School officials said they couldn't comment on the incident due to privacy laws.

OPI honors military children in April
Montana Superintendent of Education Elsie Arntzen and Sergeant Ray Shaw will "Purple Up! For Military Kids" on April 12. Since 2017, Arntzen has partnered with Montana Military Interstate Children's Compact Commissioner (MIC3) to elevate military-connected children in the celebration of Purple Up! Day. Malmstrom Air Force Base will be hosting an event on April 12 as well, honoring military-connected families, hosting Malmstrom's first Pre-K-12 Education Summit and will be hosting MIC3 for the state of Montana. The summit will have resources, parent information, breakaway sessions and more. The designation of April as the Month of the Military Child acknowledges the significant role military-connected students play in our communities. In 2011, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Military Youth and Family Program started the "Purple Up! for Military Kids" as a visible way to thank military youth for their strength and sacrifice. Purple represents joint service operations and is a combination of Army green, Marine Corps red, and Coast Guard, Air Force, and Navy blue.

Flathead county students rack up ribbons at the Montana Science Fair
Budding scientists represented Flathead County well at the state science fair in Missoula with Flathead High School's Kenna Anderson qualifying for one of two spots to compete at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair. At state, Anderson's science project, The Effect of Ocean Acidification on Carbon Sequestration by Nannochloropsis, won the Larry Fauque second-place award, the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and a gold ribbon in the environmental sciences category.


March 2022 GREAT NEWS

High school graduates awarded the Youth Serve Montana Scholarship
The Governor's Office of Community Service (ServeMontana), Reach Higher Montana, and Montana Campus Compact (MTCC) are pleased to announce 83 Montana high school seniors have been awarded a $1,200 Youth Serve Montana Scholarship.

Donation-based dress shopping fundraiser aims to make prom more affordable
Bozeman, Gallatin and Belgrade high school students looking for a prom dress can attend a donation-based shopping event on Saturday. The event, held at Bozeman High School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be an opportunity for students to browse dresses, enter a raffle and leave with a gently worn prom dress of their own. While cash donations will be accepted for the dresses, they're not required. Any money collected will be split between the Bozeman Schools Foundation and Montana Outdoor Science School. "Prom is so expensive all the way around - the dress, the shoes, the dinners," said Carol Simpson, one of the organizers of the event. "I'd like to see more girls go who might not have gone since it's an expensive day. If we can take some pressure off, let's do it."

Havre's Leadership High School class graduates
Leadership High School at Havre High School returned this year after stopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, with the Class of 2022 graduating in a ceremony at Montana State University-Northern this year. This year's class was Havre High School students Kenny Shellenberger, Lane Kinsella, Conner McKay, Allie Messinger, Maddie Thomas, Ali Maloughney, Hannah Gingery, Sofia Dawson, Abigail Adams, Scott Woods, Kate Hemmer and Courtney Burchard. Havre Superintendent Craig Mueller addressed the class at the ceremony Tuesday in the Student Union Building Ballroom, as did Chancellor Greg Kegel.

Chisholm finds spelling bee success
While many people rely on their computer's spell-check feature, there is one local student who needs no such help. Last weekend, Teagan Chisholm became the second student in the history of Whitefish Middle School to compete in the Treasure State Spelling Bee in Bozeman. It had been eight years since a WMS student reached this level of excellence. "I'm just super proud of her, she represented us well," WMS Principal Josh Branstetter said, beaming. Only the top 60 spellers from grades fourth through eighth qualified for the 57th annual State Spelling Bee in Bozeman. The state competition was held in-person for the first time since 2019 due to the pandemic. Students who advance at this level qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. Chisholm earned her spot at the event by winning the WMS spelling bee then winning the Flathead County Spelling Bee which was online this year. "She was the top scorer in the county for the online test," Branstetter said.

Middle school mathlete earns trip to nationals
Take the top 80-plus math students in the state, add two rounds of problem-solving until 10 remain; use a speed round to subtract one every few minutes until four students are left. Among those top-four students in the recent Montana MathCounts competition was Whitefish Middle School sixth-grader Holden Hadidi who next will be heading to the national competition in Washington D.C. in May. Hadidi qualified for nationals when finished third in a field of 88 competitors at the state competition in Butte last week. He was tied for first place going into the last round. "Holden is a sixth-grader that is taking the advanced seventh-grade math," WMS Principal Josh Branstetter said with pride. Hadidi said he's always enjoyed mathematics and he is eager to learn new things. "I always liked doing math. When I was younger I would look at our math books and I'd go to the back (of the book) and they had all these extra problems and I was like, 'Yeah, I get to try to solve these,'" Holden said.

Breaking the stigma: Students strive to prevent teen suicide through peer advocacy
Overwhelmed. That is the top word students recently surveyed at Whitefish High School used to describe how they were feeling emotionally. Next up were the words tired and mediocre. Over 80% of the students surveyed also said they felt there was a negative association with mental health in the school and community; only a quarter of the students felt they would be comfortable seeing a school counselor. Using the survey data as a springboard, two Whitefish students recently launched a project that is working on reducing the stigma, and will hopefully open more conversations about mental health and youth suicide. High school freshmen and longtime friends Zoey Marzo and Lauren Rossi paired up to co-create the campaign titled Bulldogs United. Both had interest in supporting other students and helping address an apparent and devastating issue of youth suicide in the Flathead Valley. "What really got us started was the suicide cluster that our valley was hit with," Marzo said, referring to multiple teen suicides that occurred in the Flathead last fall. "It was a big thing that hit us emotionally."

Three Forks FCCLA Attends State Leadership Conference
At the 75th FCCLA Montana Leadership Conference held on the MSU campus March 17th and 18th.   The Three Forks High School Traffic Safety Team received first place and $2500 award for their project, Slow Your Roll. They worked to organize cone week to educate their peers about traffic safety in a variety of ways.  Three Forks Middle School received an Honorable Mention and $1000 for their Project Walk Like a Wolf project. Their project focused on teaching Three Forks Elementary students how to safely cross the street. They painted red and white paw prints in the cross walks to draw attention to the crosswalks.  The awards are part of a program sponsored by the Montana Department of Transportation, Montana FCCLA and Ford Driving Skills for Life. Schools from across Montana received funding in October to carry out their individual traffic safety projects, each school submitted a report at the conclusion of the project and awards were announced at the FCCLA State Leadership Conference this past week in Bozeman. 

Trout Creek speller places 16th at state
Trout Creek seventh grader Gavin Todd finished in 16th place out of 60 spellers in the Treasure State Bee earlier this month. Todd advanced to the state bee after winning the Sanders County Spelling Bee on March 4. "My goal was not to get out in the first round," Todd said. He achieved that, and made it through round six before being eliminated on the word penitentiary. "I studied a lot and spelling in something I'm better at," he added. Todd said the state spelling bee was intimidating. "At first I was nervous and then as the rounds progressed I got used to it." He said he kept his nerves down by spelling other competitors' words in his head while they were competing. "Everyone was nervous," he noted. He also added that when it was his turn to spell a word, he would visualize the word, spell it out in his head, and then spell it for the four judges. The Treasure State Bee was held in an auditorium on the campus of Montana State University of Bozeman. "It was pretty fun," Todd said. He is originally from Mississippi and said his school was much larger there. He likes the smaller classes and school in Trout Creek. 

Stevensville FFA members receive scholarships
It's that time of year for graduating seniors to start making their futures more permanent. Many in the Class of 2022 are laying out the blueprints for their future by securing employment or signing onto colleges and applying for scholarships and aid. For every high school senior, huge decisions are being made right now. For one Stevensville senior, Sydney Kostecki, her future is coming into focus with the help of FFA. Sydney's life has been rooted in agriculture. She enjoys breeding and showing sheep and competing in numerous FFA Career & Leadership Development Events (C/LDEs) such as Veterinary Science, Livestock Evaluation, and Agricultural Education. Throughout her high school career, she has tried her hand in many other FFA C/LDEs, which has shaped her into the person she is today and sparked a passion.

Seeley-Swan students stand out at State BPA Conference
Seeley-Swan High School Business Professionals of America (BPA) Club competed at the State BPA Leadership Conference in Billings March 13 – 15. Five SSHS students joined 91 chapters and over 1,000 top competitors from across Montana. SSHS BPA Advisor Michele Holmes said she is very proud of all the students that attended as well as the team's fourth place finish in Global Marketing and Club President Tru Good's top 20 finish in National Promotional Photography. This is the second year for the SSHS BPA Club. Junior Tru Good has been the president of the Club since its inception.

PHS musician accepted into prestigious choir
Senior Joe Martinez has become, according to his teachers, the first student from Polson High School to be accepted into the All Northwest Jazz Choir. The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) holds auditions for All Northwest every year for choir and every other year for band and orchestra. Students from Montana, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming all audition to see if they have the skill to play in these esteemed ensembles. The Jazz Choir, made up of only about 24 people, is one of the most difficult to get into. His position, Tenor 2, will have only one other person singing the part with him. "The audition process is pretty crazy, but vocally, this one it wasn't as crazy for me. I think I had the upper hand because I started singing with jazz," Martinez said. Growing up, his parents exposed him to a lot of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, as well as jazz singers with big voices. He never took a private lesson for singing, but rather taught himself by listening and copying what he heard. Martinez has a passion for music. From trumpet to drums to guitar, he's excelled musically throughout his school years. Rich Sawyer, the Polson High band teacher who had Martinez in his class for trumpet back in the sixth grade, has seen him progress.

Hardin Middle School raises funds for teachers diagnosed with cancer
The Hardin Middle School raised $719 for three of its teachers diagnosed with cancer by giving students the chance to throw pies at their instructors on International Pie Day, 3/14.Four middle school teachers decided to get their heads shaved in solidarity with their co-workers with cancer.

Valley County Students Participate In State BPA
The Glasgow Scotties and the Opheim Vikings participated in State Business Professionals of American (BPA) in Billings March 13 and 14, representing their schools and community. Two Opheim students, Cole Taylor and Carrie Taylor, and eight Glasgow students, Dalton Sand, Mitchell Winchester, Tanner White, Eli Feezell, Blaire Westby, Raelee Dowden, Alesia Hopstad and Kate Parks, all qualified for Nationals in Dallas, Texas, May 4 through 8. These students qualified based on their participation, service and awards they have earned. However, other students who participated at the State level could still qualify for Nationals due to being runner-ups in their events or finishing award processes.

Shelby FFA earns second place and chance to compete at state
The months of February and March are hectic times for students and teachers: winter sports are in full swing, student organizations are preparing for contests and conferences, prom, school plays, spelling bees, spring sports are not too far on the horizon and the taste of summer freedom is within sight.  One such contest recently hosted by the Shelby FFA was the Glacier District Agricultural Technology & Mechanical Systems (ATMS) Career Development Event (CDE). The Glacier District is composed of 13 schools from as far south as Cascade to the northern reaches of Sunburst. The contest consisted of a comprehensive test, masonry, electrical, small engines, welding and heavy equipment. Nearly 50 students competed in the CDE. Leading agribusinesses such as Torgerson's, LLC. and General Distributing Co. provided judges and prizes, while local volunteers like Roy Benjamin, Chris Roberts and FFA advisors served as judges for the contest too. The Shelby FFA finished near the top of the heap and has qualified for the state competition which will be held in Bozeman in late March. Aidan Torgerson, Kolby Lohr, Taylor Parsons and Dylan Mulvaney placed second. As individuals, Aidan placed second, Dylan third, Taylor seventh and Kolby 11th. The top three teams were Fairfield, Shelby and Dutton/Brady. The top individual was Nolan Forseth of Fairfield.

The Fabulous World of Penguins
Choteau Elemenatry School second graders presented their Fabulous World of Penguins projects to elementary teachers, students and community members in the elementary gym on March 16. The students studied 17 species of penguins and created posters, art and research papers.

CHS raising "Change for Children" in Ukraine
Students at Corvallis High School are raising funds for Ukraine with "Change for Children" a three-week coin challenge, as a way to help students on the other side of the world. Educator Laura Carrasco said student leaders from many groups and many grades spontaneously joined together for the effort. "I think when the war began a few weeks ago a couple of teachers and students showed alarm and were super concerned," Carrasco. "Even in my class the day it started, every single class asked, 'What does this mean?' 'Why is this happening?' It's on social media and kids are on social media so they are very aware of what is going on over there." She said since her students were scared and worried, she talked with them about the humanitarian crisis that is coming out of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where lives are disrupted and over two million women and children have fled the country. "We felt as teachers, we needed to give kids an avenue to help," Carrasco said. "This is one of those teachable moments. There is something you can do to help people, even if they are on the other side of the globe. I think that makes kids feel they are more in control over situations.

BSSD enrolling students for early kindergarten program
In response to community need, the Big Sky School District will offer a new early kindergarten, or 4K, program for the coming school year. The school is currently advertising enrollment in the program. This program, made possible by BSSD school board's new policy 3100, will allow the district to enroll 20 4-year-olds. The policy, adopted by the BSSD Board of Trustees on Jan. 11, allows the school to enroll the younger children under exceptional circumstances and still collect full government funding for those students. Montana is one of six states without a publicly funded pre-Kindergarten program. Recent attempts in the state Legislature to implement such a service have failed, but Montana law allows schools to enroll students under 5 if there are "exceptional circumstances." The model policy provided by the Montana School Boards Association gives state school districts guidance when establishing early childhood education enrollment. According to public records, approximately 90 districts have adopted this policy. In the BSSD school board's policy 3100, exceptional circumstances include a public health emergency or other community disaster; the absence of available early childhood education opportunities in the community leading to learning loss; a disparity of access to early childhood education caused by the cost-prohibitive nature; and if improved access to early childhood education opportunities in the community will expand parent entry into the workforce. School board trustee Stacy Ossorio called the new program a great initiative.

Helena speech and debate students raising funds for national contest
Helena High School and Capital High School speech and debate students are raising money to send five students to the national competition in Kentucky this June. According to HHS coach Jen Hermanson, because speech and debate is an individual competition, it's different than something like football, which makes HHS and CHS competitors. She said students from each school may compete with each other, but they can also support each other. Hermanson and CHS coach J.W. McClintic work together regularly when coaching their students. "We ride in the same bus, cheer for each other at competitions," Hermanson said. "We have gone from being this 'Helena' team to representing Montana at this point." This year, two HHS students and three CHS students are attempting to raise money to go to the national competition. The competition is set for June 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, and will be the first in-person competition since 2019. Two of the five compete on the debate side and three compete in speech. Loreley Drees, Brennan Jensen, Olivia Davidson, Katrina Steinhoff and Layla Riggs are all working hard to raise money through various methods so they can travel to the competition. Hermanson said it's the students who make it happen.

'Unreserved' program helps St. Ignatius students connect
St. Ignatius high school students recently found that there is so much more to their fellow students than they knew. Art and Spanish teacher Caitlin Shelman organized the "Unreserved" event with help from the school's Salish and Native Studies teachers, Adele Martin and Aspen Decker. "The Unreserved Project brings diverse groups of students together across Montana, and our school is a super diverse school," Shelman said. "It helps them find out what shared experiences they have, and hopefully develop more understanding and empathy for each other." The day began with games, and learning about Salish traditions. Martin and Decker taught the students about the circle that represents the "Seasonal Round," a circle traditionally symbolizing the annual cycles of life, movements and activities by season, Shelman said. The students also learned about Plains sign language and played a game centered around the buffalo hunt. Students later gathered in groups of six or so, at tables filled with art supplies and Chromebooks for accessing photos or other items they wanted to feature in their artwork. Each was given a circle with four quadrants - Heritage, Hurdle, Hope and Happiness - to help them describe or explore their past, present and future.

New program aimed to set up at-risk teens and young adults up for success
The Missoula Public Library's Families First Learning is looking to create a new program to connect at-risk teens and young adults with mentors to guide them in the next steps of their lives. Dream Bigger will provide a dedicated space geared towards setting our peers up for success, something organizers tell me is essential for a brighter future. "Truly the only way the communities get better is from the ground up. We need these kids to be involved in the community, we need more people with boots on the ground really trying to make Missoula a better place," said Cody Meyer, Family Education Director. The three-month summer program will help young people learn more about themselves, gain experience with business professionals, and apply those skills as they head into the workforce or higher education of their choosing. Program coordinators hope this opens the door for endless opportunities as they help mentees turn their dreams into reality. "I'm really excited to see what it looks like when its actually happening and get those real people in the classroom, get those experiences. To actually see kids actually go out and job shadow and kind of an internship that maybe wouldn't have been able to do," said Meyer.

Box Elder students to assist marine biologists in Mexico this month
Eight Box Elder School juniors and seniors will find themselves flying to Baja Mexico in two weeks to participate in a seven-day Marine Science Program where they will assist a pair of local biologist, an opportunity students and teachers are excited to participate in. The trip was organized by Box Elder teachers Connie Reichelt and Kelsey Miller through the Ecology Project International, a field science and conservation organization that partners scientists with local and international students and educators in environments like the Galapagos, Costa Rica, Belize, Hawaii and Yellowstone, as well as Baja Mexico. Reichelt said over the summer she had the opportunity to go to the Galapagos and in the past students were able to go to Costa Rica as part of a Spanish language program. This year, however, it is science's turn, and students say they're excited to go. Jonaye Doney said she was most looking forward to seeing the reef and animals they would be working with and other students said they were excited to see new ocean life. However, others said they were interested in the opportunity just to see a new place. Tianna Cochran said she was happy just to travel to a new country and see new people.

Corvallis High Hunger Games project collects 7,573 lbs. of food for donation
In the 10th year of the Hunger Games project at Corvallis High School, students broke the record for gathering the most food and donating it to the Haven House Food Pantry on Wednesday. The project is part of freshman English classes taught by CHS educator Suzy Schrader, where the students read the book "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. It is a cross-curricular unit combining counseling, PE, health and English. "We try to get as many parts of life and education incorporated," Schrader said. "One of the things in the book is we see the impact of hunger on these characters and how they cannot function without food. We talk about real-life problems and how food insecurity is something that happens in our own country, as wealthy as we are." Schrader said some of her students are unaware there is a food bank in Hamilton while others use it regularly. They also talk about the Backpack Program in the school, where food is sent home on weekends to meet hunger needs.

Hellgate Elementary Mechanical Maniacs prepare for worlds robotics competition
In a cafeteria at Hellgate Elementary School, nine students cheered while watching their robot steadily hum across their lunch table, tracing black lines leading it to and from missions. Their Mechanical Maniacs team recently won the Montana State Robotics Championships in Bozeman. Now they prepare for the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Houston next month. "We put a lot of work into it and a lot of hours and it just feels really rewarding to have it be paid off now," said Adalyn Maxwell, Mechanical Maniacs team captain and an eighth-grader at Hellgate Elementary.  "We were all expecting to do well after all the work we had put in, but we were pretty excited to know that we had won the state championship." This is the first time a Hellgate Elementary robotics team has qualified for Worlds under their head coach Jordan Capp, a fifth-grade teacher. The last time a Hellgate team made the competition was in 2014.

Corvallis FFA students give presentation to Senator Steve Daines
Corvallis High School FFA members presented a drama about the pros and cons of the Wildfire Emergency Act of 2021 via Zoom with U.S. Senator Steve Daines on Tuesday. The students spent an intense month selecting the topic, reading the 53-page bill, visiting with groups representing different sides, then summarizing and writing the information into a 15-minute town hall drama, Corvallis educator Neela Andres said. The effort is part of a nationwide FFA contest called "Agriculture Issues Forum." "We're good at it," Andres said. "I've been a teacher for four years and we've gone to nationals twice. Last year we got in the top 16 in the nation."

Students qualify for geo bees
Kalispell Middle School's Griffin Ingersoll was named the sixth-grade Montana Geography Bee champion Sunday at the University of Montana. Kalispell Middle School sixth-grader Oliver Casey placed third. In the seventh-grade division, Whitefish Middle School student David Lossee was the state runner up. The students qualify to compete at national and international competitions organized by International Academic Competitions. Finalists also qualifying to compete at both levels are, in the sixth-grade division, Szonja Czinner and Ty Vandervelden; in the seventh-grade division, Mac Colley and Spencer Lee; and in the eighth-grade division, Mitchell Johnson and Sam Syverson. They were among 41 competitors, which was narrowed down from 1,500 Montana students who took qualifying exams, according to a press release. 

Glacier High alum committed to criminal justice reform
Glacier High School 2018 graduate Abigail Roston is pursuing her education with excellence, guided by her faith in pursuit of criminal justice reform. The 2021 Truman Scholar recipient and Rhodes Scholar finalist (two highly competitive national scholarship programs) is completing a double major in legal studies and American history with a minor in data science at Northwestern University in Illinois, where she is a Leopold Fellow conducting historical research with a professor for an upcoming book. She is currently planning to become a public interest lawyer with an emphasis on constitutional litigation with a focus on criminal justice reform and juvenile justice reform. Growing up around lawyers, over time, Roston came to embrace the idea of becoming an attorney. It wasn't until her senior year of high school in 2018 that she discovered her passion for criminal justice reform while competing on the Legislative Debate team.

'Location for education': Yellowstone's school shows unique park history
Schooling in the nation's first national park has taken on different forms for the last 150 years. From soldiers as teachers to a permanent building in the 1960s, the history of schooling in Mammoth gives a snapshot of Yellowstone National Park.

Montana middle-schoolers can enter wildlife film fest art contest
Montana middle-schoolers are sought for a project that covers wildlife and visual storytelling. The International Wildlife Film Festival, the "Endangered: Short Tales For The Nearly Forgotten" podcast, and the University of Montana's Broader Impacts Group are celebrating Earth Day and the 45th International Wildlife Film Festival by offering a storyboarding art contest for middle school students. Winning student storyboards will be exhibited at the festival in the Missoula Public Library at spectrUM Discovery Area from April 22-May 7. Winners will also receive IWFF passes, spectrUM memberships, and cash prizes. Storyboard art should be submitted by March 25.

Target Range middle school students partner with writing coaches for research papers
For the last two years, middle school students at Target Range have gotten extra help on their papers from volunteers with the Writing Coaches of Montana. Jennie Belcourt's eighth graders recently met with coaches to help them write argument research papers, where topics range from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to why shot clocks should be used in high school basketball. "As a teacher with 20 kids in a classroom, you can't conference with every kid, every day, and so kids slip through the cracks and you miss it," Belcourt said. "So to be able to collaborate where the kids get one-on-one with a coach who's looking at it from a different point of view, different eyes than their teacher … is phenomenal for these kids," she continued. On Tuesday, nearly 60 students cycled between 17 coaches for 20-minute individual sessions to get tips on grammar, structure, audience and everything in between. Avery Omlid met with his coach in the morning to work on his paper that argued for the use of shot clocks in high school basketball in Montana. It was the second time he'd met with a writing coach for his English class.

New MAPS Media Lab director looks forward to changing lives
As a child, Craig Falcon remembers days he felt punished as he spent long hours with his grandparents learning about tribal culture. He had been chosen as Mini Poka (pronounced Mena Boga) - the special child. "It is a tradition where grandparents raise their grandchild and give them every bit of knowledge they had of that tribe," Falcon said. "There was a lot of discipline. As a kid, I thought I was being punished when I looked outside and saw others playing." "I was given a wealth of knowledge," said the 57-year-old Blackfeet and Aaniiih. "I cherish it today. It has brought a lot of blessings into my life." And starting this year, Falcon will use those blessings to help young Native artists learn skills that could take them to places they never imagined. Falcon recently joined the Bitterroot-based MAPS Media Institute as its new Media Lab director. For decades, the nonprofit has worked to empower, inspire and prepare future generations for success through professional media arts instruction. From its beginnings in Hamilton, the MAPS Media Lab has become a statewide outreach program that teaches film, design, technology and music production to Montana students living in rural and Native communities. It provides professional instruction that opens up doors for young people to bring their own stories to life.

Flathead High students medal at regional science fair
Three inquiring minds from Flathead High School won awards at the Montana Tech Regional Science and Engineering Fair in Butte. Grades ninth through 12th competed March 3. They are sophomores Dyson Linden and Keanu Ng and junior Kenna Anderson. The trio also won special awards. Anderson's project titled the Effect of Ocean Acidification on Carbon Sequestration by Nannochloropsis earned a silver medal in the Environmental Sciences category. She also received the Stockholm Junior Regional Water Prize and awards from the Office of Naval Research, American Meteorological Society and Association for Women Geoscientists. Ng earned a bronze medal for his Environmental Sciences project titled The Effect of Wildfire Ash on the Growth of Algae. He also received the Stockholm Junior Regional Water Prize in addition to awards from the American Meteorological Society and Big Hole River Foundation. In the Physics and Astronomy category, Linden's project titled Spaced Out Music: The Effect of Music on Sound Delay was named the top 10th-grade project at the fair and earned a silver medal. He also received a Montana Technological University Dual Enrollment Program Award. 

Lewis and Clark students sweep elementary division in Geography Bee at UM
Students from Missoula's Lewis and Clark Elementary took the top three spots in the fifth-grade division of the All-Montana Geography Bee on Sunday at the University of Montana. Evan Newcomer, 10, won the elementary level division with 40 points over four rounds. Jude Baty-Zdziebko finished with 37 points in regular tournament play, and Dexter Wing had 21 points. The three then finished 1-2-3 in the championship round. "I find geography a lot of fun, it's easy to me sometimes," Newcomer said. "When I passed the qualifying exam at my school my mom helped quiz me. I studied for like three days straight." The opening ceremony for the Geo Bee was at Urey Lecture Hall. The 41 participating students were then divided by grade level to compete in four preliminary rounds. Fifth- and sixth-graders were quizzed on 25 geography questions per round. Seventh- and eighth-graders were quizzed on 30. Students received one point per correct answer, and needed six points to complete a round.

Hillcrest student represents Silver Bow County in Treasure State Spelling Bee
Hillcrest Elementary sixth-grader Indro Pramanik was the sole representative for Butte-Silver Bow at the 57th Annual Treasure State Spelling Bee Saturday at Montana State University in Bozeman. Pramanik competed against 56 other Montana fourth- through eighth-graders in Ballroom A of MSU's Strand Union Strand Union Building, who won out of a pool of 48,000 potential spellers, said Gallatin Superintendent of Schools Matthew Henry, who introduced the event. Pramanik got out in the fourth round on the word "axiomatic" after successfully spelling the words "postural," "tai-chi" and "dissipate." His father, Brahmananda Pramanik, said that his son knows lots of words and is good at spelling because he loves to read. "He says reading books is playing with words and making them friends," Brahmananda Pramanik said of his son. The bee was held in Bozeman after being held in Billings for 10 years. It was originally supposed to be held in 2020, but was canceled due to COVID-19. The 2021 Treasure State Spelling Bee was held online as a proctored test.

Havre High names students of the month
Taylor Ball is a Havre High School Student of the Month for February. She is the daughter of Shawn and Megan Ball and has one sister, Hailey. Taylor is a sophomore who is active in volleyball, softball, Key Club and basketball as a manager. Heather Haney, who nominated Taylor, said she is "an exceptional young woman. I have had the pleasure of teaching her for the past two years and it has been a joy to have her in the classroom. Her work is always wonderfully done, she is a great critical thinker and she's always got a smile on her face. Taylor's hard work and dedication extend past the classroom and into extracurricular activities as well. Taylor has been an active member of Key Club and is currently serving as the secretary. Her monthly reports are done accurately and always on time. One can always count on Taylor to offer a smile and a word of encouragement to others; and her kindness and compassion are extraordinary for someone her age. Thank you, Taylor, for your incredible work ethic, positive attitude, and genuine kindness."

Missoula County eighth-grader wins 57th annual Treasure State Spelling Bee in Bozeman
Ellette Whitcomb, an eighth-grader from Sussex School in Missoula County, won the 57th Treasure State Spelling Bee held at Montana State University on Saturday. Whitcomb was announced as the winner after she correctly spelled the words "phlebotomy," "integument" and "phosphorescent" in the final rounds of the bee. It is one of the longest-running academic competitions in the state, and it draws students grades 4 through 8 from private schools, public schools and homeschools around the state. In a few months, Whitcomb will head to Washington D.C. to represent Montana during the Scripps National Spelling Bee, held May 29 through June 30. She and other competitors from around the country will have a shot at winning $50,000 at the bee in National Harbor, Maryland.

University of Montana to host the All-Montana Geography Bee
Missoula elementary and middle schoolers will be among dozens of other Montana students to compete in the All-Montana Geography Bee on Sunday at the University of Montana. As many as 100 Montana students, in fourth through eighth grades, who qualified are expected to compete in the geography quiz competition from 9:15 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. Sarah Halvorson, a geography professor at UM and coordinator of the Geography Bee, predicted as many as 1,000 students have taken the 50-question qualifying exam. The youngest participants will be fourth graders. "I was thinking, well aren't they kind of young? Apparently not," Halvorson said. "There are some kids who are total whizzes in geography at a very young age." The daylong event is one of many regional academic bees going on nationwide between February and May, according to David Madden, the founder and co-executive director of International Academic Competitions.

Gianforte Tours Whitehall High School CTE Programs
Meeting with students at Whitehall High School on Friday, March 4, 2022, Governor Greg Gianforte promoted the importance of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in empowering students with in-demand skills and providing a highly-skilled, highly-qualified workforce for Montana. "Everybody wins when Montana schools, like Whitehall High School, offer personalized work-based learning paths for students to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow," Gov. Gianforte said. "We will continue to promote CTE, trades education, and apprenticeship opportunities to empower Montanans with the skills needed to thrive in good-paying Montana jobs and build a stronger workforce."

Trout Creek students take first, second in bee
The courthouse in Thompson Falls was buzzing last Friday as students from around the county gathered to compete in the 35th Annual Sanders County Spelling Bee. First Security Bank and The Sanders County Ledger have both sponsored the spelling bee for the last 35 years. "We are very proud of this tradition," said Sanders County Ledger Publisher Annie Wooden. "The Ledger and First Security Bank have been the longest private sponsors for any spelling bee in the state." With standing room only, friends and family members watched 16 spellers compete for first place. After spellers went through a practice round to familiarize themselves with the process, the spelling bee officially started. After the third round, the spelling bee was down to seven students and after the fourth round, the bee was down to the last two spellers.

2022 McKenzie County Spelling Bee Results
After a year hiatus, due to COVD-19, McKenzie County resumed it's annual spelling bee under the direction of Carol Kieson, McKenzie County Supt. of Schools. The competition was held Wednesday, Feb.23 at Alexander Public School, hosted by Superintendent Leslie Bieber and her staff. County schools that participated were Johnson Corners Christian Academy, Mandaree Public School, Alexander Public School, East Fairview Elementary School, Badlands Elementary, Fox Hills Elementary, and Watford City Middle School. The 2022 State Spelling Bee will be held in Bismarck, March 21 at the Bismarck Event Center.

Arlee student claims county spelling title
Arlee eighth-grader Deja-Nay Little-Marry is this year's Lake County spelling champ. Little-Mary won the county's online spelling bee, which concluded March 4. She will represent the county at the state spelling bee March 12 at Montana State University in Bozeman. As Lake County winner, Little-Mary will receive the first-place trophy, which will be presented to her at her school. The second-place trophy goes to Lyla Wanberg, a seventh grader from St. Ignatius. If Little-Mary is unable to represent Lake County, Wanberg will serve as her replacement. Lake County's third-place trophy goes to Tasker Brown, an eighth-grade student from Charlo.

St. Regis seventh-grader wins county spelling bee
On Feb.28, local students gathered at the St. Regis gymnasium to flex their letter arranging skills during the 2022 Mineral County Spelling Bee. Twenty spellers representing each of the county school districts took turns pronouncing their answers, letter by letter, and word by word. A popular tactic used by many participants was to receive their word, then write it out in their palm using their pointer finger. A bit of a visualization technique. After two rounds the competition was cut down nearly half the contestants. And as spelling bee director Kelsey Clark wrapped up the third set of words, it was apparent only one student was left standing. St. Regis seventh-grader Isaac Desoto looked around the open chairs, did a fist pump, then stepped toward the microphone to receive his championship word. Spatula. It was a stirring moment. Desoto spelled it correctly and won the county spelling bee title, the crowd cheered. But soon, the judges and director recognized during the quick last man standing third round, a second-place speller was yet to be confirmed.

Local artist collaborates with students at Wyola School
The students of the Wyola School eigth grade class got a rare treat when local artist Judd Thompson was invited to the Wyola School to collaborate together with the students on several pieces of art for Native American Week. "Having Mr. Thompson in was a perfect example of what the people in this area can do with their talents," said Wyola Schools Principal Kristy Wright. Thompson also personally donated three paintings to the school, including the pieces that he collaborated on with students. "They had so much fun with them," said Thompson. The students, who collaborated with Thompson to create three paintings for the school, also donated their creations to the school. "It was amazing to see his artwork and how well he worked together with the students and how successful he has become at his craft and it was very enlightening for our students to see," Wright said.

Simms FFA Greenhand Initiation
Simms FFA chapter hosted a Greenhand initiation on January 27th at the School Achievement Day Assembly. The Initiation welcomed 29 first year FFA members into the FFA family. All the students had a good time and received their first FFA degree, the bronze greenhand pin. The chapter used green paint to place handprints on a board to hang in the shop to leave a mark that everyone can see in later generations. he Greenhand FFA Degree is awarded to ninth grade or older members who learn about the FFA history, mission, creed and emblem and make plans for an SAE. By completing the initiation members are committing to new learning opportunities in agriculture and leadership through the FFA.

New dual enrollment partnership offers Frenchtown students college credit
Students in Frenchtown are able to earn college credit before they graduate from high school through a new program through Missoula College. Through the Bronc Fast Track program, 30 students will be able to earn a general studies certificate concurrently with their high school diploma starting next school year during their sophomore year. "We are thrilled about the streamlined nature of this program, which is ultimately an accelerated path to a college degree that will save students time and money while helping to prepare them for the expectations and responsibilities of postsecondary education," said Jake Haynes, principal of Frenchtown High School. Thirty-nine students applied for 30 available slots for the first class. Frenchtown High School counselor Beth Terzo was excited to see how many students were interested in even applying, she said. "I was already planning on taking most of the classes required for the program, and if I can save time and money and get my first year of college out of the way it was like a win-win," said Maya Skinner, a Frenchtown freshman who was recently admitted into the program. 

Lockwood High students help run the school as part of new education program
The Lockwood school district is paying nearly 10% of its high school student body to help teachers and staff on campus. As part of the newly formed alternative education program, 37 students aged freshmen and above are serving as aides for younger students, helping in classrooms, shelving books in the library, and supervising in the cafeteria and at recess. This is in addition to a new internship program and other creative ideas the school is trying in order to benefit students and address teacher shortages. "There is a growing trend, especially in communities with specific needs, to have alternative education programs," said Coul Hill, director of the program. "Not all districts do. You'll find it in more urban schools. You'll find it in places where you have more at-risk students, basically the concept being that there's an alternative path to successful graduation and post-secondary work and school experience."

Bitterroot nursing students take part in medical simulation training
Students studying to become licensed practical nurses (LPN) through Bitterroot College experienced hands-on medical simulation training last week to help them experience stress and learn the training lessons. The Simulation in Motion - Montana (SIM-MT) vehicle was parked on Main Street next to the college. Inside, one end was set up as an Emergency Room in a rural hospital with a "patient" on a gurney and the basic tools medical responders need for diagnosis and treatment. Lee Roberts, program manager for SIM-MT, described the scenario and what the nursing students could expect. "We try to create as realistic of a scenario as we can for you," Roberts said. "We try to make it somewhat challenging to your scope, level, skills, knowledge and attitudes, everything that you bring with you as a caregiver."

Small Science Fair has a big impact at Hamilton Middle School
Hamilton Middle School held its Science Fair last week and the project displays will be up for viewing during the first day of parent/teacher conferences in the multi-purpose room on March 8. HMS Principal Marline Lewis said the Science Fair was "pared down" this year due to difficulty in finding judges. He said the process this year was that all eighth-grade students selected science topics, researched, and presented their findings in their classes. Teachers chose the top 20 and then a panel of six expert judges selected the top five. The event was small, just taking up one side of the top floor in the gym, compared to previous years which have had the entire gym floor filled with displays, close to 200 eighth-grade students, some seventh-grade students (lead by educator Jeremy Barcus) and 25-30 judges.

Chief Charlo students learn Plains Indian Sign Language from fluent Salish speaker
Students at Chief Charlo Elementary recently learned over 20 different signs from Plains Indian Sign Language through an initiative grant impacting education across the Missoula County district and beyond. Aspen Decker visited Jennifer Carlson's class earlier this week to share cultural knowledge, history and language with students in the fourth-grade classroom. Decker is one of only a handful of people who can speak Salish fluently. She and her four children are now among the first generation of bilingual speakers of her community in nearly 75 years. More than 200 Indigenous languages in the United States have gone extinct in the last 400 years, according to the Language Conservancy. She was joined by her daughter, Maninłp Xʷełx̣ƛ̓cin, who is the same age as the students in Carlson's class. Maninłp is the great-great-great-grandchild of Chief Charlo.

AA Band Festival one of many events during Youth Art Month in Great Falls
Here in Great Falls, it is Youth Art Month and to celebrate, there are activities and events all month long for everyone to participate in. One of the many events this month is the AA Band Festival hosted by Great Falls Public School at the C.M Russell auditorium, March 7-8 at 7p.m at no cost. Bands from Billings West High and Billings Senior High Capital will be joining our music students from C.M. Russell and Great Falls High for this event. Students will rehearse for two days in two mass band configurations with guest conductors Dr. Travis J. Cross (UCLA) and Dr. Christopher Bianco (Western Washington University), as well as a Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Sigurd Johnson (North Dakota State University). Monday night's concert will feature the individual bands as they play selections for each other, and Tuesday will feature the mass bands and the percussion group under the direction of the guest conductors.

The future of learning in Kalispell Public Schools
What does learning look like when it's personalized for each student? Does school have to be seven hours a day, five days a week; or can objectives be met at a different pace or schedule? Does learning have to take place within the walls of a classroom? Should schools be separated by grade levels, or is there flexibility for accelerated learners? Who should drive learning - the student, teacher and student, teacher alone, or do textbooks and curriculum dictate it? These are some of the questions Kalispell Public Schools will ask as it ventures on a yearslong process with the objective to transform "how school is done." "Maybe you don't have to spend 180 days in a seat to be proficient," said Kalispell Superintendent Micah Hill. "Not everyone is learning at the same time, same place." Helping fund the process are Transformational Learning, Montana Advanced Opportunity and Workforce Development state grants. According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction, "Transformational Learning is defined as a flexible system of pupil-centered learning that is designed to meet the Montana Constitutional mandate of "fully develop[ing] the educational potential of each person." While the questions aren't revolutionary - and there are plenty of schools statewide and throughout the nation "doing school differently" to glean information from - systematic changes, even at a local level, is a hefty task.

Students detail love of country in essay contest
"You need to care about your country because it is a free country," said Noxon sixth grader Jasmin Risch when asked about Americanism. Risch was the third-place winner for the 2021-2022 Sanders County portion of the nationwide Elks Americanism Essay Contest for the fifth and sixth grade division. The contest asked participants to write an essay that speaks to a certain patriotic theme. The theme this year was "What does it mean to love your country?" Risch participated last year and plans to enter again the following year, saying English is one of her favorite subjects. "I didn't think I was going to win, but it felt good," Risch said. According to Jasmin's mother Pacey Risch, "We have a great sense of pride in our country." Pacey was a bridge crew engineer in the U.S. Army and explained that Jasmin saw some of the sacrifices her mother gave both while serving and after. Pacey believes this has contributed to her daughter's sense of patriotism.

Sidney students advance to state level in Math Counts competition
A group of about ten 7th and 8th-grade Middle schoolers competed in the MathCounts online competition for the Eastern Chapter on Feb. 17, 2022. The Chapter includes towns such as Glendive, Glasgow, Lustre, Savage, and many others on this side of the State. Math Counts is put on by, a company that is fostering the love of math through projects and problem-solving. Only the top 25% are eligible to move on to the State competition. Sidney Middle School secured three of the seven spots. A big congratulations go to Ave Norby, Morgan Kindopp, and Ethan King for scoring so well on the local Math Counts competition that they have moved on to the state-level competition. The three are set to travel to Butte for the March 7 state competition. Here they will compete to go to Nationals in Washington DC the latter part of May. Best of luck Morgan, Ave, and Ethan - represent Sidney, Montana well.

After 14 rounds, WMS student wins spelling bee with 'plutonomy'
Young students throughout Dawson County gathered together for an epic spell down on Monday to determine who will have the privilege of representing their school and county at the 57th annual Treasure State Spelling Bee. The total of 45 competitors in the 2022 Dawson County Spelling Bee included fifth through eighth grade.

GMS Presents The Little Mermaid
The young thespians of Glasgow Middle School are inviting everyone to come be a part of their world as they create an underwater oasis full of drama, humor, friendship, love, revenge and singing sea creatures as they present The Little Mermaid. Under the direction of Maureen Leech, with assistant director Elizabeth Peters, students from Glasgow's sixth, seventh and eighth grades will share the story written by Hans Christian Anderson and as popularized by the Disney film this week. Addison Jones, a nearly-15-years-old eighth grader, headlines the show as Ariel, daughter of King Triton. The mermaid falls in love with Prince Eric, played by eighth-grader Kyler Whitman, a representative of the human world Ariel longs to be a part of. Caught between the sea and the land Ariel is tempted by Ursula, who convinces the young mermaid to trade her voice for human legs and a brief window of time to earn a kiss from the prince. King Triton, played by eighth-grader Roman Fast, not knowing of the deal but keen to protect his daughter from the ills of the world, sets his loyal crab Sebastian, portrayed loyally by Annika Smith, to keep tabs on his daughter.

Montana State University robotics event gives Twin Bridges team a chance to show their problem-solving
When the Falcon Fire team from Twin Bridges visited Montana State University last Saturday, it marked the culmination of nearly five months of building and programming a robot the junior high students pitted against 35 other teams from around the state. At the annual FIRST Lego League finals tournament, the four team members unleashed their transportation-themed creation on a pool table-sized arena and hope that it completes the pre-assigned missions, such as unloading and moving pieces of cargo, that they've spent hours practicing. The team was also evaluated on their presentation to a panel of judges and their spirit of teamwork. "I love to see the students get excited when something they've worked on for weeks and weeks finally comes together," said coach Jenifer Elser, who teaches math and science at the Twin Bridges Junior High School. "Their perseverance pays off and there are smiles all around." Elser started the program at the school about four years ago during an expansion of the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, curriculum as a way to offer students another after-school activity besides sports and 4-H. "It's a great way for them to practice real-life applications of what they learn in the classroom," said Elser, who volunteers her time for the program. The school provides transportation and computers, but the team raises money to purchase the Lego robotics kits.

German exchange student loves everything about Cut Bank, but the cold temperatures and wind are a 'little bit annoying'
When Mariella Meichsner saw a YouTube video in 2018 showing a teenager close to her age enjoying the foreign exchange student experience, she knew she wanted to do that. At that time, Mariella was a junior in high school and living with her parents and little sister, Lilli, in her hometown of Homberg Efze, Germany. Homberge Efze has a population of approximately 14,000 people and is located in the middle of Germany. In 2021, she started talking to her parents, Michel and Nicole Meichsner, about her dream to be a foreign exchange student. It was kind of a hard sell to her parents, who were not sure it was a good idea. "First, they weren't enthusiastic about the idea because of COVID," Mariella said. "But after many conversations, they finally said yes. I talked to an exchange agency and applied for an exchange program in the United States." Closer to home, William "Curtis" and LeeAnna Alberda, living and working in Cut Bank for the past 10 years, had been tossing the idea around to be a host family for a foreign exchange student.

Columbus 8th grader Grady Olsen is the 2022 Spelling Bee champion. And he had to work for it. Olsen bested a field of 25 spellers last Wednesday, Feb. 23, to win the title on the word "affectionately." In the hunt until the 19th round were 8th grader Quinn Rosser and Park City 8th grader Hayden Fenton. Fenten took second place on the word "oxigynate," said Stillwater Superintendent of Schools John Smith. Olsen will compete in the state Spelling Bee in Bozeman on March 14. The county bee draws the best spellers from each school in Stillwater County. Smith said that this was the first year since 2020 that a full field had competed. "We had a really good bunch of kids," said Smith. 

Montana-made lunch
Choteau Public Schools students on Monday enjoyed a Montana-grown spaghetti and bread sticks lunch. The meal featured a new Montana-crafted food item, Montana Marinara, from Ronan, ground beef from Choteau, carrots from Ennis and flour from Wheat Montana Farms. Choteau Public Schools' head cook Cathy Campbell said she received a flier for the Montana Marinara sauce and decided to put it to use. "I try to use and promote Montana products," Campbell said. For example, Campbell said this is the fourth year she has used beef from Choteau area ranchers in the hot lunch program. Campbell built the menu for Monday's meal using the marinara sauce and adding other Montana products. She created a colorful sign so the students would know where the ingredients from their meal come from. Campbell also talked with each age group as they enjoyed their tasty meal in the school cafeteria, sharing where ingredients were gown.

Indian educators at Billings public schools engage with grandparents raising grandchildren
Native educators in the Billings School District are working to engage with tribal elders, especially grandparents who may be the main caretakers of their grandchildren. Coordinators gathered recently with elders to help them with tasks like checking grades and attendance online, support groups, legal resources, summer camps, college counselors, and housing. "If we can get them engaged at the elementary level, then the junior high level shouldn't be as intimidating, and by high school they will know the ropes," said Josie Brady, an Indian Education coordinator at McKinley elementary and Lewis and Clark middle school. At least 16 grandparents associated with 65 students (some of them have graduated) completed surveys to help organizers continually communicate with them. About 20 kids younger than school age were also present. The session was a similar atmosphere to the monthly, Native family nights.

Belgrade class learns through food bank fundraiser
A Belgrade elementary school class is teaching students math and social skills through a fundraiser for the food bank and a tour of a local grocery store. For the last seven or so years, Michelle Anderson's second grade class at Ridge View Elementary School collects coin donations before taking a class trip to Town & Country Foods to purchase items for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. After collecting donations for the last few weeks, Anderson's class shopped at Town & Country on Wednesday morning before dropping off their donations at the food bank. The project gives students hands-on experience with identifying money, counting, writing thank you cards and shopping in a store. It's designed to start conversations with the students on "being able to think of others and really considering what's a need and what's a want," Anderson said.

Stevensville Scholastic Chess Club hosts MCA tourney March 5
Stevensville Schools and the Montana Chess Association will host a chess tournament on Saturday, March 5, for students in grades 1-12 to give beginner and intermediate chess players a chance to have fun, compete for prizes and exercise their mental skills. This is the fourth edition of the annual tournament that hosts chess players from across western Montana. Organizer Eric Walthall said the tournament is a perfect way for students to try out a chess tournament.  "If you know how the pieces move and the basic rules, you can play," Walthall said. The tournament will be held in Stevensville School Multi-Purpose Room with registration beginning at 9 a.m. Students are divided into three groups based on age and ability.  All students will play five rounds, winning results in playing harder opponents the next round and losing a match means playing opponents closer to your abilities.

'Bringing the world to these kids': 300 students attend Academic WorldQuest at UM
early 300 students from across the state participated in an annual international education conference hosted by the Montana World Affairs Council that featured diplomats and conversations of global understanding. The Academic WorldQuest is a two-day conference organized by the Montana World Affairs Council. The event was offered in a hybrid format this year, with a majority of students participating in events on campus at the University of Montana. Nearly 60 students attended remotely. "I feel like bringing the world to these kids, who maybe haven't had the opportunity to travel yet, gives them maybe not that same experience but a taste of it," said Ryan Cooney, a teacher at the Project for Alternative Learning in Helena who led a group of 12 students to the event this year. "I can see it in their faces, they kind of light up, they get that spark and you can tell that because they have become interested in the world around them," he continued. Cooney has been bringing students to the event for four years now. He was also named the Global Educator of the Year during the conference and received a $500 donation for the purchase of international classroom materials, publications and resources, sponsored by Drs. Edwin and Janet House.

East Helena High launches competitive esports program
For the past two years, East Helena High School has been working on forming an esports team. Though the fledgling program is still going through some growing pains after launching in the fall, EHHS now has varsity and junior varsity esports teams competing in four video games: Valorant, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Halo Infinite and Minecraft survival mode. Games are largely played online with other high schools through the High School Esports League, a national organization that connects esports teams at high schools across the United States. EHHS esports coach Marne Bender, East Valley Middle School's librarian, said the Montana High School Association hasn't yet recognized esports as an official sport, despite professional games being broadcast on ESPN with prize pools up to $40 million. Bender said esports is sanctioned by high school associations in some states, while other states go through the High School Esports League. The HSEL tracks games throughout a season, and teams with more wins than losses end up going to the playoffs, which lead to national championships for each game.

Kraske new HHS principal starting next school year
A familiar face will be taking the helm at Havre High School starting in July. Havre Superintendent Craig Mueller announced this morning that Havre Middle School Principal Dustin Kraske will start as the Havre High principal effective in the next school year. "Mr. Kraske is a leader who has dedicated his professional career to the students, parents, and community of Havre," Mueller said in the release. "Mr. Kraske has shown, as the Principal of Havre Middle School, the ability to form positive relationships with stakeholders, and to work with staff to find solutions to issues with a student-centered mindset. " Kraske had not returned a call asking for comment by print deadline this morning.

'They really put their love into it': Sentinel students taste test 'Montana Marinara'
Students and staff at Sentinel High School were among the first in Missoula to sample the new, homegrown marinara sauce coming to schools across the state. The sauce, referred to as "Montana Marinara," features squash, carrots, onions and more, grown in the state, for a truly tasty product. "It's honestly really good," said Eli Brother, a freshman at Sentinel. "It's just nice to know that everything's being sourced from an actual good source … It's just so nice that it's honestly homegrown by people that love growing stuff," he continued later. "They really put their love into it." Brother was eating lunch with Zane Goicovich, a sophomore, who had packed a lunch from home that day, but said in the future he'd probably opt for the school lunch option knowing that the ingredients were locally sourced. The sauce was featured in two different entree options at lunch on Friday. Ed Christensen, an assistant supervisor for the district's food and nutrition program, also provided samples of the sauce with breadsticks for others to try.

Helena High students craft up take-home experiments for Science Circus
Helena High School's science seminar class has once again crafted up various take-home experiments for the community to enjoy as part of the 37th annual Science Circus. Normally, the Science Circus takes over the gymnasium at Helena High with a variety of wacky experiments demonstrated by students. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the event was canceled in 2020 and shifted to an at-home activity in 2021 and now 2022. Each $10 take-home kit will provide the materials needed for an experiment intended to entertain and teach young kids about science. Participants can make bouncy balls, geodes, star projectors, flower gardens, rock candy or fairy lamps. Each experiment was chosen by teacher Missy Sampson and her students to ensure both entertainment and education. One such experiment involves growing crystal geodes in shells made by the seniors. Seniors Sierrah Paul and Brogan Vranka recently provided a demonstration. "We make the shells and kids grow the crystals which are made of alum," Vranka said. "The colors are mostly to give the kids some fun."


February 2022 GREAT NEWS

Kids gather at Montana State University to compete in annual robotics tournament
Montana students from grades 4 through 8 put their problem-solving skills to the test on Saturday while competing in the annual For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology Lego League finals championship. Thirty-six teams from towns as small as Fort Benton and cities as large as Billings gathered in Montana State University's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering in front of a packed performance theater. The kids took their positions around arenas the size of ping-pong tables. Teams spent months designing and coding Lego robots so they could score high in the matches this spring. After a thumbs-up signal, a 2 minute and 30 second countdown began. The robots circled the small fields to pick up and deliver different forms of cargo. Referees paid attention to how teams demonstrated the spirit of friendly competition. In addition to building and programming Lego robots, teams were tasked with completing a research project and presenting it to a panel of judges. They were supposed to find and solve a real-world problem, keeping this year's CARGO CONNECT transportation theme in mind. "We really like having the opportunity for the kids to come to MSU and see the campus, where they are exposed to engineering in action," said Loribeth Evertz, outreach coordinator for the engineering college and assistant teaching professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering.

FCHS presents the 20th show of Cafe Chocolate on March 5
Florence Carlton High School is producing its 20th show of Cafe Chocolate with two performances on Saturday, March 5. This year's theme is "Back to the 90s" and features the talented FCHS choir and drama students as they perform music and drama from the 1990s. Florence Carlton School Choirs Director Amy Smart said the school didn't have a show last year due to COVID complications. "The kids are so excited and ready to be back at performing because we didn't have it last year," Smart said. "Florence did not offer choir last year [due to the pandemic] so it has been a really long year without music. Last year was supposed to be our 20th-anniversary show but that didn't happen. This year we are making it bigger, and the enthusiasm is huge." 

Havre Middle School names students of the month
Havre Middle School's Sixth-Grade Student of the Month for January is Annabelle Corner. Annabelle is the daughter of Kevin and Carrie Corner. She has two brothers, Dodson and Jackson Corner. At the middle school, Annabelle plays the alto saxophone for the band. Outside of school, she participates in soccer. In her free time, she loves cooking, reading and playing games with her friends. Annabelle is an asset to have in the classroom. She is hardworking and always upbeat. Her personality lights up the school and makes it a great place for everyone. 

Students show off projects at annual countywide science fair
Science students with their project boards filled the Expo Center at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Thursday as students from schools across the county gathered for the annual countywide science fair. Glacier Gateway fifth grader Barrett Maiden said he's never had a speaker to play music, which prompted his idea for his science fair project - a paper plate speaker that projects sound. Edgerton Elementary fifh grader Raelynn Keller's project compared which household cleaning spray would kill bacteria the most effectively. Pledge Multi-Surface Cleaner beat out all other cleaners and disproved her original theory. Edgerton Elementary fourth grader Avery Lacey won the fourth grade biological category with her project "Can Exercise Make Our Bodies Work Better?" She also won a health science award from Logan Health. She said she won at her school last year but wasn't able to attend the county science fair, but returned this year because of her love for science. "I'm doing it again next year because I love science and I love making projects," Lacey said.

Locomotive rebranding
School Board Chair Karen Teeters with Superintendent Linda Filpula show off the new "brand" for the Laurel Locomotives during the official rebranding event Friday. These students were excited to get new tee shirts emblazoned with Laurel Schools' new logo at Friday's unveiling during half-time at the girls' game.

Fundraiser For Finnley Grace At Belt High School Is A Success
Like so many small communities across Montana, the Belt community comes out to help their own. Recently, Belt came out to help the family of Finnley Grace Foster, a young lady that has been fighting one health issue after another. Finnley, whose mom's family - Katie Whitmore, are from Fairfield, also has very strong family ties to the Belt Community. Finnley's grandma, Trudy Whitmore, is a Fairfield resident. The fundraiser, which spanned two days, sought to raise funds for Finnley's family, to help with expenses, such as travel. The events were organized by Belt seniors Ahmia Lords and Raily Gliko.

Choteau sixth graders ski and watch video production
The sixth-grade class from Choteau Public Schools made their long-awaited field trip to Teton Ski Pass Feb. 11 and had an extra bonus of participating in a promotional video. "The ski trip is the talk among the students the whole school year leading up to the day they actually go and then is the whole talk after they go skiing," laughed teacher Karen Crawford. "As you can tell, the traditional ski trip for the sixth graders is a big deal and is one the students look forward to immensely. It just so happened they were making a video that day and some of the students got to watch and some took part in the production, which was fun." Crawford couldn't recall when the school started the annual (when Teton Pass has been operating) ski trip but said she knows it goes back to at least 2003 and maybe longer. 

Choteau High School choir to sing March 7 on PBS
The Choteau High School choir, under the direction of music teacher Lorran Depner, has again participated in the Montana PBS annual "Celebrate America Across Montana" chorale event. The recording of the CHS choir and other participating choirs will air on PBS on March 7 at 7 p.m. Choir members and their families will be invited to view the premier together at the Stage Stop Inn in Choteau at 7 p.m.

'A constant resource': Bozeman Solar Schools Club advocates for solar power
A Bozeman School District club's efforts to get solar panels for a building is moving forward following a presentation to the school board. The Bozeman Solar Schools Club has been raising money for solar panels for Bozeman High School for the last three years and presented solar options to the school board in December. The students outlined two solar array options for the high school, a 50-kilowatt system that would allow it put energy back into the grid and a 200-300 kilowatt system that would essentially allow the school to operate off the grid. "With this resource that literally comes up every single day, why not make the most of it? It doesn't have a negative impact on our ecosystem and it helps it to thrive so why not make the most of a constant resource," junior Olivia Yochim said in an interview. The district already has elementary schools and a middle school using a 50-kilowatt system, according to Miles McGeehan, Bozeman High science teacher and advisor for the solar club. "That's a suitable size for those size buildings but our building is like a small city. There's quite a large energy demand whether its weekend tournaments for basketball or wrestling or football games for Friday night lights," McGeehan said. 

Corvallis choir records performance for Montana PBS, airs March 7
The Corvallis High School Chanteur Choir traveled to the television studios on the campus of Montana State University in Bozeman on President's Day to record a performance that will air on PBS. The show, "Celebrate America Across Montana: Tim Janis with School State Choirs, 2022," will air at 7 p.m. on Monday, March 7, as part of the live pledge event on Montana PBS. CHS Principal Cammie Knap said this was an opportunity for the students that "truly took a village." The choir teacher was unable to attend, she explained, so fellow teacher Shane Gladwin stepped up to chaperone the students. Former CHS orchestra teacher Emily Athman acted as the accompanist and conducted the students in the musical performance.

Billings public schools' first homeless education liaison will retire after 21 years in position
Sue Runkle will retire this spring after 21 years serving homeless students in the Billings school system. Runkle coordinates transportation for students to get to school, makes sure they have school supplies, and tutors students weekly. She registers kids for summer camp, and makes sure they have enough clothes and food. And, she goes out of her way to make students and families happy, according to colleagues. "When I first started, it was just at Washington [elementary] school, so it's expanded a lot," Runkle said. "The federal law had changed and we needed to have a homeless liaison and a homeless program. We didn't quite know what that would look like, so it's kind of developed over the years." Runkle now works with K-12 students throughout the district. The district has served more than 500 students who have experienced homelessness during the school year, Runkle said. Schools count students cumulatively throughout the year, so there aren't necessarily 500 students who are currently receiving services, she explained. 

Quick Pics: Little wins 55th Hill County Spelling Bee by spelling 'filbert'
The 55th Hill County Spelling Bee was held at the Havre Middle School Assembly Room Thursday with Lyvia Little of Havre Middle School taking first place after correctly spelling "filbert" in the final round. The contest went 21 rounds with Little, whose number was 21, winning the final round. Little received a first-place medal and a $50 Chamber gift certificate sponsored by Independence Bank. She will also represent Hill County at the Treasure State Spelling Bee held on the Montana State University campus March 12 in Bozeman.

Valleydictorian Senior Profile: Theodore Garza
Theodore Amos Cordova Garza, Billings West High School, What are your plans after high school? To get a job in the trades, save up money to move out of my family's apartment. To become an independent adult, then buy a house where I can have a family of my own someday. What is your favorite class in school & why? My construction class. It is hands on, and I have learned so much from that class than anything else in school it feels like. I know how to frame, drywall, and roof a house. And I've already earned my OSHA-IO certification card. Who inspires you and why? My culinary teacher Mrs. Gay. She is a high school teacher with a second job and she has health problems. She is a hard worker and kind to everyone of her students. She can be mean when she has to.

Olney-Bissell teacher honored with prestigious presidential award
When President Joe Biden named the most recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching - Olney-Bissell School teacher Shianne Schmidt was among them. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is the highest award kindergarten through 12th-grade math and science - including computer science - teachers can receive from the U.S. government. Schmidt, who currently teaches a combination third- and fourth-grade class at Olney-Bissell. She is in her fifth year at the school and has taught for 10 years in total. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Montana State University. The award honors the commitment science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teachers bring to the classroom to meet the needs of all students. Schmidt was honored for her work teaching math. Schmidt said that commitment encompasses all the passion, training and hard work put into teaching STEM content. "This is one of the greatest honors to be named and be put up there with other teachers who have won," Schmidt said. Honorees each receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, which manages the awards on behalf of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Euphoniums and tubas alternate solemn and big bop sounds
The overhead stage lights of the Seeley-Swan High School auditorium bounced off the bronze cone-shaped bells of seven tubas and five euphoniums Feb. 13 as University of Montana Euphonium and Tuba Consort performed for a crowd of more than 40 people (on Super Bowl Sunday!). According to Conductor Benedict Kirby, a tuba has a five-octave range, starting lower than the sound a piano can play. Its smaller cousin, the euphonium, starts an octave higher and has a four and a half octave range. The low tones are well suited to solemn arrangements such as Franz Biebel's "Ave Maria" played by the Consort with highlights from euphonium soloists Jethro Thorne, Nathan Mayhack and Marshall Softich. Kirby described Biebel's arrangement as "sublime."

A VOICE organization receives $100,000 grant
Local organization A VOICE - Art Vision and Outreach In Community Education - has just received the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) American Rescue Plan Grant to expand their community programs. Offered online by the NEA in December for organizations around the country, the grant is unique in that it allows nonprofits to use the funds for administrative means, helping to both keep the doors open and expand what they can offer. One of only five recipients in the state, A VOICE will receive $100,000 over the course of two years. Director and co-founder David Spear said that, due to their organization's size, support of this type is rare and very welcome. "It's a considerable amount of money for us, and it's also kind of new territory," he stated.

Special delivery: Key Club project benefits local newborns
Polson High School Key Club members have learned that donating funds is a great way to help your community. They also learned there's more you can do. Throughout the school year, the Key Club raises funds to help meet community needs. Through Halloween candy sales, sponsoring the Spree formal dance and other means, they recently were able to donate $330 to the nonprofit Helping Hands of Mission Valley for their ongoing Community Cradle project, which provides baby supplies and bassinet boxes for every baby born at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center. Key Club president Brookelyn Slonaker said the group realized that someone would still need to find and purchase all the items for the boxes and assemble the packages. So they did that, too. "It's one thing to raise money and donate it. It's another thing to then volunteer and see where that money is going," Slonaker said. "It really engaged our members." Key Club advisor Karen Dhuyvetter said the group purchased many of the supplies at Walmart in Polson and ordered special nightgowns online. The packages included onesies, diapers, blankets, hand-knit hats from community donors, a gift card and a certificate for a free postpartum checkup. They assembled 13 full packages, and all extra supplies were left with Jennifer Rolfsness at Helping Hands for future boxes.

Bringing Up Grades With the Kiwanis
The Glasgow Kiwanis Club presented BUG (Bring Up Grades) Certificates to 28 students at the Irle Elementary School recently. Ice cream with toppings was served to them by students from the Glasgow Middle School Builders Club. Charles Wilson and Lisa Koski represented the Kiwanis Club. Those students in the fourth grade who brought up their grades were Bethany Bras, Clair Britzman, Ava Budde, Myracle Henry, Addison Hughes, Quincy Iwen, Olivia Jackson, Harry Murphy, Rueby Nixdorf, Ryker Nixdorf, Lakelyn Olson, Riley Pattison, Walker Sugg and Baden White.

Bucholz wins county spelling bee
Ekalaka eighth grader Braxton Bucholz won the 2022 Carter County Spelling Bee last Friday. Bucholz and Alzada School student Tanner Wright battled back and forth for several minutes before a winner was declared. Hammond School had a strong showing as well, with students taking third, fourth, fifth and sixth. The spelling bee was directed by Tracey Walker with assistance from Tricia Lovec and Lynn Williams. Jerry Cline, Vicki Fix and Mikel Fruit served as judges. Brice Lambert was this year's pronouncer.

Preston takes 1st in county spelling bee
Robert Preston, a seventh grader from Greenfield Elementary School, was the winner of the 2022 Teton County Spelling Bee. Preston's last two words he successfully spelled to win the spelling bee were "paisley" and "cornucopia." Finishing in second place was Choteau seventh grader Natalie Hodgskiss. The top two spellers placed during the spelling bee's fifth round. There were 58 spellers from Choteau, Dutton/Brady, Fairfield, Greenfield and Power elementary schools who qualified for the yearly spelling bee that was held in the Choteau Public Schools auditorium on Feb. 8. There were 34 participants who spelled their word correctly during the first round of competition. That number dwindled by a handful of spellers in the next three rounds. Overall, they spelled 155 words. Teton County Superintendent of Schools Cathy Session congratulated the students on a successful spelling bee and praised them for their hard work in making the bee from their local schools and representing their schools at the county bee. Sessions and Choteau's Superintendent/Elementary Principal Chuck Gameon presented each of the participants with a medal and certificate.

Broadus Elementary Students Spread Kindness
During the month of January, students at Broadus Elementary worked to spread kindness around their homes, school and community. The week of January 24th they participated in a national event called, "The Great Kindness Challenge". According to the website, our students joined over 18 million other children in more than 115 countries this year. Over the past five years, classes have competed against each other to see which class could rack up the most "kind acts" during the week of the GKC. This year, the students worked on this task for most of January.

Big Sandy FFA competes at Districts
District results are finally in. Our JV mechanics team took 1st, with Hunter Moore placing first individually, Quinn Rodewald placing 7th, Darrell Sunchild 9th and Jayton Ophus 15th. Our Varsity mechanics team placed 2nd. Lance Rutledge once again took 1st individually, Cooper Taylor and Christian Winderl both tied for 8th, and Connor Sibra placed 12th. Both our JV and Varsity Agronomy teams placed 3rd. 

East Helena High welding students building pavilion for Camp Rimini
East Helena High School's welding students are hard at work this week building a steel pavilion that will house an exhibit by the Montana Military Museum at historic Camp Rimini. Camp Rimini was established in 1936 and used as a training site for U.S. military "war dogs" from 1942-1945. Museum Director Raymond Read said the project is largely a way to honor the late David Armstrong Jr., a former U.S. Army sled dog trainer and co-founder of Race to the Sky. Armstrong died in April 2021 at the age of 100. Read said the museum has been working with Armstrong's family to put something at the Camp Rimini site that would make Armstrong proud. "He wanted to recognize that site," Read said. "It's just a parking lot right now, so we wanted to put something up there that would have information about what the site was all about." Casey Harris, East Helena High's welding teacher since the school's inception, said his father is part of the Honor Guard in Helena, which is affiliated with the Montana Military Museum. This is how the class became aware of the Camp Rimini project.

Hamilton senior raises funds to bring music to Missoula's Ronald McDonald House
A Hamilton Christian Academy senior is raising funds to purchase musical instruments for Ronald McDonald House residents in Missoula. HCA Senior Lizzy Potts has stayed at a Ronald McDonald House and has organized an online fundraiser to benefit families who stay and hopefully play. Potts said that she has a personal experience of her and her family staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland, Oregon. "While I was there, I enjoyed many different activities that the house hosted," Potts said. "In addition to their main focus, which is to give families of sick children free accommodations, one of the main things I really enjoyed was their music program." The RMH had musical instruments around the house and on Tuesdays and Thursdays brought in instructors with their ukuleles.

Students help Yellowstone National Park with citizen science
Corvallis High School science students completed their ninth trip with the Corvallis Winter Wildlife Program to Yellowstone National Park to work with a wildlife biologist on park research projects. Educators Laura Carrasco and Jeff Kaiser guided the students. "It's an amazing experience for the students," Carrasco said. "I can't express the significant impact it has. We partner with Ecology Project International in Missoula, which is an organization that organizes ecology programs all over the world, engaging students in real research and citizen science." Kaiser agreed with the key educational value and said hands-on leaves an impression. "I'm lucky enough to have students in the classroom and students in the field," Kaiser said. "It's amazing how when you give them the opportunity to be in the field, they retain [what you teach] 10 times better. They get more education from being in the field."

Area robotics teams advance to state
Northwest Montana robotics teams are headed to the Montana FIRST Lego League Challenge and FIRST Tech Challenge state championships. Three FIRST Lego League teams from West Valley School, two teams from Ronan and two from Eureka will compete at the FIRST Lego League championship Feb. 26 at Montana State University in Bozeman. The teams made state after making the top 30 out of 52 teams at the FIRST Lego League Montana State Virtual Qualifier Feb. 5. The RoboScout Squad, made up of members from Girl Scout Troop 3709, will be competing at the FIRST Tech Challenge March 5 in Belgrade. At state, all teams will be tasked with completing missions or objectives centered around the theme of shipping and logistics. The FIRST Lego League Challenge is open to children ages 9 through 14. At this level, students use kits to build and program robots to complete missions. This year, competitors will program robots to navigate a game board, retrieving and delivering cargo to help planes, trains and trucks complete their work within two and a half minutes, according to a press release. Competitors will also present on the process of coding and designing their robots. In a third part of the competition, students research and share solutions to a problem on the season's theme.

Valleydictorian Senior Profile: Parker Werholz
Parker Werholz, Billings West High School, What are your plans after high school? To start my apprenticeship at Mountain Electric of Billings. Taking this accelerated program will motivate me to finish my textbooks quickly and hopefully give me a good head start. After my apprenticeship, I would love to purchase some rental properties by investing in real estate. What is your favorite class in school & why? My favorite class is at the Career Center of Billings. Electrical 1-2 / electronics 1-2 has given me a great idea on what being an electrician is about. My favorite part is wiring the Career Center house along with my classmates.

Big Sky high schooler starts state's first Spanish-language publication
It's not often a teenager decides to start a newspaper. But after eight weeks chronicling the lives of Latinos in Big Sky as a student intern with a local newspaper, Samantha Suazo was hooked. "I wrote about the fears, needs and everyday life of the Latino community," Suazo said. "And after I finished that I realized I couldn't stop there." She dug up stories affecting Latinos for the Lone Peak Lookout that hadn't been reported on - a common challenge she found was a lack of reliable information for Spanish speakers. Bilingual herself, Suazo wanted that to change. "My Latino community feel that we weren't part of the broader community due to the lack of information," she said. "I saw the issue." Suazo, 19, founded Noticias Montaña, or Mountain News, in 2020. It's the only Spanish-language publication in Montana and the online publication covers local and regional news in Gallatin County. She writes general news, local business and feature stories. She profiles successful Latino community members, and posts news about events around Big Sky.

Indigenous Education programs in Great Falls Public Schools being supported by new grant
Through the Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS) Foundation, a $20,000 grant was provided to support Indigenous Education programs. Sisters United provided the grant to support the Indigenous Education programs. The foundation says that as a part of the grant, raised garden beds will be built at every public school in the Electric City this spring. Sweetgrass will be planted and students will learn about the plant science and the native tradition of smudging, a ceremonial burning of grass bundles. Other plants will follow.

Two Bitterroot youth win trip to Washington DC
Two students from the Bitterroot Valley have been selected to travel to Washington, D.C. by Montana electric cooperatives. Across the state, the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association and electric cooperatives are sending 26 high school students on an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation's capital for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's 2022 Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., from June 18-24. Madeline Sacry from Stevensville High School and Tylin Sorenson from Corvallis High School will join 24 other youth from Montana to spend a week in Washington, D.C., experiencing history, learning more about how cooperatives work and what they do, and visiting with their congressional delegation. Students are selected by writing and submitting an essay. This year the topic was, "What does the second democratic principle mean to you and your community?" Ravalli Electric Co-op Communications Specialist Melissa Greenwood said that principle is about democratic member control. Stevensville High School student Madeline Sacry was selected as the REC initial winner and when her essay was forwarded she was chosen as statewide Youth Tour essay contest winner. Her trip is paid for by the Montana Electric Cooperatives Association.

Students can explore mechanics, manufacturing careers
Are you interested in learning more about education and careers in the fields of manufacturing and mechanics? Join Helena College and Helena WINS on Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Helena College airport campus, for our PROSPECTS career exploration event: Manufacturing and Mechanics Night. This event will provide high school students and their parents an opportunity to explore the manufacturing and mechanics career fields by connecting with Helena College instructors and local industry leaders. Highlighted industries include: mechanics in the auto, aviation, and diesel fields, CNC & manual machining, and welding. Free pizza and drinks will be provided for attendees.

Great Falls Public Schools Foundation receives $20K donation to support Indigenous education
The Great Falls Public Schools Foundation - which works to enhance learning opportunities for students - received a $20,000 donation from Sisters United, a local nonprofit that supports Native women and girls, to support Indigenous education programs.

Business sense - Local students shine at state DECA Conference
Young entrepreneurs and business-minded students from Flathead, Glacier, Whitefish and Polson high schools had a successful showing at the Montana DECA Conference. At the state conference, held Jan. 30 through Feb. 1, students competed in marketing, finance, hospitality and management events, among others. Flathead received awards and top accolades at the competition. Students, Wyatt Thompson and Katie Breary, were selected to be state officers for the 2022-23 school year. Twelve interviewed for the positions, according to Flathead DECA adviser Caitlin Heuscher. The Flathead team also received the prized Spirit Award traveling trophy, which is given to the chapter that "goes above and beyond" in showing leadership and professionalism at state while participating in various activities in addition to competing. Flathead's achievement of Thrive Level status was also recognized at state for the work the chapter completed through Membership, Promotional and Community Service campaigns during "DECA month," in November. Flathead was the only team to achieve this level in the state, according to Heuscher.

Five Cardwell Students Move on to Jefferson County Spelling Bee
Cardwell Elementary School Spelling Bee winners for grades 5-8 have qualified for the Jefferson County Spelling Bee, which will be held on February 9th. Grades 4-8 competed, however, only grades 5-8 move on to the county level. The fourth-grade winner was J.W. Engler and the eighth-grade winner was Kirin Clausen. Others representing Cardwell elementary include Kirin Clausen (8th), Aubrey Helton (7th), Raine Clausen (6th), Eon Hunt (7th), and Gavyn Coombe (7th).

WHS Principal Earns Department of Defense Patriot Award
Melissa Robbins, Whitehall High School Principal, has been awarded a Department of Defense Patriot Award in recognition of extraordinary support of her civilian employee serving in the United States Army Reserve 7252 Medical Support Unit, Staff Sergeant Zachary Kozicky. The Patriot Award was developed by ESGR to publicly recognize civilian employees who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their civilian employees serving in the guard or reserve. Without supportive employers, the strength and readiness of the nation's Guard and Reserve units cannot be maintained. Staff Sergeant Kozicky's nomination stated, "Melissa always supports my military career and encourages me to share my military side with the student body."

Rau School Student Of The Quarter
Rau School would like to announce Layla Petrik, daughter of Kale Petrik and Carly Zadow, as their student of the second quarter. Layla is a helpful and caring student. She always puts 100% effort into everything that she does. She is very kind and welcoming to all the other students at Rau. Layla is a hard working student and sets a good example for other students by following the rules. She is polite to staff and students alike. She is always trying to make others laugh with her goofy sense of humor. Layla enjoys hockey, hunting, and spending time with her family and friends. 

Young filmmakers run with the big dogs at FLIC
Kids these days. They can do way more with technology than just help older folks out with their phones and laptops. With "Finding Yawu'nik'" and "Winter 1941," two local groups of young filmmakers showed the adults at the 2022 Flathead Lake International Cinemafest (FLIC) that good stories can make it to the big screen no matter who you are. In "Finding Yawu'nik'," Polson Middle School students interviewed several local residents with different interpretations of what the Flathead Lake Monster might be. Nine students - Analeigh Bryant, Jack Huffine, Arlonna Christopher, Kaylee Coles, Rosie Lies, Morgan Delany, Greta Lund, Annalyse Lozar and Zoey Rogers - created the film at a one-week Montana Media Labs "Digital Camp" last summer, just as their fifth- and sixth-grade school years ended. Media teacher Tami Morrison said the camp focused on digital literacy, including technical skills as well as how to identify reliable news sources. The students learned how to storyboard, contact sources, film, photograph, capture sound and edit footage. Interviewees included District Judge James Manley, Kootenai Culture Committee Director Vernon Finley, CSKT Fisheries Biologist Barry Hansen and Polson Flathead Lake Museum's Karen Dunwell, and another anonymous person who related a personal anecdote.

Plains drama students stage heart-touching play
Plains High School drama members performed the heart-touching play "A Little Piece of Heaven" last week. Directed by Terri Henry and took place at the Plains High School for two nights on Jan 27 and 28. The play centered around the tragedy of losing a person you hold close to and how to deal with the loss. "A Little Piece of Heaven" is a story about a very odd couple that owned a curiosity shop where lost items and their owners were reunited after many years and where friendships were forged, and hearts were healed. Cast member Alex Horodyski, playing Jared Havens, brought his character to life with his fear of achieving the dreaded age of 50. While cast members Aubrey Tulloch, playing Lily Adair, and Dowson Brown playing Michael Cain, showed how two people came together and shared their memories of those they have lost. The outstanding performance was enjoyed by all in attendance.

LPHS junior selected as 2022 MHSA student rep
With a little help from athletic director John Hannahs, Max Romney applied for one of eight spots on a student advisory council for the Montana High School Association (MHSA). He was accepted as a Class C representative along with Ayla Janzen of the Twin Bridges Falcons. The MHSA is a governing body for high schools across the state that oversees sport regulations and rule changes. According to their website, "Originally founded in 1921 to regulate athletic competition, the Montana High School Association strives to serve all member schools by governing high school interscholastic activities in Montana." In 2022, MHSA decided to create their first ever Student Advisory Council to provide a voice and avenue for students to get input into the decision-making process and help raise awareness about the organization. To get the position, students had to be involved in sports, recommended by their athletic director, and then answer a few essay-style questions 300-500 words long. Max explained they had him write a short biography and talk about sportsmanship and leadership within a sports community. Max will be on the advisory council until he graduates in June 2023. "I thought it'd be super cool to help build something that would hopefully be around and have an impact for the next little while at least in Montana. I thought it'd be super cool to get involved with something at the very beginning and kinda see how something like that gets started and help create change in Montana sports," said Romney.

USDA helps schools build back better, issues transitional nutrition standards for coming school years
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced updates to the school nutrition standards that give schools a clear path forward as they build back better from the pandemic. These actions provide support for the dedicated school meal program operators who provide critical nutrition to millions of children every school day. By issuing transitional standards that will begin in school year (SY) 2022-2023 and that USDA intends to run through SY 2023-2024, USDA is giving schools time to transition from current, pandemic operations, toward more nutritious meals. In 2022, USDA will continue to prioritize supporting schools as they navigate the challenges of the pandemic and related operational issues while also ensuring children continue to enjoy healthy meals at school. The department is also planning for the future by engaging with school meal stakeholders to establish long-term nutrition standards beginning in SY 2024-2025 that will be achievable and put children's health at the forefront. Together, these actions will pave the way to stronger, more resilient school meal programs. Nutritious school meals give America's children the foundation for successful, healthy lives," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We applaud schools' heroic efforts throughout the challenges of this pandemic to continue serving kids the most nutritious meals possible. The standards we're putting in place for the next two school years will help schools transition to a future that builds on the tremendous strides they've made improving school meal nutrition over the past decade."

Brurud receives George M. Dennison Scholarship
Montana Campus Compact recently announced that Montana State Univerisity-Northern Community Leadership student Susan Brurud is one of the 13 recipients of the 2021-22 George M. Dennison Scholarship Award. "My vision is to see all youth educated in community organization, policy work and civic engagement that will help shape them into future leaders who are engaged, confident and informed," Brurud said. "I would like to see a school curriculum that starts in grade school and empowers youth to lead and gives them the opportunity to serve their community, regardless of age, sex, race, or socio-economic indicators." All of the civically engaged college student applicants represent former University of Montana President George M. Dennison's vision of building strong, equitable, and just communities through volunteerism, civic engagement and service.

Target Range, Seeley Lake both to see park improvements
Projects to improve a playground at Target Range Elementary School and a park in Seeley Lake have received grant money from Missoula County. The two grants came through the county's Parks, Trails and Open Lands Program. The Target Range project will receive $20,000, while the Seeley Lake playground project and community ice rink in Clearwater Park will get nearly $17,000 and $1,420 respectively. "We strive for an equitable spread across the county, with the program focused on projects and community initiatives outside Missoula city limits," Missoula County parks and trails project specialist Jackson Lee said in an email. "We are always looking for ways to extend the reach of these awards and we encourage community groups to bring their ideas or initiatives forward for funding consideration." Paige Judnich, president of the Target Range School Foundation, has helped spearhead the effort for improvements near the school, which will update the second- through fifth-grade playground. That foundation initially was formed in 1995, went passive and then was resuscitated in 2020 to help with fundraising for the project. They set out with the goal of raising $160,000. The project will likely cost around $260,000 (though could be finished for a little less) and matching funds will cover the remainder.

Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders: Flathead senior leads with kindness
Flathead High School senior Marley Miller is someone who leads and mentors with kindness, empathy and maturity. Flathead Career Center Director Mike Kelly highlighted Miller's natural inclination to seek out ways he can help out and does so with "a bright and positive energy that lifts others along with him," in his letter nominating the International Baccalaureate student and Academic All-State athlete. "Marley stands out as one of the most impressive, self-motivated, engaged and kind students at Flathead High School," Kelly wrote. The Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders program recognizes the academic achievement and community involvement of high school students who contribute to improving the lives of others. The award is sponsored by Logan Health in collaboration with the Daily Inter Lake. In addition to the recognition, honorees choose a school club or activity to receive a $250 donation. Miller is donating the money to Brave Mentoring, a program he has been involved with throughout high school and is a member of the executive leadership team. "It really has been helping the freshman in our high school - making it a welcoming environment for them," Miller said.

'Students helping students': Bozeman Schools Foundation raising money food insecurity program
Brown paper bags went home with elementary students in Bozeman last week as part of a fundraiser to help students who are experiencing food insecurity throughout Gallatin Valley. Bozeman Schools Foundation's Pack the Sack fundraiser is in its third year, and aims to both educate children and families on the food needs in the area while also getting elementary school students involved in raising money. The Bozeman Schools Foundation partnered with Gallatin Valley Food Bank and HRDC, which runs the KidsPack program. The program provides students a bag of food that goes home with them at the end of the week to ensure children have enough food over the weekend. "Bozeman is always viewed as such an affluent, robust, well-resourced community. I think food insecurity and hunger can go unseen," said Jenn Lammers, executive director of Bozeman Schools Foundation. Each elementary school student in Bozeman Schools received a paper bag last week with information on food insecurity in the area and details on the program. Families are asked to fill the bags with cash or a check to be returned by Feb. 14.

Helena Public Schools add instructional coaches to help teachers address gaps
For the last two years, Helena Public Schools teachers have been hard at work, supporting students through the COVID-19 pandemic. The district has also made an investment in support for the teachers themselves, by bringing in more instructional coaches. "I like to say that I get to help teachers teach," said Christy Mock-Stutz, a coach at Helena Middle School. Mock-Stutz is now one of 19 instructional coaches working in the district. "I really view my role as side-by-side, working with teachers – helping support them with resources, helping support them with ideas, help with planning, help with analyzing data," she said.

DEQ Awards Harlem Public Schools with Grant for Cleaner Bus
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has awarded six school districts, including Harlem Public Schools, with clean school bus replacement grants. The grants will help school districts replace older diesel school buses with newer diesel, propane and gasoline models to help reduce air pollution. DEQ awarded grants to the Columbia Falls, East Helena, Frenchtown, Harlem, Kalispell and Twin Bridges School Districts. The grants will fund a total of nine new buses with Columbia Falls receiving two buses, Kalispell receiving three buses and the rest receiving one each. Older diesel buses release nitrogen oxides which can lead to asthma and respiratory illnesses, especially in children and older adults who are known to be at increased risk. DEQ's Clean School Bus Replacement program aims to reduce kids' exposure to harmful diesel exhaust from old diesel buses across the state.

Havre High lists students of the month
Rayna Johnson is a Havre High School Student of the Month for January 2022. She is the daughter of Jeff and Jennifer Johnson and has one sibling, Aaron, who is 13. Rayna is a junior who is active in cheerleading, tennis, Key Club, Pep Club and AP chemistry. She works part time at a local pharmacy when her schedule allows. She also babysits and volunteers in the community. Lindsey Ratliff, who nominated Rayna, said she is, "both an exceptional student as well as a wonderful person. I have thoroughly enjoyed having Rayna in Current Issues and believe she will be highly successful in whatever she pursues. She has strong critical thinking skills and enjoys having intellectual conversations. She is constantly in pursuit of deeper knowledge on every issue and consistently participates in all group discussion. All of Rayna's work is always complete, accurate and thoughtful. Having a student like Rayna in class brings a 'Ray' of sunshine to my day. Way to go, Rayna!"

A Billings science teacher is guiding international STEM trips for area middle school students
A teacher at Medicine Crow Middle School is going way out of her way to teach science to young teens. Eighth-grade science teacher Jessica Felchle is traveling with students internationally to teach and learn about global STEM topics. Starting with a teacher trip in Panama, she became inspired to host trips for students – so far to the Florida Keys and with a plan to visit Puerto Rico in June. "This is probably one of the highlights of my career so far," said Felchle of her 16-year career. In Panama, Felchle and 17 other teachers from different places harvested plants alongside indigenous villagers to learn about the region's ecology. They spent time at the village school with local students and toured the Panama Canal. The village they visited is located on the banks of Lake Alajuela in Chagres National Park, which is home to the Emberá people. Among the many adventures, the group boated into the rainforest to harvest mangrove propagules and worked to remove invasive species endangering birds along the shore.

'Takes a village': School counselors and therapists work to shore up student mental health
Each day at Chief Joseph Middle School is different for Brian Mitchell. Like the Bozeman School District's 19 other school counselors, he might find himself teaching in classrooms, or case planning with in-school therapists, or meeting with teachers and school administrators, or coordinating care with parents, or talking with students about anything from scheduling to how they're doing. "I feel like we end up serving in so many types of roles," Mitchell said. "Our role is kind of really multi-faceted and spread across multiple layers of the school." Mitchell, who has been a school counselor for the last seven years, said his favorite part of his job is connecting with the students every day. "Seeing them experience the social side of school, the academic side of school, and being a part of encouraging them and giving them a safe place to come every day," Mitchell said. "It's fulfilling being a part of that system. 

U.S. Presidential Scholars Program candidates
The 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, one of the highest honors bestowed upon graduating high school seniors, has selected more than 5,000 candidates. The following candidates are from Billings West High School and Billings Senior High School.

Bitterroot teen gathers over 50,000 clothing items for people in need
Morgan's Helping Hands gathered and donated over 50,000 warm clothing items for the Bitterroot community this holiday season. Morgan Bisel, 14, completed her fourth year of the community service project. She said she had lots of help and enjoyed sharing the value of community service with younger students. Morgan's Helping Hands collects warm clothing items by placing collection bins around the valley, gathering donated items and distributing them where they are needed. Bisel said she appreciates the businesses and organizations that allowed her collection bins to be placed on their property, Roots Church, the Hamilton LDS Church, Corvallis LDS Church, Corvallis School District, Murdoch's Ranch Supply, Canyon Athletic Club and Sapphire Lutheran Homes. "I give a special thanks to Dominic [Farrenkopf] and the Sapphire Lutheran Homes residents for their continued support of my project," she said. The numbers are amazing and speak to a supportive community.

Kalispell and Columbia Falls schools receive grants for 'cleaner' buses
Kalispell and Columbia Falls school districts are recipients of clean school bus replacement grants awarded by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The grants will be used to purchase new diesel, propane, or gasoline buses, which will replace older diesel models in an effort to reduce air pollution, according to a press release from the DEQ. Kalispell will receive three buses and Columbia Falls, two. Other districts receiving grant funding to each get a bus are East Helena, Frenchtown, Harlem and Twin Bridges. "DEQ has funded 39 new buses for school districts across the state in the last two years in an effort to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions," said DEQ Energy Bureau Chief Dan Lloyd. "The buses are cleaner and improve air quality resulting in improved health for Montana students." According to the DEQ, older diesel buses release nitrogen oxides which can lead to asthma and respiratory illnesses. Children and older adults are known to be at increased risk. DEQ's Clean School Bus Replacement program aims to reduce children's exposure to diesel exhaust. Columbia Falls School District began purchasing propane buses in 2019, not only for the environmental aspects but also to reduce maintenance and fuel costs.

Five Cardwell Students Move on to Jefferson County Spelling Bee
Cardwell Elementary School Spelling Bee winners for grades 5-8 have qualified for the Jefferson County Spelling Bee, which will be held on February 9th. Grades 4-8 competed, however, only grades 5-8 move on to the county level. The fourth-grade winner was J.W. Engler and the eighth-grade winner was Kirin Clausen. Others representing Cardwell elementary include Kirin Clausen (8th), Aubrey Helton (7th), Raine Clausen (6th), Eon Hunt (7th), and Gavyn Coombe (7th). The Jefferson County Spelling Bee will be held on Wednesday, February 9th, at 6:00 pm at the Clancy Gym. Please enter through the gym doors.

Plains drama club a big hit
The Plains Drama Club's first performance in the new school building was a big success last week, according to the club's coach Terri Henry. "It was great! Both performances were superb," said Henry, the drama coach for 30 years. "Every character was well played and held while on stage," said Henry, who added that the students' performance was "amazing." The 13 Plains High School and home school students put on two performances of "A Little Piece of Heaven" Thursday and Friday in the school's new gymnasium and multipurpose building. The two-hour performances received standing ovations from the audiences each night.

Montana high schools to add baseball
On Monday, January 17th, the Montana High School Association had its annual meeting in Butte and voted to adopt high school baseball, with the first games to be played in the spring of 2023. Montana was one of only three states who didn't have high school baseball, along with Wyoming and South Dakota. The new ruling will change all of that. Stevensville's Athletic Director Chance Edman spearheaded this effort by submitting an official request to the MHSA in December of 2020. "At the time, there was a local groundswell movement in our district to get baseball started," says Edman. "I just kind of rode the wave and got it going with the request." From there a survey was conducted to see if there was enough interest to form a committee, which there was, then the committee saw enough demand to call for Monday's vote.

Plains drama students stage heart-touching play
Plains High School drama members performed the heart-touching play "A Little Piece of Heaven" last week. Directed by Terri Henry and took place at the Plains High School for two nights on Jan 27 and 28. The play centered around the tragedy of losing a person you hold close to and how to deal with the loss. "A Little Piece of Heaven" is a story about a very odd couple that owned a curiosity shop where lost items and their owners were reunited after many years and where friendships were forged, and hearts were healed. Cast member Alex Horodyski, playing Jared Havens, brought his character to life with his fear of achieving the dreaded age of 50. While cast members Aubrey Tulloch, playing Lily Adair, and Dowson Brown playing Michael Cain, showed how two people came together and shared their memories of those they have lost.

Help ensure children receive healthy meals during summer months
As we go into a healthy summer, join the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) in serving our Montana children. The USDA's Summer Food Service Program(SFSP) ensures that children who depend on school meals have nutritious food when school is not in session. Meals are available to children 18 years old or younger during school closures, no questions asked. All kids need to do is show up and eat! Sponsor participation and meal sites are needed to ensure Montana's children in low-income areas have continued access to healthy meals and snacks. The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) is accepting applications for the 2022 summer from public and private nonprofit schools, local government agencies, and private nonprofit organizations interested in sponsoring the SFSP.

Laurel High School Community Scholarships
Laurel High School had a very successful 2021 school year promoting scholarships for seniors. Counselors and the administration are looking to the Laurel community for those interested in continuing or becoming a part of the Community Scholarship Program. The primary sources of community scholarship donations are local businesses, professional groups, and private individuals. The values of these scholarships range from $100 to Donor Discretion. The willingness to help a young person pursue a post-secondary education is the motivating force behind the scholarship program.

Powell County moving to 8-man football
The Powell County high school football team will have a new set of opponents starting next year and a new number of players on the field.  The Montana High School Association executive committee recently approved a resolution to allow the Wardens to play a varsity schedule of eight-man football starting next year.  PCHS athletic director Henry Huber said the MHSA considered enrollment, participation and success in their decision.  "It was hurting the program," Huber said. "Playing an 11-man game with 14 kids is hard to play."  For the last two years, the Wardens have played a junior varsity schedule due to diminishing numbers on the roster. Last season there were 16 players out for the team with no seniors.

Homebase: Junior High class challenges youths to think about their future; a few don't like that
The Columbia Falls School District 6 board earlier this month told a small but vocal group it would not debate the merits of a class at the junior high called Homebase that uses, in part, a curriculum known as social and emotional learning. The group of folks, many of which don't even have children attending Columbia Falls schools, have urged the board over the past several weeks to place the class on the agenda. About 10 people recently signed a petition asking the board to debate the merits of the class. School board chairwoman Jill Rocksund noted there were several reasons for not placing the class on the agenda. "We don't have the ability to 'unadopt' SEL instruction, just as we don't have the  authority to disregard Montana state standards," she noted in a statement written by the board to the group. "Standards and learning  competencies are constructed by the state Office of Public Instruction, and local districts do not have the authority  to disregard them."

Grant will help nonprofit move building to junior high garden
The Whitefish Community Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to Land to Hand to support the relocation of the organization's building next to the Wildcat Garden at Columbia Falls Junior High School, the organization announced last week. The building is currently located on Fourth Avenue West near Glacier Gateway School. The organization will pay to have it moved later this year. The grant was made possible by members of the Whitefish Community Foundation's Circle of Giving and other donors who support the Major Community Project Fund. Land to Hand (formerly known as Farm Hands – Nourish the Flathead) is a nonprofit organization that provides Flathead Valley residents with access to fresh, local food through the organization's Food for All Programs, including fruit and vegetables grown at the Wildcat Garden. Land to Hand also administers Double Snap Dollars and Senior Coupons and provides Columbia Falls school children with healthy snacks on the weekends and during school closures through its Backpack Enhancement Program. The new location serves as the ideal place for Land to Hand to offer gardening and healthy cooking programs for children, as well as to store, stage, and deliver food to those in need.

North Star seniors fundraising for trip to East Coast
North Star School students are raising money for this year's senior trip to the East Coast, and an enterprising senior at the School is holding a raffle for more than $2,300 of large items, merchandise and gift certificates to help pay for her expenses. Senior Makaila Horinek, who is an honors student on track to be valedictorian of the Class of 2022, has been working along with other North Star seniors to raise money as a group to help pay for the weeklong trip, said her mother, Teri Horinek. The March senior trip, which will take the students to New York City, Boston, Washington and Philadelphia, is booked through a tour agency. North Star provides the bus to take the seniors to the airport in Great Falls and home again, gives the students excused time away from classes and allows the students to raise money at school events. Throughout the year, they have sold maple bars at Saturday morning basketball games, held soup lunches and 50/50 raffles, and sold Christmas wreaths. But beyond what the students earn with their group efforts, each student needs to pay their expenses and provide their own spending money.

Bozeman High School renovations wrap up
The classrooms are filled, the auditorium is ready to be filled, and the ribbon has been cut - that's a wrap on Bozeman High School's roughly $30 million in renovations, which started in May 2020. While landscaping is scheduled to be finished in early spring, the district held an official ribbon cutting Tuesday evening celebrating the completion of the high school's renovations. "It's exciting," said Principal Dan Mills. "There's been a lot of flexibility and patience shown by our students and staff … We have this beautiful building." The demolition of the old classroom wing started in spring 2020 to make way for the two-story wing that includes 15 new classrooms and a new common area. "That was a very spread out, sprawling campus. Now most of that will be new green space on the corner of 11th and Main," Mills said. Students started off this school year in the new classrooms, with larger hallways in the wing to include breakout spaces for students to spread out. The new entrance along Ruth Thibeault Way and the student commons area opened in November 2021. The space is still awaiting some furniture and equipment for the coffee shop, similar to the one in Gallatin High. Mills said he expects the student commons coffee shop to open by the spring.

New and updated courses coming to Flathead and Glacier
New and updated courses at Flathead and Glacier high schools will be offered next school year, including a semester-long Equipment Operation Internship. Up to a dozen juniors and seniors are projected to enroll in the internship at Flathead. Students will learn how to maintain and operate heavy equipment through on-the-job training, according to the course objectives. Students will train with a sponsoring equipment dealer and construction company. For the 2022-23 school year, sponsoring companies are RDO Equipment Co. and Schellinger Construction. "This internship provides a unique opportunity for non-college-bound students to enter the workforce directly out of school. Students will gain skills and wage-earning capacity to stay in the valley if they choose. Local businesses are willing to invest in our students in order to avoid employee shortages," Flathead career and technical education teacher Rob Hunter wrote in the course proposal. Internship students will be able to obtain one credit for the semester-long course.

Bonner principal named Montana's National Distinguished Principal of the year
Students, staff and faculty quietly waited Tuesday in the gym at Bonner Elementary School, brimming with excitement, to celebrate principal Shelley Andres, who was recently named this year's National Distinguished Principal for the state of Montana. Andres was met with wild applause and cheering when she turned the corner to walk down the stairs. The school's nearly 350 students and staff filled the bleachers and gym floor. "We have great teachers because we have a great principal and Mrs. Andres was chosen by her peers across the state of Montana," said Bonner Superintendent Jim Howard. "That means all the principals ... saw Mrs. Andres as the kind of leader that they know makes the school a great school," he added. Andres was formally recognized with her award at the School Administrators of Montana statewide conference in Bozeman on Monday. At the surprise celebration event on Tuesday afternoon, several of her colleagues and other school community members shared their congratulations. Her co-workers also put together a video expressing their gratitude for her leadership.

Bryant Elementary and Helena College partnership promotes lifelong learning
Bryant Elementary School and Helena College have formed a partnership that aims to give fifth grade students a better idea of what college is all about. The partnership began this school year, when Helena College adopted Bryant's fifth grade class as honorary Helena College students. These students walk across the street to Helena College one day a month and participate in various education projects. "We try to be good neighbors to Bryant. For example, we've done things like Halloween trick-or-treating," said Sandra Bauman, Helena College's dean. "But we wanted to take that to the next level -- show them that there is a world of educational opportunities out there." Bauman said this partnership came to be through talks with Bryant's fifth grade teachers and principal. The program's goal is to expose fifth grade students to all of the different kinds of educational opportunities out there. Bauman said they've done things like creative writing with professor Virginia Reeves and a science lab with Dr. John Hartmann. In late January, they did an art project with professor Seth Roby.

UM brings mental health support to rural Montana students
For rural Montana school kids, getting access to mental health care often involves long – and in winter months, harrowing – car rides to distant towns. To bring consistent mental health care directly to remote schoolrooms across the state, the University of Montana recently launched a program that marries the expertise of graduate students in counseling with expanding internet access in Montana. The Tele-Counseling Clinic is one of many programs offered by UM's Safe Schools Center. The center, housed in the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education, provides individualized school safety training programs, professional development and technical support. "Big schools have counselors who can walk down the hall and help, and we don't have that resource," said Kristi Borge, the 2021 Montana Teacher-of-the-Year who teaches at the one-room school house in Polaris, where 11 students grade first to eighth attend classes. "Without this program, kids would have to go to Dillon or Bozeman for counseling. This has definitely been great for our students." While the program has come to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic, Safe Schools Center Director Emily Sallee said its development has been in the works for some time.

January 2022 GREAT NEWS

Bryant Elementary and Helena College partnership promotes lifelong learning
Bryant Elementary School and Helena College have formed a partnership that aims to give fifth grade students a better idea of what college is all about. The partnership began this school year, when Helena College adopted Bryant's fifth grade class as honorary Helena College students. These students walk across the street to Helena College one day a month and participate in various education projects.  "We try to be good neighbors to Bryant. For example, we've done things like Halloween trick-or-treating," said Sandra Bauman, Helena College's dean. "But we wanted to take that to the next level -- show them that there is a world of educational opportunities out there." Bauman said this partnership came to be through talks with Bryant's fifth grade teachers and principal. The program's goal is to expose fifth grade students to all of the different kinds of educational opportunities out there. Bauman said they've done things like creative writing with professor Virginia Reeves and a science lab with Dr. John Hartmann. In late January, they did an art project with professor Seth Roby.

Quest complete for two Flathead High students
When Flathead senior Maayana Sattler found out she was named a QuestBridge Scholar, she went to one of her speech and debate coach's classrooms and collapsed with excitement when sharing the news. The stress from where the money would come to pay tuition, room, board, meals, textbooks, and travel expenses - had lifted. She will receive a full-ride to attend Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania as a QuestBridge National College Match scholarship recipient. She wasn't the only Flathead High School student to receive the life-changing news. Senior Luca Zoeller was also named a QuestBridge Scholar and will attend Colorado College as a College Match Scholarship recipient. QuestBridge's National College Match program connects high-achieving high school seniors from low-income backgrounds with full four-year scholarships to prestigious liberal arts colleges and research universities. Out of more than 16,500 applicants, QuestBridge, a California-based nonprofit, selected 6,312 finalists. Of that number, the nonprofit's 45 college partners matched with 1,674 finalists - the most to date - who were recognized as scholarship recipients, according to a press release.

Area educators awarded grants for classroom projects
The Montana Professional Teaching Foundation created the Karen Cox Memorial Grants to help educators purchase classroom supplies and enrichment projects for their students. This year, six area educators have been awarded Karen Cox Memorial Grants of up to $500 from the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation. Those educators include: Emily Black, West Valley Middle School, to purchase a variety of materials for the consumer science class. Carrielynn O'Reilly, Columbia Falls High School, to provide Fitbit Trackers for a special education LifeSkills class focused on fitness and health in which students self-monitor their physical activities, sleep patterns, water consumption, and heart rate for individual and group projects. Cassie Ladenburg, Ruder Elementary, to establish makerspaces, creating designated time for hands-on creativity, innovation and problem-solving.

Elks donate dictionaries to students
Havre Elks Lodge #1201 recently donated dictionaries to third grade school children in Hill and Blaine counties. The Elks gave a total of 264 dictionaries to Havre Public Schools, St. Jude Thaddeus School, Cottonwood Schools, Gildford Colony, Davey School, North Star Schools and Box Elder Schools. In Blaine County, they gave dictionaries to Zurich, Chinook, Hays-Lodge Pole and Turner Schools. The dictionary project is a core youth activity project that the Elks sponsor nationwide. "Havre Elks Lodge was able to fund the dictionaries through donations of our members on giving Tuesday and through the generosity of Hill, Blaine, and Chouteau county residents at a free-will donation bake sale we held before Christmas at the Holiday Village Mall in Havre,"  Elks Lodge #1201 Secretary Brandy Kurtz said. "The dictionary project was such a smashing success that we are making it an annual youth activity in our lodge."

Billings Public Schools votes unanimously to keep two books in high school libraries
The Billings Public School Board, the largest in the state of Montana, decided on Monday night unanimously to keep two controversial titles found in high school libraries, "Gender Queer" by Maia Kobabe and "Lawn Boy" by Jonathan Evison. The move came as somewhat of a surprise as a subcommittee of the board had recommended keeping Evison's book, but removing "Gender Queer." However, after nearly two hours of discussion, public comment and a review of the books, school district trustee Jennifer Hoffman changed her recommendation, setting off a series of votes that would ultimately lead to keeping both titles. Parent Nathan Mathews objected to both books, appealing a district curriculum review committee's unanimous decision to keep the books in the high school libraries. Originally, a subcommittee of the board recommended keeping "Lawn Boy" but discarding Kobabe's coming-of-age graphic novel memoir. During the meeting on Monday, more than 40 people either submitted comments or spoke in person. A tally of speakers showed that those who supported keeping both books outnumbered those who voiced objections by a roughly 2-to-1 ratio. Both books dealt with coming-of-age and both have been classified as adult literature, but have enjoyed widespread crossover into young adult literature. Criticism of Evison's book included concerns about profanity and one particular homosexual encounter described in the book.

Four Butte area educators awarded Karen Cox Memorial grants
Dvery year, Montana educators are forced to raid their own bank accounts to buy classroom supplies and enrichment projects for their students. The Montana Professional Teaching Foundation created the Karen Cox Memorial Grants to help these dedicated educators. This year, four Butte area educators have been awarded Karen Cox Memorial grants of up to $500 from the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation. The grantees are: Desiree LaMiaux, Margaret Leary. LaMiaux's grant is for the purchase of seating aids and organizational tools to facilitate productivity, flexibility, and independence within the classroom. Kim McCarthy-Cody, Butte School District. McCarthy-Cody's grant provides tools designed to improve speech and language skills, including Drills for Skills, Articulation Flashcards, and Ultimate Speech Therapy Craft Bundle. Patty O'Neill, West Elementary School. O'Neill's grant is for the creation of the "Fun to be Fit Program," which aims to improve the physical, emotional, and academic fitness of students. Heather Hamilton, Ramsay School. Hamilton's grant is for the purchase of a worm bin to help students learn key concepts in math and science by estimating populations to understanding biological systems.

Belt Elementary School nominated for National Blue Ribbon award
On Thursday, the Office of Public Instruction released a statement from State Superintendent of Education Elsie Arntzen congratulating two schools nominated for the National Blue Ribbon Schools. The National Blue Ribbon Schools award recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The National Blue Ribbon award is now in its 39th year and has given 10,000 awards to over 9,000 schools. Forty-five Montana schools have received this award. Belt Elementary School and Monforton Elementary (Gallatin County) have been nominated for 2022. "This is a highly prestigious recognition that only a few Montana schools earn each year," said Superintendent Elsie Arntzen. "This designation showcases Montana's parents, students, and teachers' commitment to student learning success even in these uncertain times. I pledge my support to aid these schools during the nomination process. They make Montana proud!"

Big Sandy High School Choir to perform on PBS
The Big Sandy Choir traveled to Bozeman this week to make a second appearance on PBS as a part of a fundraising program that features high school choirs from around the state. TJ Bond, Big Sandy's music teacher, explained the course of events that followed the 2019 appearance: They didn't do it last year due to the pandemic. But this year, they really wanted to do it, not just for the fundraiser, but also to get everyone's spirits back into the music. Very specifically, they really enjoyed our choir. We definitely did a fantastic job the first time we were there, and they wanted to have us back. I asked about song selections. There is a song we played for Veterans Day, 'The Hard Times Come Again No More." They loved the song so much that they really want us to perform it for television." TJ commented on the second appearance for our choir: "It's not unusual (to bring a choir back), but I think it's kinda neat that last time was our first time, and they reached out to us as soon as they were able to do it again. It's neat for us as a small town. They really wanted us to come back."

Co-op offers scholarships for local students
Flathead Electric Co-op is offering over $118,000 in scholarships to local students this year. Applications are due March 15. Graduating high school seniors across the Co-op's service area, as well as current undergraduates, are encouraged to explore the requirements on the co-op's website at All co-op scholarships are funded by unclaimed capital credits. Despite the co-op's best efforts to return capital credits to its members, some go unclaimed. Most often, a member moves away and doesn't provide a forwarding address. The state of Montana allows the co-op to use capital credits that go unclaimed for five or more years for educational purposes in the state of Montana. If the Co-op chose not to use the unclaimed capital credits for educational purposes, these funds would go into the Montana general fund. The co-op strives to award scholarship dollars across its service area to meet varied community needs. Scholarship dollars are earmarked for each area high school, including Stillwater Christian School. Dollars are also earmarked for homeschool graduates and for those already attending a post-secondary Montana education institution. Additionally, scholarships are awarded each year to students pursuing trades degrees.

MSU Billings launches faculty-driven Center for Teaching and Learning
Montana State University Billings will celebrate the grand opening of its new Center for Teaching and Learning on Jan. 21. The Center was granted final approval by the Montana Board of Regents during its November meeting. The new Center is led by faculty and will provide support for the full spectrum of faculty professional development, including pedagogical innovation, curriculum design, assessment efforts, instructional design, and onboarding for new faculty. In addition to supporting faculty success, the Center will play a key role in student success initiatives, in particular MSUB's retention and graduation initiative, and will offer programming related to inclusive, equity-minded, and growth mindset pedagogy, faculty early alerts, and data-informed strategies to support student learning. The Center builds on MSUB's strength in innovative distance education and will integrate the existing office of e-Learning into a more expansive support center for faculty.

MHSA adopts baseball as sanctioned sport and shot clock for basketball in annual meeting
There are big changes coming to Montana high school sports and they were finalized Monday at the Montana High School Association's annual meeting. Representatives from high schools all across Montana met in person at the Copper King Hotel in Butte to discuss and vote on a number of issues. The two proposals that drew the most attention were baseball and a shot clock for high school basketball. Since neither was an MHSA by-law, both proposals required a simple majority and each passed in overwhelming fashion Monday. "There were some major proposals on our agenda this year," MHSA executive director Mark Beckman said. "For several years, we haven't had many proposals. Things have been going really well. But this year, we had nine proposals and it was an interesting day for sure."

Whitefish High musicians selected for All-State Jazz Band
Whitefish High School has yet again a strong representation of musicians selected to participate in the prestigious Montana All-State Jazz Band. Five Whitefish students recently got the news that they would be participating in the All-State Jazz Festival, which will be held at Hellgate High School on Jan. 13-15. The festival is run by a committee of band directors from around the state together with the University of Montana faculty. The student musicians selected include senior Niko Hunter on drumset, senior Dashiell Schindler on trombone, senior Emma Trieweiler on vibraphone, senior Aidan Calaway on baritone saxophone, and junior Henry Seigmund on tenor saxophone. Whitefish High School Band Director Matthew King says five students is the most Whitefish has ever had representing the school in the All-State Jazz Band; that number combined with the students making the regular All-State Band ensemble in the fall makes seven total students that have the all-state honor this year. King says that is a record for WHS. He explained that the students submit a challenging set of audition excerpts in a variety of styles along with an improvisation section that is then adjudicated by a panel for selection.

Brother-Sister Duo Ready To Read In Kindergarten
There's no doubt that Lincoln and Rhyan love to read books. If asked their favorites they will give you a list that could fill a newspaper page. Lincoln can already read Cat the Cat and Tip Tip all by himself, while Rhyan loves Fancy Nancy and books about princesses. Even though they love to be outdoors and have many favorite activities, they always take time to read many books every day. Lincoln, 5, and Rhyan, 4, are the children of Daniel Heggem and Jamie Jensen, Sidney.

Local Music Teacher Marches in Rose Parade
Troy school district music teacher, Kathleen England, recently had the unique opportunity to march in the Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California with 267 other American band directors from 48 states, as well as three who were working abroad. The Saluting American Band Directors float, which won the Showmanship Award, was integrated with the Band Directors Marching Band, a first for the five and a half mile legendary parade. This effort was sponsored by the Michael D. Sewell Foundation. Based in Pickering, Ohio, the foundation was started by Michael's wife Karen to honor her late husband, a long-time band director in central Ohio, who lead the Pickering Marching Band in the Rose Parade 2010. The marching band of directors was lead by Jon Waters, Director of Bands for Heidelberg University of Ohio in an original arrangement by Ohio's own Lisa Galvin of Meredith Wilson's Seventy-six Trombones from the classic musical, The Music Man.

Big Sandy's Rock School and RD Recording
It's the beginning of a new year, and although RD Recording and Rock School are a year and a half in, it's still a perfect example of going for an idea or dream and making it real. RD Recording and Rock School started In remembrance of Rusty Danreuther. Chris said, "he was so good with music and sports. I'm trying to carry on his passion. If he were here, he'd be all about it." For one and a half years, Chris Myers, with the help of his dad, Larry, has been working with kids, teaching them drums, keyboards, and guitars. The women who exercise below them can tell you all about it. Recently all the students of Rock School performed at Peps. It was a night of Rock and Roll. The younger students, Levon Myers, and Liam Simpson, and Henry Merrill. Each of the three boys sang two songs each and then played the drums, the keyboard, and guitar to accompany the other two while they sang. Liam said, "It was a nice experience for the beginning. The best part was learning all the instruments one note at a time." He wants to learn more about the bass and how to write songs. "I'd also like to perform again." 

Gary Leese teaches the details of raising and marketing sheep and goats
The era of sheep transportation by Gary Leese is ending and he's teaching classes for those interested in learning what it takes. Lone Rock Adult Education Coordinator Julie Bachman said the course is important. "The course that Gary is offering is a unique opportunity for people in the Bitterroot Valley to better understand how to raise sheep and everything else that goes along with it," Bachman said. "Gary is a wealth of information because of his expertise in doing this for so many years." Gary Leese has raised sheep for 40 years on his farm south of Lone Rock School and started sheering when he was 14-years-old. For the last 17 years, Leese has been providing a transportation service to public auction yards in Billings for local sheep and goat producers. But he is retiring from offering this service.

Industrial arts teacher prepares next generation for workforce
The sound of hammers hitting nails, intensifying whir of saws chewing through lumber, tape measures snapping back into coils and booted feet thudding against subflooring is probably white noise by now to Brock Anderson who is in his 23rd year teaching industrial arts. On Jan. 4, Anderson was busy overseeing a class of high school construction students make progress in building a new home at 180 Parkridge Drive in Kalispell. "We have our open house May 11," Anderson said. The construction students are part of the Kalispell Student Built Homes program, which Anderson helped establish at Flathead High School in 2015, with assistance from community partners and professionals in the construction industry. The program has since opened up to include interested students from Glacier High School and Linderman Education Center. Anderson, who joined the Flathead staff in 2007, said his first teaching job was seventh- and eighth-grade woodshop in Sidney, Montana, but growing up, he didn't know that would be his ultimate career path. "I didn't have any idea of what I wanted to do - maybe something with my hands. Growing up, I was always building forts and building stuff and helping out mom and dad and grandpas and grandmas. I've always enjoyed building, or constructing, or working on cars," he said.

WIHS student wins essay contest by opening up about mental health
A couple years back Gracie Hickman was considering dropping out of high school because she was struggling to learn in a traditional school environment - fast forward to this fall and now she's seeing more academic success than ever before.

Fifth graders explore the American Revolution
Mrs. May's fifth graders look forward to history class as their teacher conjures up exciting games for them to explore ma­jor historical events. They mod­eled seven battles using paper soldiers and a make-shift game board.

Student Council hosts a fun challenge
As a change of pace prior to the holiday break, Student Council hosted a fun twist to the well known game show, "Minute to Win It." On Dec. 20, students were invited to at­tend this function in the com­plex lobby over the noon hour.  

Corvallis FFA on track to earn $30K in one night of fundraising
Corvallis High School Ag Educator Neely Andres has students excited for their future and eager to learn the skills they'll need for life.

'We will rise' - Linderman student's drawing chosen as mascot design
Kenzye Fishel's drawing of a phoenix in flight against a backdrop of flames was chosen to be the design for Linderman Education Center's new mascot. The design was one of five submissions to a school mascot design contest the school held recently. Until last year, after a student council was formed, the school didn't have a mascot. Linderman is an alternative school serving Flathead and Glacier high school students. Linderman Director Jodie Barber said a mascot has been requested for a long time. "I said no, we don't need a mascot, we're not a traditional school," Barber said, noting that the school doesn't have sports teams, for example, to use a mascot. "We have our Infinity Bridge outside - the sculpture - that's kind of what I have used as our representation of us," she said. The sculpture, a collaboration between former students and local artist Lee Proctor in 2014, served as Linderman's logo. Made of glass and steel from a local dismantled bridge, it symbolized the merging Bridge Academy and Laser Alternative School in fall 2013.

HHS grad donates $100,000 to Boys & Girls Club to honor Devlin teacher
"No matter what road you choose to follow, I wish you much success and happiness," reads the handwritten letter Tim Wynne received from Mary Etta Sohm shortly before he graduated from Havre High School in 1980. Included with the letter was a set of scrapbooks Sohm had carefully compiled of Wynne's activities over the years, after he was in her fifth grade class at what was then Devlin School, but is now home to the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line. Fast-forward 42 years and the connection between Wynne, Sohm, Devlin School - and now the Club and its youth-focused mission - led Wynne and his wife, Kristen, to make a $100,000 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line, establishing the Mary Etta Sohm Endowment. "For several years I had been looking for a way to somehow recognize Mary Etta," said Wynne, who now lives on the West Coast, but still maintains a close connection to Havre and the Hi-Line. "When I was invited to take a tour of the Boys & Girls Club, and I saw the work they do, it just clicked for me. I knew this would be an organization that Mary Etta would want to support."

'This is their collection': Inside Bozeman High's one-of-a-kind art collection
In a back room of Bozeman High School's library, there's a series of unassuming cabinets. Inside hides a trove of original artwork curated by one of the school's clubs for the last 60 years. The Bozeman High Art Club was first created in the 1960s, originally helmed by art teacher and local artist Ray Campeau. Beth Pfaff, who now teaches at Gallatin High, has been involved in the art club for the last 24 years. "It's a really unusual and unique thing for a high school to have," Pfaff said. "…This is their collection. It's owned by BHS art club and collected by BHS art club students. The students themselves either bought the work on art club trips or people in the community donate." Campeau, who is retired from teaching and lives in Bozeman, said the art club grew over the years until students began taking trips to visit art galleries throughout Montana. The trips eventually grew so popular they were traveling to Seattle and Canada to see museums, art galleries, plays and performances. Students were responsible for paying for their food while on the trips and would stay in college or high school gymnasiums in the early days, Campeau said. As trips became popular they eventually included students from schools in Helena, Butte or Missoula. 

MAPS kicks off 2022 with drones, music, animation and film classes
What stories will you tell in 2022? MAPS Media Institute's afterschool media arts classes continue in 2022 with exciting selections in design, film, music and new technologies. "Ravalli County eighth- to 12th-graders will have incredible creative opportunities in the new year," said Clare Ann Harff, MAPS Executive Director, in a press release. "From building drones and character drawing for animation, to creating music from scratch and a promotional video for the Ravalli DUI Task Force, MAPS studios will be hopping this winter!" MAPS instructors aren't the only ones excited to launch into new media art platforms. MAPS students are also looking forward to the new classes, like "Sky Robots," taught by local tech wizard John Springer. "Almost every film you watch these days has drone work in it," said MAPS teaching assistant and Corvallis High School student Jacob Domsalla. "In addition to learning to fly them, race them, and build them, I'm excited to learn about all the jobs available for drone pilots."

Darby schools welcome exchange teacher from Austria
Darby School District might boast more Spanish and Italian speakers after an exchange teacher bringing foreign language education to students during a five-year visa makes her mark. Marion Erkinger, from Austria, is in Darby teaching a survey of foreign languages classes, as well as German, Italian and Spanish, for grades 5-12. She is in America on an exchange visa that will allow her to stay here for five years. "To come here and teach here, I had to apply for a visa," Erkinger said. "I couldn't go directly to a school but found an American organization that would sponsor my visa. It is a J1 visa through International Teaching Exchange Services." Erkinger studied languages at the University of Vienna. She has degrees in educational studies for Italian and Spanish and a master's degree in translation and interpretation in Italian, Spanish and German. She also speaks French but is not licensed to teach it.

Target Range nutrition program looks for unique ways to use local ingredients
School kitchens across the state are looking for new ways to incorporate healthy, locally sourced ingredients in their daily recipes, including the staff at Target Range School District. On the last day of school before the holiday break, Devin Kavanagh, the food services director at Target Range, served his students and staff locally sourced lentil meatballs for the first time. "When I started about a year and a half ago, it's always been my goal to improve the food," Kavanagh said. "So after getting my bearings straight here, I started to really look into that and ... there's a lot of options out there." One of the groups he's partnered with for nutritious ingredients is the Mission Food Enterprise Center, a shared-use food processing and manufacturing facility in Ronan that has the ability to prepare fruits, vegetables and other menu items en mass. Mission Food Enterprise Center also prepared the lentil meatballs for Target Range's nutrition program. The ingredients for the meatballs include lentils, mushrooms, potatoes, ground beef, egg and rolled oats.

The value of a neighborhood school: Celebrating 100 years of Paxson Elementary
This school year is Paxson Elementary School's 100th birthday. Over the last century the building has obviously changed, as have the staff and students that fill the classrooms and hallways each passing year. "But what has remained the same is that feeling of community and that closeness that we have together," said Petey Torma, a fourth-grade teacher at Paxson. Torma has a pretty good read on the school and its position in the community - in fact the school has been in her orbit for over 30 years now. "I just remember it always felt so great to be going to this school because it was like everyone in the school were friends you saw out and about at the parks and who you'd been friends with before school started," Torma recalled. She first stepped foot into the school in 1988 as a kindergartner. Now, she's at the school as a teacher and mother, whose current classroom is the site where she herself attended fifth grade. Her oldest child, Tallis Parkey, attends first grade at the school and her daughter Luna will begin kindergarten next year.

December 2021 GREAT NEWS

Will James history teacher receives congressional recognition
History teacher Hunter Jones was surprised Wednesday with a congressional certificate and a conversation with a senator. Jones is an eighth-grade teacher at Will James Middle School where he has been drumming up donations to send care packages to service members for about 20 years. Republican Montana Sen. Steve Daines met by live video with Jones during second period. A local veteran affairs liaison personally delivered the certificate. "I'm beyond humbled. It's simply amazing and I don't feel I deserve it, but I've always tried to raise awareness for society to take care of the veterans – both active and inactive," said Jones.

Great Falls Public Schools prepare for food drive
It's a season of giving and Great Falls Public Schools are preparing food boxes later this week. GFPS will be assembling 60 boxes that will be filled with hams, turkeys, rolls, pies, stuffing, fruit, and vegetables for families in need. This event will take place Friday, Dec. 17, at 9 a.m. at Giant Springs Elementary gymnasium. Vendors like Electric City Coffee and other vendors and two Hutterite Colonies were excited to assist last year, along with volunteers that delivered food to families. "We appreciate the generosity of the community and also a Secret Santa who gave a substantial financial donation to help provide holiday meals for our families," said Ruth Uecker, Assistant Superintendent K-6.

C.M Russell drama department puts on play 'Nunsense,' raises money for community.
The C.M. Russell High School drama department has just finished up with its last play of the year, "Nunsense." Chris Evans, the drama department director, said "it is a musical comedy about Nuns and a fundraiser after a horrible accident." About 15-20 students help put on "Nunsense" with practice starting back in October in preparation for the play. The drama department is no stranger to raising money for the community and decided to raise money for "Shop With A Cop," a fundraiser that Great Falls Police Department has been doing since 1997. This fundraiser provides underprivileged children with a holiday shopping spree. According to the Great Falls Police Protective Association website about Shop With A Cop, "Children, nominated by agencies and schools in the Great Falls community, are paired with Great Falls police officers who treat them to a spirited day of shopping." With the help of the community, the department was able to raise $2,176.67. "It makes me proud to be a member of the Great Falls community, it shows that theater can do some good along with entertain," said Evans.

Building relationships in a multi-grade classroom
"What better way to really form relationships with kids and their families than a setting like this," said Lilah Fox, Sunset School's kindergarten – fourth grade (K-4) and reading teacher for K-8. "It is amazing what you can do here with this small setting in terms of getting to know the kids and their families and their siblings." Fox started at Sunset School in the fall of 2020. As a first year teacher that didn't know Sunset School existed until she applied, she has embraced teaching in the two-room schoolhouse.

Local students earn four-year QuestBridge scholarships
Polson High School senior Brookelyn Slonaker recently learned that she will be attending Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., on a four-year, full-ride scholarship she earned through the national QuestBridge program. Slonaker is president of the Key Club chapter in Polson and is involved in multiple extracurricular choirs. She's also student body secretary and participates in the 4-H mentoring program at the Boys and Girls Club. She plans to study speech-language pathology at Northwestern. The QuestBridge program assists elite low-income and first-generation students around the country in acquiring a college education. Approximately 1,700 students are accepted into QuestBridge and then are matched with a college that provides them with a full-ride scholarship.

Superior students purchase Christmas gifts for local kids
The work it takes each year behind the scenes of Santa and his elves making their holiday deliveries of food and toys to families in Mineral County before Christmas Day involves more people and organizations than one may realize. One of those groups is the fourth-grade class of Stacy Crabb at Superior Elementary School. They are a driving force of supplying the toys for the kids that will be receiving them. "We challenged the elementary classrooms to collect coins and the winning class would receive an ice cream party. The students raised a total of $1,126.33! That's a record", she beams. Crabb and her students have been doing this community service project for the last 10-12 years and this year's record amount was completed in just over two weeks. On Dec. 9, this enthusiastic bunch of fourth-graders loaded onto a school bus and went to downtown Superior.

St. Regis School thankful for former and current superintendents
When in June Superintendent Joe Steele asked if he could be let out of his contract to move back to Idaho; the board was left trying to figure out a replacement. Board chair Charlee Thompson reached out to previous superintendent, Judy McKay to fill in as interim until the board could find a replacement. The board would like to sincerely thank Mrs. McKay and her husband, John, for dropping everything at home in Libby and moving their fifth wheel here to answer the call to our school district. Judy's experience and dedication to St. Regis and its students is much appreciated. The St. Regis school board is proud to announce that they have chosen a Superintendent. It's a familiar face that most might recognize. Mr. Derek Larson. Superintendent Larson brings a diversity of experience and interests to the position at St. Regis Public Schools, but the primary focus he brings to the position is a dedication to ensuring that the students of the St. Regis community receive the best educational opportunities possible.

Taxpayers now have option to donate to local schools
Up to $1 million in tax credit donations to local public schools will be available to Montana taxpayers thanks to a change in state law. Starting in January, state taxpayers will be able to make dollar-to-dollar contributions to public schools instead of paying taxes. But residents interested in giving directly to their local district should act quickly. Once taxpayers have collectively given $1 million, the offer will expire. Given how small the donation cap is in respect to Montana's total tax base, Libby Superintendent Ron Goodman expected the credits would go quickly. Nevertheless, he and County Superintendent Taralee McFadden asked locals to consider donating to Lincoln County Schools if they had the chance. "If there's someone out there that is going to be doing their taxes as soon as they possibly can, why not write a check to the schools in Lincoln County?" said Goodman. Compared to other areas of the state, Goodman noted that Lincoln County doesn't have as strong of a tax base to draw from.

Local FFA Member Receives Grant from Fieldale Farm Corp.
A $1,000 Animal Systems Sheep Production SAE grant has been awarded to Connley Hoagland of Glendive, Montana by Fieldale Farms Corp.SAE grants are designed to help FFA members create or expand Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects, a requirement that all FFA members must complete.

Sen. Tester Nominates Two Valley County Students to Military Academies
After graduating from high school in the Spring of 2022, Dalton Sand of Glasgow and Cole Taylor of Opheim will soon head off to a military academy, thanks to nominations from Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester, and Congressman Matt Rosendale. "I would like to thank Congressman Matt Rosendale and Sen. Jon Tester for nominating me," Sand said. "That was a huge milestone in my life." A "big thank you to Senator Steve Daines, who has given me a principle nomination for West Point and again to Tester who has given me a competitive nomination to the Air Force Academy and West Point," Taylor said. Sand, a senior at Glasgow High School is heavily leaning toward attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, while Taylor has chosen the United States Military Academy at West Point. Both had the possibility of attending academies for other military branches.

Blackfeet Tribe receives Native Yo¬¬uth and Culture Grant from First Nations
Last year, the Blackfeet Tribe conducted a series of summer camps, after-school events and special programs for the benefit of local young people. This year, the folks at Blackfeet Planning have announced new funding to continue those programs and help train people to conduct them in years to come. "The First Nations Development Institute (FNDI) has awarded a grant for $15,000 to the Blackfeet Tribe under the Native Youth and Culture Fund (NYCF) program," Planning announced. "It was made possible through generous support from the Kalliopeia Foundation. The grant period is for 12 months, beginning Oct. 1 and ending Sept. 30, 2022. The grant funds will make a positive difference for the kids in our community. Thanks to First Nations and its donors, we can offer career development and training to the older kids as they learn to preserve our culture and natural resources. There are great summer camps and after-school programs offered on the Blackfeet Reservation, and they help make a positive difference in kids' lives."

FE Miley's Christmas concert full of the sounds of the holiday
The Big Sandy School music program did their part to make the season a little more festive last week. F.E. Miley Elementary held their annual Christmas Concert at Big Sandy High School last Thursday evening. Students took to the stage to play their instruments and sing for parents and community members. TJ Bond, the school's music teacher, was very positive as to how the program went: "The concert went extremely well, the students performed excellently and showed great spirit throughout the night." The first half of the concert featured instrumental performances by students in the various grades. The fifth grade band opened the evening with renditions of "Lightly Row" and "London Bridge", before being joined by the 4th graders. During their 4th grade year, students are introduced to playing an instrument through the recorder.

Local FFA member receives grant from Growmark Incorporated
A $1,000 SAE grant has been awarded to Sophia Schumacher of Plevna, by Growmark Incorporated. SAE grants are designed to help FFA members create or expand Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) projects, a requirement that all FFA members must complete. An SAE requires FFA members to create and operate an agriculture related business, work at an agriculture-related business or conduct an agricultural research experience. Upon completion, FFA members must submit a comprehensive report regarding their career development experience. This year 32 different sponsors made 39 different types of SAE Grants available. A full list of sponsors can be found on the National FFA Organization website on the SAE Grants webpage.

Watch now: Butte teen uses Christmas decorations to raise money for kids in need
Mason Fellows has been collecting inflatable Christmas decorations for most of his life. They fill up every corner of his yard and spill over into his neighbor's yard too. And during the dark December nights, the decorations draw crowds of sight-seers who flock to the home off Continental Drive for the bouncing air-filled creatures and brilliant light display. Earlier this year, in anticipation of the Christmas season, the 14-year-old East Middle School student came up with a way to use his display as a means to raise money for Toys for Tots because "what is better than toys on Christmas?" he said.  Fellows said he will be out on his curb this weekend selling cookies, pouring cocoa and spreading holiday cheer with the help of his 11-year-old brother, Dylan Fellows, and 12-year-old cousin, Colt Stenson. The first two weekends he opened the stand, Fellows said he raised nearly $400 selling sweets priced at just one dollar. And just before Christmas, he and his team of self-described elves will head to Walmart where he will take on the role of Santa Claus. He will use the money raised to pick out toys to donate.

Local students find success in diplomacy
In an interconnected world, addressing global challenges to maintain international peace and security takes a significant amount of negotiation and collaboration. This is what more than 130 Montana student delegates sought out to achieve over just two days at the 56th annual Model United Nations Conference held at the University of Montana. Flathead and Columbia high schools were among nine schools across Montana and Idaho participating at the Nov. 22-23 conference, and both returned home with awards. For the fourth consecutive year, Flathead High School was named the large delegation winner. Delegations were judged on overall preparedness, participation and excellence of their delegates. Columbia Falls High School, which was among schools with small delegations, received the honorable school award. Columbia Falls seniors Julia Martin and Emma Stephens ranked in top 25 seniors. "I am proud of our seniors who really stepped up this year, but it was a complete team effort as fifteen of our students received at least a top 20% award," Flathead Model UN adviser Sean O'Donnell said.

Philipsburg music teacher puts on fundraiser with students for Denton community
A Philipsburg music teacher wanted to teach her students about the power of helping others and after her hometown of Denton was struck with tragedy. Jill Waldbillig and her K-12 students jumped into action after Denton was hit by a wildfire that ran through the town on Dec. 1 leaving almost nothing left. Waldbillig - who is a native of Denton and has family and friends still living there - was shocked to hear about the wildfire and devastated to hear about the loss in her hometown. "When that elevator started to go, the wind would blow big flaming chunks of bombs. But about 25 houses went down a lot of people asked homes. "So I thought about that and then I thought about the importance of kids reaching out beyond their homes and where they live. And so that's kind of where we got this thing started here." Waldbillig knew she wanted to help those in need so she gathered her students together and started a fundraiser. "Because 25 houses are down, and we're raising money by wearing hats," said Philipsburg second grade student Jersi Kurger. Part of the fundraiser allows students to pay $1 to wear a hat to school, they can pay $3 for a snack and can bring in money to their music teacher.

Belgrade elementary class builds air filters for survivors of wildfire
Constructing air filters out of a box fan started as a class project for Amanda Rapstad's fourth grade class at Belgrade's Story Creek Elementary School. But as an unseasonal fire swept through Denton this month, burning houses as it went, the engineering project turned into something more. Rapstad, whose brother lives in Denton and serves as a voluntary EMT, had already decided on creating box fan air filters through a grant she received from Montana State University's Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. After talking with her family following the fire, her and her class decided to donate the air filters. "They were really excited that we had a real opportunity to help someone," Rapstad said of her class. The program, Looks Like Me, introduces engineering to younger students. The goal of the grant this year was to use engineering to solve a problem and create something that has a real-life application, Rapstad said. This is her second year participating in the program. "It was a perfect way for me to increase my knowledge and awareness of what engineers do and providing a hands-on opportunity for my students, as well," Rapstad said. At the start of the week, Rapstad's 26 students began brainstorming how they would create something to clean the air of smoke. For the first few days, Rapstad didn't provide her students with the materials, wanting them to work through the engineering design process. Without seeing the supplies, Rapstad said, the students realized they would need both something that filtered air and something that would suck in air.

Big Sky program aims to build girls' confidence, interest in STEM
As a middle school teacher, Amy Hunter said she was surprised by the number of girls who would say they weren't good at math and science. Hunter, now the Big Sky branch coordinator of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Big Sky Country, has since launched a program designed to inspire young girls' interest in STEM from a young age and encourage teenage girls' confidence in the field. As Hunter delved into the issue, she found a study from the University of Houston that found by the age of 6, many girls had lost interest in STEM or decided they weren't good at math or science. STEM Sisters started in 2019 with five eighth graders paired with five kindergarten and first graders. It slowed down briefly due to the pandemic when schools closed in March 2020. Students began meeting virtually for the fall of 2020 and resumed in person again in February 2021. The group stayed at five pairs during 2020 but this year added eight new matches bringing it to 26 students. There are two "Littles," or kindergarten and first graders, who are looking for matches with mentors. "Let's get them early so they have fun with STEM and so they can be with their mentor through the bulk of elementary school," Hunter said. The first year Hunter started the program, she said she was surprised by how many eighth grade girls thought they wouldn't be capable of it or doubted their abilities. Hunter said she had to encourage them and remind them not to doubt themselves.

Bigfork student promotes idea of family at school
Bigfork High School student body president Nya Schara leads with compassion and kindness for her fellow classmates. "Good morning family" is a phrase students will hear when Schara reads daily announcements, according to library media specialist Scarlett Sherman, who nominated Schara as a Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders honoree. "The whole purpose of it is to make the school environment a better place," said Schara, who was recognized with the designation in November. "It's pretty easy to be grumpy at school and so you kind of have to work to get kids you know to be uplifted at school. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to build a family here. That was the goal we set for ourselves in the beginning of the year." The Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders program recognizes the academic achievement and community involvement of high school students who contribute to improving the lives of others. The award is sponsored by Logan Health in collaboration with the Daily Inter Lake. In addition to the recognition, honorees choose a school club or activity to receive a $250 donation. She will donate the money to the student council.

WHS freshman earns prestigious spot singing at Lincoln Center
Fiona Shanahan has long been a musician taking violin and piano lessons, but a more recent interest in singing landed her on stage at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Shanahan, 14, of Whitefish performed at the New York Concert Music Festival on Nov. 20 at the Lincoln Center. She placed second in the classical vocal competition. "I really like music and I only recently found that singing is my favorite thing to do," the Whitefish High School freshman said. "I had never been to New York before and to perform at the Lincoln Center was amazing." She sang Mozart's operatic composition of "Voi Che Sapete." She was chosen among applicants from Europe, Asia and the United States to perform as a classical vocalist. The New York Concert Festival International Competitions provide opportunities for music students from around the world to display their talents in such renowned venues as Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. The process to select performers for the festival is rigorous, according to a press release. Shanahan was chosen to perform via an online audition. A jury of internationally renowned classical musicians reviewed online submissions and finalists were selected.

Sidney High sophomores produce a mythological newspaper
The sophomore class of Sidney High School was assigned, per District requirement, a semester project at the beginning of this academic year. This section of the Sidney Herald is the culmination of many hours of reading, note taking, discussions, assignments and assessments, with Edith Hamilton's "Mythology" as the focus of instruction and foundation of the project. The sophomore class has been working on these articles in order to experience the writing process as well as the regimens and requirements of newspaper publication. This creative writing assignment, called fan fiction, started with idea boards and sketches, became formal outlines, then rough drafts. The rough drafts have been revised, edited by themselves and their peers and edited by class editors, students acting as desk editors and an editor in chief. Each student has then submitted for cumulative assessment a final draft. Each class has been working diligently to refine and enhance their stories and the best have been chosen to be published by the Sidney Herald.

Ronan schools provide Thanksgiving baskets to families
The Ronan Counseling Department handed out 567 pounds of food to families in need this Thanksgiving. Turkeys were offered to the district by the Montana Food Bank Network back in October, setting in motion the organization of the Thanksgiving baskets. To determine how many were needed, the counseling staff gathered and got in touch with families they felt would benefit from some extra support. Sixteen households in total were given baskets for the holiday.  The rest of the food provided was already largely available from the school district's own high school pantry.  Made possible by the No Kid Hungry grant received by the school district last year to start a food pantry, the Ronan High School Pantry offers a wide variety of meal-making choices to students, from canned and dry goods to refrigerated and frozen.  "We want the kids to come in and get the food that their family will eat," Tammy Young, the school counselor involved in applying for the grant, said. "That's the overall goal of the pantry, just to help out families that need some extra support." Involved in bringing the backpack program to the elementary and middle schoolers of Ronan, a program that sends students who need a little extra support home with food on the weekends, Young saw a need for food security among older students as well. "Making sure these kids have food is something close to my heart. When kids are hungry, they can't focus. They can't learn," Young said.

PHS senior receives full-ride to Northwestern
Brookelyn Slonaker, a senior at Polson High School, was recently awarded a full-ride scholarship to Northwestern University in Illinois. Brookelyn spent over a year qualifying for the scholarship via QuestBridge, a non-profit organization that matches high achieving students from low-income backgrounds to universities across the nation. According to the QuestBridge website, this year's 1,674 full-ride recipients were chosen through rigorous qualification processes from a field of 6,312 finalists, narrowed down from more than 16,500 applicants. "The achievements of our Match Scholarship Recipients are a culmination of their hard work and perseverance," said Ana McCullough, Co-Founder and CEO of QuestBridge. "Thanks to the commitment of our college partners, these deserving students can tap into their full potential without worrying about the cost of a great education." "We're all so excited," Brookelyn said of herself and her family after hearing the news. "Northwestern is my dream school."

Mineral County woman wins second Emmy award
Superior native Emma Reed added to her Emmy collection recently when she won for Outstanding Studio Show/Daily, on ESPN's Sports Center, also as an Associate Producer. A graduate of Superior High School, Reed's family lives in the Cyr area near Superior.

Area musicians perform in honors concert
Musicians from 16 schools participated in the North Central Honor Band and Choir Festival at Choteau High School on Nov. 29-30. Following the two days of rehearsal, the students performed a live concert in the school auditorium. The hour-long concert was the first performance in more than a year for both the guest conductors and many of the students, given most performances were held virtually over the past year and a half due to health concerns related to the pandemic. In welcoming the conductors, fellow music teachers, student musicians and audience, Choteau music teacher Lorran Depner said it was exciting to be back in the auditorium and it was an honor and pleasure to host this year's event. She thanked all those involved in hosting the event, including the Choteau School District and the staff. Prof. James Smart, Ph.D., from the University of Montana in Missoula was the guest conductor for the band and Amy Schendel, Billings Skyview High School teacher, was the director of the choir. Peter Wilson accompanied the choir.

Supaman Performs, Motivates Broadus Youth
Chris Parrish Takes The Gun, otherwise known as Supaman, held a lively presentation for the kids and staff at Broadus schools last week. The talented Apsáalooke (or Crow) rapper and fancy dancer from Crow Agency spoke and performed for the elementary students.

Big Sandy Community Theater was a Smashing Success
After months of evening practices and line memorizing, the Big Sandy Community Theater presented two showings of Oz, with a surprise double feature of The Tortoise and the Hare 2: This Time It's Personal. The shows were staged at the Big Sandy Auditorium on Friday (the 3rd) at 7 and Saturday (the 4th) at 3. Both were well attended and garnered significant laughs and encouragement from the attendees. Speaking to the directors and actors, the show was a smashing success. Despite some nervousness over the "gap year" created by the Covid lockdowns, the community response to auditions and the show didn't miss a beat over past years. Amanda Hoffman, one of the directors, explained: "This year's plays were amazing, the cast did awesome. When we picked the plays, we were not sure how many community members would be interested since we had to skip a year. We had more show up for auditions this year than we have had in the past, that is a great feeling. I love how the plays bring all ages together and build relationships within our community."

Christmas Concert
Baker Public Schools will be presenting the annual Christmas Concert on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Longfellow Gym. Everyone is welcome to join us for an evening of festive holiday music!

GHS students plan a great escape fundraiser for suicide awareness
Who can escape to save Christmas in Whoville? This is the question Glacier High School students Kacy Bitney, Elize Strobel and Sarah Downs pose to the community. The three students have organized an escape room fundraiser to benefit the Nate Chute Foundation for suicide awareness. The escape room will be open from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18. Participants will be given 25 minutes to solve puzzles and save Christmas. Groups, up to 10 people at a time, are invited to sign up for 25-minute time slots at Cost is $10 per person and all proceeds go to the foundation. The escape room will be located at Glacier, 375 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, in the E100 pod. From planning to execution, the three students organized the fundraiser as their "Community Giving Project," a DECA Project Management event. "You have to do some sort of fundraiser, or fundraising, and write an essay. Basically, you're learning how to give back to the community," Bitney said.

Havre and Chinook among MT projects receiving funding for STEM programs serving girls, youth
Eight Montana projects including one that will be in Havre and Chinook have received mini-grant funding from the Montana Girls STEM Collaborative to help develop or grow science, technology, engineering and math programs that serve girls and youth. The collaborative is a statewide network with hubs at Montana State University and University of Montana. The mini grants of $500 to $1,000 were given in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies, which created an online database called the IF/THEN Collection that features women scientists and engineers. The database features profiles of 125 female ambassadors who serve as role models for young people, and all photographs, videos and text found on the site are free for educational use.

TDS donates $5,000 to the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools
As a supporter of investing in student achievement through STEM education and an advocate for educators investing in students, TDS Telecom (TDS®) is pleased to donate $5,000 to the Educator Appreciation Campaign of the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools. TDS is currently constructing a 500-mile fiber-to-the home network in Billings, which will ultimately connect more than 40,000 homes and businesses across the community. The Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools explores innovative ways to fund and promote academic excellence in Billings, in part by ensuring educators have access to grants and support to ensure their success. Thanks to the Foundation's efforts, thousands of Billings public school teachers deliver a quality education that helps students reach their greatest potential and become productive citizens.

Elysian students make gift bags for weary health care workers
Middle school students at Elysian have been busy recently preparing gift bags for nurses. After students from the Lighthouse leadership group decided on the idea, about 30 girls signed up to collect snacks and write cards for 50 nurses at Billings Clinic and St. Vincent hospitals. "We're doing it to give thanks, to show them we're thankful for them for saving people's lives every day and for taking care of us," said Evie, a sixth-grader. Another sixth-grader, Isabelle, said the gifts for nurses are "just little things to make their day a lot better." Students have seen parents, family members, and classmates become sick with COVID-19 who have since recovered. Some students even have parents who work at hospitals and are nurses. "Because of those experiences, the kids really are like, 'We need to do something to be so thankful for everything,' " said Bethany Joy, a teacher-advisor on the project. Students created and posted flyers while advisors sent out information in a school blog and in newsletters. The school community donated all of the snacks by sending them in with students or by delivering items to the school.

'They deserve to have a good Christmas:' Bozeman group seeks donations for high school students experiencing homelessness
A group is seeking donations of backpacks, hygiene products, winter essentials and gift cards to help students experiencing homelessness this winter. The fundraiser - in its fourth year - aims to help provide essentials to Bozeman High and Gallatin High teens experiencing homelessness during the holiday break. "During the holiday, they don't have school for those two weeks and I want to make sure they're taken care of for those two weeks," said Tiffani Pimley, an organizer of the fundraiser. "… They deserve to have a good Christmas." While a lot of holiday fundraisers or events focus on younger children, Pimley said this one is specifically for teens who need the extra support. "I don't want these kids to think there's nobody out there or they're forgotten or they're doing it on their own. People who don't know them care and people want them to be taken care of," Pimley said. The goal is to have 40 backpacks with enough supplies to fill them. As of Dec. 3, the group has received 10 backpacks.

Tester nominates students to prestigious military service academies
U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced Wednesday he is nominating 20 students including from Blaine and Hill counties to be admitted into one of the country's prestigious military service academies. Harlem High School student Michael King and Havre High School students Riley Pleninger and Orion Thivierge are among the sudents Tester nominated based on their academic accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and commitment to serving and leading in the United States military. To attend the U.S. Military, Naval, Air Force, or Merchant Marine Academies, a student must be nominated by a member of Congress. "As Montana's senior senator, I'm proud to nominate our state's gifted young leaders to the country's most prestigious military academies," Tester said. "These top-tier students have shown an unmatched work ethic and dedication to serving their country and communities time and time again. Montana's students are some of the best this country has to offer, and I'm looking forward to watching them become the next generation of America's military leadership."

Muldown second graders: How to cook a turkey
Second graders at Muldown Elementary School in Kitty Dowaliby and Bonnie Hannigan's classes recently shared their directions for "how to cook a turkey." First I put basil on it. Next I put in the oven 7 degrees. Then I take it out of the oven and cut it up. Finally we feast on the turkey.

Ronan's Aaliyah Decker earns TATL award
Aaliyah Decker, a senior at Ronan High School, is the recipient of the "Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders" (TATL) award for the first quarter of the 2021-22 school year. The award is cosponsored by Logan Health (formerly Kalispell Regional Hospital) and the Lake County Leader. Aaliyah has melded a unique combination of interests and skills. She has achieved awards in a wide range of extracurriculars, from speech and debate and jazz/pep band (trombone), to sports (golf, cheerleading, tennis), math and science competitions, and professional organizations HOSA (Health Occupations of America) and FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America). She also currently serves as student body president. With numerous AP and college courses already under her belt, she currently holds a 4.08 GPA. While all of these activities have taught her to take on leadership roles and will no doubt contribute to future success in any career, there are two particular interests that pique her aspirations. "Whenever I try to answer the question of how I want to make a difference in the world, it's mostly about preserving my [Salish] culture in a way that is also passionate for me."

Ronan High School prepares to honor first Hall of Fame class
The School District #30/Ronan Community Hall of Fame Committee is preparing to honor its inaugural Hall of Fame class in February. A community induction celebration will be held Feb. 4 at the Ronan Community Center. A short recognition ceremony will take place during the Ronan/Polson basketball games later that day in the Ronan Event Center.

UM announces new scholarship for Montana students
The University of Montana has launched a major new scholarship to help Montana students pay for college. The Payne Family Impact Scholarship, established with a significant $7.5 million gift from longtime UM supporters Terry and Patt Payne, will be awarded to hundreds of Montana high school students who choose to attend UM beginning in fall 2022.  "When it comes to paying for school, too often Montana families find themselves caught in the middle of a financial gap where aid is hard to come by and the cost of tuition is out of reach," said UM President Seth Bodnar. "This scholarship will remove the financial burden that keeps too many Montanans from accessing a higher education and further fulfills UM's responsibility to promote inclusive prosperity in our state."

Libby students performed well on standardized tests
South Lincoln County public school students saw success in standardized testing last spring, overcoming coronavirus-related academic hurdles and long-standing socio-economic challenges. Numbers released by the state Office of Public Instruction earlier this month revealed that students with Libby Public Schools performed better than the state average on three out of five testing categories. The test scores regularly placed the district above other large Class A schools. In the math component of the Smarter Balanced Assessment, a test for third to eighth graders, just over 42.12 percent of students scored advanced or proficient. The state average for this metric was 35.57 percent. For the English language arts portion of the assessment, 50.88 percent of Libby students scored proficient or advanced. Across the state, only 46.39 percent of students reached this standard. Troy Public Schools demonstrated slightly higher proficiency than Libby schools in this metric with 52.38 percent of students scoring advanced or proficient. Juniors at Libby High School trailed the state average on two out of three American College Testing (ACT) categories and scored higher in one. Libby Superintendent Ron Goodman said the district has struggled with the ACT but that test scores are rising despite academic setbacks during the pandemic.

Steller performance of 'Beauty and the Beast'
The Laurel High School musical "Beauty and the Beast" went off without a hitch last week. The 34 actors and vocalists had two public performances and additional shows for district elementary students. Artistic Director and Rhonda Burghardt and Technical Director Denise Hammer want to show their appreciation for every who helped make this year's musical happen. The following is from the playbill for "Beauty and the Beast:" It takes a Great team to produce a Great show and we are very GRATEFUL for all those who contributed to the success of our production. Suzanne Purtee: It is a joy to have this accomplished pianist as our accompanist! Not only is she very talented, but she is so NICE and easy to work with! Linda Swensen: Creativity and skill abound when Linda is around! She can work wonders with a needle and fabric and is an incredible resource. While she did her usual magic with costumes, this year we also had costume help from Kimbree Garcia and the Campbell County High School; Gillette, Wyoming.

Putting Some 'Pep' in the Scotties' Step
There is something about the music of a high school pep band that hits different. Glasgow is lucky to be home to one of the top pep bands around. Under the direction of GHS alumni Todd Truscott, the Scottie pep band brings a little something extra to every home sporting event they can – whether in the gym for basketball and volleyball, or out in the Scottie Field bleachers for football. "When you that school song roaring across whatever gym or football field or anything, it's very impressive," boasted Truscott of his band's prowess. "You can see where a lot of people really stand up and start clapping and getting into it. It brings the crowd into it. It just makes the whole atmosphere a lot more fun." And it isn't just the crowd getting into it. That music plays a part in pumping up the athletes on the field or on the court. "I definitely notice the energy of the band during warmups for our games" said Bergen Miller, a member of the band and the boys basketball team. "Also, I've gotten lots of compliments from the girls on how the band sounds for their games."

GHS Class of 2022 Chooses Guest Speaker for Graduation Ceremony
Normally, the class speaker for the annual Glasgow High School graduation ceremony must themselves be a former graduate of GHS. In spite of the fact Wade Nelson is a graduate of Hinsdale High School, his positive impact on the Glasgow High School Class of 2022 led them to request a special exemption just for him. "Each one of us took his class and we all have integral memories from the days we spent with him," Blaire Westby said during the last Glasgow School Board meeting. He was very committed to making sure we were prepared for high school. As 8th grade students that year, our class was involved in a devastating accident. Mr. Nelson was there with us the entire time and was always a support system for us. Mr. Nelson has been teaching in Glasgow for 22 years. His presence in our lives never goes unnoticed." And "while Mr. Nelson does not hold a GHS diploma, and has a Hinsdale High school one instead, he remains a specially influential figure in all of our lives," Westby continued. "It is our desire to be able to extend the invitation to him as our speaker."

Fifth grade artifacts museum
On November 17th, students in Mrs. Carol Spencer's fifth grade class at Ekalaka Public Schools hosted a Native American Artifacts Museum in the gym. Each student had created an artifact for each of the seven Native American regions of North America, shown in the map at the center of the picture. The students showcased knowledge about each of the regions with each, individual artifact.

School holiday concerts on tap
A host of schools have holiday concerts coming up the the next few days and weeks. Here's a roundup of all the local shows: Glacier Gateway will have its holiday concerts in the old junior high gym Dec. 14. At 9 a.m. is kindergarten; 9:30 first through third grades; and 1:30 p.m. fourth and fifth graders. Ruder Elementary first grade is from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m. and then kindergarten 2:30-3:30 p.m. Dec. 16; Dec. 17, fifth grade is 8:45-9:15 a.m.; fourth grade 9:20-9:45 a.m.; second grade 10:15-10:35 a.m.; third grade 10:40-11 a.m. West Glacier's concert is 4:30 p.m. Dec. 7. Junior High is 6:30 p.m. Dec. 13 for sixth graders and treble choir; Jazz, 7th and 8th graders are at 7:30 p.m. High School concerts start this week with performances at the Night of Lights parade and singing afterwards by the drumline, the flute ensemble and the Sonifers. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m.

Ruth Shea's Pre-K students share tips for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is almost upon us and some folks may be wondering just how to manage the traditional dinner everyone expects. Maybe it's their first time or perhaps they just want to equal their elders' menus from Thanksgivings past, but in any case Ms. Ruth Shea's Pre-Kindergartners have all the answers. From obtaining the bird to cooking it and, most importantly, cleaning up afterward, these kids really know their "stuff." Brooklyn McConnell: I would get a turkey from the fridge. My mom got the turkey at the Dollar Store. It cost a thousand dollars. I will cook it on our stove for 1 hour. We will eat toast, some ice cream and some pop with it. My mom will help me eat it. My mom will clean up. Blake Sinclair: I will get a turkey from the cupboard. I will cook it in the oven. I will cook it for 5 minutes. When the clock rings, it is done. I will eat a sandwich, chips, and a cupcake with the turkey. My daddy, my mommy and my sissy will help me eat it. I will clean up the mess. Malik Fish: I will get a turkey from the turkey man. It will cost 5 monies. My mom will help me eat it. My dad will clean up.

Bitterroot teen gathering warmth for the community
Morgan Bisel is in her fourth year of gathering new and gently used warm clothing for people who are experiencing homelessness. Bisel, 14, is now a freshman at Corvallis High School and she has expanded her outreach with 12 bins around the Bitterroot Valley sporting her handmade signs that say "Morgan Bisel's Helping Hands." She is hoping for donations of warm articles of clothing like hats, gloves, coats, boots, sox and thermals in any size by Dec. 18. She will take the donated items to The Povarello Center [homeless center] in Missoula and The Salvation Army Service Center in Hamilton, where she has an official business partnership. "We've reached out," Bisel said. Partnering with her efforts this year are Massa Home Center, Canyons, Murdoch's Ranch and Home Supply, Sapphire Lutheran Homes, Cornerstone Bible Church, Hamilton Latter-day Saints Church, Roots Church, the Corvallis School District, the Rotary Club service organization and their youth service group Interact.

Cayuse Prairie program aims to create peaceful classrooms
Down a hallway to Cayuse Prairie School teacher Charles Wiest's classroom, a series of handwritten notes called "Tootles" hang from the walls. Jotted down on two of the notes are specific times a student showed persistence, or great participation in class. "Tootles rather than tattles," Cayuse Prairie Principal Amy Piazzola said with a smile. Tootles are just one component of the PAX Good Behavior Game, which encompasses a set of strategies teachers can use in the classroom in efforts to reduce disruption while teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors linked to self-management, self-control and self-regulation. Cayuse Prairie has been implementing PAX since the 2019-20 school year and uses it at all grade levels starting in kindergarten. On a Wednesday morning inside Wiest's seventh-grade classroom, he transitions from teaching a lesson to a writing assignment. For working so quietly, he rewards the class with the opportunity to choose a PAX game to play in the last few minutes of class. When the room got a bit chatty, he picked up a harmonica.

November 2021 GREAT NEWS

Polson teacher promotes 'Indigenous Formal Attire'
A Polson Elementary School teacher has gained social media attention for posting pictures wearing what he calls, 'Indigenous Formal Attire.' Rod Ivan FirstStrike is using his platform as a school teacher to encourage kids to be proud of their culture through what they wear. Firstrike gained a lot of attention over the post below, where he calls himself a 'Classy Indigenous Male Teacher.''

Future outdoor learning space, roof repair, skiing and more at Alder School District
The Alder School District Board of Directors met on Nov. 18. Here's a recap of what was covered. The board adopted two policies, one regarding breastfeeding in the workplace. The other was regarding wastewater testing. The board approved the purchase of four iPads and shades for the upper grade classroom. Because of the cost to build, the construction of a new outdoor learning space, the project must go out for bid. The board agreed to retain Montana School Boards Association's legal team to create the bid. The construction is being funded by ESSER II and ESSER III funds. Snow plowing for the school grounds was discussed. The lead teacher will reach out to a community member to see if he will do the work. Part of the roof on one of the two buildings blew off during a recent storm. It was decided to have the insurance company do an inspection before repairing or replacing the roof.

Kindergarten educator has zest for teaching reading
As a kindergarten teacher, Derrick Criner knows that progress is a process and trying new things may lead to enriching experiences. Initially, the 2013 Glacier High School grad thought he would go into nursing when he started college. He had taken many biology classes and his mother, who was a nurse, talked highly of the profession. However, by freshman year of college, he decided to make the switch to teaching after reflecting on how much he had enjoyed working for the Kalispell Parks and Recreation summer youth camp program - planning and leading children in games, activities and field trips. In 2016, he graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman with a degree in elementary education and a minor in reading for grades K-12. When asked for his advice to other high school students who aren't sure about what to do as a career he said, "Don't be afraid to try new things." Trying new things that don't always come easily takes practice and persistence. Reading is one example where all of the above paid off and he is halfway to completing a master's degree in reading from Montana State University-Billings.

Turkey brigade returns to Victor
While the wagons were lighter than the years before, the smiles were just as big when the turkey brigade parade returned to Victor Thursday morning. Sue Lane's first-grade class gathered early around two wagons partially filled with frozen turkeys in the brisk morning air with a smattering of adults and high school "buddies" as they all prepared for the march to the nearby Bitterroot Valley Church of the Nazarene's food bank. With the list of people hoping for a holiday meal getting longer every day, the food bank's founders and chief volunteers, Bill and Roxanne Gouin, were happy to see the donated turkeys. Just as important for them was the return of the youngsters who happily pushed the wagons down the street to the church. Last year, due to the pandemic, the turkey brigade was put on hold and cash donations from the school came in an envelope.

Evergreen alumni retain special bond with school district
A strong tradition of preparing students for success has been a part of the Evergreen School District since it was created in 1903. Now in its 119th year of continuous operation, the Evergreen district serves students in preschool through eighth grade. Many students who attend Evergreen follow in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents and maybe even their great-grandparents. When students leave eighth grade for high school, most attend Glacier High School through Evergreen's partnership with Kalispell Public Schools. Tori Salmonsen, a Glacier High School sophomore, along with her two older brothers and father, attended the Evergreen School District kindergarten through eighth grade. One thing Tori loved about attending school in Evergreen is the small community, which allows students to know everyone. Tori also attributes Evergreen's success to its staff, saying, "The best thing about Evergreen are the teachers. They are caring." Tori's father Billy echoed this sentiment. Billy Salmonsen has coached for the Evergreen Wolverines for the last 16 years, starting when his oldest son began junior high school. Even now as Billy's children no longer attend Evergreen, he continues to coach and mentor young athletes.

SSHS senior receives national character award
Every day before football practice started, senior Sawyer Shelmerdine would go get the keys from Head Coach Jay Crum and go unload the equipment shed for the team. He would have been the quarterback again this year but due to a knee injury he was sidelined. Because of his love of football and desire to stay involved he was the captain and team manager. "I just wanted to be there and try and help them out as much as I could," Shelmerdine said. Shelmerdine's dedication and leadership was recognized with the Burlsworth National Character and Sportsmanship Award. The Burlsworth Award honors players who represent the ideals and values that Brandon Burlsworth had - to give 100% on the field and to stand as a moral example to his team. SSHS is the only school in Montana that has received this national award. Shelmerdine shares the honor with SSHS graduates Eric Lorentz who received it in 2020 and Dakota Wood who received it in 2019. 

St. Regis School continues Veterans Day breakfast tradition
Asking the gracious group of veterans and their families at the St. Regis School cafeteria how many years the school has hosted the Veterans Day Breakfast and there is silence. "I've been around 10 years and they have done it for all of that time," replied Scott Burrows, American Legion Adjutant of the Ray Welch Post 13 in St. Regis. "It's always open to any veteran, and it seems that most who attend come from our post." At 0800 hours Thursday, Nov. 11, the school band, with a couple of special guest musicians, Denley Loge on trombone and Shelly Larson with the alto saxophone, belted out a montage of every services theme song followed by a few patriotic tunes all ages in attendance appreciated. Derek Larson, St. Regis music teacher and newly appointed School Superintendent, proudly waved his baton as the student musicians were clearly enjoying themselves.

U.S. veterans thanked at area programs
Teton County veterans were recognized and honored on Veterans Day during programs held by Dutton/Brady and Fairfield School Districts. The Fairfield student body sat in the bleachers surrounding the almost 30 veterans, their families and community members seated on the gymnasium floor. Superintendent Dustin Gordon welcomed the honored guests and shared his and the entire school district's appreciation for the years of service by the veterans past and present.

Meet Jessie Valerio: 'I am so blessed to live and work in Cut Bank'
Schools in small communities are like families. They are a close-knit little community of educators all working towards the betterment of their students.  That was indeed how it felt for Philippine native, Jessie Valerio when he started his new job as the elementary physical education teacher in the Cut Bank School system just a few months ago. "I am very comfortable and certain that I am part of this family," he said after only a short time in Cut Bank. "I am so blessed to live and work in Cut Bank." Jessie was born and raised in Paranaque City located in metro Manila in the Philippines. He received his bachelor's degree from the Philippine Normal University Manila in 2012. Following his graduation, he passed the exam and became a professional teacher in the Philippines. While teaching here, he is working on his master's degree in Physical Education in Western Colleges Inc., Philippines. For Jessie, there was never another choice other than to become a teacher.

Veterans Honored At School Program
A Veterans Day ceremony was held at the high school on November 11th to honor local vets. On hand for the event were a small number of local veterans who watched as students from the junior high and high school conducted the presentation. Additionally, the band and choir, as well as the Broadus first grade class performed for the gathered audience, while the cheerleaders helped to introduce the vets on hand, as well as presenting and retiring the colors. Kori Richards, senior classman, spoke to the gathering: When Francis Scott Key wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" over 200 years ago, he called America, "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Those words are as true today as they were then."

Veteran's Honored by Big Sandy Students
For some reason, I always cry at the Veteran's Day Program. I thought it was because my daughter and her husband are veterans, but they have moved from Big Sandy. And I still found myself crying. It's deep within me; I guess that soldiers deserve so much more from us than a short day of honor. I think of my family's generations of involvement in serving. I often wonder how serving affected each person. I know when you do, you are changed. I believe that the Big Sandy High School Choir does a fabulous job when they sing the Star-Spangled Banner. Their voices are so blended. They also sang Hard Times Comes Again No More. I had never heard it before, but the lyrics are haunting. These in the middle of the song were incredibly touching. "While we seek mirth and beauty and music, light and gay, there are frail forms fainting at the door. Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say, Oh, hard times, come again no more." Music teacher TJ Bond arranged this song, and Melanie Schwarzbach accompanied.

Kalispell Education Foundation funds 'Great Ideas'
The Kalispell Education Foundation awarded $26,687 in Great Ideas grants to help teachers and counselors fund projects and equipment to enrich the classroom experience in Kalispell Public Schools. Thanks to the community support the foundation received this year, 19 out of 24 grant requests were funded, according to Kalispell Education Foundation Executive Director Dorothy Drury. Several projects this year focused on student mental health, wellbeing and collaboration in addition to academics. Rankin Elementary Principal Merissa Murray was awarded a $1,989 grant for classroom "calm down kits" to help students identify emotions such as anxiety and healthy social-emotional responses to self-regulate. A $1,300 grant went to Kalispell Public Schools Special Education Director Sara Cole's project proposal "Yoga for teachers and teens." The grant will fund a yoga class with the intention of helping potentially overwhelmed staff and students slow down, pay attention to their bodies and emotions through guided movements and breath with a focus on mindfulness practices.

Havre students learn in D.C.
Washington D.C. feels a world away from Havre, Montana, but that did not stop Havre High CloseUp from taking eight Havre High School students to the nation's capital in October. One of those students was senior Dartanion Kaftan, who got to experience the nation's capital for the first time. "It was one of the best experiences I've ever had," Kaftan said. "It's a whole new world out there. We did a lot of things that were pretty exciting and we talked to a lot of important people." Havre High CloseUp is a non-profit education organization that takes HHS students to the nation's capital every few years to participate in civic-leadership workshops as well as explore the nation's capital.

Glacier chalks up another win at Missoula tourney
The Glacier High School speech and debate team captured its second consecutive win of the season in Missoula over the weekend. Glacier took first place by racking up 207.5 overall points at the Garden City Regional tournament. Flathead finished second with 177.5 overall points. Frenchtown edged Columbia Falls among Class ABC schools - 54.5 to 50 - followed by Whitefish with 30 points. Twenty teams from Western Montana competed in the tournament. "I told the team to never take wins for granted," Glacier Head Coach Greg Adkins said in a press release. "Winning a two-day AA tournament is never easy, and I'm very proud of the team's efforts. I'm so thrilled at the way our newcomers are competing and the growth that our returners are showing in the young season." Glacier was led with individual first-place finishes from Owen Carpenter and Atticus Cheman in Novice Policy Debate; Kevin Fortin in Novice Lincoln-Douglas Debate; Calvin Schmidt in Legislative Debate; Alexa Wilton in Memorized Public Address; and Lane McKoy in Informative Speaking.

Bozeman's two high schools partner to bring 'The Sound of Music' alive
When the curtain rises on Bozeman and Gallatin high schools' performance of "The Sound of Music," one of the first scenes to greet the audience will be of Maria twirling against a backdrop of the Bridger Mountains. Instead of the Swiss Alps, the mountains in Bozeman's backyard will serve as the backdrop for the two schools' performance of the iconic musical, which is scheduled to run from Thursday evening through Sunday. While the schools did two shows last year in the fall and spring, this will be the first show since the start of the pandemic that is open to the public instead of limited to family members or streamed online.

Lambert School celebrates Veterans Day by honoring local vets
Students at Lambert School participated in their annual Veterans Day. There were patriotic songs performed by preschool-8th grade students and the high school speech class took the lead in emceeing the event. Local veterans were given a front row seat in comfy chairs and presented with a patriotic pillow, packet of letters, and tray of cookies.

Fairview FFA attends Montana FFA Ag Expo
The Fairview High School FFA chapter has been busy as of late. Just a couple weeks ago, the FFA officers went to the National FFA Convention and Expo, and this weekend, the Fairview FFA members attended the Montana FFA Ag Expo, which is sponsored by John Deere Dealers. The expo will expose students to a variety of topics and activities, and it is a great opportunity for students, said Fairview FFA advisor Vanessa Pooch. A big thing for FFA students is contests, which there were at the expo, but there were also leadership conferences and farm equipment training, for example. "The main thing we talk about is the contests, but there's so many levels to this expo to help the students not only grow in their FFA career, but really any kind of career development they might want," Pooch said.

Best of the best: Grass Range vet science team places 7th in nation
It was an unexpected first for the Grass Range FFA Veterinary Science Team when they placed among the top 10 teams in the nation at the 94th National FFA Convention last week. The team, consisting of Nola Goss, Morgan Corean, Layton Tucek, and Caden Seaholm, qualified to compete at the national level when they won the Montana competition in March. During the week of October 25, the team traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. to participate in the convention and compete in vet science. Over 60,000 FFA members from across the U.S., the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico attended the week's events, and Grass Range was just one of almost 9,000 chapters represented. According to Grass Range FFA Advisor Gabby Drishinski, this was the first time the local chapter competed at or attended a national convention. The vet science team also qualified to compete at the national level two years ago, but was unable to attend. "The previous advisor was big in vet science," said Drishinski. "So the girls (Goss and Corean) had been competing in the category since 2017." Corean ended up placing 9th individually as she helped the team grab 7th overall. The team placing was a surprise to the students, who have been studying together virtually. Goss and Corean are 2021 graduates of Grass Range, and have since moved away, while Tucek and Seaholm are seniors.

Speech and debate wins in Hamilton
Columbia Falls took first at the Hamilton Invitational over the weekend in speech and debate. The Wildcats had first place finishes from Aiden Judge in extemporaneous, Griffin Conger in dramatic interpretation, Raphe Salmon in Lincoln-Douglas and Eddie Chisholm and Emma Stephens nabbed top honors in policy debate.

Area schools, communities plan Veterans Day observations
Veterans from around Teton County will be honored at a variety of programs on Thursday, Nov. 11. Choteau Public Schools is not doing a program this year, but has created a window display at the Full Circle second-hand store to honor area veterans. The Choteau C. James Smith American Legion Post and Auxiliary invites members of the post, their spouses and guests and community members to attend the Veterans Day dinner on Nov. 11 at the Stage Stop Inn. The event begins with no-host cocktails at 5:30 p.m. Dinner of bacon-wrapped and smoked meatloaf, grilled asparagus, rosemary roasted potatoes and cake will be served. The cost is $13 for members and guests. Spouses of deceased veterans will be treated to supper free courtesy of the post. Any eligible veteran in the Choteau area and his or her spouse who wish to join the American Legion are welcome. Any veteran who signs up for Post membership (dues are $30) will be given dinner compliments of the post.

Blackfeet artist, teacher and former Marine: Jesse DesRosier shares message of encouragement
Valier students were taught and entertained on Friday, Nov. 5, by former student, Jesse DesRosier, a Blackfeet artist and teacher of the Blackfoot language. Jesse only attended Valier High School his sophomore year, but he made an impact on those he interacted with while here. Augustina Eagle Speaker recalls one such interaction. "I remember I was in third grade and he was in high school at Valier. He came over to show me how to write 'Merry Christmas' in Blackfeet! Still have the paper too!" DesRosier was invited to Valier to give a presentation for Native American Heritage Month on Blackfeet Art and Language, a language that was all but lost in the late 20th century. A Browning High School and University of Montana graduate, DesRosier earned a Major in Native American Studies and a Minor in Anthropology. He now teaches the Blackfoot Language at Cuts Wood School in Browning and Blackfeet Community College. DesRosier's presentation included an opportunity for students to learn and practice pictograph art and also to learn some of the Blackfoot language. The elementary students were especially entertained and engaged as they had opportunities to practice words Jesse shared with them. A Winter Count is a history written in pictograph on buffalo hide by one person appointed to keep the record.

Gianforte tours East Helena High School career and technical classes
On Monday, Gov. Greg Gianforte traveled to East Helena to highlight the importance of career and technical education. Gianforte toured East Helena High School, where career and technical learning spaces are a big part of the new building. He visited the school's woodshop along with welding, culinary arts and business classes. "I'm just pleased to be here today and see the excellent work going on here," he said. "They have experienced teachers; these students are getting real-world skills that's going to help them succeed in life." Gianforte said, with Montana's population growing and the demand for housing higher than ever, these types of jobs will be key for the state in coming years. "We need more carpenters and plumbers and cooks and computer science, and they're doing that here at East Helena High," he said.

Bainville teacher receives Montana Centennial Bell Award
Monday was Montana's 132nd birthday. The state joined the Union on November 8, 1889. In Helena, leaders marked the occasion by recognizing a teacher for her work to share Montana's story with her students. April Wills, a fifth-grade teacher from Bainville in northeastern Montana, received the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award to recognize her as the state's history teacher of the year. "It's been a whirlwind, but it's been really amazing," she said. Wills learned she had been selected on the last day of school this spring, when she received a call from Norma Ashby Smith – the longtime broadcaster who has been coordinating the award since it began in 1990.

North Star speech and drama takes first in Cut Bank
The North Star speech and drama team traveled to Cut Bank Saturday for the first meet of the season and saw great success, taking first in the team sweepstakes competition. Three students made it to finals: Emily Conner took second place in spontaneous oral interpretation of literature, Ecko Fraser placed fourth in impromptu speaking and Madelyn Myers was the first-place finisher in humorous oral interpretation of literature. "Wish us luck next week as we travel just down the road to Chester-Joplin-Inverness on Saturday," the team said in a release. People who are interested in judging at that meet can contact CJI at

Montana History Teacher of the Year helps ring in Statehood Day
Every year on Nov. 8 at exactly 10:40 a.m., the Centennial Bell housed in the Montana Capitol building rotunda is rung by special guests to commemorate the Treasure State's statehood. This year's special guests were Bainville Public School teacher April Wills and some of her fifth and sixth grade students. Wills received the Montana Historical Society's 2021 Montana History Teacher of the Year award. She and her students made the long trek from Bainville to help ring in Statehood Day. Wills is a native of Columbus who graduated from Broadwater High School in Townsend. She received her elementary education degree from the University of Montana in Missoula and her master's degree in learning and technology from Western Governors University. Former Bainville Public Schools Superintendent Renee Rasmussen nominated Wills for the award and spoke during the ceremony. "To those who know her, it's no surprise April Wills won this award," Rasmussen said. "She loves awakening an appreciation of Montana in her students."

Columbia Falls wins Class A speech tourney
Columbia Falls High School won its first Class A tournament of the season in Hamilton Saturday. Leading the team with individual first-place finishes were: Eddie Chisholm and Emma Stephens, Policy Debate; Griffin Conger, Dramatic Interpretation; Aiden Judge, Extemporaneous Speaking; and Raphe Salmon, Lincoln-Douglas Debate. The Whitefish High School speech and debate team placed fifth.

Bear aware: Bitterroot students help keep tabs on problem bears
It doesn't take a detective to see that bears have found the garbage cans lined up along the road on the Bitterroot Valley's west side. There are trails of trash that head back into the safety of the nearby woods. One of the green cans is specially made to be bear-resistant. Others have makeshift locks and chains that homeowners hope will keep black bears from making a mess out of their garbage. Two classes of students from Corvallis and Victor high schools stood along the edge of the dirt road this past week and listened as a pair of bear experts talked about the challenges that bears and people have living side-by-side. They watched as a pair of Florence's Wind River Bear Institute's Karelian bear dogs put their noses down and got to work. A few minutes later, the students all gathered around a fresh bear track in the dirt. The science students are learning what they'll need to monitor potential conflict areas between bears and humans in the future and to help spread the word on how people can keep from being visited by bears.

Helena educators presented with grant checks and awards
The Helena Education Foundation this week presented $15,000 in grants and honored six educators with awards for making an impact in the lives of their students. According to executive director of HEF, Lisa Cordingley, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes to many of HEF's programs, including the presentation of these awards and grants.  "This includes the custom of surprising educators with an entourage of board members, donors and friends to present grants and other awards," Cordingley said, in a press release. "There was no entourage, but on Thursday, Nov. 4, Helena Public Schools superintendent Rex Weltz and myself visited 15 educators to present grant checks and Let's Talk about Great Teachers awards."

Cayuse Prairie educator receives teaching award from UM
Cayuse Prairie School third-grade teacher Shannon Limberis exemplifies excellence in the classroom through enthusiasm, patience, kindness, dedication and leadership. Limberis is the recipient of the Maryfrances Shreeve Award for Teaching Excellence from the University of Montana. The annual award is given to "outstanding, committed elementary teachers across Montana," according to the university. As part of the award the school receives $1,000 and Limberis will get $3,000. Limberis has taught at Cayuse Prairie for 25 years. She holds two bachelor's degrees in business administration and education from the University of Montana. Cayuse Prairie Principal Amy Piazzola noted Limberis' skillful leadership in the classroom.

Ridge Riders, school partner with archery program
After months of planning, the Trout Creek School finally presented its students with a new archery program. This was made possible by two grants provided through the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) and a large donation by the Cabinet Ridge Riders (CRR). The total cost of all the materials, including 11 brand-new right-handed and one left-handed Genesis compound bows, a bow rack, six targets, 120 arrows and a backdrop net was $3,145. CRR donated a large portion of that, pulling $1,145 from their nonprofit. In addition to CRR's donation, Trout Creek was one of seven schools in the state to receive the grant money from NASP. The program will be available to fifth through eighth grade students and will take place during physical education classes and their new hunter's education program. School superintendent Preston Wenz explained that they would like to see their students practice shooting at least once a week. The school will have three staff, including Wenz, fully certified through the NASP available to teach students.

Superior sophomore Alysha Ryan has an eye for art
When Alysha Ryan was in second grade at Superior Elementary School, she picked up a pencil with something else in mind besides practicing the alphabet or arithmetic. "I had a love of art and wanted to become good at drawing, so that's when it started," she explained in the hallway outside of Mrs. Sara Forsythe's art class. Ryan, now 16 and a sophomore at Superior High School, has a gift along with a very humble gratefulness. Nothing out of the ordinary for training as she had school art classes during her elementary and middle school years. She took industrial arts from Mr. Jeff Schultz last year, but this year she decided to return to fine art to learn new techniques and test new medias. No private or group classes, ever. Her dad did some pencil drawings, but this passion was developed on her own. "My family has always been very supportive and encouraging me and that makes a big difference. I come from a huge family so that's a lot of support," she smiles. Ryan uses a reference photo or painting for every art piece she creates which involves pen, charcoal or acrylics at this point. Hands down, animals are her favorite subjects for drawing because she has such strong feelings them. This young artist has already sold her work and is currently working on a commissioned piece for a local family.

New group helps collect school, hygiene supplies
"Most of us don't think twice when we are buying things like toilet paper, cleaning products, diapers, and so many other things. But imagine if you were at the store and only had $27 to last you the entire month, but needed toilet paper, body soap, laundry soap, toothpaste, and a toothbrush. You do not have enough money to buy all of these products, which would you choose?" That's a difficult scenario that Superior resident Amy Kelsey has not only pondered, but lived out as a child growing up and as a parent. Kelsey who has lived in the area for over 25 years has had her share of seasons of feast and famine. It was through those hardships that she developed a passion for serving others because she knows firsthand the complicated dimensions of being impoverished. "I've struggled with addiction, lived through years of domestic violence, and was in trouble with the law. I have been clean and sober for six and a half years and have wanted to give back but just didn't know how to do it," she shared.

Two Eagle River School celebrates Halloween
Following a contentious period caused by COVID-19, holidays and family events were avoided or simply did not occur. Because of COVID, families were advised not to get together for the holidays. This year, people seemed ecstatic to be able to celebrate Halloween freely, with caution, of course. Two Eagle River School hosted a costume contest, pumpkin carving contest, and cake walk with goodie prizes on Thursday, October 28. Year after year, TERS hosts a Halloween party for the students, allowing them to participate in the festivities. Students and staff appeared to enjoy themselves; faculty voted on the best pumpkin carving, and everyone voted on the best costumes.

Local FFA chapter travels to Indianapolis
This past week Mr. Seth Whitney, along with the FFA members, Kenzie Tooke, Darin Schallenberger, Jaden Pardee, Cardell Laughery, Kendra Tooke, Tracy Wilson, and Travis Schallenberger attended the 94th National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana. The group stopped in Manning, Iowa for a tour and lunch at Veterinary Associates of Manning. This vet clinic is one of the last to still deliver pigs into a sterile environment so that pigs can be tested for new vaccines or allowed to create new pig herds. Once the group arrived in Indianapolis, they attended sessions with 67,000 other FFA members from around the U.S. They toured the NCAA Hall of Fame and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While at the convention, 2020 CCHS graduates Heather and Hannah Labree received their American FFA Degree. The American FFA Degree is the highest honor awarded to FFA members who have demonstrated the highest level of commitment to FFA and made significant accomplishments in their supervised agricultural experience.

Community effort brings Red Ribbon Week alive for students
The coordinated efforts of several schools and nonprofits made Red Ribbon Week memorable for students in the Deer Lodge valley this year. The Montana Elks Drug Awareness Program worked with local lodges to provide nationally-known speakers Ray Lozano and daughter Brooke Romero to Deer Lodge, Drummond and Anaconda. Program Chair Amanda Bohrer coordinated the effort by securing funding and then reaching out to area schools. She said this year's Red Ribbon theme, "Drug Free Looks Like Me," fit perfectly with Lozano's approach to illicit substances.

Big Sandy FFA had great success at fall events
On September 27, Big Sandy traveled to Sheridan, Montana and camped out at a forest service campground near Sheridan. The next day members participated in forestry, range, and livestock Judging. In Forestry, the team took fifth place overall and our top place individuals were Hunter Snapp who placed 9th, Amy Gasvoda who took 12th place, and Tavie Wortman who took 24th place out of 50 participants. In range, our senior team also placed fifth with our top individuals being Connor Sibra who placed 4th individually, Samuel Cox who placed 12th place, and Kaden Pursley who placed 20th out of 23 participants. Mattie Gasvoda was the only one who participated in senior livestock. In Junior Livestock, our team placed 19th and for many it was their first judging experience. Everyone had lots of fun. On October 6, a group of twenty two Big Sandy FFA members attended the Judith Basin Fall District range and livestock judging contest. 10 of the members participated in the junior livestock contest where we placed fourth out of thirteen teams. Out top individuals were Alex Worrall who placed 7th individually, Severin Heimbigner who placed 23rd, and Jayton Ophus who placed 50th out of 109 participants.

Mid-Rivers Communications Awards Education Technology Grants
Mid-Rivers Communications is proud to announce the local recipients of its 2021 Education Technology Grants. Grants are awarded to educational facilities, including private, public, and home schools, and nonprofit entities with an educational mission benefiting members and customers in the Mid-Rivers service area. Montana law requires that the cooperative's Fund for Education be used for educational purposes. Grants were awarded to 13 applicants totaling $65,500

Fallon County schools offering specialized training
There will be some specialized training in how to handle mental health crises available to teachers, staff and members of the community Nov. 10 at Longfellow School in Baker. There are two one-hour sessions – at 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – in the Longfellow gym. "We are allowed to have up to 70 individuals, up to 35 per session," said Baker Schools Superintendent Aaron Skogen. He noted there were still some seats open late last week. "If there are some community members interested in attending, they can get hold of me at the high school office. I would register them." There are members of the Plevna School staff also signed up for the course, the superintendent said. In addition, the class will hopefully change the way the staff sees the students. "That program would really help change the way our staff perceives our students in general." He said that the district has also purchased new health care curriculum at middle school and high school. "It contains resources and instructions in mental health and social-emotional well-being for the kids." He said that he is in the process of coordinating with 'Youth Aware.' "It is a program called YAM (Youth Aware Mental Health) that is organized and recognized by the Montana OPI (Office of Public Instruction) as training for suicide awareness and prevention. It focuses on raising mental health awareness, risk and protective factors associated with suicide."

Teepees go on display at GFPS District Office
Last Friday, Great Falls Public Schools started putting up teepees outside of the district building.  There are 12 teepees total - one to represent each tribe here in Montana. Volunteers pounded the final stakes into the ground this morning, securing the last of the teepees. "At my house I've put teepees up in the past in my backyard and put lights in them, and the neighbors all really liked it. So, it kind of was like 'now I have a bunch of teepees, let's put them up,'" Dugan Coburn, the director of Indigenous Education for GFPS, said. They are putting up the teepees in light of Native American Heritage Month. "Well, for the Indians that lived in this area, the Plains Indians, they lived in teepee's and moved around with them. So, it's always important to remember it's almost like the land acknowledgment - who was here first? Well, the Natives were and they had teepee's and that's where they lived and moved around. This was actually probably a spot where they probably put teepee's up," said Coburn.

Missoula high school juniors sought for Korean cultural exchange
The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana is looking for four Missoula area high school juniors to serve as youth ambassadors for a cultural exchange with Korea. The Korea Society and the Pacific Century Institute invite Montana youth to join ambassadors in an intercultural leadership program. Students will attend two workshops a month, and if the pandemic allows, tour Korea for 10 days, then give a presentation on their experience. For more information visit

Competition aims to help SW Montana students with future careers
Students in Southwest Montana are working to find their passions through a competition called Building Our Student Success. "It's not a one-size-fits-all," said Bernie Phelps, the director of dual enrollment at Montana Tech Highlands Campus. "Each of us are unique individuals." Phelps says the goal of the competition is to show students other options besides going to college after high school. "I know that when I went through high school, and when my kids were growing up and they were going through high school, primarily you were focused on going to college," said Julie Jaksha, from Headwaters Workforce Coalition. "I think in the workforce, we're seeing a shift in that thought process. Like it's OK not to go to a four-year program, it's OK to get a certain certification and go and weld, or it's OK to get a certification and go and perhaps, maybe start your own business."

Bozeman Schools Foundation and district partner in early literacy project
The Bozeman School District and the Bozeman Schools Foundation have partnered on a new early literacy program, which launched last week with a family event at Hyalite Elementary School. The program is designed to help prepare children to learn how to read ahead of their start to school by developing certain skills at home. "We know through all of the latest neurological research that brain development is happening most rapidly before kids enter school," said Megan Roth, an early literacy teacher with the district. "… If we can intervene and build a strong foundation prior to starting school, the likelihood of future school success is much greater." For the first part of the project, taking place throughout this school year, the district aims to work with families with preschool-aged children. It plans to hold family nights at different elementary schools, where parents with children between the ages of 1 and 4 learn different ways to engage their children in simple and fun ways that improve skills that will help the children's literacy later.

Havre High School Marching Band performs well at regional competition
The Havre High School Marching Band placed 10th out of 17 in the Washington State University Marching Band Championship in Pullman Saturday, beating both of the other Montana bands at the event, Gallatin High School and Bozeman High School. both Class AA. Havre High placed second in its category. The community celebrated the band's return to Havre with a parade through town Sunday. Havre High School Band Director Cullen Hinkle said Havre High School placed ahead of the other schools in their class, both with more than twice their school populations as well. Hinkle said most of the schools they were competing with had student populations between 700 and 2,500, with most from Washington and a few others from Idaho. He said it was a good opportunity for Havre High's band, which he said performed admirably, noting that every band that placed ahead of them had budgets of more than $100,000 and much more staff. "It was really exciting for the kids to be able to go in there and be competitive," he said. He said the students and their families put in the work to get them there and the band had a tremendous amount of support from the larger community.

Valleydictorian Senior Profile: Keaton Heller
Valley Credit Union and The Billings Gazette are featuring 32 seniors throughout the 2021-2022 school year. We want to help students who are not typically eligible for scholarships and financial aid awarded to those attending a 4-year program. At the end of the year, Valley will award one $5,000 grant to a deserving student. To be considered for the grant, students must show a clear career path for their future after high school in the form of an industry certification, technical associate's degree, City College, trade school or apprenticeship. Students are nominated by a teacher, counselor, or principal from their high school. Keaton John Heller, Reed Point High School What are your plans after high school? I plan to go to a trade school to earn an associates degree with a welding permit. I hope to start my own fabrication company after I complete my studies.

Flathead High Honor Society inductees announced
Forty-nine students were inducted into the Flathead High School National Honor Society chapter Oct. 27. Selection is based on scholarship, service, leadership and character. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 and complete various community service hours in order to maintain their membership. Following are the students who were inducted.

"Treasure Our Teachers" is underway in Great Falls
All week long, Great Falls Public Schools is partnering with businesses to show appreciation for teachers for the first-ever "Treasure Our Teachers Week." Some participating businesses have special offers for teachers, others have signs up to express support for teachers and school staff. The secretary at Lincoln Elementary School in Great Falls contacted Kali Tuckerman at the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce, who has kids at Lincoln, and suggested coming up with a way to support teachers. "There's fighting going on about masks, fighting going on (about) should we be in-person (or) not in-person. So they're just not feeling as loved and supported as they did last year and times are tough. We've just got a lot going on," Tuckerman said.

Curtain to rise on crosstown production after a yearlong hiatus
The high school theater programs are back after a yearlong hiatus with a crosstown production of Clare Boothe Luce's "The Women." The production opening Thursday at Capital marks a return to the stage for high school students in Helena following the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last crosstown play featuring both schools was held in 2019, and only a single small production of Shakespeare with no audience has been performed since. Written in 1936, this period piece explores the tumult of relationships. Friendships and marriages are tested in this satire that follows Mary Haines, a prestigious woman who finds out her husband has been unfaithful. "It was kind of a tradition for many years but fell out of favor for a while," CHS theater instructor Laura Brayko said of the crosstown play concept. "But we've done one every year (barring 2020) in the seven years that I've been here."

October 2021 GREAT NEWS

Ergon Art Exhibit will showcase student artwork at Great Falls College MSU
Great Falls College MSU will be hosting the Ergon Art Exhibit, featuring the artwork of kindergartners through 12th graders on Oct. 27-Nov. 30. Artwork included in the exhibit is selected by the art instructors in Great Falls Public Schools. The event will kick off on Friday, Oct. 29, with an artists' reception from 4-5:30 p.m. to honor the artists featured in the Ergon Art Exhibit. The reception will be held in Heritage Hall at Great Falls College, 2100 16th Ave. S. Artwork will be displayed throughout the campus. "This exhibit provides budding artists an opportunity to have their work displayed in a public venue," said Cynthia Stevens, department chair of fine arts and humanities at Great Falls College. "After taking one year off due to COVID, we're excited to partner again with Great Falls Public Schools to make this exhibit possible."

Talk it out - speech and debate teams ready to roll
Speech and debate competitors are ready to talk the talk at the Kalispell Kickoff Saturday. The tournament will be held at Glacier High School with the first round starting at 8 a.m. Final rounds begin at 4 p.m. with an awards ceremony scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the performance hall. The annual tournament is the first of the season for local teams including Bigfork, Columbia Falls, Flathead, Glacier, Libby and Whitefish. Other teams competing are Missoula Sentinel, Missoula Big Sky, Missoula Hellgate, Hamilton, Stevensville, and Corvallis. People are encouraged but not required to wear masks indoors. Judges are encouraged to sit at least 6 feet from speakers. Teams are asked to select an area in the commons to stay with their own teams between rounds. Tournaments, including the Kalispell Kickoff, will be held in person at the present time, which is a change from the previous season, which was held virtually due to Covid-19. Returning to in-person will be a learning curve for competitors who joined during the virtual season.

Shelby High School field trip provided many learning and bonding opportunities
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, Shelby High School students traveled to Lincoln, Mont. The trip included all freshmen through seniors, as well as most of the high school teachers. Students and teachers left Shelby at 8:30 a.m. and arrived at Lincoln around 11-11:15 a.m. Blackfoot Pathways Sculpture in the Wild Board President Becky Garland met students at the entrance and gave a short history of the park. Then, students roamed the sculpture exhibits at their own pace while they completed their guided notes. Several teachers, including Kristi Calvery and Megan LaRouqe, collaborated to plan this field trip since it became an idea back in August at their first Teacher Professional Development Day. Calvery said she wanted to give the students a chance to learn outdoors in a tangible way. "I think the confines of Covid-19 restrictions last year made this trip important and memorable. It was a great opportunity for cross-curricular learning and I am thankful we had the chance to be exposed interesting ideas and history captured by international artists," she said.

Ronan's Casey Lunceford awarded $50,000 teaching prize
Ronan High School vocational agriculture teacher Casey Lunceford is among 18 educators across the nation who were selected as recipients of a 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. Ronan High School principal Kevin Kenelty presented the award to Lunceford during a full school assembly Monday afternoon in the high school's gymnasium. As part of the prize, Lunceford will be awarded $15,000 and his program will receive $35,000. He also received a Yellow U.S. General mechanics tool cart with a customized panel commemorating the award. Lunceford is the first teacher from Montana to claim one of the Harbor Freight awards, which were first presented in 2017. The 2021 prize drew 726 applications from 49 states and included three rounds of judging, each by an independent panel of experts from industry, education, trades, philanthropy and civic leadership.

School cooks prepared to get creative as supply issues continue
As pandemic-era supply shortages continue, school cafeterias are now feeling the pinch as food and some supplies are becoming increasingly difficult to get. The situation hasn't become an emergency just yet, however it has left the schools' food workers having to adjust menus and plans on the fly. According to the district's Food Services Manager Anne Sadorf, the issue hasn't become dire, though it has certainly made the job of the district's food service workers harder. The schools use a number of vendors, including local sources, however the main vendor for the district is U.S. Foods. "Is it a huge problem? We're not running out of food if that's the question, but it makes it a bit difficult because we don't always know," she said. "I've had a number of messages in the last couple days that the chocolate milk that we order 20 dozen of aren't going to be available and they're looking for a substitute but they don't have a substitute, so therefore we have to come up with a substitute. It's not dire or anything like that, we don't want anybody to go 'the sky is falling,' that's not it at all, but it is significant." According to Washington Middle School Head Cook Cheryl Unruh, the shortages started becoming noticable around the beginning of September, with the deliveries of various items becoming less consistent. Some items not available earlier this year are now available, Unruh said she is uncertain if they will become scarce again and meanwhile, other items are still harder to aquire than they were previously.

Sign kids up for book-a-month program
In 2009, the Choteau High School student organization Family, Career and Community Leader of America (FCCLA), Choteau School District 1, and the Choteau/Teton Public Library joined together to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program to children who reside in the Choteau School district. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library Program delivers a book a month to children from birth to age 5, and was established by the country and western singer and songwriter Dolly Parton in 1995 to improve children's literacy. All parents or guardians need to do is register their child and then he or she will receive an age-appropriate book every month, delivered to the child's mailing address, until his or her 5th birthday as long as the child resides in the Choteau school district. Registration forms can be picked up at the Choteau High School Office, the Choteau/Teton Public Library or printed online from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library webpage. Parents will receive a postcard confirming the child's registration, and books will begin to arrive about six to eight weeks after registration.

The Third and Fourth grade classes in Turner found out what it was like to become an engineer this past week in their Science Class. They were instructed to build a marshmallow launcher and earlier in the week, they got the chance to launch a marshmallow. The sky was the limit to what they could use and how they engineered it but they also needed to go back to the drawing board and decide how their launcher could be improved, which is part of being an engineer. This was a fun and effective classroom project. Shown are the students and teacher of the third and fourth grade class. They are left to right: Miss Tatyana Vukcevic, Harley Beck, Colt Leitner, Mary Simons, Rhett Ammen, Gracie Zellmer, Juliann Hawley, Auzdyn King, Lucas Grabofsky, and Cooper Grabofsky. Absent was Alaina Egbert.

Montana State University receives $1.5 million grant to support rural teachers
Tracy Zuhoski grew up in Belt attending rural schools until he graduated high school. Now he's teaching sixth grade through 12th grade science in Lavina after receiving his teaching degree from Montana State University in 2020. With a population of around 160 residents, Zuhoski said his class sizes in Lavina range from two to 11 students. "I planned everything I did in college to prepare myself for a rural school," Zuhoski said, adding he knew he always wanted to teach in a smaller school, "to give back because I had good teachers that made me want to be a teacher." MSU's rural education center recently received a $1.5 million grant from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies with the aim of preparing more graduates to not only teach in rural school settings but to thrive. Jayne Downey, director of the Center for Research on Rural Education, is the lead researcher of the two-year project called Advancing Support, Preparation and Innovation in Rural Education. The project involves three different components, including preparing undergraduate students for rural teaching experiences, creating and fostering mentorships between new and experienced rural teachers and making professional development opportunities easier to access.

McIntyre education scholarship established with $50,000 endowment to Northern
Montana State University-Northern announced Monday that it is celebrating a new $50,000 endowment, a gift from the estate of the late Ethel A. (McIntyre) Hess. Per the family's wishes, the funds will be called the Ethel A. McIntyre Memorial Endowment and Scholarship supporting scholarships specifically for students at MSU-Northern majoring in education. "Education is one of the cornerstones of Northern," Chancellor Greg Kegel said. 'We are grateful for this generous gift from Ethel Hess and we know it will have an impact on our current and future students studying to become teachers." The purpose of the gift aligns with the alum's passion for teaching. Ethel A. McIntyre graduated from Northern in 1945 with a major in education. Originally from Oilmont, Montana, she married George Hess, who was in the service and stationed in Montana, a few years after graduation, and she went on to teach elementary education in Montana, South Dakota and California, until becoming a realtor in the East San Francisco Bay area. After their retirement, she and her husband moved to Idaho to be near family.

Havre's Moore named Montana Superintendent of the Year
Havre Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Brad Moore has been recognized as Montana's 2021-2022 Superintendent of the Year and will go on to be considered for national superintendent of the year in February of next year. Moore said he found out about receiving this award at last Thursday's Montana Conference of Educational Leadership, and he's overwhelmed and proud to have received this recognition from his peers. "For one of the few times in my career, I was pretty speechless," he said. Moore only recently took his position as Havre's assistant superintendent, but has 16 years of experience as a superintendent in the state and said he has no intention of stoping any time soon. Over those 16 years, he said, he's worked with great teachers, boards and communities throughout Montana and working with those people is part of what makes his job great. "That's why I'm still at it and it's still very rewarding," he said. Moore said he's been adjusting to Havre well so far.

Montana Shakespeare in the Schools visits Helena high schools
For its 29th season, Montana Shakespeare in the Schools has hit the road with a tour of "Much Ado About Nothing" and Tuesday they made a stop at Capital High School. The group will host 53 performances at 47 schools in communities throughout Montana and Wyoming. A performance is scheduled at Helena High School on Wednesday. The 10-week tour runs through mid-December. To accommodate schools' scheduling needs, productions are trimmed to 75 minutes, along with workshops for students that relate to the play. "Our mission through Shakespeare in the Schools is to share Shakespeare with students who might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience live, professional theater," said Executive Artistic Director Kevin Asselin. "Seeing children's curiosity and excitement grow when they hear Shakespearean language for the first time is truly magical for all involved."

'Tomorrow's leaders': Superintendent Arntzen announces $3.8M Montana Afterschool Grant
Montana State Superintendent Elsie Arntzen on Friday announced the availability of the Montana Afterschool Grant. The $3.8 million grant is provided through congressional action as part of the federal American Rescue Plan's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funding. The grant is available to qualifying, established nonprofits and schools over a three-year grant period and is reviewed for progress each year. While funding is available, awards will be given to qualified applicants based on an allocation formula that considers program location, students served, and community needs. The Afterschool Grant will fulfill objectives outlined in the State's ARP ESSER Plan as provided by federal law; funds were allocated by the Montana Legislature through House Bill 632. "Afterschool programming reinforces what students have learned during the school day in a safe environment," Arntzen said. "Each distinct community conducts after-school activities to suit its own unique needs. The Montana Afterschool Grant enhances and expands student access to quality afterschool programming.

Kalispell students achieve National Merit semifinalist status
Three Kalispell high school seniors have achieved National Merit semifinalist status. Semifinalists include Jillian Wynne of Flathead High School and Glacier High School students Avram Bingham and Aaron Chen. Students entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship program by taking the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test as juniors. Semifinalists represent less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, including the highest-scoring entrants in each state, according to a press release. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state's percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. About 15,000 semifinalists will be notified in February if they have advanced as finalists. National Merit scholarship winners will be selected from the group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, according to a press release.

Anderson School plans to bring the Halloween frights with scary movie drive-in
Eighth grade students at Anderson School are excited to scare people. They have costumes ready and hidden frights planned but are keeping the details under wraps to ensure maximum scares. While in previous years, the students would be scaring the good folks of Gallatin County at their school's annual haunted house, they'll now be doing it as folks line up for popcorn during the school's Dreadful Drive In movie show. Complete with a 50-foot screen and movie concessions, the school plans to show three movies as a fundraiser on Oct. 30, with proceeds going to the eighth grade class's annual field trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. Jen Wold, an eighth grade teacher at Anderson, said while the school was disappointed to not be holding its annual haunted house, the scary movie drive-in was a compromise and the class was excited to be doing something different.

Ronan High School teacher gets $50K prize from Harbor Freight Tools
An agricultural mechanics teacher at Ronan High School was awarded a $50,000 national teaching prize from Harbor Freight Tools recognizing excellence in skilled trades education on Monday. Casey Lunceford, in his fourth year of teaching at Ronan, is one of 18 educators selected to be recipients of the 2021 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. He is the first educator to receive the honor in the state of Montana. "I don't think I can stress enough the fact that I think we got it because of the community involvement and how much they know that this program is a key to success for our students," Lunceford said. Thirty-five thousand of the $50,000 will be allocated to the school's agricultural mechanics program. Lunceford will receive the remaining $15,000 to be used personally. Harbor Freight Tools is awarding $1 million in prizes nationwide. The Tools for Schools award is a program of the Smidt Foundation, established by company  founder Eric Smidt with the goal of advancing trades education in public high schools.

Ronan family finds relief after transferring to Missoula County Public Schools
Mask-optional policies and lack of online learning opportunities in her local school district drove a Ronan mom to home-school her two elementary-aged children this fall as the family wrestled to find a balance between education, health and social-emotional needs while working from home full-time. But now, they're feeling some relief. Robin Pleninger's two children recently started classes with the Missoula County Public Schools' online academy as out-of-district transfer students. "It's just light-years better, I don't think there's any comparison," Pleninger said. Pleninger picked up supplies from the Missoula Online Academy on Monday, which included workbooks, Chromebooks and materials for art, music and physical education. Her children logged into their new classes on Tuesday for an abbreviated week due to statewide professional development days on Thursday and Friday. Since starting with the district's online classes, Pleninger has noticed stark differences in the quality of education her children are receiving now versus what they were doing with their home-schooling resources, she said. The kids are engaged with educators and other students in real time for a full day of learning.

Fundraiser to help erase school lunch debt at Kessler Elementary
Shen Brandi Gorecki learned her children's school was seeking nearly $1,000 in back-due fees for student lunches, she stepped up to the plate. And she, along with several dozen donors, have hopefully helped to take a bite out of hunger at Kessler Elementary School. Gorecki, 32, set up a GoFundMe page Thursday and within about two hours raised more than $1,300. She said she will pay off the $1,000 tab, and hopes to put the extra money toward school supplies and to pay for a fifth grade field trip. "I thought it was do-able and we could crowdsource that," she said, later adding she thought it was an easy way to make a difference other than asking people to vote. Two of her three kids attend Kessler Elementary. She and husband Matt have a baby on the way. The site is listed under Matt's name. As of Friday afternoon, 44 people had donated $1,353.

MSU to host mathematics competitions for high school students Nov. 10 and 16
High school students can register for free mathematics contests set for Wednesday, Nov. 10, and Tuesday, Nov. 16, at Montana State University. The American Mathematics Competition 10/12 contests, hosted by the MSU College of Education, Health and Human Development's Science Math Resource Center, are part of the American Mathematics Competition series developed by the Mathematical Association of America. The series provides an opportunity for students to develop positive attitudes toward analytical thinking and mathematics that can assist in future careers. Students apply classroom skills to unique problem-solving challenges in a low-stress and friendly environment. The AMC 10 exam covers the high school curriculum through grade 10. AMC 12 covers the high school curriculum, including trigonometry, advanced algebra and advanced geometry, excluding calculus. Both are 25-question, 75-minute tests. The 10/12 A test will be given Nov. 10 and the 10/12 B test is Nov. 16. Both the A and the B versions have the same number of questions, the same scoring and the same rules for administration. The only differences are the competition dates and that each version has a distinct set of questions, although the two examinations are designed to be equal in difficulty and distribution of topics.

Anderson School plans to bring the Halloween frights with scary movie drive-in
Eighth grade students at Anderson School are excited to scare people. They have costumes ready and hidden frights planned but are keeping the details under wraps to ensure maximum scares. While in previous years, the students would be scaring the good folks of Gallatin County at their school's annual haunted house, they'll now be doing it as folks line up for popcorn during the school's Dreadful Drive In movie show. Complete with a 50-foot screen and movie concessions, the school plans to show three movies as a fundraiser on Oct. 30, with proceeds going to the eighth grade class's annual field trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. Jen Wold, an eighth grade teacher at Anderson, said while the school was disappointed to not be holding its annual haunted house, the scary movie drive-in was a compromise and the class was excited to be doing something different. This year would have been the school's 24th annual haunted house - considered one of the scariest in the county. Both the haunted house event and the eighth grade trip were canceled last year due to the pandemic.

Photo: Agricultural education at the NILE
Fourth graders from around the Billings area are buzzing with questions for American Honey Queen Jennifer Hinkel at the Northern International Livestock Exposition on Tuesday. About 1450 students will attend the show to learn about agriculture and food production at MetraPark. 

Three Butte High seniors wow judges at shark tank competition
Three seniors at Butte High School won first place in a Business Professionals of America Shark Tank competition for creating an LED system that allows people to follow every movement of a basketball or volleyball. Ashley Olson, Mya Stenson and Tylar Clary were tops among 11 shark tank teams who participated at the association's Fall Leadership Conference held Oct. 3-4 at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. They received $500 to be used toward the BPA's State Leadership Conference in Billings this March. More than 300 students from 55 BPA chapters in Montana attended the conference. The BPA is the leading career and technical organization for students pursuing careers in business management, office administration, information technology, coding and other related fields. The competition mimicked the ABC show "Shark Tank,'' which shows entrepreneurs making business presentations to a panel of five investors, or "sharks," who decide whether to invest in their company.

Schedule released for 1st Grader pumpkin give-away
Every first grade student in Great Falls will receive a pumpkin on either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week depending on their school, according to a Great Falls Public Schools press release.  A pickup and trailer will drive to schools starting at 8:40 a.m. and teachers and principals will help students who cannot lift their pumpkin and bring it back to their classroom.  Torgerson's Agriculture Equipment started this event in 2004 with a class of seven pre-school students and has given away 27,000 pumpkins to children since that time, according to the release. "Distributing pumpkins promotes agriculture to our youth, however, the number one reason Brion Torgerson and his crew donate these pumpkins is the joy and excitement in the faces of the children," said Torgersons' representative Linda Boatman.

Kalispell board named state School Board of the Year
Following another challenging year for school boards across Montana under the strain of the pandemic, one board stands out for its dedication to education and excellence for students. The Kalispell Public Schools Board of Trustees has been named the 2021 School Board of the Year by the Montana Association of School Superintendents, whose membership is made up of superintendents across the state. The award highlights the outstanding work of school boards' dedication and ethical service to Montana's children and recognizes accomplishments in the areas of board policy, infrastructure for learning and teaching, and innovative educational programs, according to the association. Any member of MASS may nominate a school board for the honor. Following a review of applications, a committee may select up to two notable school boards.

Glacier High announces National Honor Society inductees
Fifty-nine students were inducted into the Glacier High School chapter of the National Honor Society on Oct. 4. Selection is based on academics, leadership, service and character. Members must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 and complete community service that encompasses service both inside and outside the school community, according to a press release. Following are the names of the new honor society members. 

Havre Middle School lists students of the month
Havre Middle School's Sixth-Grade Student of the Month for September is Raqhel Wallace. Raqhel's parents are Bill Gives and Carol Swan. She has three siblings, Natasha, Daydrien and Achala. Raqhel participates in multiple sports including, basketball, soccer, football, volleyball and baseball. In her free time, she loves to sign, play with her dog and spend time at the park. In the classroom, Raqhel is very positive and upbeat. She is always prepared and works to her fullest potential. Raqhel goes above and beyond what is expected in all she sets out to achieve. Her personality makes the middle school a great place for everyone.

Bozeman, Gallatin high school bands to play at Montana State University showcase this weekend
For the first time, Bozeman School District will have two marching bands playing in Montana State University's Showcase of Bands this weekend after the event was canceled last year due to COVID-19. The university's fourth annual marching band exhibition at Bobcat Stadium brings high schools from around the state to show off their marching band performances and watch the university's own marching band, Spirit of the West, perform. The event, free to the public, is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 16. "It's a show-and-tell of what everyone is doing across the state for marching band and every marching band gets to see each other play," said Stephen Versaevel, assistant director of MSU's marching band.

Career twist led Muldown principal to role in administration
Not long after Catey Nasello began her career as a teacher, a lack of enrollment in the school district where she had been hired left her without a job. But an administrator seeing her potential found her part-time jobs that eventually led to other opportunities gaining her a vast amount of experience in a short period. Now Nasello has brought her experience as both an elementary school teacher and administrator to her role as the new principal at Muldown Elementary. Nasello comes to Whitefish from northern California where she was most recently a preschool through fifth-grade elementary school principal in the Tracy Unified School District. She held the position for two years. For her entire career, she's worked with mostly elementary and middle school-aged students and has found a passion for helping younger kids. "My heart is definitely in elementary," she says. "As far as teaching and being an administrator, elementary is a great fit for me." 

Teaching healthy interactions while growing physically and mentally
Seeley Lake native David Cahoon is looking forward to working as the Seeley Lake Elementary kindergarten – eighth grade (K-8) physical education teacher, a position he has been waiting for since he got his teaching degree in 2017. His hopes his students will learn healthy interactions and balance through the units as they grow physically and mentally. "[Teaching them] You aren't going to win every time, you aren't going to lose every time. It is how you react and come out of those situations and the growth out of those situations," Cahoon said. "We can go hit all the standards we want but it is the interactions and balancing how our actions make others feel that help us grow." While coaching with his father Wayne, Cahoon realized he lacked the ability to teach the athletes he was coaching.

Special needs playground completed at Cherry Valley school
Our Polson community has a new playground. Local preschool children with physical and developmental disabilities that limit their ability to access traditional playground equipment can now enjoy an inclusive playground. This "special needs" playground has just been completed at Cherry Valley Elementary School. The playground is designed for children from three to five years old and features playground equipment such as pieces designed to provide exciting sensory experiences for children who need a lot of vestibular and proprioceptive input, while other equipment is designed to support children with sensory processing disorders who might need a calming environment.  Cherry Valley special education teacher Bonne Petersen expressed her appreciation for a generous community during a grand opening ceremony held Oct. 7. Having taught at Cherry Valley for nearly 18 years, "I've dreamt about something like this for a really long time," Petersen said. "I'm humbled and in awe of this community … Thank you very, very much."

Twelfth Annual National Teach Ag Day Celebrated At Simms High School
The National Teach Ag Day webcast took place on Thursday, September 16 and featured special appearances by leaders in agricultural education, current and future agriculture teachers, with a variety of features and engaging discussion throughout the day to celebrate the positive and vast impact agriculture teachers make in and out of their classrooms and encourage others to consider a career teaching agriculture. Students from Simms High School celebrated Teach Ag Day by watching the National Broadcast, learning about what it takes to be a teacher, playing "Are You Smarter Than Your Ag Teacher", and more. Students were identified by the current Ag Teacher, Jodi Koterba as potential future Ag Teachers. The identified students were given Teach Ag swag and encouraged to research teaching as a career. The students who were"Tagged to Teach Ag" have exhibited characteristics of leadership in the classroom. They are helpful to other students and capable of breaking tasks down for other kids. The 2021 "Tagged" Simms High School students were: Alexis Baranko, Kaleb Bean, Morgan Feist, Baylee Herman, Brooklyn Kirby, Alexis Morris, and Colby South.

Local rancher holds shearing demonstration for students
On September 22nd, Mike and Cheryl Schuldt came to Ekalaka to assist local Butch Nies in hosting a sheep shearing demonstration. Mike Schuldt has been shearing for 33 years and has traveled all over the world doing so, including trips to New Zealand and Australia. A timed event in Fredricksburg, Texas is also on the list of places where he has shorn. At the event, he sheared a sheep of around 100 pounds in 37 seconds, two seconds slower than the winning time. 

Native American Week at Hays/Lodge Pole Schools
Hays/Lodge Pole Elementary, Junior High and High School celebrated Native American Week in grand fashion. The celebration began on Monday with the 'Deadly Auntie' contest which consisted of teams of three girls racing to put up Teepee's. The activities and games continued throughout the week. The students, staff and community came together to enjoy all that was offered in a wonderful traditional celebration.

One Incredible Weekend for the Big Sandy community
It started with a children's parade with pulled wagons that each class decorated. They even called me from the school to make sure I would see them and take a picture. The children walked from F.E. Miley School to the high school through the downtown area. They even threw candy! After they got to the football field, those who wanted to participate in the Punt, Pass, and Kick Contest. I love the Punt, Pass, and Kick contest. All those who want to be football players dream about being one. All the little girls with bows in their hair and ponies on their shirts trying to punt the ball. The varsity football players helped show the little ones how to kick. The winners get their names announced and are given a football at the varsity football game under the lights!

DeSmet Public School ready to showcase completed renovations to the public
The remodel at DeSmet will expand its capacity from 120 students to roughly 225 in anticipation of continued growth in the Missoula valley.

Arlee's Stockton named Teacher of the Year
Longtime Arlee High School science teacher Bill Stockton has been selected as Montana's Teacher of the Year and will represent the state in this year's National Teacher of the Year competition. The award was announced Tuesday morning during a ceremony at the school. "I am proud to announce Arlee High School science teacher Bill Stockton is the 2022 Montana Teacher of the Year," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said Tuesday. "Bill exemplifies the kind of teacher all educators aspire to be. He has not only ignited a passion for science in his students, but he has also extended that same enthusiasm to all of the student teachers he has mentored. It's easy to see why Bill was unanimously selected to represent Montana; I wish him all the best at the National Teacher of the Year competition." Stockton was among four finalists for the state award, along with Steffani Grogan of Forsyth, Christina Pavlovich of Livingston and Brianna Saltenberger of Anaconda. The selection committee was made up of representatives from the Office of Public Instruction, the Governor's Office, the Governor's Office of Indian Affairs, education advocates, the Montana business community, the Montana Legislature and 2020 Teacher of the Year Kristi Borge of Polaris.

Valleydictorian Senior Profile: Colin Kapsner
Valley Credit Union and The Billings Gazette are featuring 32 seniors throughout the 2021-2022 school year. We want to help students who are not typically eligible for scholarships and financial aid awarded to those attending a 4-year program. At the end of the year, Valley will award one $5,000 grant to a deserving student.

Bozeman, Gallatin achieve National Banner School status with Special Olympics
Earlier this month, three schools across the Treasure State achieved National Banner School status with the Special Olympics for their work and commitment to creating an inclusive environment for students with and without intellectual disabilities. It's the first time schools in Montana have ever been chosen for this honor, which now includes both Bozeman High and Bozeman Gallatin High School.

Winifred community is enjoying school upgrades and more opportunities
With only a couple hundred people in Winifred in Fergus County, there's not a lot that goes on in such a small town. There's a big construction project in the works that has everyone excited, though. It may just look like a bunch of metal in the middle of nowhere right now, but Winifred Public Schools is about to become a lot bigger than people would expect and the project is full steam ahead. Thanks to a big donation from Winifred native Norm Asbjornson, Winifred schools is expanding its opportunities for students and adding a lot more classes in the future. They have plans to add a greenhouse, a welding shop, more trades classes, and many other options as well.

Valier Schools hire staff, earn regional JOM award
The Valier Schools board of trustees met on Tuesday, Sept. 14 and approved using ESSR III grant funds to repair the boiler at the Valier Elementary School. According to Superintendent Craig Widhalm, the cost to replace the pumps and do other needed updating will be approximately $20,000. Widhalm also announced Valier Schools was selected as the Regional 6 Award Recipient of the Johnson O'Malley Award. "This is a great honor for our district and shows how hard our teachers and staff have worked to improve the education of our students."

Celebrating the first decade of Seeley-Swan High School grads
The Seeley Lake Community Hall was filled with laughter, hugs and smiles as around 50 graduates from Seeley-Swan High School classes 1965-1975 shared memories, stories and reconnected. While there were plenty of games and other activities, conversation in small groups of friends dominated the afternoon. There was also a memorial where graduates could honor other graduates that have passed. A handful of the graduates still live in the Seeley-Swan while others traveled from around the country for the gathering. While some said they were "sworn to secrecy," others claimed their memory had failed, and still others claimed any story they would share was unprintable, a few stories were shared from past graduates.

Ronan High School celebrates homecoming
The Ronan High School Chiefs and Maidens celebrated homecoming last week with special events, theme days and float making. The junior class of 2023 won this year's Spirit Stick award and homecoming float contest, while the freshman class won both the bale and hall decorating contests. The Maidens picked up a three set (25-13, 25-23, 25-23) homecoming volleyball win Tuesday evening over the visiting Whitefish Lady Bulldogs. Olivia Clairmont paced the Maidens with 11 kills followed by Margaret Cordova with 11 digs and Leina Ulutoa with 19 blocks. On Friday afternoon, future Chiefs and Maidens scooped up candy thrown from homecoming parade participants as the marching band, sports teams, RHS clubs, homecoming court and floats returned to the streets of downtown Ronan for the annual homecoming parade after a year spent cooped up during the pandemic. The Ronan Fire Department and Ronan City police added to the festivities with lights and sirens.

Arlee's Stockton named Teacher of the Year
Longtime Arlee High School science teacher Bill Stockton has been selected as Montana's Teacher of the Year and will represent the state in this year's National Teacher of the Year competition. The award was announced Tuesday morning during a ceremony at the school. "I am proud to announce Arlee High School science teacher Bill Stockton is the 2022 Montana Teacher of the Year," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said Tuesday. "Bill exemplifies the kind of teacher all educators aspire to be. He has not only ignited a passion for science in his students, but he has also extended that same enthusiasm to all of the student teachers he has mentored. It's easy to see why Bill was unanimously selected to represent Montana; I wish him all the best at the National Teacher of the Year competition." Stockton was among four finalists for the state award, along with Steffani Grogan of Forsyth, Christina Pavlovich of Livingston and Brianna Saltenberger of Anaconda.

Teacher Feature: Cailey DenBoer
Lincoln School District's new first grade teacher, Cailey DenBoer, grew up in Lincoln and is excited to return to the town as an educator. DenBoer attended school in Lincoln from kindergarten through her sophomore year, ultimately graduating from Capitol High in Helena, and then attending the University of Montana-Western. "I have a bachelors in elementary ed, and a minor in early childhood education. When I was in college, I worked at the elementary school in Dillon as a paraprofessional, so I was an aid in the special ed classroom for three years. I did my student teaching this spring in Lincoln, with Mrs. Greenough. I love the early elementary, so I was always kinda keen on kindergarten through second grade, so first grade is definitely a sweet spot for me," said DenBoer. In addition to teaching, DenBoer is the assistant junior high volleyball coach.

Osborne selected as DAR winner for LHS
Laurel High School senior Shel Osborne is the 2022 Daughters of the American Revolution award winner, selected by LHS staff and faculty.The Daughters of the American Revolution is a service group that recognizes students who:1. Represents themselves with Dependability (truthfulness and loyalty)2. Represents themselves with Service (Cooperation and Consideration of others.)3. Represents themselves with Leadership (Self-Control and Personality)4. Represents themselves with Patriotism (Unselfish interest in School and Community.)

Arlee High School science teacher named Montana Teacher of the Year
Being recognized as the Montana Teacher of the Year is a huge accomplishment, but receiving that honor during one of the most tumultuous times in teaching history is even sweeter. Bill Stockton, a science teacher at Arlee High School, was recognized this week as the 2022 Montana Teacher of the Year by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. "The last year and a half has been extremely difficult for everybody, especially for teachers in the context of trying to balance teaching kids online and teaching kids in person," Stockton said. "It did feel really nice to be recognized (during the pandemic) just because it's been extremely stressful and I think that it's nice to have something positive to look forward to," he continued.

New fifth grade teacher a familiar face
Carol (Peabody) Spencer is in her first year teaching in her hometown. The 2009 Carter County High School graduate said that her and her husband, Rusty, made the decision to move back to Ekalaka to be closer to her family ranch and because they wanted to be a part of the community. "Rusty loves Ekalaka too," she told the Eagle on Tuesday. After finishing high school, Spencer headed to Dawson Community College in Glendive to continue her education and compete in rodeo. Throughout four years of college, she competed in goat tying, breakaway roping and team roping on a rodeo scholarship.

Browning High Schools students explore the sacred Badger-Two Medicine region and their voices in conservation
Last week Browning High School (BHS) students joined the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance (GTMA) on a hike to the last contested oil and gas lease in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine region. Browning High School librarian Amy Andreas helped organize the hike to make visiting the Badger and learning about local conservation efforts more accessible for students. "Simply being out on the land and connecting with a place positively impacts their physical and mental health and well being," Andreas said. "We are also trying to make it easy for them to get involved with conservation professionals and realize that this is still their land, and they have an important voice in deciding what happens to it."

Monica Winderl, Art teacher extraordinaire
Monica Otto Winderl has been introducing Big Sandy students to the fine arts for three years, which has rounded out her 22 year career as an art teacher. Though she isn't from Big Sandy, Monica spent her growing up years visiting family in the area. Her father is first cousins with Ron Otto. An accomplished artist, her work has been on display in galleries around the state, including Fort Benton. Monica didn't set out to go into either art or teaching as a career. She explains: "I fell into it. I went to college for a fine arts degree. Actually, I started college to be an accountant, and it got very boring. My friend said: 'You're always drawing. You're always doing art. Why don't you try to do something like that?' I didn't want to be a starving artist, so I said 'No.' I went into advertising. I have a fine arts degree in print making, painting, photography, mass communications, and advertising. So I worked for an advertising agency for a while and then, long story short, I got married. The art teacher at Highwood quit in the middle of a semester, and I was asked if I wanted to do it. I said 'No.' But my husband and my mom said 'Go try it. You might like it.' And that was 22 years ago."


September 2021 GREAT NEWS

Meet the Montana 2022 Teacher of the Year
The Montana 2022 Teacher of the Year, Arlee High School Science teacher Bill Stockton, was surprised Tuesday by his school district with an assembly to celebrate his dedication to learning. "I just I wasn't expecting this to be the outcomes," said Stockton. It may have been a surprise to Mr. Stockton, but it was not a shock to his students and fellow educators. "Bill's a straight shooter. It's one of those that when kids mess up in class, he's the one that teaches them to grow, instead of just dropping the hammer on him. He worked with colleagues, he asked questions. And he's not one to just go with the norm, he's constantly looking for change and what works for one kid might not work for all kids and he always goes back and works really hard to make sure that he's getting the kids to have the best success possible." - Principal Cory Beckham. "I was having a hard time understanding the math concept of it, and like how I was supposed to do the calculations and so he sat with me like five minutes after class and was like this is how you do this and if it's better this way for you then you can do that for sure," said sophomore Harli Kinney.

Grow Your Own Teacher programs lift off
The Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education has made short work of distributing funding for new K-12 educator preparation programs approved by the Legislature this spring. Three grants were approved this summer for initiatives designed to usher high school juniors into the teaching field, marking the state's first direct investment in a recruitment and retention model that's grown increasingly popular across the country. House Bill 403 passed the 67th Legislature with strong bipartisan support in April, establishing Montana's Grow Your Own Teacher grant program. Introducing his bill in late February, Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, D-Browning, noted that quality educators willing to relocate to classrooms in rural or reservation communities are "few and too little." One solution, he proposed, is to inspire locals with a vested interest in their community to pursue a teaching career in their own backyards. Gov. Greg Gianforte signed HB 403 into law on May 14.

'Walk to School Day' planned for Oct. 6
Local students are encouraged to join kids across the nation in walking to school on Oct. 6, Walk to School Day. Walk to School Day raises awareness of the need to create safer routes for students walking, rolling and bicycling to school. Improving routes to school benefits the broader community with safer access for all ages and abilities from students, to grandparents, to people living with disabilities. Students in Yellowstone County are invited to sign a pledge stating their support of Walk to School Day. Students can pledge to walk online at or contact Jenna Solomon for paper copies.

Expressive art at Victor High School
Victor High School Art Educator Jennifer Ogden took her printmaking class outside the first week of school to experience abstract expressionism and explore the style of Jackson Pollock. Students did some soap and spray paint masking then got the feel of action painting on a large scale. "They came up with strategies that would enable them to paint without necessarily touching the canvas," Ogden said. "Some poured, dripped, or flung their colors while others whipped the paper with wet strings tied to sticks. One student enjoyed throwing paint-soaked sponges at the paper or squeezing them out." Student Oatis Marjerison said he enjoyed the process.

Pickin' up STEAM in Corvallis schools
Seeking to help meet the science education needs of each of Corvallis School District's 13 grades, the Corvallis Schools Foundation (CSF) has made hands-on science education its special project for the 2021-22 school year. With a goal of raising $45,000 to buy a wide array of science-related, hands-on equipment, the 23-year-old non-profit foundation aims to empower Corvallis students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills at every level, from kindergarten through 12th grade. Hands-on science experiences allow students to directly investigate and find connections that increase their understanding of science, math, and technology, according to the CSF statement announcing the project. Students engaged in hands-on science develop problem-solving skills, evaluate data to make decisions, and engage in teamwork.

GFPS teaching kids about Native American culture with 'Tipi Talks'
For the last week, Great Falls Public Schools have been celebrating American Indian Heritage Day by educating young students on Native American Culture. According to Dugan Coburn, director of the Indian Education Department with GFPS, one in six students in the district are Native American. "It's such a huge part of our history. Everything from learning about the buffalo hides, the tipi, you know it's such a part that needs to be celebrated and kids need to be educated about it. It shouldn't be a missing piece of Montana culture and history," said Loy Elementary School counselor, Montana Johnson. From Sept. 20 through next week, students from different schools in the Electric City are gathering around one of 22 different tipi's set up in the district to learn about the history of the tipi, how it's put together, and how it's evolved.  "We're not just the people that were in the books from the old days. We're still here. I like to talk to them, they ask me and I'll say we start with the dog days of hauling our tipi's around with dogs, then we get horses, and now I use my truck and that we're still here and doing this," said Coburn. 

'Run for 75' honors Jefferson High student while raising awareness for suicide prevention
Seven years after a Jefferson high school student died by suicide, the community continues to rally to raise money for suicide prevention. The 6th annual "Run for 75" raises money for suicide prevention resources across Montana, all while remembering a Jefferson high school student Dennis Karaseva. "Dennis was such a beautiful person and he was so talented, artistic kind loving funny he was just a beautiful person," said Liudmila Karaseva, Dennis' sister. Dennis died by suicide in November of 2014. For his sister, having this event continuing seven years later mean a lot. The run is currently organized by Jefferson High School Senior Luke Eckmann who says helping to create this event has has been impactful.

Climate strike draws Bozeman high schoolers, local leaders
Bozeman High School students and Gallatin Valley Sunrise leaders took to the streets Friday afternoon to demand action on climate change.

Expressive art at Victor High School
Victor High School Art Educator Jennifer Ogden took her printmaking class outside the first week of school to experience abstract expressionism and explore the style of Jackson Pollock. Students did some soap and spray paint masking then got the feel of action painting on a large scale. "They came up with strategies that would enable them to paint without necessarily touching the canvas," Ogden said. "Some poured, dripped, or flung their colors while others whipped the paper with wet strings tied to sticks. One student enjoyed throwing paint-soaked sponges at the paper or squeezing them out." Student Oatis Marjerison said he enjoyed the process. "Action expressionism to me was the ability to express myself with the assistance of an art form that is free of worry while creating and being in tune with the flow and just going with it," he said. "One of my favorite painting actions was taking a paintbrush that I dipped in paint, and then swinging my arm while squatting low as if I were releasing a Frisbee into the air aiming for the canvas."

Lady Trojans Help Roberts Family in Time of Need
The Whitehall Lady Trojans found time last Thursday to help a family in need in Three Forks. Three Forks resident Ted Roberts is bravely fighting Glioblastoma Multiform, one of the most aggressive human cancers. Over the weekend his friends and family traveled to his home for a family reunion and what may be a final visit. The Lady Trojans arrived at the Roberts home after a chemo treatment and spent time cleaning their home and yard before the visitors arrived.

Valier Schools hire staff, earn regional JOM award
The Valier Schools board of trustees met on Tuesday, Sept. 14 and approved using ESSR III grant funds to repair the boiler at the Valier Elementary School.

BPSW Education program encompasses array of arts
Every fall, Lincoln students get the opportunity to work with visiting artists and creators during the artist residencies held by Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild.

OPI extends free meal program for schools
More school children are able to enjoy hot breakfasts and lunches this year, thanks to an extension to the program sponsored by the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

New fifth grade teacher a familiar face
Carol (Peabody) Spencer is in her first year teaching in her hometown. The 2009 Carter County High School graduate said that her and her husband, Rusty, made the decision to move back to Ekalaka to be closer to her family ranch and because they wanted to be a part of the community.

American Indian Heritage Day: Reflecting on and celebrating American Indian Culture happens year-round in Cut Bank Schools
On Monday, Sept. 20, Leo Bird, graduate of Cut Bank High School and a consultant for the Office of Public Instruction, was a guest speaker in both Cut Bank Middle School and to the Cut Bank High School Culture Club.

Rural Deer Park School welcomes new principal
Deer Park School has a new principal. Sheri Modderman has taken the helm of the rural school south of Columbia Falls after longtime Principal Dan Block retired at the end of last school year.

Bozeman, Gallatin high school students garner national recognition
With its first senior class, Gallatin High School is recognizing its first group of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists as Bozeman High has another strong group recognized.

Harlem Elementary School Welcomes New Teachers
When Jessica Cochran applied for and received the position of Assistant Principal at Harlem Elementary School, her promotion created a vacancy in the sixth-grade classroom.

Harlem High School Film Releases Third Student-Produced Film
HARLEM – Seven months after being nominated for a Student Production Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Northwest Chapter, one of the highest honors in the United States for high school filmmakers, student-led filmmaking organization from Harlem, Montana, Milk River Productions, returns for the Annual Native American Week celebration with their third student-produced film.

Ridge View named Blue Ribbon School
For the second time in three years, the Belgrade School District is home to a newly designated National Blue Ribbon School.

National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021 include two in Montana
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Tuesday recognized 325 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools - including two in Montana. The Montana schools are Cascade Elementary School in Cascade, and Ridge View Elementary School in Belgrade. The recognition is based on a school's overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Cascade principal Michelle Price said, "It's a great reinforcement for our teachers, they deserve to know how great of a job they are doing here." In a town of barely 700, having a school system so strong is an incredible asset.

Books and BMX: Summer reading program culminates with bike raffle at Sacajawea Middle School
A principal and three teachers laid shoulder to shoulder in the center of a gym floor on Wednesday morning as a rider on a BMX bike barreled toward them. The Sacajawea Middle School gym erupted in cheers and the thundering of feet on bleachers as the rider leapt into the air, easily cleared the group. The assembly - the first the school held in the last 18 months - was the culmination of Read to Ride, a summer reading program the middle school held in partnership with USA BMX Foundation. To encourage reading throughout the summer, students were given a raffle ticket for each book they read with the grand prize of a Mongoose BMX bike and helmet raffled during Wednesday's assembly. Professional BMX athlete Cam Wood was there to talk with students, perform a couple of jumps and help raffle off the bike provided by USA BMX Foundation and Mongoose. Wood, who also attended Chief Joseph Middle School and Bozeman High School, said it was important for him to come back home and do events like this to introduce and encourage students in both BMX and education.

National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021 include two in Montana
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Tuesday recognized 325 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools - including two in Montana. The Montana schools are Cascade Elementary School in Cascade, and Ridge View Elementary School in Belgrade. The recognition is based on a school's overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Cascade principal Michelle Price said, "It's a great reinforcement for our teachers, they deserve to know how great of a job they are doing here." In a town of barely 700, having a school system so strong is an incredible asset.

New student from rural Montana seeks degree 'to help my people, my tribe'
Sariel Sandoval, a first-year UC Berkeley student from the Flathead Reservation in northwest Montana, is a whiz at math. But last May, her joy at being accepted to her dream school quickly turned to sticker shock. How could she pay nearly $72,000 a year to attend - for out-of-state tuition, room, board and books - when non-residents of California, she discovered, aren't eligible for Berkeley's need-based grants and most scholarships? "It was a big shock," said Sandoval, a member of the Bitterroot Salish, Diné (Navajo) and Pend d'Oreille tribes, whose mother, a substance abuse prevention specialist whom Sandoval calls her "personal hero," raised five children on one income. Sandoval could have attended the reservation's highly-regarded tribal college for free her first year, and, with a high enough GPA, her second year, too. Other schools had offered her admission, and ample financial aid. Still, she wouldn't budge from Berkeley, a university she'd never seen, but had heard so much about. For one, a favorite book of Sandoval's, The Beadworkers: Stories, was written by Berkeley professor Beth Piatote, who also is Native American. Discovering that, said Sandoval, "I thought that a school like Berkeley must be just as amazing as the author. … My mind was made up."

Schools Promote Financial Literacy Education Among Youth
Schools across the valley are encouraging financial education through curriculums such as Banzai and Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF), which are helping to expand financial literacy access into many more classrooms. The educational resource Banzai follows Montana's state curriculum requirements and offer an avenue for anybody in the community to increase their financial literacy, including kids. After completing a course, students will know how to track money, recognize financial trade-offs and plan for a financially sound future. Since 2018, Park Side Credit Union has worked with Banzai to build financial literacy in the valley by investing time, money and industry experience to craft the virtual resource to better equip its surrounding community. Banzai's online curriculum is made available to 23 schools in the valley in partnership with Park Side Credit Union. The move to educate students on financial responsibility stems from parents and local financial institutions wanting younger generations to be better equipped with finance skills to prevent future money problems.

Miss Montana visits Sunnyside with self-defense lessons for students
Jessica Criss, Miss Montana 2020, stopped in Havre to teach students at Sunnyside Intermediate School some self-defense techniques as part of her Sense of Defense program Monday. Criss' program, which she has been running for a year-and-a-half, is intended to teach students across the state ways to defend themselves while instilling a mindset that will allow them to avoid danger when possible and keep themselves safe when they can't. Throughout the day, she taught groups of students stances and blocking techniques that would allow them to deflect potential attacks, as well as how to recognize dangerous situations and how to respond to keep themselves and those around them safe.

Schools in Cascade and Belgrade recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools
Two Montana schools were recognized among 325 schools across the county as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021 by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Tuesday, according to a Department of Education release. The recognition is based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates in one of two performance categories. The Montana schools named as National Blue Ribbon Schools were: Ridge View Elementary School, Belgrade School District #44 Cascade Elementary School, Cascade Public Schools District 3&B. Both schools were recognized as "Exemplary High-Performing Schools" meaning they are among their state's highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests, per the release.

New website launches educating K-12 Montana students about voting
A new website aimed at educating Montana students about civics and voting is launching Friday. The YouthVote program was launched during a Constitution Day celebration in the Capitol rotunda on Friday. In a release from the Montana secretary of state's office and the Montana Office of Public Instruction, the website is aimed at providing Montana schools the education to teach students about Montana's government. It includes resources such as the U.S. and Montana constitutions, videos about government, information on Montana counties and legislators, information on Montana Content Standards for Social Studies for K-12 and information on becoming a registered voter. Additionally, K-12 students can enter the US Constitution Contest, offering students the opportunity to ingrain voting habits early on by becoming more familiar with Montana's government.

Montana Learning Center awarded $360,000 NASA grant
The Montana Learning Center (MLC) at Canyon Ferry has been awarded a $360,000 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to continue its mission of STEM education, activities and outreach. MLC says NASA funding has supported their efforts for years, helping provide a variety of programs that not only encourage engagement with STEM professionals but also help students develop their collaboration and communications skills and build other skills necessary for success in today's education and work environments. Through their NASA partnerships, MLC has connected students with astronauts, scientists and engineers. They've also been able to take students to visit NASA space centers, such as the Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Kennedy Space Center, Ames Research Center, and Jet Propulsion Lab. In 2019, MLC took a group of Browning Middle School students to the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab where they got to see the Mars Perseverance Rover when it was being built and see it tested in a simulated martian environment.

Ophir Elementary School welcomes four new staff members
On Aug. 30, students and staff returned to school with 100 percent in-person learning. Students came back to the same classrooms but with some new faces including both incoming students as well as four new Ophir Elementary School staff members.

Victor launches robotics class with drone demonstration
Five state-certified professional and hobbyist pilots sped, flipped and swooped their drones on Tuesday as a preview to a new robotics class where Victor Middle School students will build, program and fly them. Victor Superintendent Diane Woodard said each class in the middle school would have one quarter, about eight weeks, of robotics class. "This is the launch and in the robotics class they will be building drone kits," Woodard said. "They will be doing cross-curricular activities with math, science and technology. I'm super excited about it. We've been wanting a robotics class and plan to have a robotics club where we compete with other schools." Educator Nathan Beckwith said this year the middle school students rotate through word processing, art, FFA and robotics classes. He is currently teaching sixth-grade students, then will have seventh and two versions of eighth grade. Beckwith started his class on programming and coding basics through the online Kahn Academy. "They are writing code and programming to make drawings," he said. "But the gist of the class is to build, program and flying drones. Welding is our only concern because the drones are so delicate."

Valier teachers, volunteers undertake playground improvement project
There has been a buzz of activity on the Valier Elementary playground of late and it isn't all during recess. Parent volunteers have been busy cleaning and upgrading the existing structures to provide more options for recess activities. The playground project has been in the works for a while. According to District Clerk, Mary Lundy, when the "big slide" had to be removed some of the teachers, along with former Superintendent, Julie Gaffney, developed a survey to find out what changes the students and staff would like. A Playground Committee was formed prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Funding for the playground has been an ongoing project. Teachers "pay" for casual Fridays by donating a dollar when they wear jeans and the donations join other funds such as Box Tops for Kids rebates, private donations, and an Elementary Activity Fund ($10,000) that has been accumulating over the years. Current playground funds total around $17,000.

New at School - Potomac Pioneers
Potomac Pioneers began their new school year Aug. 30. There are several updates to staff, programs and the facility this year. New staff includes Jodi Hausmann who is the new preschool teacher. Kayla Brewer is the new paraprofessional for the preschool class. Instructional paraprofessional Anna Bunderson is also new staff this year. The new school board chair is Courtney Hathaway. Several staff also took new positions within the school. Breanna Peterson, who taught preschool last year, is the new kindergarten teacher. Christi Taillefer is teaching junior high science and math for Kristina Davis who is on Sabbatical leave. Jessica Vankerkhove is teaching sixth grade English/Language Arts and sixth - eighth grade social studies this year. Sarah Schmill is teaching kindergarten through third grade PE and health as well as her elective classes. Again this year there is a continued focus on Authentic Literacy which is supported by the Montana Comprehensive Literacy State Development Program [MCLSDP] grant.

TERS students learn lesson in food sovereignty
Salish Kootenai College's Native Youth Empowerment Project collaborated with Two Eagle School to include Food Sovereignty courses into the students' health class, with the intention to make it a permanent feature. SKC and Community Health Development created this initiative to enhance community health and well-being by involving Two Eagle River School middle and high school students. CSKT created TERS about 40 years ago to educate Indigenous students with secondary education centered on culture and language. The Native Empowerment Project is designed to inspire kids to make healthier dietary and lifestyle choices for the rest of their lives.

Homecoming traditions
During homecoming week each year, CCHS men play a volleyball match against each other and CCHS women play a powderpuff football game. The tradition started back in 2005 and has continued since. This year, the men played on Tuesday. The powderpuff football game will take place on Thursday. At left is this year's winning men's volleyball team.

Deer Park School welcomes new principal
Deer Park School has a new principal. Sheri Modderman has taken the helm of the rural school south of Columbia Falls after longtime principal Dan Block retired at the end of last school year. Modderman is originally from Michigan and moved to Montana about 10 years ago. She is currently working on her doctorate in special education from Washington State University. She also has a master's degree in educational leadership. She previously taught special education at Helena Flats School and Swan River School and in Washington State. She was also athletic director at Helena Flats. She took the Deer Park post in July and it's been busy ever since. Deer Park has robust enrollment, with 169 students and 16 staffers. It's one of the oldest districts in the state, serving students in grades K-8.

Havre School Board Receives Energy Audit
The Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees convened on Tuesday evening at Havre Middle School for their regular monthly meeting. At the start of the meeting, the District was presented with an Energy Audit Report from Ameresco, Inc. out of Helena. Overall, the audit found that the District's buildings were in "good condition," but there are various areas which could be addressed to improve air quality and reduce costs on electricity. Havre's annual utility expenses from 2018-2021 averaged $246,036 annual for electricity, $130,044 for natural gas, and $42,313 for water. The report states that if the District were to use a combination of "Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds and budget-neutral financing, repaid with guaranteed energy and operating savings, Amaresco can help HPS make wise facilities investments to reduce energy consumption, replace unreliable equipment and controls, and perhaps more imporantly, improve indoor air quality and the learning environment." It estimates that the HVAC and air quality improvement would cost between $4.2-$5 million.

Billings families spread positivity to school teachers using sidewalk chalk
In an effort to recognize Billings teachers for all of their hard work and dedication, parents and their kids got to work over the weekend and chalked positive messages onto the sidewalks in front of all 30 Billings public schools. "I hope they feel surprised and happy at the same time," said Aidrian Lindley, 11, a Billings student in sixth grade. MTN News caught up with one group during a stop at Meadowlark Elementary School in Billings on Sunday. The chalking started as an idea on a Facebook group, but Lughano Borhan was the first to take action last week. She crafted positive messages on the sidewalk in front of her kids school, Poly Drive Elementary. 

Victor School adds to successful Kinder Under Five program
Victor School has added a class of younger 3- and 4-year-olds to its Kinder Under Five (K-U) program. Victor Superintendent Diane Woodard said the school started the program last year but was ready to expand. "We've got top-notch teachers in there really getting kids started in the right direction," Woodard said. "We now take 3- and 4-year-olds and it is a huge boost to our population. In each of our K-U classrooms, we have a full-time teacher and a full-time para. We have 14-15 students in both of those classrooms, which is really the sweet spot in my opinion, so they get that focused attention and support." Educator Kelly Conway started the K-U program last year. "This year we split the program so the young 3- and 4-year-olds are in one class and the older 4- and 5-year-olds are in another," Conway said. "I teach the older children."

Bozeman teachers bring the 20th anniversary of 9/11 to the classroom
It was a beautiful September morning. Steve Hall recalls the bluebird day, the ordinariness of his morning at the FBI's Chicago headquarters. He remembers how it was shattered when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City, dispelling any chance that the first crash was a tragic accident. He remembers the confusion, the sense that something like this doesn't happen in America. He remembers the sound of his mother crying to him on the phone - the first time he'd ever heard her cry. He remembers downtown Chicago, the headquarters of United Airlines, emptying of people and how United began forwarding recorded calls it received from passengers on the hijacked planes to the FBI. Hall, a teacher for the past three years following his retirement from the FBI after two decades and seven years in the Air Force before that, recounted these vivid memories to his eighth grade social studies class at Sacajawea Middle School on Friday, the day before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Valier Schools extends warm welcome to new teachers
As students recently returned to school in Valier, they were welcomed by some new faces in the classrooms. The fourth and sixth grade classes both have new full-time teachers, and the Special Education teacher is on campus 2.5 days per week. Paul Bielawski, fourth grade teacher, is a 2020 graduate of the University of Montana-Western with a degree in K-8 Education. "This is my first-year teaching, and I couldn't be more excited about it." Paul moved to Shelby from Milwaukee, Wis., when he was in the fifth grade. A graduate of Shelby, he explains why Valier is a good fit. "Valier has a lot of benefits for me. As much as I enjoy a city, nothing beats the clean air and beautiful views, lakes–which my lab loves–and lots of my family and friends nearby." Reflecting on his first week of teaching Paul is candid and optimistic "This first week has shown me what an exciting challenge teaching can be. I see so much of myself in my students, moment­­s of frustration become ironic and, admittedly, hilarious moments upon reflection. Ask Mr. Widhalm sometime what I mean. I really can't wait to see how much this class grows this year. This bunch is going to prove they are special."

SHS ag department receives tool donation
The Sidney High School Ag department got a little bit of an upgrade on Wednesday, September 1. The department was presented with six new tool boxes, filled with new tools as well. SHS received the tools as a donation from Sonny Anvik, from Sage Oilfield Services and Consulting, and Billie Mele and Bryan Christensen, from NAPA. After dropping the tools off, Christensen and Anvik mentioned that they were more than happy to help because it was having good classes when they were in high school that got them to where they are today. Kelly Alvstad, the high school Ag teacher, said she is thrilled to get the donation from the three.

New "Grow Your Own" investments can address teacher shortages
As students and teachers throughout Montana are going back to school, we know that a lot of those schools--especially in rural and reservation communities--are struggling with teacher shortages. Finding and keeping high-quality teachers is a perennial challenge for rural schools in general, and schools in Indian Country in particular. But we also know that if we can encourage hometown kids to pursue a career in education, and help them get the training they need to be teachers, they are more likely to stay in small towns and make a career in their local schools. That's why I sponsored a bill during the past session of the state legislature to expand "grow your own" programs in rural and reservation schools.

Shelby Schools see significant increase in class enrollment for 2021-2022 school year
As of Aug. 25, Shelby Public Schools are back in session and according to Superintendent Elliott Crump, the number of students enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year are higher than they have been in a decade!  "Our numbers are up quite a bit at this point," said Crump. "We ended last school year with 427 students enrolled and started this year with 485. We are up 58 students from last May and up 37 students from our Spring ANB Count Day." The kindergarten and fourth grade classes boast the largest numbers with each having 44 students. The smallest classes are 10th grade with 22 and 12th grade with 25. Crump noted that the largest change in class size was that of last year's sixth graders, who at the end of the year had 37 students but started this year as seventh graders with 42 in their class. Camrose Colony School and Big Rose Colony School have also seen a rise in student numbers. Since 2013 Camrose has had anywhere from 12 to 15 students enrolled. This year the total number of students attending sits at 17, the highest it has ever been. Big Rose Colony welcomes two more students compared to last year, going from 13 to 15.

Dual principal and music position offers unique opportunity
After building the music program at Huntley Project Schools from a handful of students to three choirs and two bands in junior high through high school, Aaron Morgenstern left teaching and went into business management. As the new Swan Valley School principal and music teacher, he looks forward to combining his love of working with children and experience teaching music with his ability to manage people through building relationships and working towards a common goal.

East Side teacher named finalist for MT Teacher of the Year
An East Side Elementary School fifth grade teacher is a finalist for the 2022 Montana Teacher of the Year Award, a program administered by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, or OPI. The teacher, Chris Pavlovich, found out she made the final round of consideration at the beginning of the week. Pavlovich has an interview with the OPI on Sept. 21 and will find out whether she receives the accolade a few weeks later, according to the rough timeline on the OPI website. Teachers must be nominated for the award. Pavlovich's name was tossed into the ring for consideration by Linda Rost, a science teacher from Baker who won the state teacher of the year award in 2020. The two got to know each other after working on a grant together. Still, when Pavlovich learned that she had been nominated, for a moment she wasn't sure about whether she should complete the award application. After all, Pavlovich believes that teaching is a team effort and made sure to credit her fellow fifth grade teachers at East Side: Robin Lovec, Megan Brenna and Jodi Pierce.

'Just doing my job': Lunch supervisor performs Heimlich maneuver, saves third-grader
Kelli Wetzel was doing her usual rounds of the lunchroom a little past 11 a.m., making sure the thirdgraders didn't get too rowdy and used their half-hour before recess to eat, when she saw a student stand up on the bench. They're not allowed to do that, so the child immediately caught her eye. The student, 8-year-old Benji Lizotte, had his hands on his chest and had started to turn blue. Wetzel walked over, set Benji down and leaned him forward to deliver a few blows to his back to try and dislodge the chunk of corn dog obstructing his airway. But it didn't work. Benji still couldn't breathe. Wetzel then performed the Heimlich maneuver, and the bit of food popped right out. "He took a big old breath and first thing he said was, 'Thank you,'" Wetzel said. "It was so polite, I was like, oh my gosh." The third-grader was shaken up, but after a trip to the nurse and a conversation with a family member he was able to calm down and return to the school day. Wetzel similarly shook off the incident, downplaying her colleague's commendations.

Osprey lights
Around April a strong wind gust blew apart an osprey nest built on an elevated platform near Sacajawea Park and the Yellowstone River. Among the detritus littering the ground under the nest were three broken eggs, said Edie Linneweber a volunteer with the Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society's Osprey Project. And that's when the trouble started. "Right away I saw them building the nest in the lights," said Linneweber, who's monitored the pair for about nine years. The raptors abandoned the broken nest in favor of building a new one in one of the stadium lights that tower above McLeod Field. Then the pair took the unusual step of laying a second clutch.

New superintendent, new teachers, staff changes all set for 2021-2022
With the school year rapidly approaching, Park County schools have been finalizing a batch of staffing changes to lead the first full school year in person since the 2018-2019 school year. Notable among the group is the installment of a new Livingston School District superintendent, Lynne Scalia. Scalia's background is deeply rooted in Montana education - previously, she was the principal of Park High School, and before that, she was the superintendent of Monforton School in Four Corners, taught in the Bozeman School District for 11 years, and attended both University of Montana and Montana State University for her bachelor's and doctorate degrees respectively. Scalia comes in with an ambitious agenda, wrapped up in a three-year plan for student growth. Serving this is a large administrative restructuring.

Nearly connected
Concrete is being poured this week outside the new connecting wing at Ekalaka Public Schools. The project is now in its final stages. Aside from the exterior concrete, the new building still needs glass for one interior window as well as two exterior doors. School officials are hopeful that they can begin moving into the new offices that are a part of the connecting wing sometime in the next few weeks, pending the completion of the last items on the project's checklist. The connecting wing includes four centralized offices and one main entry for the public, as well as a hallway between Carter County High School and Ekalaka Elementary. The offices will be used by the superintendent, counselor, clerk and secretaries. The project began in April and is funded in part by a $750,000 grant awarded by the Montana Department of Commerce Community Development Division.

New projects due to arrive in Heart Butte featured in Sept. 1 celebration
Folks gathered near the entrance to Heart Butte School on Wednesday, Sept. 1, to celebrate a series of projects and accomplishments that are and will be directly impacting the small mountain community in years to come. Blackfeet Tribal Business Council members Virgil Last Star, Vera Weaselhead, Lauren Monroe, Rodney Gervais Jr. and Mark Pollock came to the ceremonies, along with Jonnalea Tatsey and Hugo Anderson of Glacier Electric Coop. The Heart Butte Junior Singers offered the Blackfeet Flag Song while teachers and their classes filled in the socially-distanced seating before the speakers' podium. Heart Butte Superintendent Mike Tatsey welcomed those attending and described the various projects already completed and those arriving in the near future. Following his introduction, he conducted tours of the new solar installation and a transitional youth housing and counseling center.

With safety plans in place, Browning Schools resume in-person instruction
"We're hoping that when the logistics are done, there will be an increase – there will be more vaccinations," Browning Superintendent Corrina Guardipee-Hall said of plans for a safe school year. She notes that for students eligible to be vaccinated (those 12 and older), the Blackfeet Tribe is offering $250 per shot for enrolled members, and the same amount is available for non-member Reservation resident students through the Southern Piegan Health Center. For those under the age of 12, that is, for the elementary students, plans are to continue observing safety protocols. "Everyone wears masks," the Superintendent said, "and our staff is 98 percent vaccinated." Sanitization stations are located throughout the schools, as well as hand washing facilities, she said, and social distancing is being practiced "as much as possible."

Monforton strives to maintain rural feel amid growth
The Monforton School in Four Corners is a bellwether for what is happening all over the county. The area is named after an early resident, French Canadian Henry Monforton, who came to this area to mine in 1863, a year before Montana was even a territory. Its first school was a log cabin, called Middle Creek School with Miss Nell Lyon starting to teach in August 1883. An early photo shows Lyons standing in front of the log cabin schoolhouse with 21 students.

Plevna sees change in enrollment
Plevna School has seen a change in enroll­ment at the high school level, according to the district superintendent. The school has seen a significant increase in the number of high school students. The school has its largest enrollment at the high school level in more than a decade, said Superintendent Nick Schumacher. "We have seen a large increase in the enroll­ment of our high school students. Overall, K-12, the enrollment is similar to that of last year. "We are up to 32 students at the high school this year. We haven't had that many in more than a decade. We have new students coming into the district," he explained.

Baker district sees increase in students
There are more students attending classes in Baker this fall, especially at the elementary level, according to the district superintendent. Kindergarten had the biggest in­crease, said Baker superintendent Aaron Skogen Tuesday. "Overall, we are up 30 students right now. The biggest influx is in kindergarten. We have a large kin­dergarten class this year. We are up 13 students compared to last year at the same time." The schools also had an earlier wave of students who have moved from first grade to second grade this fall, he added. "At the high school level, we are about the same with six more stu­dents than we had last year," he said. "At Lincoln Elementary overall we are up 16 students in K-2, but 13 of those are specifically in Kinder­garten. Longfellow is up 24 students and part of that is our seventh grade class this year and the sixth grade class last year was a smaller class.

Anderson School starts classes with new, renovated building
Roughly 200 Anderson School students on Tuesday will begin the school year in an expanded and remodeled school that has been in the works for the past three years. The first day of the school year will see students in the 23,000-square-foot addition to the school and the 9,000-square-foot remodel that improves aging infrastructure, includes more bathrooms and fixes the heating and cooling systems that saw classrooms become too hot or too cold depending on the time of year. Anderson School's Superintendent Kristi Jacobs at an open house and ribbon cutting last week applauded all the work and community involvement that the school - which opened in 1894 - has seen.

Roads, water and the Internet: Montana Senator Jon Tester promotes U.S. infrastructure bill
Montana Sen. Jon Tester stopped in Great Falls briefly on Thursday to detail the benefits northcentral Montana will receive with passage of the $1.2 trillion Senate Infrastructure Bill now before the U.S. House of Representatives. "The truth is, everywhere I go across the state - it doesn't matter where you're going, roads and bridges need to be worked on," Tester told a small assemblage of city dignitaries and local press. "We need our broadband to be brought up to 21st century standards. We've got water systems that are worn out, all across our state. That's why over the last few months I've been working with four other Democrats and five Republicans to negotiate a once-in-a-generation bipartisan bill that's going to make urgently needed investments in our communities to create jobs and help America maintain our economic advantage over China."

New Bigfork superintendent brings 24 years of education experience
Tom Stack is excited for the school bell to ring in the first day of school of his first year as superintendent of the Bigfork School District. Stack has 24 years of experience in education, including nine in his previous position as superintendent of the Clinton School District, which serves kindergarten through eighth grade. What drew him to the Bigfork superintendent job was the opportunity to work in a larger, K-12 school district. "It combined all my experiences together," said Stack, who spent eight years as principal of Ronan High School before working in Clinton. Coming from a family of educators - his grandmother taught for 42 years and his mother worked in education for 37 years - Stack's career path might have seemed predictable. But it took him several years to land on that path. As an undergraduate at the University of Montana, he decided to combine his love of the outdoors and biology in pursuing a bachelor's degree.

School-based health clinics open to students in Kalispell, Evergreen
Students' access to affordable health care is now steps away from the classroom at two new health clinics at the Linderman Education Center in Kalispell and East Evergreen Elementary. Lack of health insurance, transportation and time can be barriers to students getting the medical attention they need, whether it's treating a sudden onset of symptoms or a chronic illness, and that could ultimately affect their ability to attend school. The two new clinics opened in January in partnership with the Kalispell-based nonprofit Greater Valley Health Center, formerly the county-run Flathead Community Health Center. Jill Pate, a registered nurse and school-based collaboration specialist with the Greater Valley Health Center, said the school districts provided the space and her organization took care of the rest - staffing, medical equipment and supplies - made possible in part by a two-year grant from the Montana Healthcare Foundation.

Montana Poet Laureates to draw inspiration from BPSW, work with Lincoln students
Each September, Blackfoot Pathways: Sculpture in the Wild invites artists, composers, musicians, and other creators to Lincoln as part of the Artist in Residency program. This year, Montana's 2019-2021 Poets Laureate, Melissa Kwasny and M.L. Smoker, are scheduled to speak and engage with students and the community Sept. 16. Kwasny and Smoker earned a shared $50,000 fellowship from the Academy of American Poets to "partner with seven Montana art and historical museums, selecting individual works, writing ekphrastic poems in response, and holding workshops on site at the museums for area youth to learn to write their own ekphrastic poems," according to fellowship announcement.

Libby High School Educational Trust bestows scholarships
Two members of Libby's class of 2021 have received scholarships from the Libby High School Educational Trust. Colton Halvorson and Bethany Thomas each received $1,000 from the fund to pursue college educations. Halvorson, son of Dan and Christina Halvorson, will study civil engineering and music at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell. He hopes to become a civil engineer. Thomas, daughter of Steven and Lisa Thomas, plans to earn a bachelor's degree in earth science from Concordia University Nebraska. Trustees established the Libby High School Educational Trust in 1988 to help Libby High School graduates who may need financial assistance to further their education. Students may find applications for the trust at the high school. 

Anticipation and Anxiety as Class Resumes
Micah Hill was feeling good when summer started. A difficult school year, his first as Kalispell Public Schools superintendent, was in the rearview mirror. The community mood was jubilant, events were coming back and the rolling average of new novel coronavirus cases in Flathead County the last two weeks of June was merely six per day. One month later, COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing, hospitals were filling up and the pathway to a straightforward school year was suddenly riddled with complicated obstacles. Exhaustion over public-health precautions such as masks was widespread, manifesting itself as even more entrenched opposition. Changes in state leadership, as well as legislation, cultivated a more hands-off approach to coronavirus public health.

2006 CCHS grad returns to music program
Whitney Hamblin was attending Southeast Electric Cooperative's 75th Annual Meeting earlier this summer when a chance conversation with an old friend and current Ekalaka Public Schools teacher, Amy Walker, led to her eventually applying for the open music teacher position. Hamblin was living in Bloomington, Indiana and traveled to Ekalaka to attend the meeting since it was her father's last meeting as the coop's manager. In fact, her entire family attended and provided the musical entertainment for the occasion.

New social studies teacher
Adam Miller spent a few grades during his elementary school years living in a small town of around 100 people, so he's experienced small town living before. When asked about his experience in Ekalaka so far, the new social studies teacher at Ekalaka Public Schools said that he "really likes the small-town feel of it." Aside from those few years in a small town, Miller spent most of his youth in Canton, South Dakota, a town of around 3,400 people close to the Iowa border.

Neal Roush starting 31st year on the job at Cut Bank Schools
If you know Neal Roush, you know he is busy all the time. If he is not at work, he is taking care of lawns, moving snow off driveways and walkways, helping out a friend or neighbor with some home repair, umpiring softball games in the summer or driving to Bozeman to see his daughter for a weekend. At 61 years of age, you might think he would be wanting to slow down a bit. But that is not the way Neal is wired. He is on the move and on the go all the time. Not only does he like that way of life, it is the kind of life that suits him. "I just keep going," he said. "I love to help everyone, whether it is the kids in school or other people of Cut Bank. I enjoy helping people out." Neal is starting his 31st year working as a custodian for the Cut Bank School District. He started that career in August of 1990, working in the high school. After a short time working there, he soon found a permanent home as the custodian "engineer," as he calls it, at Anna Jeffries Elementary School.

First day of school
Best friends Claire Long and Natalie Hodgskiss are ready for their first day of junior high as seventh graders at Choteau Public Schools. Superintendent Chuck Gameon said enrollment on the first day of school, Aug. 25, was 186 in kindergarten through sixth grade, 51 in seventh and eighth grade and 106 in high school for a total of 343.

Zurich Welcomes New K-2 Teacher
When Zurich Elementary School students returned to their classrooms, saying goodbye to carefree summer days on August 18, they encountered a new teacher. Hired in late May, Mrs. Brooke Pruttis will be teaching grades K-2 for the 2021-2022 school year. As Brooke Elliott, Pruttis graduated from Montana State University-Northern on May 1 when she completed a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in K-12 Reading. Later that month she signed a contract to teach in Zurich, and on June 10, she secured a hat trick when she married Kenneth Pruttis in Chinook, Montana. "We scored big when we got this girl," Mrs. Colleen Overcast, Zurich Elementary School Administrator and Lead Teacher, proclaimed. "The kids love her, and they're busy every day. We feel very fortunate."

Harlem Junior/Senior High School Hires Five New Faculty Members
Ambitious, dedicated, passionate, and goal-oriented are some of the attributes that describe the newest members of the teaching faculty at Harlem Junior/Senior High School. Principal, Bonnie Nesslar welcomes five members to her faculty and staff. Joining the Harlem Junior/Senior High School (HHS) as the junior high math instructor, Jessica Stiffarm is an enrolled member of the Aaniiih tribe from Fort Belknap, Montana. She herself graduated from Harlem High School before going on to earn advanced degrees at Salish-Kootenai College and Montana State University-Northern (MSUN). She has also worked and taught at Aaniiih Nakoda College for eleven years. The math department welcomes a second math professional who joins the department as a high school instructor.

Monforton strives to maintain rural feel amid growth
The Monforton School in Four Corners is a bellwether for what is happening all over the county. The area is named after an early resident, French Canadian Henry Monforton, who came to this area to mine in 1863, a year before Montana was even a territory. Its first school was a log cabin, called Middle Creek School with Miss Nell Lyon starting to teach in August 1883. An early photo shows Lyons standing in front of the log cabin schoolhouse with 21 students.

New teacher bringing world-wide experience to Plevna classes
Plevna has a familiar feel for James Franson. "Plevna is not so different from where I grew-up. Small town, family values . . . concept of community – it is great," the new special education teacher for the school said. It is also very different. "I spent the last ten years in the Philippines and it is a huge difference from Montana, Fallon County, Plevna," he added. Franson admits he has traveled a lot before finding his way to Fallon County. "I was looking to 'retool' after returning to the United States from an extended stay in Europe of 20 years." Now, he will be working with special needs students from kindergarten through 12th grades. He believes his experiences will be helpful to his students. 

United Way of Yellowstone County collecting school supplies
United Way of Yellowstone County is holding its annual Operation Supply drive on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 2173 Overland Ave. The organization is asking businesses and individuals to collect and donate school supplies and hygiene items in an effort to combat the obstacles that can keep a child from learning. The supplies are used to stock local school pantries that are accessed throughout the year to help students in need. The UWYC garage doors will be open for donors to drive in and drop off with limited contact during regular business hours. Donors are encouraged to pre-sort and count their items prior to drop off. United Way of Yellowstone County is also encouraging those who are unable to make it to the event to consider a one-time cash donation that will be used to purchase any gaps in supplies. Donations can be made safely and securely through their website

August 2021 GREAT NEWS

Browning Students Glad to Be Back to In-Person School
Corrina Guardipee-Hall stood outside Browning Elementary School on a brisk Tuesday morning. It was the second day of school. This year is Guardipee-Hall's fifth year as superintendent of Browning Public Schools and her 32nd year in education. "Good morning! Welcome back!" she shouted as she helped second and third-grade students out of their cars. "We pray every day for the safety of our kids," Guardipee-Hall said, referencing the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted Browning Public Schools to close in March 2020. "We pray for our kids, our families, our community. But we are really happy to be back. The kids need their education."

Butte Schools: Kids, teachers, staff share butterflies to start new year
If you didn't know Butte-Silver Bow's largest school district was starting its new year this week, and you were anywhere in town Monday morning, well, you certainly knew then. Yellow school buses everywhere. Kids with backpacks ambling along neighborhood sidewalks, sometimes three wide. Traffic jams - as close to those as they come in Butte, Montana, anyway - around every school. After a long, hot, mostly quiet summer, Butte High School, East Middle School and all six elementary schools that make up the Butte School District were back in action Monday as more than 4,400 students started the 2021/2022 school year. The kids weren't the only ones with first-day butterflies. Keith Miller, principal at East Middle School, said he, his staff and all the teachers had them, too.

'On the first day it comes alive': Bozeman School District prepares to welcome students back five days a week
As the district heads into its third school year impacted by the pandemic, there were still questions hanging over the schools in the run-up to the Aug. 30 start.

Excitement abounds as kids return in person to Great Falls schools
Lalla Chadwick said her great-grandson didn't sleep the night before school started, he was so excited. She said he was ready to go an hour before they had to leave to drop him off at Whittier Elementary School. Excitement was in the air at both Whittier and Lincoln Elementary schools as teachers and students were ready to be back in the classroom. "I'm just glad to see their faces, I'm so glad to have them physically here," Whittier Principal Corri Smith said. "I just went to every classroom, and it just makes me want to cry, I mean the classrooms are full." Chadwick, 70, said she drove from Billings to help see Kaden Tyler, 5, off on his first day of Kindergarten. Chadwick was joined by her daughter, Tyler's grandmother, Janeal Holland, and Holland's daughter, Tyler's aunt, Brooklyn Gessup. Chadwick said she has seven children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, including Tyler.

First day of school in Hamilton, Darby
Fifth-grade students started their first day of school as newcomers to the Hamilton Middle School campus on Monday. Moms were seen leaving in tears after the first day of dropping off their children. Principal Marlin Lewis said HMS had a fifth-grade open house on the previous Thursday so the new students knew where to report. "The parents got to come in and meet the teachers," Lewis said. "The fifth-grade students knew where they were going and weren't completely overwhelmed." As with any first day there were lots of questions, plenty of hellos and an overall feeling of excitement for a new school year, in person, with masks optional. "It's very crazy, but it is good," Lewis said. "It is good the bells work." 

CHS educator Brock Hammill receives presidential environmental award
Corvallis High School educator Brock Hammill has been awarded Honorable Mention for the 2021 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). The prestigious award honors teachers, grades K-12, who create and use innovative environmental education. Hammill has been teaching for 20 years – two years in Oregon and 18 at Corvallis in Montana. He has taught high school physics, chemistry, integrated science, AP physics, alternative energy and computer programming. The award statement said Hammill is, "recognized for his ongoing research developments in air quality blending environmental science with technology to create place-based learning strategies that expose students to experiential learning opportunities."

Kids get new bikes: Reading contest rewards pages with pedals
For most of her 10 years on this planet, Camille Patterson has always had to ride hand-me-down bikes. As of Saturday that was no longer the case. She was among the 96 students from 16 schools who received a new bike as part of Helena Toyota's second annual Read to Ride Program. Helena Toyota joined with the Montana Radio Company and Big Sky Cycling to award the kindergarten through fifth grade students with a new bike. The goal of the contest was to promote continued education, while teaching children that reading is fun.

Ready For Kindergarten After Reading 1,000 Books
Olivia and her family have worked extra hard over the summer to get ready for the start of kindergarten this week. In addition, they completed a full list of 1,000 books that Olivia has read too! Olivia, 5 years old, is the daughter of Kat and Rob Oakley. Olivia loves reading about Disney princesses. She also adores If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and all titles by Laura Numeroff. To encourage a love of reaching in children, the Sidney-Richland County Library is promoting "1,000 Books before Kindergarten", a nationwide program that encourages parents and caregivers to read aloud with their children every day. Research continually shows that children who are read aloud to every day before kindergarten will have higher scores and more success when they begin school. Most importantly, sharing books with children promotes a lifelong love of books and learning.

St. Ignatius High School sets record four-year graduation rate
Despite unprecedented challenges, the St. Ignatius High School class of 2021 graduated 96.4% of those who started at Mission as freshmen together four years ago. Principal Shawn Hendrickson said it's a record for the school. "We knew it would be a tough year, and it was," Hendrickson said. "We were worried about getting pulled out for COVID and what that would look like coming back. But our seniors really rose to the challenge. They had an end plan in mind and stuck to it. "We're really excited. Our staff did a great job of really personalizing the education, looking out for kids. They did their best to accommodate students and their families with safety in mind and addressing all the concerns. It was what we do normally, but then going above and beyond." Hendrickson said that level of commitment is going to have to be "the norm" going forward.

Growing for the Gold
Glasgow is a wrestling town. Boasting back-to-back state championships and a level of community support that other towns only dream of cultivating, this town turns out for its grapplers. Therefore, it's only fitting that the Glasgow Wrestling Camp is quickly becoming one of the preeminent and gold-standard camps in the state. Under the direction of Jory Casterline, head coach for the Scotties, the Glasgow Wrestling Club and Derek St. John, head assistant coach at Iowa State University, the Glasgow Wrestling Camp has exploded in size over its seven-year run. "We keep growing every year," St. John said. "Jory and these guys, they do a great job of promoting and getting guys here. I just help out trying to get some 'names' to camp, and like I said, it just keeps growing like crazy."

Driver's Ed Prepares Teens For Getting Licensed
What is the first thing you do when you enter a vehicle? "Put on my seat belt," replied Abigail Kulczyk, 14, an incoming freshman at Glasgow High School who recently completed a Driver's Ed course taught by Chuck Barstad.

Alzada school turns 100
The schoolhouse in Alzada is one of only a few one-room schoolhouses left in the country. Montana has more one-room schoolhouses than any other state in the U.S. During the 2013-2014 academic year, there were 200 operating throughout the country; 67 of those were in Montana. By comparison, there were about 212,000 across the country in 1913. The school was built in 1921 with the first classes being held in January of 1922. Originally there were two large classrooms.

Great Falls barber is giving free back-to-school haircuts to Browning students
Logan Gobert, the owner of Double Take Barber Shop in downtown Great Falls, is helping the community by providing free back-to-school haircuts to students in Browning. Gobert, alongside Browning Public Schools, will host the event on August 22nd from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kari McKay, the assistant principal at Browning High School and the other driving force behind the event, is overjoyed with the opportunity to invite alumni to come back and provide services like hair cuts. She said, "We are thankful for this opportunity, and what's really cool, the team that he is bringing is not just people that work for him and his shop, but there's a group of people who are currently in the Montana Academy of Salons from here."

Bainville woman named Montana History Teacher of the Year
April Wills, a fifth-grade teacher at Bainville Public School in northeastern Montana, is the 2020-2021 winner of the Montana Statehood Centennial Bell Award honoring the Montana History Teacher of the Year at the 4th-6th grade level. In her nominating letter, Samantha Keefner, a fellow teacher at Bainville School, said: "April has worked very hard to bring the history of our state into the classrooms of many other educators. Without April's expert lead, I would have never known to utilize the many wonderful traveling trunks that the Montana Historical Society has available to schools with different focuses in Montana History. Her passion and excitement for Montana History is present in everything she does."

Retired teacher puts limelight on Libby's history with new book
When Jeff Gruber set out to document Libby's history, he thought the project might take him a few months. Now, after 17 years of cataloging, researching and writing, the first of his three volumes on the city and surrounding areas is hitting bookshelves. Looking back on the process, Gruber said his ever-extending deadline prompted some ribbing from friends and colleagues. But, in the end, he was glad he gave the work the time it deserved. "I wanted this to be quality. So many times, especially like in teaching or education, we kind of get by and do it on a budget," he said. "I just wanted a book that Libby could be proud of." Gruber left no stone unturned when sourcing records for his trilogy. His research took him to archives as far as Tacoma, Washington, and Saint Paul, Minnesota. He spent hundreds of hours scrolling through microfilm, digging through photograph collections at the Libby Heritage Museum and interviewing aging residents.

New project targets substance abuse, youth development
A new project spearheaded by the Flathead Prevention and Recovery Alliance aims to promote healthy youth development by targeting problem behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco abuse. The framework for the project, known as "Communities that Care," or CTC, was developed by researchers at the University of Washington and aims to help communities better understand what can be done to protect young people from behavioral and substance abuse problems. The UW's Center for Communities that Care has helped dozens of communities implement the program. CTC "sites" have been established in Alabama, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, Virginia and elsewhere.

Gallatin Gateway seeks feedback on historic designation for schoolhouse
The Gallatin Gateway School District is asking for input on a historic designation for its 1915 schoolhouse. The administration is hoping for feedback on an online survey about the possible designation ahead of a September school board meeting where the board consider whether to support an application to the State Historic Preservation Office. A local group, the Historic Preservation Board of Gallatin Gateway, is spearheading the effort behind the designation and drafting the application. The historic designation would open the door to potential grant money and a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but would not actually list the school on the national registry.

C-Falls students build cabin for Glacier Park employees
A group of Columbia Falls High School students watched in excitement Monday morning as a crane hoisted a two-bedroom, nearly 400-square-foot cabin off a flatbed truck and onto a waiting foundation at the Rising Sun Campground in Glacier National Park. It was the culmination of a year of hard work inside a large pole barn on their school's campus, where the students learned and applied all kinds of construction skills - framing, flooring, roofing, hanging drywall and exterior siding, and installing electrical, plumbing and fire-suppression systems. Now their project is complete and ready to house seasonal employees when the park reopens for the 2022 visitor season. "It feels so good. I feel so proud of myself and everybody," said Mae Anderson, one of the dozen students who built the cabin in teacher Jeff Remiker's building trades class.

Teacher attempts Glacier's 6 highest peaks in 6 days
On a cold day in February 2020, Noah Couser and a friend were brainstorming how they might spend their summer when an idea emerged: What if they attempted to climb the six highest peaks in Glacier National Park in just six consecutive days? As far as they knew, no one had attempted such a hike before. The six peaks - Stimson, Jackson, Siyeh, Merritt, Cleveland and Kintla - are each taller than 10,000 feet, meaning their combined elevations are more than twice the height of Mount Everest. Summiting any one of them could take multiple attempts for an experienced mountaineer. And reaching them all in so little time would involve bushwhacking and traversing snowfields to get from one trail to the next - a slog spanning roughly 145 miles. "That's stupid," Couser, a 36-year-old physical education teacher at Kalispell Middle School, recalled thinking.

Three Butte High graduates get life-changing Erickson scholarships to Montana Tech
"I feel like I just hit the lottery." Taryn Stratton's reaction to the news that she is one of three graduating Butte High seniors to receive the Rolin Erickson Montana Resources Opportunity Scholarship is understandable. This is no ordinary scholarship. It's a four-year full ride to Montana Technological University. The opportunity scholarships, named for the first time this year for recently retired Montana Resources President Rolin Erickson, are reserved for Butte students whose family members do not have college in their backgrounds. The other two 2021 recipients are Nacole Sestrich and Shania O'Brien. All are absolutely thrilled.

Longtime friends join Helena's school board as student reps
Two longtime friends, Eliza Lay and Rylie Schoenfeld, are Helena Public Schools' newest student school board representatives. The two seniors said they've been friends since middle school. However, Lay wound up at Capital High School and Schoenfeld at Helena High School since they live across town from each other. "When we met we were literally the same person," Lay said. "I think we met at a band thing." Both attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where they spend much of their free time volunteering. Both play the saxophone in band. Both spend a lot of time with their families. Both love the outdoors and have participated in track.  Schoenfeld said she knew previous HHS board representative Claire Downing, who suggested the position as a possibility for Schoenfeld. Schoenfeld's counselor also suggested it to her.

Summer school enrollment doubled at local high schools
Summer-school programs in the Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls school districts have seen enrollment double at the high school level this summer as students strive to compensate for challenges posed by the pandemic during the past school year. Although many school districts in the Flathead Valley remained open with in-person learning when hundreds of schools around the nation went fully remote during the pandemic - quarantines and cancellations have taken a toll on students academically and emotionally. How much of a toll is yet to be defined as the pandemic evolves. For the 2020-21 school year, Kalispell and Columbia Falls schools kept classes on-site. Whitefish chose to continue a hybrid model of on-site and remote learning. Districts also offered full-time remote options to students.

July 2021 Great News

Longtime friends join Helena's school board as student reps
Two longtime friends, Eliza Lay and Rylie Schoenfeld, are Helena Public Schools' newest student school board representatives. The two seniors said they've been friends since middle school. However, Lay wound up at Capital High School and Schoenfeld at Helena High School since they live across town from each other. "When we met we were literally the same person," Lay said. "I think we met at a band thing." Both attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where they spend much of their free time volunteering. Both play the saxophone in band. Both spend a lot of time with their families. Both love the outdoors and have participated in track.  Schoenfeld said she knew previous HHS board representative Claire Downing, who suggested the position as a possibility for Schoenfeld. Schoenfeld's counselor also suggested it to her.

Summer school enrollment doubled at local high schools
Summer-school programs in the Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls school districts have seen enrollment double at the high school level this summer as students strive to compensate for challenges posed by the pandemic during the past school year. Although many school districts in the Flathead Valley remained open with in-person learning when hundreds of schools around the nation went fully remote during the pandemic - quarantines and cancellations have taken a toll on students academically and emotionally. How much of a toll is yet to be defined as the pandemic evolves. For the 2020-21 school year, Kalispell and Columbia Falls schools kept classes on-site. Whitefish chose to continue a hybrid model of on-site and remote learning. Districts also offered full-time remote options to students.

Three Butte High graduates get life-changing Erickson scholarships to Montana Tech
"I feel like I just hit the lottery." Taryn Stratton's reaction to the news that she is one of three graduating Butte High seniors to receive the Rolin Erickson Montana Resources Opportunity Scholarship is understandable. This is no ordinary scholarship. It's a four-year full ride to Montana Technological University. The opportunity scholarships, named for the first time this year for recently retired Montana Resources President Rolin Erickson, are reserved for Butte students whose family members do not have college in their backgrounds. The other two 2021 recipients are Nacole Sestrich and Shania O'Brien. All are absolutely thrilled.

Havre High graduate releasing classic fairy tale set in Butte
Havre High School graduate Rob Cox, who has an impressive set of film credits himself, and his wife, Liz, will soon be releasing a film described as a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale "The Tinderbox" set in modern-day Butte. "The original fairy tale starts with a soldier returning from the war for the king, you know, so we have a guy coming back from Syria. It was like mid 2000s, I think when Liz wrote it ... mid-2010s, I guess. So, we have a soldier going back from Syria back to Butte. ... We tried to showcase Butte," Rob Cox said. Liz Cox not only wrote the film, but co-directed it alongside legendary camera operator and cinematographer David L. Butler, who Rob Cox said recently died.

New teacher likes community spirit in Baker
BreElle Wacker was hoping for a good start after getting her edu­cation degree. The Melstone High graduate thinks that she has found that in Baker where she will start off teaching sixth grade students at Longfellow School in just a few weeks. Wacker has spent part of her summer working as a nanny. "It has been a really good job to have throughout college because I have been able to experience all aspects of life with children." "I think it has prepared me well for the teaching world," she added. "I just graduated in May from MS-Billings," she said noting that she had been living in Bill­ings for the last four years – and five summers. She started much smaller. "I grew up in Melstone – a Class C town. Baker is kind of in the middle of the spectrum, so I am excited. I think it will be good."

Earth and Science Camp immerses students in STEM fields
For five of the last six years, middle schoolers from across the state have gathered at Montana State University in the name of science and exploration. They come to campus with curiosity in their minds and spend five days at the MSU Explore: Earth and Space Science Camp in search of answers. Most leave with more than just that, namely the idea college is possible and their futures are bright. The camp, hosted by MSU Academic Technology and Outreach, aims to engage students from underserved communities in hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics and inspire them to go to college and pursue degrees in those subjects. This year's camp was held July 11-16 on the MSU campus. Last year's camp was canceled due to the pandemic.

Mr. Lunceford's hog pen project a perfect teaching tool
The old livestock barns at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Ronan have solid bones, according to Fair Manager Sjaan Vincent, but some improvements certainly are in order after years of use. As swine supervisor during last year's Lake County Fair, Casey Lunceford, who teaches agriculture classes in the Ronan School District, saw firsthand that the hog pens in particular could use some love and care. He also saw a major opportunity. "It was hard. They were not as easy to clean. It just wasn't lovely," Vincent said of the old pens. "Casey said, 'You know, I could kill two birds with one stone here,' and he created his entire lesson plan around the project." Lunceford's plan was to teach his ag operations students with a little on-the-job learning. Central to the plan was a 10 by 100 foot concrete slab over the dirt that had been dug up and churned by generations of show hogs. Once the concrete was done, his team would build new metal stalls to set on the concrete.

Whitehall Community Library: Opportunity for WHS Students
The Whitehall Community Library has been awarded a Teen Project Democracy grant of $5000. Whitehall, along with the public libraries in Missoula and Billings, are the three sites chosen for this year's projects centered around Holocaust study. The project will be teen-led and is open to youth 14-17 years of age. The Whitehall Community Library invites Whitehall School District students to participate from September 2021 to May 2022 in this leadership opportunity. The requirements are as follows: each participant must sign a letter of commitment for the year, attend all nine monthly Book Discussion meetings and read an account of the Holocaust time period (books are provided by the Library), serve as member of one of the project committees, and participate in at least one of the projects. Teens may also chair all of the project committees with adult sponsors.

West Valley School builds new classrooms
Two new classrooms are under construction at the West Valley School as the district strives to keep pace with enrollment growth. "We started pretty much the day school got out, or a little before then," West Valley Superintendent Cal Ketchum said. The classrooms are in a new building behind the school, where playground equipment used to be. The building is roughly 1,800 square feet and will cost less than $100,000, Ketchum said. He called it "a great bargain" considering the current costs and availability of materials and labor in the valley. The project will be covered by district building funds and federal COVID-19 relief funds. The new building is being constructed in-house by district Maintenance Supervisor Phil Jackson and Tony Smith, a summer maintenance assistant. Electrical work and installation of a heating and cooling system will be contracted out. Ty McDonald, a Glacier High School student and West Valley graduate, also has helped Jackson and Smith put up the walls of the structure.

Moore reels in Superintendent of the Year and new job for Havre Schools
Brad Moore, Big Sandy resident and the former Superintendent of our local school system, is taking a position as Assistant Superintendent for Havre Public Schools in the coming academic year. This takes place after he was recognized as superintendent of the year for Central District of the Montana Superintendents' Association.

Flathead Class of 1951 gathers for 70th reunion
In the days leading up to commencement in 1951, many of Flathead County High School's 219 graduating seniors likely were cruising to the local drive-ins to gather one last time as classmates. Some may have preferred the Tip Top drive-in, but there were other choices for Kalispell teens in the early 1950s; Gene's and Smitty's Triple X were popular hot spots, too. It didn't cost much to drag Main Street in those days; the cost of gas in 1951 was 19 cents a gallon.

Charting a new path: Bozeman's new online charter school takes shape
The newest school addition to the Bozeman School District, an online charter school, is beginning to take shape as it charts a new path - one different from any other public school in the state. The Bozeman Online Charter School, a permanent offshoot of the online K-8 option the district created last school year due to the pandemic, is seeing its enrollment fill as administrators and teachers plan its inaugural year. While there's still a lot of work ahead of the school, Cale VanVelkinburgh, principal of the Bozeman Online Charter School, said it's been a fun journey to create a new school that is focused on meeting students where they're at with flexible support.

Flathead students elected as governors for Boys and Girls State
Flathead High School students Marley Miller and Leah Span were elected by their peers to serve as governors of the 2021 American Legion Boys State and the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State, respectively. The two educational programs share similarities in immersing high school students in the democtratic process by having delegates take the reins of government operations for a week. Other Flathead boys chosen to participate in Boys State wer: Aiden Christy, Robert Corbett, Colby Fetterhoff, Evan Schow, Evan Sevaly, Hayden Sharpe and Brady Yerkes.

June 2021 

Local speech and debate competitors excel at nationals
Local high school speech and debate students broke into the top 60 at nationals, with Flathead High competitor Alan Taylor among the top 32 in the Congress House event. Approximately 6,013 students from 1,316 schools around the nation competed in 25 events at this year's virtual tournament organized by the National Speech and Debate Association and held June 13-18. About 250 to 350 students from around the nation compete in each event, vying to advance through multiple preliminary and elimination rounds. Students making it to the top 60 from Flathead are James Francis and Kadence Johnson in Duo Interpretation; Sophie Dykhuizen in Storytelling; Neila Lyngholm in Impromptu Speaking and Scout McMahon in Prepared Commentary.

Turner Public School awarded grant  from Northwest FCS
Northwest Farm Credit Services announced it has awarded  Turner Public School a $5,000 Rural Community Grant. "These funds will be used to help purchase the necessary tools, equipment and curriculum to restart our vocational-agriculture and FFA programs. We expect increased school engagement by our students who especially benefit from a hands-on learning approach," Turner Public School Superintendent Tony Warren said. "Our school staff, students and the community are excited to have vocational-agriculture and FFA back in our facility for the first time in 13 years. Turner is incredibly appreciative of Northwest Farm Credit Services for its generous financial contribution."

Bozeman Hawks speech and debate finishes season strong in national competition
Bozeman High School's speech and debate team received the highest placement of any Montana school at the national competition in recent memory, capping an undefeated season and state championship. The Bozeman Hawks tied for 12th in the National Speech and Debate tournament, competing with more 1,300 schools from 48 states and five countries in a virtual competition that finished on Sunday. "It is by far the best," said Adam Thane, head coach of the Bozeman High speech and debate team. "I think maybe a school in Montana has been in the top 80 before."

Shawn Christiaens: 'One day you blink and it's time to retire.'
If you had Shawn Christiaens as your teacher, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. After teaching for 37 years, with 32 of those in Sunburst, there have been many lucky students who had the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive under the caring and dedicated educator. She has decided it is time to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Christiaens spent her first two years of teaching at Valier Public Schools and then the family moved to Kevin, where she took a job with Glacier Colony, which was a private school at the time. After two years there, Christiaens accepted a teaching position with Glendale Colony School, affiliated with Browning Public Schools, before taking the job in Sunburst.

After 34 years, Barnhill is retiring to return to teaching preschoolers!
According to Shelby teacher Kamie Barnhill's mom, she was "born playing school!" Barnhill has taught for the past 34 years, with the last two being in Shelby. Over the years, she has taught all elementary school subjects, some preschool and a few high school and college subjects including algebra, algebra II and calculus. At the end of the 2020-2021 school year Barnhill is retiring from the school system and returning to where she started–teaching preschool. "I am going to start drawing my retirement and I also will be teaching preschool at the Golden Triangle Preschool in Conrad, said Barnhill. "I began my teaching career at a preschool in Great Falls and will be ending my career teaching preschool in Conrad. I will miss all the people at Shelby very much and want to thank them all for a wonderful two years." Teaching has been very rewarding for Barnhill, watching students learn and grow, the look on their faces when they finally conquer a concept that has been challenging for them or even just seeing them make a new friend.

Johnson closes the book on 24-year career at SSHS
Annette Johnson wrapped up her 24-year position as Seeley-Swan High School math teacher at the end of this school year. Johnson graduated from Great Falls High School in January 1985. Soon after she attended the College of Great Falls where she graduated in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in secondary math education and business. She then received a master's degree in technology in education as well as several math credits from the University of Montana.

Local students win Lewis and Clark Essay Contest
The Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation announced that two Seeley Lake students won cash prizes for their participation in an essay-writing contest. Ava Thornsberry won first place and received $300. Clara Kyrouac tied for third and received $100. Other Missoula-area students to win were Abigail Sherwood in second and Kenney Smith tied for third. Each entrant received a one-year membership to the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation.

Masons Award 6 Scholarships
Lower Yellowstone Lodge #90 of Masons has awarded three $500 scholarships in memory of Earl & Clona Hawley. The 2021 winners are Kristan Jasin, Hudson Severson and Ecriselia Flores, Sidney High School. Kristen plans to attend Miles Community College majoring in pre-veterinary studies.

Superior celebrates its high school graduates
On May 30, under the midday sun on the bleachers of the football field, 18 young adults nervously sat awaiting the announcement of their name to walk across the stage and claim their hard-earned diplomas. The 2021 graduating class of Superior High School was like any other group of adolescents, an assortment of athletes, and artists, bookworms, and musicians. Each student gifted and talented in their own unique ways, this diversity ultimately forges the deep friendships that these youth would need most as they journeyed through high school and made it to graduation day. Lauren VanCleaf opened the commencement ceremony by singing the national anthem. The Valedictory address by Bailey Milender followed it.

Ronan High School Seniors graduate, celebrate overcoming pandemic
On Sunday, May 30, 78 seniors graduated from Ronan High School. The 2021 graduating class was overjoyed and relieved to be able to graduate after a difficult and challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. RHS Principal Kevin Kenelty greeted the graduating class's family and friends that filled the stands at the RHS football stadium. The Bigcrane Drum welcomed them with an honor song.

Polson Middle School earns statewide award
This academic year, Polson Middle School participated in the SMART (Save Money and Resources Today) Schools challenge for the third time and won. The friendly competition is hosted by the state Department of Environmental Quality to engage Montana's students in conservation, energy efficiency and a healthy environment. This year, the school won in the "Upcycling" category, earning them $2,000. Mrs. Amy Williams teaches Special Services at the middle school, but is also the School Garden Coordinator and Club Leader for EAGLES (Environmental Advocates for Local and Global Ecological Sustainability). Williams was one of several teachers that partnered for the competition, she spoke with Char-Koosta News about this year's upcycling initiative.

Montana High School graduates receive Black Mountain Software scholarships
Black Mountain Software announced their 18th Annual Education Scholarship Awards for 2021. Graduates Sophia Bohl from Billings Central High School and Bethany Barnes from Whitefish High School were recently awarded the company's higher education scholarships. Both Sophia and Bethany will receive $1,000 to continue their education.  Sophia will be attending Montana State University this fall to pursue a major in Biology and Chemistry and become an anesthesiologist. Bethany plans to study Biomedical Science at the College of Idaho and incorporate her ventriloquist skills to be a physical therapist for children.

Library staff ready to offer Summer Reading Program
One of the most popular summertime activities for the kids is the Summer Reading Program offered through Glacier County Libraries. And after some quick planning, it's back again this summer! The Summer Reading Program is a way to get kids to spend time reading throughout their three-month hiatus from school. It encourages them to pick up books, read them, record what they have read and then be in the running for prizes each week as well as a grand prize at the end of the program. The program is also for adults, encouraging them to spend time reading too, be it to their children or for their own enjoyment. There are four different age groups participating in the program that runs from June 7 through the middle of August. The age groups are 0-4, 5-11, 12-17 and 18 and up.

Spanish-speaking liaison embedded in Bozeman schools
Recent growth of Spanish-speaking families in the Bozeman School District has prompted a local nonprofit to hire a new position to embed in the schools and help those families settle into the city.

Chapter One Bookstore's windows fill with rainbows in support of high school students
Chapter One Bookstore's co-owner Mara Luther believes the Hamilton community has a lot of support for people who are different than themselves. When she heard of the debate over a request to paint four crosswalks in rainbow colors long associated with Gay Pride, Luther offered her windows in support to the group of high school students leading the effort.

Family footsteps: Corvallis educator wins award won by her father years ago
Corvallis High School Ag Educator and FFA Coordinator Neela Andres won the Outstanding Young Member/ Teacher Turn the Key for the state of Montana.

Hamilton High grads organize Colors of Cancer charity events
During all the busyness of preparing for high school graduation, three Hamilton High School seniors were also organizing charity events for their senior project to benefit the Colors of Cancer Campaign for the Daly Hospital Foundation.

Polson grads urged to follow their own path
Enjoy the journey, get to know people and take the time to do the little things for others that may seem insignificant because they're actually very important.

Mission graduates share sage advice
IGNATIUS - Twenty-six graduates tossed mortarboards into the wind as they were honored by family, school and community in a sunny graduation ceremony Saturday at the Mission High School football field.

Eighth-graders experience Montana history up close
McKensey Burke, an eighth-grade student in Stacey Doll's Montana History class at St. Ignatius, felt the gravity of history as they toured Big Hole Battlefield on a four-day, 900-mile field trip in May. She had studied up on the place before they arrived.

Class of 2021: Erickson looks to take running, academic success to next level
Senior Lara Erickson set her mark at the state A track meet with championship titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Now the Columbia Falls senior will look to make her mark in the college ranks as a member of the Carleton College cross country and track squad. Carleton is a small liberal arts college in Minnesota.

Class of 2021: Senior looks to career as dermatologist
She was one of the top students in her class. Now she has her sights set on another lofty goal: Becoming a dermatologist.

Eureka high school wins nationwide vocabulary contest for Montana
EUREKA - Nearly 44,000 schools across the country competed in's 7th annual Vocabulary Bowl, a nationwide competition with thousands competing to learn the most words.

Local Code Girls' social app a semifinalist in national challenge
Sit With Us, a mobile app developed by 11-year-old Josephine Morrison of Bigfork and 10-year-old Juliet Skinner of Kalispell to combat bullying and loneliness at the lunch table, has made it to the semifinals in the junior division of the Technovation Girls international coding challenge. 

Billings West graduate kept going through hardship to get degree
Graduating at the end of May was a relief for Rachel Hood, who spent her high school years balancing the task of getting a degree with the reality of needing to keep a roof over her head and having to work nights to do it. In recent years Billings Public Schools has averaged between 450 and 500 confirmed homeless students each school year. Off and on during her four years at Billings West High School, Hood was one of them. "I don't work for pocket money," she said of her night shift fast food job. "I work for grocery money, rent, a place to live." Hood sees herself as a relatively private person. She guessed that most of her classmates didn't know what her life was like, a belief echoed by some of the teachers she feels have been in her corner during her time at West. "A lot of people would have thrown in the towel and said this is too much, at any age, let alone as a teenager," said Kelly Darragh, a social studies teacher and boys basketball coach at West who taught Hood in two classes.

HHS Senior Megan Yockey has attended since Kindergarten
HHS Senior Megan Yockey has attended Hamilton schools since Kindergarten and likes that her school is "the perfect size." Her secret to being a valedictorian is that she worked and studied hard. "I have a friend who says if you can get all A's get all A's," Yockey said. "If you can do it, you should do it. If you're capable, you should make it happen."In high school, she has participated in choir, Guys and Dolls, cross country, Unified Track and the SPURS club. She put extra thought into her club choices and schedule.

Play like Robert: Boy's classmates put in workday to remember their friend
Robert Leonardi would have celebrated his 11th birthday Sunday. On Monday, his fourth-grade classmates for Daly Elementary School remembered him by pulling on their work gloves and spending a part of the day picking hundreds of rocks along the trail that bears his name. Robert Anthony Leonardi lost his life in a hit-and-run crash on Hamilton's Golf Course Road in July 2019. Last fall, a generous gesture of a longtime Bitterroot family to offer access across their land was followed by an outpouring of volunteer help from the community to build the RAL Trail in the young boy's memory.

Welding students build bridge at Lockwood School
As elementary students walked up the hills behind the Lockwood Schools campus Thursday to commemorate the final day of spring classes, a newly constructed bridge from Lockwood High School's metal shop students greeted them at an irrigation ditch.

Senior Spotlight: C-Falls senior dancing to embrace life's music
Dancer, actor, musician, singer, black belt, mathematician - many words can be used to describe Columbia Falls High School senior Jesse Rusche.

Senior Spotlight: Bigfork senior discovers passion for welding
Eighteen-year-old Grace Stewart wasn't a natural when it came to welding, at least at first.

CHS prepares students for dramatically different paths
Capital High School offers many different paths for students, and graduating seniors Sarah Heller and Wes Bruski have demonstrated that. 

Student council members made their mark on HHS
Though they differ in many ways, two of Helena High School's best and brightest graduating seniors have long been bound together by the school's student council.

Duo credits PAL for getting them to graduation day
Myles Lee and Becca Caro said they might not have made it to graduation day if it weren't for Helena's Project for Alternative Learning.

Native Pollinator Garden
Ronan High School science teacher Jedd Tougas's two Montana Natural History classes have been working on expanding and revitalizing the schools Native Plant Garden for the past school year that is located on the southeast side of the school

The SKC Tech4Good/Extension School Garden Network honors graduating seniors
Students grew beans, beets, carrots, squash, and sunflowers in addition to their study of literature and writing.

Ronan High School grad Sariel Sandoval to attend University of California-Berkeley
Ronan High School graduate CSKT tribal member Sariel Sandoval was accepted to the Engineering School at University of California-Berkeley, but the school doesn't provide scholarship/grant funds for out-of- state students which affects her ability to attend. 

CSKT member Arlee High School graduates look forward to college
ARLEE - CSKT tribal members Halle Adams and Mia Arlee graduated May 31, from Arlee High School and both are looking forward to moving on. Both graduates have been awarded the one-year tuition wavier scholarship from Salish Kootenai College and plan on attending next school year. 

Senior looks to a future in welding
Someday you might be hiring Cole Karlin to build your house, or maybe even, your next big bridge. The Columbia Falls senior is a talented welder and could see himself owning his own construction company.

Retiring Olney-Bissell teacher keeps on learning
Olney-Bissell School teacher Kathy Hill is retiring this month after 31 years teaching at the school, but last month she walked across the graduation stage earning her doctorate degree.

Young artist earns honor in Hockaday exhibit
Jadi Walburn likes creating art on a large scale - she prefers working on wall-sized murals.

Area Schools Name Boys and Girls State Delegates
Four students from Chinook High School and two from Harlem High School have been selected to attend the 2021 sessions of Montana Boys State and Montana American Legion Auxiliary Girls State. Liam Edwards, Braden Eoff, Anna Morrow, and Kinley Roberts-Hamilton from Chinook and Titan Brockie and Darrius LongKnife from Harlem will join other juniors from across the state at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, in early June.

Senior Spotlight: Bigfork senior discovers passion for welding
Eighteen-year-old Grace Stewart wasn't a natural when it came to welding, at least at first. She struggled through her first shop class, which was part welding and part auto mechanics. She had signed up for the class with a friend. Stewart hoped to get a few life skills out of it, but instead discovered her future career. The Bigfork High School graduate will be leaving Montana this summer to attend Tulsa Welding School in August. After completing the seven-month trade school, Stewart plans to work for a United States Navy ship-building company based in Missouri, and one day open a custom welding shop of her own.

Area students win big in Montana fish art contests
Students from Northwest Montana were well-represented in the Montana Fish Art contest. Seven young people, including five from Olney-Bissell School and two from Kalispell, were top three finishers in the Montana cutthroat trout and Wildlife Forever Fish Art Montana contests. According to Jim Vashro, formerly with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and now with Flathead Wildlife, Wildlife Forever created the national Fish Art competition to create appreciation and knowledge of fish and aquatic conservation. Vashro has run the Montana contest for more than a decade.

May 2021

Hawthorne Elementary plants trees in honor of longtime educators
Hawthorne Elementary School on Wednesday unveiled several new trees planted in honor of seven recently retired educators with more than 150 years of collective experience at the school. The trees are planted in front of the newly finished retaining wall outside the Westside Helena school. After becoming structurally compromised, the wall had to be rebuilt. In that process, the old trees along Madison Avenue were removed. Hawthorne students and staff wanted to add greenery back to the avenue and do something to honor the longtime educators who had retired the year prior. Principal Justine Alberts said they wanted to do something for these educators the year before, but were unable to because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Pieces of eight: A Bozeman High family band tradition will sound its final notes
On Thursday evening, a Bozeman High School family's tradition - spanning 8 children, countless meals and innumerable memories - will come to an end. But the notes of dedication, investment and care will linger as the family leaves a legacy, along with a unique commissioned piece of music, with the school's band program. When Lori and Bret Niedens' first child started in Bozeman High School's band as a freshman, they didn't know it would be a tradition carried on by their seven other children. The parents also didn't expect they would become an integral family by volunteering their time and energy to support the band program for almost two decades.

Retrospective: Billings high schools
Senior High is the oldest high school in Billings, tracing its roots to the original Billings High School. Senior's building was completed in 1940, with later expansions including the current gymnasium. Senior's campus is the location of Daylis Stadium. The school's team nickname is the Broncs and their colors are orange, white and black. The Broncs compete in Class AA activities.

For Billings Senior student the loss of a parent and motherhood both shaped senior year
Over the last year tragedy and happiness have shared space in Isabel Slevira's life. In a span of months that stretched from her junior year and into her senior year, the Billings Senior student lost her father to illness and gave birth to her son. She's also worked at night and is still the big sister to her four younger siblings. Amid everything she has kept up her grades and pressed on with school work. The things Slevira has experienced over the last year came after a head injury and concussion her sophomore year left her with memory problems and migraine headaches as she healed. She was struggling and distracted, including by people around her. She dropped out of school toward the end of the year. "I kind of just gave up on myself," she said.

Amidst tears and hugs, long-time Mission Valley teacher says farewell
The last day of school will be bittersweet for some Saint Ignatius High School students who must say farewell to a teacher who's been there for decades, teaching generations of Mission kids all about science -- and about life. On a recent rainy morning along McDonald Lake deep in the Mission Mountains Saint Ignatius High School Science teacher John Ligas was teaching his students about rocks -- for the last time.

Bozeman School District gets green light for its online charter school; will become first public charter school
The Bozeman Online Charter School will be the first public stand-alone charter school in Montana after it received state approval earlier this month. The Montana Board of Public Education approved the Bozeman School District's charter school application on May 14, with the board members expressing excitement to see how the school grows. The online charter school grew out of the success and interest in the district's online-only K-8 option, which it launched at the start of the school year to accommodate families with COVID-19 concerns.

Messages galore: New seating at Lone Rock School comes with meaning
It would probably be safe to say that Lone Rock School had never had a dedication ceremony quite like the one that occurred on its playground Monday morning. Elementary students shuffled between Winnie the Pooh and hugs with old gents to a row of black-leather-clad Harley riding motorcyclists as the school celebrated its two new additions to the playground. The two new benches came with important messages of kindness, respect and remembrance. The round Friendship Bench - with its umbrella adorned by characters and passages from Winnie the Pooh - celebrates the life of former Lone Rock teacher Joy Kaler, who passed unexpectedly seven years ago.

Celebration of Excellence honors Helena's best and brightest
Helena's annual Celebration of Excellence brought some of the area's best and brightest students and educators together Monday night. Each year, the Helena Education Foundation recognizes students for their excellence in academics, endeavors in a particular subject area, leadership or triumph over adversity. They're then asked to identify educators who made the most significant impact on them during their academic journey. Both groups are then honored at the HEF's Celebration of Excellence. This year, the HEF honored 71 pairs of distinguished students and educators during a get-together at Memorial Park. Gathering in smaller groups over a period of four hours, the students and educators picked up gifts and commemorative items, took photos and celebrated with family and friends.

Several Bozeman High seniors accepted at Ivy League schools
Bozeman High School boasts seven students accepted to Ivy League schools and two prestigious scholarship winners among its class of 2021. Despite pandemic challenges and fluctuating modes of learning, the group of graduating seniors represents one of the highest numbers of Ivy League acceptances for the high school. "It's atypical to have this number accepted," said Lauren Covington, a College and Career Center counselor. While the high school typically has students accepted into a few of the prestigious schools, Covington said, the district has never had all of the top eight Ivy League schools represented in its student acceptances. Some students were accepted to multiple Ivy League schools.

Bozeman High won't limit guests at graduation ceremony at Bobcat Stadium
The Bozeman High School class of 2021 will be able to invite an unlimited number of guests for the graduation ceremony at Montana State University's Bobcat Stadium. Graduation is scheduled for 11 a.m. on June 6, and it's the last time the district will have one high school ceremony before Gallatin High School holds its first graduation next year. Students were previously limited to six guests, but with local and national guidelines relaxing, the decision was made to allow unlimited guests, said Bozeman High School Principal Dan Mills.

Skyview student rebounded after foot fracture threw senior season into question
Senior year didn't quite start out the way Brooks Nelson had hoped. There was the pandemic, of course. And then there was the foot fracture. During winter basketball tryouts at Billings Skyview, Nelson went up for a layup and when he came down fractured his left foot.  A similar play his sophomore year ended in a fall that broke his arm and required surgery. And then there was his junior year when the pandemic cut short the Falcons' playoff run, leaving them co-champions with Missoula Hellgate.  Nelson said recently that the injury had him worried he wouldn't be able to play his senior year on a team that included friends he'd shared the court with since a fourth grade travel team. "Senior year is kind of like the last hurrah," he said.

Fusion 4133 Robotics four-peats
The Helena-based robotics club, Fusion 4133, recently captured the Montana Robotic championship, compiling the most overall points and winning the state's Inspire Award. This is Fusion 4133's fourth consecutive State title, and its sixth qualification since 2010 to the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics world championships in Houston, Texas. But the world's, which consists of 160 teams from a field of thousands, have been canceled due to the pandemic. The recipient of the Inspire Award is considered the most well-rounded team at a competition, meaning everything from building the robot, to sportsmanship with other teams, called "gracious professionalism" by FTC.

Helena High's Claire Downing adds 'presidential scholar' to list of achievements
Helena High School student Claire Downing had a long list of academic accomplishments even before she was named a presidential scholar during her senior year. For the past year, Downing served on the Helena Public Schools board of trustees as student representative for HHS. She was the National Honor Society vice president for the school, president of the Montana 4-H Ambassador Officer Team and a multi-award-winning science fair competitor. Downing is also Helena's sole presidential scholarship finalist for 2021. HHS principal Steve Thennis said in his 29 years at the school, he has had the opportunity to work with students who have unbelievable gifts. He said he is humbled on a daily basis by students' scholastic, artistic and athletic abilities and the social consciousness of these students who work tirelessly and give back to the Helena community. Thennis said Downing is a student who has excelled in every possible arena. 

Algae Alive! Innovative science project engages students during pandemic
As schools shut down and students were quarantined during the pandemic, educators such as Glacier High School science teacher David Lillard sought ways to give students a hands-on experience whether they were at school or at home. In Lillard's case it was a lab he came up with called Algae Alive!, drawing inspiration from an experiment he saw on display at a Seattle science conference he attended with colleagues prior to the pandemic. Algae Alive! ties into a unit on ecology and lets students design an experiment using algae and brine shrimp by coming up with their own questions, hypotheses and independent variables. Through a Kalispell Education Foundation $1,098 grant, he was able to purchase supplies and equipment that would be easily accessible to students on campus or at home. He has also reached out to other teachers about adapting the project to the elementary and middle-school level.

Great Falls teacher wins state award for Indian Education for All
Miranda Murray, an Indian Education for All instructional coach at Great Falls Public Schools, last week won the Teresa Veltkamp Advocacy Award for excellence in Indian Education for All.  Veltkamp served as an implementation specialist for Indian Education for All until she died of a brain aneurism in 2011. She was 39 years old. The award, which is presented by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, is in its 10th year and honors Veltkamp's legacy by recognizing leadership within the state's Indian Education for All initiative. Chris Pavlovich, a fifth-grade teacher in Livingston, and Callie Rusche-Nicholson, a curriculum specialist-literacy coach in Billings, also won the award, according to a news release.

Seven from Butte High to attend Girls State
Seven Butte High School students will attend Girls State June 13-19 at Carroll College in Helena. Four of the girls are graduating seniors who were unable to attend last year. The other three will be seniors next year. Butte Central had no girls wishing to attend.

Longfellow students to auction off lending libraries for art fundraiser
Students at a local elementary school have been hard at work personalizing lending libraries for an upcoming art auction. They're hoping to see their 12 creations filled with books and spread throughout Bozeman. Longfellow Elementary School's annual art auction will look different this year due to the pandemic but organizers said they wanted to find a way to creatively engage the students while giving back to the city. The wooden lending libraries, which operate on the leave-a-book or take-a-book principle, will be auctioned next week to benefit the school's art programs for next school year. The virtual auction is scheduled to open Monday with bids starting at $200 and close at 8:30 p.m. on May 21.

Florence-Carlton 7th grader to compete in Scripps National Spelling Bee
A Friday afternoon with only 2 weeks left in the school year is bound to garner some commotion, even some clowning around, but a gym full of Florence Carlton Falcons sat practically silent for Friday's special presentation. "We're going to honor Carter Rayburn this afternoon," said presenter Matthew Henry, director of the Montana Spelling Bee. Carter Rayburn first won his classroom spelling bee, then his school spelling bee, then the county spelling bee, and now, he's decorated with a shiny new medal for beating out 59 other students in Montana's statewide spelling competition.

Billings High School seniors share lessons learned during pandemic school year
While washing cars at an annual graduation party fund raiser in Billings Saturday, senior students from two Billings high schools said finishing high school during the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult and different, but yielded its own unique lessons. "As a school and a community, we've all really worked hard to try and make it the best it could be, especially these parents," said Savanna Cronk, a senior at Senior High School with plans to attend Montana State University in the fall.

Havre Public Schools students recognized for outstanding achievement
At Tuesday's meeting of the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees 15 students were presented with awards for outstanding achievement in the 2020-21 school year. Oliver Atkinson and Devin Kovacich of the All-State Jazz Band, Chloe Bricker, Saige Knutsen, Addison Golie, Emma Gillen, Katharine Greenwood, Brooklyn Russell, Brynn Stokes, Carley Wertheimer, Tamera O'Leary, Paige Parsons, Kaylee Torgerson, Keylee Kline and Lexi Haney of the Virtual Spirit Cheer Champions were all recognized for their achievements. Haney also won an outstanding lieutenant governor award for the Havre Key Club District.

Longfellow students to auction off lending libraries for art fundraiser
Students at a local elementary school have been hard at work personalizing lending libraries for an upcoming art auction. They're hoping to see their 12 creations filled with books and spread throughout Bozeman. Longfellow Elementary School's annual art auction will look different this year due to the pandemic but organizers said they wanted to find a way to creatively engage the students while giving back to the city. The wooden lending libraries, which operate on the leave-a-book or take-a-book principle, will be auctioned next week to benefit the school's art programs for next school year. The virtual auction is scheduled to open Monday with bids starting at $200 and close at 8:30 p.m. on May 21.

Corvallis High School senior awarded prestigious golf caddie scholarship
Luke Schlimgen's young life didn't start out as one out of the storybooks. When he was 8 years old, he was awakened early one morning by an ambulance and a team of EMT's who were in his home. He was handed a lollipop by a sheriff's deputy before he watched as his father rolled down the hallway on a stretcher. At the hospital, the Corvallis High School senior remembers hearing the doctor whisper to his mother that "he was gone." "This has been a life-changing event that impacts me every day in different ways," Schlimgen wrote in an essay. "It also has motivated me to be the very best that I can be in every aspect of my life and work hard."

Students get 'bang' out of Career Day from local police
Officer Justin LaCroix fired off the latest weapon in the Police Department's arsenal – a modern 21st Century bolo. A small handheld device fires off a small wire with barbs attached at a suspect's legs. It is a modern variation of the old Argentinian bolo, which would use three weights tied together to wrap up the legs and stop livestock from running. When City of Baker Police Chief Mike Reddick set up the demonstration which 'captured' Sheriff Deputy Tim Grube, he warned the students that there would be a loud noise when the bolo was fired in the gym. "The barbs usually just get into the clothes," he said. "It's amazing. You usually don't even feel it." The department is just the second in the state to have one. Belgrade is the only other city to have one.

Live School Concerts Resume
FE Miley Elementary School put on two live concert performances last week for the first time in over a year. Due to COVID restrictions, live performances were not possible in the past year, and resulted in all of the band and concert performances taking place via streaming video on the school's Facebook page. Before the Wednesday concert, I asked Heather Wolery, the school principal, her thoughts on the live performances. "It's wonderful! I wish we could have done a normal, in-person, at night concert, but it wasn't planned that way. Mr. Bond is doing a wonderful job. It's going to be a great concert."

K-12 concert
Music students in grades K-12 at Ekalaka Public Schools performed at a spring concert May 6th. The students performed a variety of music they had practiced throughout the year to showcase their skills. Selections ranged from Halloween to Christmas music to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and even some Beethoven. The concert was enjoyed by a full house of parents, friends and family inside the CCHS gymnasium.

School celebrates Arbor Day
On April 29th, Ekalaka Elementary students celebrated Arbor Day with an afternoon full of presentations and programs. The day's events were put together by fourth grade teacher Johanna Tooke. Students spent time at seven different stations celebrating the holiday, and many of those stations were headed by local volunteers. Phil Cook, Wayne Yost, Lynn Williams, Jenn Hall, Zeb Wright and the Carter County Conservation District all spent time with the students.

Free Dental Screenings for Vaughn Students
Alluvion Health, in partnership with the Vaughn Public School is proud to offer a free dental screening for students in grades K-8th. Details regarding this exciting opportunity include free Walk-In student dental screening.

Simms High School 10th Grader Baylee Herman Earns Recognition For IT Projects Baylee 
Herman's sixth grade science fair project to monitor her 4H pig's feed and water and wirelessly report issues morphed into a series of successful projects that help her community and are possibilities for commercialization. She has provided sensors and code for both the local water users association and local irrigation company.  She upgraded a local farmer's center pivot control system by adding monitors and alerts to it and has prototypes for compost and grain bin temperature sensors in the works, all while being a three-sport letter person. Baylee took a little time off from programming projects to venture into bio-printing.  She wants to be a cardiologist and thought she would try her hand at bio-printing. She persevered, as a 13-year-old, through some serious technical challenges and was able to print a single layer of living E. Coli on a sheet of acetate using a modified ink jet printer. The E coli ink was arranged to read... "Next a heart"!!

Laurel students art on exhibit to Keep Montana Green
This year marks Keep Montana Green's 60th annual Wildfire Prevention Art Contest for Montana students. Artwork from students in Scobey, Froid, and Laurel, Montana were voted statewide winners in the art contest. Taking third place was Sophia Spini, a fourth-grade student at Graff Elementary School. Since KMG's formation at the end of World War II, the organization has been dedicated to the prevention of human-caused wildfires. Last year, 80 percent of Montana's wildfires were human caused. The KMG mission and the goals of the art contest are to promote awareness on how to prevent human-caused wildfires, assist educators with teaching fire safety and prevention, and to utilize the ideas and messages from the art contest in future fire prevention programs. The wildfire prevention art contest theme this year was "Keeping Montana Green." "Congratulations to all our 2021 Winners," says Kristin Sleeper, KMG Executive Director. "This year's artwork was not only impressive and competitive, but incredibly inspiring! Thank you for your participation and keep up the great work."

RHS's Native American Club celebrates four outstanding women
In a small private ceremony on April 30, 2021, Ronan High School Native American Club honored four women in the community: Cleo Kenmille, Billie Rubble, Heather Grey, and Darealynn Juneau. These women were honored for their vital roles they play in their communities. This was part of a larger project for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Day (May 5) the club was working on. RHS's Native American Club has about 12 members and is led by RHS Native American Club teacher Gwen Couture. The club recorded the ceremony to include it into a larger video they were making that was played for the entire High School on MMIP day. There were several speakers and presentations throughout the week that also went into this video and project. Some of the speakers they included were Councilwoman Ellie Bundy and Kootenai Elder Francis Auld. Bundy presented the issue of MMIP to the seniors and juniors and Auld talked about the importance of women in our communities and culture.

Arlee students participate in the MMIW virtual walk and the Red Sand project
On May 5, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women National Awareness Day, a group of community members walked along the highway wearing red, and cars honked in recognition of the significant day. Two Arlee High School students led the group of red with a large sign with pictures of Jermaine Charlo and Ashley Heavyrunner Loring, both still missing. Former AHS students Ardon McDonald and Laurencia Starblanket sang a song before the walk to commemorate the missing and murdered. Jocko Valley Missing and Murdered Indigenous People group, and Arlee High School's Indian Club participated the MMIW virtual walk or run. The mission of the MMIW virtual event is to stand in solidarity with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, grieving families, and people working on the frontlines to end this epidemic of violence against Indigenous people. Many across the nation are encouraged to participate in the event. 

Annual Ag Days event teaches students about food sources
Students from Ronan Middle School gained a glimmer of where their food comes from during Ag Days, May 5-6, at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Ronan. The annual event, which typically attracts 250 fourth and fifth grade students from Ronan and Polson who navigate at least a dozen informational stations, was scaled back significantly due to the pandemic. Just 80 students made the rounds of six presentations last week. "Everybody keeps saying they just want kids to understand a little better where their food comes from," says LCCD Conservation Coordinator Heidi Fluery. To that end, small groups of kids scurried station to station, learning about grains and flour, ATV safety, cattle, honey, and water resources. They also made their own butter to spread on a snack of rolls (made from Montana wheat, of course), and slathered with honey from Arlee Apiaries.

Students learn about bear ecology, safety at Bear Academy
Seeley Lake Elementary School students spent the day at the Lions Club Park learning about bear safety and the role bears play in the local ecosystem during the school's Bear Academy Tuesday, May 4. Students transitioned through presentations taught by local agencies throughout the day. "We just have this really awesome, collaborative group of people who've all come together to educate Seeley's young people about living in bear habitat," organizer Rob Green said. "It's really cool to be a part of that and to be able to help." Green is an environmental studies graduate student with the University of Montana. He said he collaboratively organized the event with SLE junior high math and science teacher Patti Bartlett, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) Bear Specialist Jamie Jonkel, Blackfoot Challenge Education Coordinator Elaine Caton and local artist Elizabeth Stone.

SSHS recognizes Most Inspirational Students
The Missoula Education Foundation and Missoula County Public Schools recognized Seeley-Swan High School seniors Kess Victor and Quinlan Ream as the school's Most Inspiring Students. The students were presented with their awards at the MCPS banquet April 22. According to Principal Kellen Palmer, the nominators look for students who have overcome adversity and have been an inspiration to staff and students alike.

HHS students awarded at Montana Science Fair
Helena High School students Claire Downing and Heath Caldwell both received several awards at the Montana Science Fair in March.  Caldwell presented his work entitled "Comparative Osteohistology within the long bones of rocky mountain elk" and was awarded the Animal Science Award, Best Wildlife Project and a gold ribbon. Downing presented work on "Colonizing Bryophytes. Used as a post-wildfire ecosystem stabilization treatment in Montana." She was awarded the first place "grand award," the Larry Faugue Grand Award and a silver ribbon.

Watch now: Butte students clean up around their school
Butte elementary students clean up along Oro Fino Gulch Road near Kennedy Elementary School for CFWEP's Community Earth Month Challenge

Fourth graders complete swim lessons after pandemic-induced delay
On Thursday afternoon, fourth grade students from Florence-Carlton School practiced their dives from the deck of the pool at the YMCA, reveling in an opportunity they lost last year due to the pandemic. Normally, only third graders participate in the Swim, Play and Learn Aquatic Safety Habits, or SPLASH!, program hosted by the Missoula Family YMCA. But after last year's cohort missed out because of COVID-19, educators at Florence-Carlton School wanted to make sure the now fourth graders still learned these skills.

MAPS Media Institute receives $36,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant
MAPS Media Institute has been approved for a $36,100 Grants for Arts Projects award to support the continued expansion of the MAPS Media Lab, their statewide educational outreach program which brings MAPS award-winning programming to students in tribal communities across Montana. MAPS Media Institute's project is among the more than 1,100 projects across America totaling nearly $27 million that were selected during this second round of Grants for Arts Projects fiscal year 2021 funding. "As the country and the arts sector begin to imagine returning to a post-pandemic world, the National Endowment for the Arts is proud to announce funding that will help arts organizations such as MAPS Media Institute re-engage fully with partners and audiences," said NEA Acting Chairman Ann Eilers. "Although the arts have sustained many during the pandemic, the chance to gather with one another and share arts experiences is its own necessity and pleasure."

BHS student wins DAR Good Citizen contest
Chloe F. Brown, Butte High School senior and a school valedictorian, was selected by the school to be its DAR Good Citizen. She went on to receive the Silver Bow DAR Chapter's scholarship award at a ceremony held on May 6. Brown recited her essay and accepted a lapel pin, award certificate and $100 for her college education. Each year, the Silver Bow Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, sponsors a contest among local high schools to name DAR Good Citizens. Each participating school selects one graduating student based on the qualities of dependability, service, leadership and patriotism. 

Trail knowledge: Corvallis class marks Teller Trail with new informational kiosks
Natural history might not be all exciting when taught from a book. But giving young people a chance to get out in the woods and see for themselves what it's all about can bring a lifelong appreciation to the natural world. On a beautiful Tuesday morning along the banks of the Bitterroot River, a small group of Corvallis High School students were busy helping to fill the kiosks they helped build along the popular Teller Trail that starts at the fishing access site at Woodside Crossing. They couldn't have been happier.

Cabin construction project continues to take shape at Billings West High
Students in shop teacher Derrick MacAskill's classes say they get plenty of questions from their peers about what they're building in the Billings West High School parking lot. For months, a cabin has been rising piece by piece on a small slice of pavement at the back of the lot. When the cabin is completed, it will be shipped off to Chief Plenty Coups State Park to house AmeriCorps volunteers. The timeline right now has the cabin completely enclosed with windows and doors by early June. In the fall, students will get back to work on plumbing, electrical and interior work.

'Reverse Vigilante Day Parade' brings 31 floats to fairgrounds
After being canceled last year due to COVID-19, Helena's Vigilante Day Parade came back to life Friday at the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. For the first time since its inception in 1924, this year's event was billed as a "Reverse Vigilante Day Parade" and the floats did not move. Students from Helena High and Capital High created the 31 floats in this year's event, which is intended to be a celebration of local and state history.

Students add finishing touches to floats in Vigilante Day Parade
Helena students are optimistic about today's Vigilante Day Parade, despite significant changes to the format.  This spring, Helena Public Schools announced its intent to hold a "Reverse Vigilante Day Parade," meaning people come to the parade rather than the parade coming to them. The event was originally planned to be held in the parking lots at Helena High and Capital High but was relocated to the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds.

High school seniors receive Mariah's Challenge scholarships
Twenty high school seniors were the recent recipients of a Mariah's Challenge Scholarship. The students each received a $1,000 scholarship, a shirt from UPTOP Clothing, and a Mariah's Challenge coin.

U.S. News ranks Whitefish High School No. 2 in Montana
In the latest U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, Whitefish High School was ranked in the top 10% of all high schools in the country and No. 2 in the state of Montana.

BHS student wins essay contest
Montana Wilderness Association's Madison-Gallatin Chapter is pleased to announce Jayda Brown, a senior at Belgrade High school, is the winner of the 2021 Wilderness Essay Contest.

TF middle school club wins national award
The Three Forks Middle School's Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) chapter has been awarded first place in a national contest designed to teach students how to make informed, responsible decisions about their health and provide opportunities for youth to teach others about making healthy choices.

PRCDHS Art students attend Juried Exhibition
Recently PRCDHS art students participated in the 2nd Student Juried Exhibition at the Waterworks Art Museum (WAM). Students from Miles City, Jordan and Broadus were invited to submit artwork for the exhibition in conjunction with the WAM annual Western Art Roundup featuring Andy Watson, PBR photographer

Scholarship Project Finally Finds a Home
When Blaine County's MSU-Extension Agent, Trent Noel attended Harlem Junior/Senior High School, he participated in the Montana GEAR UP program. Noel largely credits that program, a Pathways Scholarship, and the mentorship he received from project advisor Craig Todd for his post-secondary degree.

USDA recognizes Choteau school nutrition program
As the nation celebrates School Lunch Heroes Week, Choteau Public Schools students and staff are proud of their food service program, which received a letter of commendation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

School celebrates Arbor Day
On April 29th, Ekalaka Elementary students celebrated Arbor Day with an afternoon full of presentations and programs. The day's events were put together by fourth grade teacher Johanna Tooke. Students spent time at seven different stations celebrating the holiday, and many of those stations were headed by local volunteers. Phil Cook, Wayne Yost, Lynn Williams, Jenn Hall, Zeb Wright and the Carter County Conservation District all spent time with the students.

Park City School presents 'Sleeping Beauty' Friday
Park City School is delighted to present The Missoula Children's Theater production of Sleeping Beauty. The Missoula Children's Theater for 45 years has taken ordinary school children and made them in one week into star actors in a theater production.

Spelling Champ!
Laurel Middle School 8th grader Breenan Corey accepts congratulations from Yellowstone County Commissioner Don Jones at the MS on Tuesday after he qualified for and competed in the virtual State Spelling Bee. Breenan won the Middle School Spelling Bee then took 2nd at the Yellowstone County contest to qualify for State.

Lincoln High students make plans to help community
Lincoln's freshmen class plans to host a donation-based car and dog wash at the school June 4 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Lincoln BPA students do well at State Conference
Lincoln's Business Professionals of America students participated in the virtual State Leadership Conference in March with more than 1700 students from across Montana.

Area youngsters plant trees, learn history during Arbor Day event
Some Livingston elementary school kids got an education about Arbor Day, Friday, at Mars Park, and got their hands dirty in the process.

Arlee and Ronan middle schools place in competition
FLATHEAD RESERVATION - Students from Arlee and Ronan Middle Schools, place 3rd and 5th place in the RISE Challenge Big Sky Summit competition. Nearly 50 Western Montana middle and high school students competed for $3000 in prize money

Presidential Scholars Progam Semifinalst John Cody Gilbert
Out of 6,500 Presidential Scholars candidates identified across the nation, John Cody Gilbert, a senior at Hobson Public Schools

U.S. News ranks Whitefish High School No. 2 in Montana
In the latest U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, Whitefish High School was ranked in the top 10% of all high schools in the country and No. 2 in the state of Montana.

A return to normal: Stevensville FFA hosts annual Fourth Grade Farm Fair
It's been 29 years since Jay Meyer started hosting a farm fair for fourth-graders in Stevensville. Since then it's become a rite of passage for students from all over the Bitterroot Valley to spend a day each spring learning where their food comes from. Most of its history was made at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds where hundreds gathered to make ice cream in a coffee can, build their own rope and get a chance to nuzzle with a lamb or a goat. Last spring's onset of the pandemic pushed the farm fair out of the fresh air and into a virtual world.

Missoula student wins Montana Doodle for Google competition, moves to nationals
When Missoula fourth grader Athena Starin got off the bus following school last Friday afternoon, she was in for a big surprise. Family, friends, teachers and representatives from Google met her at her house in Missoula to announce that she's Montana's winner for the annual Doodle for Google competition.  She was happy, excited, and certainly shocked when she saw a large group of people outside her home in the Upper Rattlesnake neighborhood.  "I was just like, 'Can I get off at the next stop? What are all these people doing at my house?'" Athena said. "I thought maybe mom was having a cleaning party or something."

Bears in school: Seeley students get lessons in bear safety
Being a grizzly bear can be a pain in the neck. Literally, as Gary Aitken found out on Tuesday while acting as a garbage-seeking griz before a class of rapt Seeley Lake Elementary School first graders. He was part of a skit with Wind River Bear Institute biologists Carrie Hunt and Jessica Reyes demonstrating the kinds of trouble people entice bears into by leaving bird feeders and dog chow unsecured. "If it wasn't so heavy, it wouldn't be so bad," Aitken said of the grizzly bear skin and skull he wore in his role. "It weighs more than my neck was designed to carry."

Capital High to sell first crop from new greenhouse
After completing a years-long greenhouse project, Capital High School students will hold a sale for their first crop this week. The greenhouse on the CHS campus was constructed in 2019 by CHS teachers including science teacher David Tuss, special education teachers Heather Shippen and Laura Ortman, math teacher Ryan Swenson, shop teacher Eric Croft, and several students who were part of a summer pre-employment transition services program. According to Tuss, the group had help from at least two volunteers, Larry Comer and Josh Chisholm. "Basically, nearly two months of donated time by many great volunteers," Tuss said. 

New Townsend School District superintendent driven by love of learning
Veteran Montana educator Susie Hedalen will take over as the new superintendent of Townsend School District in July.  Hedalen is a longtime educator and administrator throughout the state. She has worked as a teacher at Warren Elementary School, principal at Winans Elementary School in Livingston, K-12 superintendent in Grass Range and superintendent of Arrowhead School District, and she worked for the Montana Office of Public Instruction to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act plan. She decided to become an administrator during her first teaching job at Warren Elementary.

April 2021

Billings students celebrated at luncheon
Twelve Billings valedictorians were honored during the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools' Salute to Education event at the Babcock Theatre on Wednesday. The event recognized Class of 2021 valedictorian candidates from Billings Central, Senior, Skyview, and West High Schools and Platinum Program students from Billings Senior, Skyview and West High.

Earth Day run raises money for solar panels for Bozeman High
Casey Cassidy started off Saturday morning with a run around Gallatin County Regional Park. She hadn't been jogging on a regular basis this winter, and walkers in her wave quickly overtook her. Cassidy kept going. She'd entered Saturday's Earth Day "Run for the Sun" to enjoy a beautiful day. It didn't make a difference whether she came in first or last. "I've done about 30 years of jogging," she said. "It's just about being outside, and by the time you come back, your mood has lightened and the day is better."

Changing the trajectory: High-tech high school in tiny Winifred is philanthropist's latest gift to his hometown
Big changes are underway in the small central Montana town of Winifred, where a man who grew up there has committed millions of dollars for a school that will transform the face of local education in the rural community. To Montana State University students, particularly those studying engineering, Norm Asbjornson's name may already ring a bell. On the Bozeman university's campus stands Norm Asbjornson Hall, a $53 million building for the engineering school and honors college that was financed almost entirely by a gift from Asbjornson to his alma mater. Winifred is situated some 204 miles of road away, with about 40 of those miles stretching north from Lewistown with some of the drive passing through rolling hills watched over by cattle and the Judith Mountains.

Radley Principal McMahon hopes to leave a legacy of collaboration
Radley Elementary School Principal Joe McMahon is set to retire this summer after a near 40-year career in education. McMahon is a well known face in the East Helena School District. For the past 13 years, he has been the principal at Radley. During the 13 years before that, he was the principal at Eastgate Elementary School. Prior to joining the East Helena School District, he taught fourth and fifth grade for 13 years in Montana City. McMahon said 13 must be his lucky number and wondered what may happen 13 years from now.

HHS Science Olympiad team earns third straight state championship
Hamilton High School finished on top for their third straight championship title in the 36th Montana Science Olympiad 2021 competition which took place online. Three other valley schools teams had success. Corvallis High School finished third in the high school division; Corvallis Middle School placed second and Hamilton Middle School took third for the middle school division. HHS coaches Dietrich Perchy, Michael Bonnes and Vanessa Haflich said they were extremely pleased with the performance of their 15-student team.

Teachers learn to incorporate art in the classroom
In a series of workshops on teaching art in the classroom, instructors Jenny Bevill and Jemina Watstein sought to break down preconceived notions that you have to be artistically inclined to teach it. By working through sample lesson plans designed by Bevill, an educator and outreach specialist with the Missoula Art Museum, and Watstein, executive director of KALICO Art Center in Kalispell, a group of primarily elementary teachers were becoming more comfortable with teaching the subject in schools that don't have art as a special class like music, for example. During an April 1 workshop at Russell Elementary, Bevill and Watstein presented a lesson plan designed around the work of Missoula and Flathead Reservation-based artist Monica Gilles-Brings Yellow.

'Part of our heritage': Decades later, schoolhouse bell returns to Gallatin Gateway
In the 1970s, word spread through Gallatin Gateway that the bell in the 1914 schoolhouse needed to be removed over concerns the old bell tower could no longer hold it. Whoever managed to remove the bell could keep it, the district said. Ed ter Telgte, a rancher who attended the school as a child, took up the challenge. After he removed the bell, it stayed with him and his family, including on their move to Columbus, Montana. Decades later, the bell was returned to Gallatin Gateway with the help of a sleuthing parent, Morgan Stuart, and the blessing of ter Telgte's wife, Karen.

Perseverance and strength
Achievement and leadership go hand-in-hand for Flathead High School student-athlete Alyssa Cadwalader. "Alyssa is an extremely talented, dedicated, driven and gifted young lady," Flathead career center Director Mike Kelly wrote in his letter nominating Cadwalader, who was selected as a Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leader honoree. "She works hard to balance her academic life with her extracurricular activities, and she does so with grace. Alyssa understands the value of time management, prioritization and organization." The Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders program recognizes the academic achievement and community involvement of high school students who contribute to improving the lives of others. The award is sponsored by Kalispell Regional Healthcare, in collaboration with the Daily Inter Lake.

Prize-winning business idea from Rapelje students brings drone exhibition to town
Students and community members took in a drone exhibition in Rapelje on Monday after three students won a Montana Chamber of Commerce Chamber Foundation business pitch competition. The competition, called "The Prospects" awarded prizes over 10 categories, including a special prize category on drones and data which was won by Rapelje High School students Lily Herzog Kylee Bryant and Matthew Brubaker for their "Pipeline Tech" submission. All three are students of Rapelje business teacher Jacki Keating. RDO Equipment Company sponsored the drone category, and the company put on a drone flight and data analysis exhibition in Rapelje, with an emphasis on how drone technology can be integrated with heavy machinery in the agriculture, construction and energy industries.

GFPS hosts Purple Up Day to celebrate more than 500 military students across the district
Students across the Great Falls wore purple t-shirts, sweatshirts, face masks and shoes on Friday to show support to the more than 500 military students among 300 families in the Great Falls Public Schools district. April is the Month of the Military Child and GFPS celebrated military students and families with Purple Up Day. Education leaders from across the district including Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen toured several schools with military leaders in the community.

Coding for Kids offers classes for kids of all ages
High school students looking for a jump-start to a high-tech career are invited to attend expanded Coding for Kids camps this summer in Stevensville and explore science and technology through practical and interactive methods. Coding for Kids has expanded to offer high school students classes in JavaScript, film, 3D character development, map design, and drone construction and flight.

Hamilton student receives US NAVY ROTC scholarship
Twelve years of hard work paid off for Hamilton High School senior Logan VanDenburg as he was chosen one of only two graduates in Montana to receive a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship that will pay full tuition for four years of college. The scholarship is for $230,000-plus that VanDenburg can use at any college that has an ROTC program. "I'm excited and it is a big relief," VanDenburg said. "It's a really cool opportunity and helpful on the budget. My dad got a full academic scholarship to the University of Montana when he graduated high school so I always felt I had to get up there with him." On the list of places he'd like to study, VanDenburg listed northern cold-climate programs.

Victor students create artwork highlighting homeless pets
Victor School's third-grade art students recently participated in a fun project centered on the animals available for adoption at the Bitter Root Humane Association in Hamilton. Art Educator Jennifer Ogden said each student visited the BRHA website, chose a dog or cat to portray in clay, learned the animal's name, story, breed, age and temperament then got to work. "We did some practice drawings of dog and cat faces and then we later worked with clay while their little picture sat nearby for detail," Ogden said.

Youth entrepreneurs bring their products to market
Stevensville High School students in Jacki Bauman's entrepreneurship class are selling their handmade items online between now and April 16. Each semester students in grades 9-12 can take the class that focuses on building a business based on products that they make in class and then sell. The class is funded through a nonprofit called Youth Entrepreneurs, an organization that works to bridge the gap between book learning and application by providing curriculum, activities and funding to get kids started.

Bozeman teacher reflects on five-year journey to National Boards certification
Tara Hirsch and her Hamilton-obsessed third grade Hyalite Elementary class were in the middle of a President's Day discussion when one of her students asked why everyone said Barack Obama was the first Black president when Thomas Jefferson was Black. Hirsch said it wasn't a moment she was prepared for but, after taking a deep breath, she asked why the student thought that. After her student explained the Hamilton connection, Hirsch said it sparked a larger conversation in her class about how Jefferson was white but portrayed as Black in the award-winning Broadway musical. "It was a really beautiful discussion of how we should be telling all of the stories of the past and not just one version or one perspective and maybe that's why the creator of Hamilton chose to place those actors in the play," Hirsch said.

Local students win awards at state science fair
Students from Flathead High School, Helena Flats School and Deer Park School earned special awards from the 66th annual Montana Science Fair, which was held virtually this year due to the pandemic. Flathead High School freshman Keanu Ng was awarded the Stockholm Junior Water Prize for his project, "Analyzing the Efficacy of Coconut Oil to Remove Microplastics From Water." The Peterson Grand Award was given to two seventh-graders whose projects took first place in their grade level for the biological and physical categories, respectively. They are Teagen Flint of Deer Park School for the project, "Effect of Disinfectants on Bacterial Growth," and Jakoby Isles of Helena Flats for the project, "Beware Beware EMF Is Everywhere Part 2." 

Havre High students create 3D art amid the pandemic
Some student are still constructing their bases while others are now applying the clay. Griggs said the students would normally be working on glass mosaics this time of year, but he and his students found glass shards shooting up into their masks when they tried, so they had to change. "It definitely came out of COVID," he said. He said he's lead similar projects in more advanced art classes and it seemed like a good substitute for the glasswork they would normally be doing. "It's fun teaching kids 3D art," he said. "... I think the kids get more success working with their hands than with the paint brush." Senior Quimn McDonald, 18, said she's been having fun constructing her dragon, despite needing to spend almost an entire day cutting out the triangular cardboard scales that now adorn it.

Stevensville Schools to host community tour of new construction
A community walk-through tour hosted by Superintendent Robert Moore, Ph.D., will be offered on Wednesday, April 14 to see the construction progress at Stevensville Schools. Moore said the progress is exciting. "The building project is proceeding on time and we're excited to show the community what Quality Construction has accomplished to date in both the K-3 building and the new classrooms and technology center in the high school," he said.  Moore said the new library with large windows facing west will bring light into the school.

East Middle Schoolers hold parade and fundraiser for fellow student battling cancer
Students at East Middle School lined the sidewalks in front of the building as they held signs, wore T-shirts and danced during a virtual parade held for their fellow student Kyler Carpenter on Friday in Butte. Carpenter was diagnosed with osteosarcoma bone cancer on March 11 and has since been receiving treatment in Salt Lake City. East students decided to hold a parade and fundraiser, selling T-shirts, stickers and bracelets for Carpenter. Local businesses matched the money that students brought in and Principal Keith Miller estimated the total amount raised is around $10,000.

MSU to offer summer journalism camp for rural high school students
Registration is now open for Montana State University's Rural Journalism Camp, to be held July 11–16 on MSU's campus. The camp, presented by the Yellowstone Writing Project and the MSU Continuing, Professional and Lifelong Learning program in Academic Technology and Outreach, is a weeklong residential experience immersing rural high school students in the theory and practice of daily journalism.

McKinley Elementary School added to National Register of Historic Places
In its spiral fire slide, friezes depicting the faces of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, and uncommon features like oval windows, the reminders of history are everywhere at McKinley Elementary School in Billings. In a normal year, Principal Nicole Trahan said students from decades past regularly call inquiring about touring the building, which was first constructed in the early 20th century. "It's fun to take them through it and they're in awe when they get to that older part (of the building) and they're remembering what it looked like back then," she said. "We have a lot of those families that come through. We have a lot of kids whose grandparents or great-grandparents went to school here."

March 2021
Construction begins on high-tech school in Winifred

Winifred, Montana, a town of fewer than 200 people, will be the home of a new high-tech K-12 school which began construction in earnest today, a project Montana State University-Northern staff members have been a consultant for. The school is the brainchild of multi-millionaire Norm Asbjornson, current chairman and co-Founder of Aaon Inc. as well as its former CEO, the namesake of Montana State University's College of Engineering, and a Winifred native. The designers of the building have tapped into the faculty at Northern's College of Technical Sciences for recommendations on how to design tech parts of the school.

Teen of the Month: BHS senior ranks high in overall standings
Butte High School senior Braleigh Garrett has no shortage of the drive and determination it takes to achieve success. After maintaining a 4.0 grade point average during her four years at BHS, 18-year-old Garrett will be attending the University of Montana Western in Dillon as a business major in the fall. She hopes to go on to law school after completing her undergraduate work. Jennifer Hope, who teaches business at Butte High, has great expectations for her pupil. "She is so bright and on top of her work. She was an absolute joy to have in class and I can't wait to see what she does at Western - and in life," she said. Social Studies teacher Marian Paull had similar sentiments: "She is a very positive young woman. I really enjoyed having her in class because she is so personable, outgoing, and a good student."

Hamilton native is Montana state chess champion
For the better part of his academic career, University of Montana senior Dorje McPherron has quietly focused on his studies with few fellow students knowing of his mastery of a board with 64 squares. Then recognition came calling this spring thanks to the wildly popular Netflix series "The Queen's Gambit" and local media and others reached out to McPherron to see what he thought of the show. And for good reason. McPherron, who studies math and Russian, happens to be the Montana state chess champion - a title he's held for the past two years - and is the top-ranked tournament player in the state. "I watched it with my girlfriend and we liked it," McPherron said of the series. "The chess moves are really accurate because Garry Kasparov and Bruce Pandolfini were consultants for the show.

Helena Education Foundation names distinguished students and educators
Over the past two weeks, the Helena Education Foundation was notifying educators across Helena Public Schools that they were nominated by a student as a distinguished educator. Due to COVID-19, the notification process has been different than in the past. HEF Executive Director Lisa Cordingley said organizers didn't want to present any unnecessary risk to teachers or students. In past years, Cordingley has notified the teachers in person, often during a surprise ceremony. This year, organizers opted to notify the teachers in letters, phone calls and some in-person visits. "So many things have been different about this year. Add to the list the notification of Distinguished Students for this year's Helena Education Foundation's Celebration of Excellence," Cordingley said. 

Corvallis Jazz Band on Montana Public Radio Wednesday
Jazz lovers are in for a treat as John Arvish is featuring local bands this week on his Montana Public Radio show "What I Like about Jazz," 8-10 p.m. Wednesday, March 24. The Corvallis High School Jazz Band will be featured along with Sentinel High School, Hellgate High School and Big Sky High School. John Arvish, program host, said he would also include some music recorded by the University of Montana Jazz Band and a local band called Kung Fu Kongress. "I'll put in some music by them but my real focus will be the four high school bands," Arvish said Tuesday. "I'm really excited, I think it is going to be a great show. I regularly make a point of featuring artists who came to Montana or are working in Montana, and MTPR is really great about that."

Newman Elementary honors "Ms. Irma" for 46 years of work in the kitchen and cafeteria
Irmtraut Schessler's customary walk to work at Newman Elementary School on Wednesday went in an unexpected direction when the kitchen and cafeteria employee of 46 years turned the corner to the school's blacktop and playground area only to be met with cheers from the student body and staff. The fanfare was the beginning of a celebration to honor and thank her for her decades working in the school. The 83-year-old's face was set into an expression of shock as she hugged a couple of masked students before being encouraged to take a seat on chairs set up alongside a table draped in the German flag in a tribute to the country where she was raised. Friends, family and old school employees were also in attendance.

Extraordinary sniffers: Sheriff's Office K-9 unit demonstrates smelling ability at Stillwater School
Flathead County Sheriff's Office Deputies Charles Pesola and Matt Vander Ark visited Stillwater Christian School recently to demonstrate dogs' amazing sense of smell. "We have about 5 million olfactory bulbs in our brain and nose system. I'm not a doctor or a scientist, so we're going to use easy words," Pesola said. "A dog has between 300 to 500 million of those. And different breeds have different amounts." He was referring to not just any dogs, but Victor, a Labrador retriever, and Misty, a German shorthaired pointer - members of the sheriff's office K-9 unit.

Getting the news out: Bozeman elementary student creates podcast amid pandemic
When businesses shut down and schools went remote, a fourth grader at Morning Star Elementary School went to work creating a news podcast to help keep people informed. "I decided that people needed to know what was happening locally and nationally," said 11-year-old Ezra Graham, founder and host of the podcast News Nerds. He's now in fifth grade at Gallatin Gateway School. It took Graham three weeks to get his podcast set up. He researched topics, built a mailing list and created a website.

Glacier coach named Montana AA Speech Coach of the Year
Seaghan Herron's dramatic approach to coaching speech and debate at Glacier High School has earned him the title of 2021 Montana AA Speech Coach of the Year. Herron, who has been an assistant speech coach at Glacier since 2013, shares the title with colleague Tom Smithlin of Billings West High School following a vote by their peers, which resulted in a tie at the Montana Forensic Educators Association conference. Herron currently coaches Original Oratory and Program Oral Interpretation. Since 2013 he has coached four state champions, four state runners-up and more than 20 national qualifiers. He also teaches English to both Flathead and Glacier high school students enrolled in Kalispell Public Schools' Remote Education Center. "It means a lot to be recognized by your peers in any profession," Herron said. "To have even your competition acknowledge you have been successful, and you've proven yourself, is humbling."

'It's all about the kids': Butte High's Maury Cook retires from coaching after 20 years
Maury Cook has retired from coaching after six years at Butte High School and more than 20 years in Montana, but the Butte-area native said he and his family will remain in Montana for life. Cook said he will continue his career as an educator and will soon retire from teaching as well. The current time and state of the team left a good window for the decision. "When you make these decisions, it's important to make them on your own," Cook said. "The end of my teaching career will be somewhere close down the line. You want to step out of the coaching world when you feel the person who steps in has a good group of kids to work with."

Bozeman high schools report fewer Fs despite pandemic challenges
Despite a challenging start to the school year, Bozeman School District's two high schools reported an overall lower number of failed courses for the fall semester compared to the past school year. The principals at Bozeman High School and Gallatin High School reported seeing a concerning number of students receiving an F in at least one class during fall's mid-semester mark. But through flexible grading options and support from teachers, fewer students received failing grades in the first semester. "Teachers were really willing to work with students," said Gallatin High Principal Erica Schnee.

Corvallis students help collect paper goods for domestic violence group
Corvallis High School Interact club members delivered five cars full of paper products last week to a local group that works to reduce domestic and sexual violence in Ravalli County. Interact Club is a high school service group sponsored by Rotary International. The students stood outside of four grocery stores in Hamilton on Thursday collecting paper products for donation to Supporters of Abuse Free Environments (SAFE) to aid their ongoing efforts to serve the community. Super One Foods, Hamilton Market Place, Albertsons and Safeway allowed the collections in front of their grocery stores and store employees helped spread the word. Corvallis seniors Addie Rohlman and Emma Jessop work for the office of president for the youth service organization.

Local students win top awards at regional science fair
Students from Deer Park, Flathead High, Hedges Elementary and Trinity Lutheran schools won top awards at the annual Montana Tech Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Sixteen high school students competed in Division 1 and 47 fifth- through eighth-graders competed in Division 2. In Division 2, projects by Teagen Flint of Deer Park School and Anna Belle Tretter of Trinity Lutheran School were nominated to compete in the Broadcom MASTERS competition. These students may apply for a chance to become one of 30 finalists who will advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C. in October.

Three Ravalli County students qualify for state spelling bee
Three Ravalli County middle school students are among the top 60 across Montana selected for competition in the Treasure State Spelling Bee on March 25. Florence-Carlton seventh-grade student Carter Rayburn, Stevensville Middle School sixth-grade student Zane Svaren and Corvallis Middle School (Edna Thomas School) eighth-grade remote learner Melanie Jessop qualified for the state competition. Corvallis Middle School Principal Rich Durgin said that for the school bee they participated in online competition to allow their remote learning students to be involved along with their in-person learners. "We also made the decision because we knew that the qualifying round and state spelling bee were going to be held online, and we wanted the students to be familiar with the testing format," Durgin said. "Because Melanie Jessop won our CMS Spelling Bee, she had an opportunity to take the Scripps intermediate (county) level spelling bee along with spelling bee winners from other schools around the state."

Havre High names students of the month
Havre High School has listed the students selected as students of the month for February and March. Addison Golie is one of Havre High's February 2021 students of the month. The daughter of Trina, mom, and Ken Hanson, step-dad, and Brendon Golie, dad, Addison, a sophomore, has one older sibling, Jenna, 17. Addison is a member of the Havre High cheer team and the pep club, while outside of school she works at the Boys & Girls Club. Her hobbies and interests include art, hanging out with friends and family, paddle boarding, hiking and skiing. Addison was nominated by Rebecca Reno because she "embodies the qualities of a successful student." Reno added, "Addison's attitude toward education has been one to be admired." Even though the hybrid model was initially overwhelming, "she continued to put hard work and effort into her studies and her willingness to overcome the challenges has shown that she takes her education seriously."

Theater enthusiast finds leading role as teacher
Life's a stage for Flathead High School social studies teacher Kyla Niva whose outgoing personality and affinity for theater and speech and debate make for a lively classroom environment. Although she's taking a break from working as an assistant in the Flathead theater department to devote more time with family, she hopes to make an eventual return because the performing arts have been a part of her life in one way or another since she was a child. "I started doing theater in kindergarten with the Missoula Children's Theatre," Niva said. Growing up in Bigfork, she became involved with Bigfork Playhouse Children's Theatre, and from then on, "every opportunity I could get I would do a show," Niva said. By high school, she added speech and debate, band and choir to the mix, the latter of which is probably why she has a penchant for musicals.

Havre's Morsette wins Montana Youth of the Year honor from Boys & Girls Club
Havre teenager and outstanding youth Patricia Morsette, who prefers to go by P.J., earned the state's top honor in the Boys & Girls Club's Youth of the Year Program, being named Montana Youth of the Year for 2021. "I'm so excited! I can't believe it," Morsette said Friday upon receiving news of the award. The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of their outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle. Candidates are named at a local Club level, which then progress to state and regional competitions before the National Youth of the Year celebration. The statewide Youth of the Year competition was held virtually this year because of COVID-19. Morsette, a junior at Havre High School, competed virtually March 5 against teens from other Montana clubs, and, after delivering a memorized three-minute speech about her life and how the club has helped her and then being interviewed by a panel of judges about both her life and club experiences, Morsette was named the Montana Youth of the Year. 

Hedges Elementary fifth-graders 'Pay it Forward'
Two ambitious Kalispell fifth-graders didn't just take on their teacher's challenge to "pay it forward,"

they surpassed their own expectations. Hedges Elementary students Camas Bushnell and Emery Eash were inspired to organize and hold their first fundraiser after their teacher, Paxton Schmauch, read the book "Pay It Forward,"by Catherine Ryan Hyde, to their class. Schmauch then asked her students to think of ideas on how they could change the world, or return a kindness shown to them to someone else. "In my classroom we talk a lot about kindness and treating others as you would want to be treated and that is something I preach in my room," Schmauch said. "I want my kids to be kind and so that's one of the reasons I read that book because it talks about how you can pay it forward to people - and it means something to them." 

Revamped Bozeman High hawk logo to take flight
An updated Bozeman High School hawk head logo was unveiled Monday, a new design to replace the existing one after an Ohio university said it infringed on its trademark. Miami University of Ohio contacted the high school in March 2020, telling Bozeman High it was using its logo and would need to begin the process of replacing it. Bozeman High Principal Dan Mills presented the newly designed logo to the school during Monday's school board meeting. Mills said the process to replace the design stalled last year due to impacts related to COVID-19 pandemic until Miami University reached out to the school in fall 2020 again. The university agreed to give the school three years to replace its current hawk's head logo.

The hat lady: Bozeman Schools crossing guard ushers students in style
For Katherine Erickson, it all started with a wolf hat she bought from Yellowstone. Erickson is a paraprofessional at Hawthorne Elementary School who has served as the school's crossing guard for the last 13 years. She's become famous among her students for her eclectic mix of hats she wears while helping them cross Rouse Ave. "I was trying to find a way to become more visible," she said of her hats. "And it started off a snowball effect of kids and siblings looking for hats for me." She estimates she has more than 50 hats to date, including dragons, raccoons and cartoon characters. She rotates through them, trying to have a different hat each day. "My favorite part of the day is I get to be the first one to greet them in the morning and ask them how their day was in the afternoon," she said.

MSU robotics event energizes K–12 students in rural Montana
Like many Montana communities, tiny Wyola, a smattering of buildings tucked off Interstate 90 on the Crow Reservation southeast of Billings, has had its share of hardships during the coronavirus pandemic. The Wyola School, a fixture of this town that reported 215 people in the 2010 census, had to shut down in January because of COVID-19. The Crow Tribe declared a state of emergency in February. Sporting events were canceled. Yet a group of students kept working on a robot so they could compete in a statewide event hosted by Montana State University. In the days leading up to the FIRST Lego League competition, held remotely via videoconference on Saturday, the team of fourth- through eighth-graders that calls themselves Wyola Robotics was fine-tuning their creation - a nimble, wheeled bot programmed to navigate a pool table-sized mat.

Katie Yates named 2020-21 School Nurse of the Year
The proper serving of a dipped cone or Blizzard dessert demands dexterity and a commitment to customer service - especially if your father owns the Dairy Queen where you work. That was then, back when Katherine "Katie" Yates was growing up in Richland, Washington. Her father, Tom Tierney, owns seven Dairy Queen franchises. Her mother, Mary, was a teacher. Yates, an employee of the Butte School District, learned Feb. 23 that she is the recipient of the 2020-21 School Nurse of the Year Award from the Montana Association of School Nurses. The school district colleagues who nominated her celebrated Yates' "electric energy," her compassionate care, her empathy and her diligent efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep students and staff safe. Yates is the school nurse for Margaret Leary Elementary and Hillcrest Elementary.

February 2021

East Helena High School Principal Dan Rispens chosen as superintendent
East Helena's school board on Wednesday unanimously selected East Helena High School Principal Dan Rispens as the school district's new superintendent. The vote took place at a special board meeting following a three-week internal applicant search. Rispens was the only applicant for the position. Board Chair Scott Walter said it was the consensus of the board to search internally first rather than expanding the search. Rispens has worked in the school district for more than 20 years and serves as principal of East Valley Middle School in addition to the new high school. He holds a master's degree in educational leadership from the University of Montana and a bachelor's in English and secondary education.

Scholarship endowment honors Kologi, Hyke
Havre Public Schools recently received their largest endowment ever, $100,000, from former Havre High School student Wendy (Johnson) Nevala which will create a renewable scholarship for a female graduate looking to go into the sciences in college. The Ron Kologi and Doug Hyke Memorial Scholarship is named after a pair of science teachers who worked at Havre High School for many years and had a huge impact on many students, including Nevala, who graduated in 1985. Nevala now works as a principal research technologist running the lab for a clinician who specializes in metastatic melanoma at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota, where she's been employed for almost 30 years, and she said Kologi and Hyke affected her profoundly, albeit in different ways.

Helena's elementary students improving in reading and math
Elementary students in Helena's public schools are showing improvements in reading and math this winter after struggling significantly in the fall, according to new school district data. This information is from the first set of the district's new i-Ready standardized testing, which the school district approved for the following school year last winter, just before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. The adoption of this testing method beginning in the fall of 2020 moved the district away from STAR testing, which has been the standard for many years. According to district Superintendent Tyler Ream, the i-Ready results are not directly comparable to the STAR results from previous years, making it difficult to measure the pandemic's impact on the education of elementary students. However, the information gleaned from the i-Ready results was one of many reasons cited by Ream in the school district's recent decision to return students to the classroom four days a week.

Rossiter Principal Rex Weltz selected as superintendent
The Helena Public Schools Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday to authorize Chair Luke Muszkiewicz to begin negotiations with Rex Weltz for the district's superintendent position. Weltz is the current principal of Rossiter Elementary School and the former superintendent of Polson Public Schools, a K-12 district of 1,650 students. Weltz began work as Rossiter's principal in fall 2020. He has been a professional educator in Montana and Alaska since 1994 and also served as principal of Polson High School, Forks High School in Forks, Washington and Knik Elementary School in Wasilla, Alaska. He holds a master's degree in educational leadership from National University in California.

East Valley Middle School staff credited with saving coworker who collapsed
East Valley Middle School para-educator Linda Kuntz said she died at work on Dec. 3 at age 47.  "I wasn't expecting to die that day," she said in a statement provided by St. Peter's Health. "I had no symptoms or issues that would make me think my health would take a turn for the worse, that my life was in danger." According to the Helena hospital, Kuntz was brought back back to life by chest compressions conducted by her coworkers and the use of an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator at the school. An AED is a device that can deliver an electrical shock to help the heart reestablish an effective rhythm. Dec. 3 was a typical day at EVMS before a student came running toward two staff members, who followed the student back to the classroom. There they found a teacher on the phone connecting with emergency services and Kuntz lying on the floor, unresponsive.

Montana students can explore the world during 'Academic WorldQuest'
Now in its 17th year, the Montana World Affairs Council is hosting "Academic WorldQuest" March 1-4. The event is a four-day global education conference that features a range of expert speakers on international topics that matter to Montana. The event is free to all Montana students. The conference is capped off by an international affairs academic competition that challenges students' knowledge of the world in a fun and engaging way. The three top teams of the academic competition have the opportunity to represent Montana at the National AWQ Competition. The conference is free to all Montana students and will be held entirely online, allowing students from across the state to participate virtually. Academic WorldQuest prepares students for the growing challenges they face in an increasingly global and interconnected world.

Harold Tutvedt Memorial ag scholarship available to Flathead and Glacier students
A new college scholarship established in memory of Harold Tutvedt, a notable West Valley farmer and rancher, is available to Flathead and Glacier high school students. The $2,000 scholarship is open to students who plan to attend the Montana State University College of Agriculture in the fall. Students may pick up applications in their respective high school college and career centers. The deadline to apply is March 10. Tutvedt was born in 1929 and raised in a farmhouse off Clark Drive in West Valley, according to his December 2018 obituary. He attended Flathead High School and was encouraged by FFA instructor Henry Robinson to attend Montana State, which he did, graduating in 1951.

Area speech and debate students qualify for nationals
Speech and debate competitors from Columbia Falls, Flathead, Glacier, Ronan and Whitefish high schools will represent Montana at nationals following a district qualifying tournament held virtually over the weekend. The Montana West District Tournament is a chance for students from the AA, A, and B-C divisions to qualify for the 2021 National Speech and Debate Association National Tournament June 13-18. Nationals will be held virtually for the second year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Glacier had 15 competitors qualify for nationals, Flathead had 13 and Columbia Falls, four. Whitefish and Ronan each had two students make the cut to compete at nationals.

Politics Pop: Lowell Elementary community center inches toward reality
The City of Missoula is partnering with Missoula County Public Schools to develop a neighborhood community center at Lowell Elementary School. The center will provide learning opportunities for all ages, after-school activities and a variety of social services for the Northside/Westside neighborhood. The community school strategy aims to improve student success by providing "wrap-around" services to students, families and neighbors. Community-based schools exist in other parts of the nation but this would be the first of its kind in Missoula. The City Council's Parks and Conservation Committee approved an agreement Wednesday between the city and school district that outlines the partnership. It will come before the full council for vote at it's next meeting on Monday, Feb. 22. Parks and Recreation Director Donna Gaukler said she feels the center will help bring a healthier, more successful environment to the area without gentrification.

'We turn to language': Local youth poetry program wins national Library of Congress award
A Billings poetry program promoting literacy skills for elementary school children through poetry and literature has won a national Library of Congress award. Young Poets is one of seven organizations nationwide receiving the 2021 Library of Congress State Literacy award in recognition of its contributions in promoting literacy. The award was announced in December and includes a $2,225 prize. "We are over the moon," said Tami Haaland, the program director and co-founder, and professor of English at Montana State University Billings. "We knew we had been nominated, but you're talking about a national award so I don't think any of us expected we would get it."

Helena-area students make more than 1K Valentine's Day cards for the community
Roses are red. Pizza is cheesey. I'm giving you this card. And a squeezey. This poetic gem is aimed at bringing a smile to a resident at an assisted living facility, nursing home or hospital, or for someone who get Meals on Wheels this Valentine's Day, as part of a project launched by a community relations worker at Frontier Home Health and Hospice. She's also put together several trays of home-baked cookies for the nursing homes, just to make the day devoted to romance even sweeter.

HHS girl wrestler ranked #1 in 120-weight class for Montana
Hamilton High School Wrestler Junior Hannah Hurst was ranked number one in the 120-weight category in the Montana All Class Girls Wrestling Rankings that were released Friday. HHS Wrestling Coach Chad Williams said that in Hurst's record on Friday was 12 wins (eight against boys, four against girls) and eight losses. She has remained undefeated against girls her entire high school career. "She is the real deal," Williams said Friday. "Often she will wrestle girls heavier than her just to get a match. When she wrestles against boys, she is very aggressive and usually makes it to the third period." Hurst said she was a bit surprised at being selected number one in her weight class. "It's a bit exciting I can tell you that," she said. "It's a great sport. It teaches you a lot."

Partnership brings Trout in the Classroom to two high schools
There's a big difference between learning about something from a book and seeing it happen right before your eyes. That's something that high school students in Hamilton and Corvallis are experiencing this year thanks to some help from Bitterroot Trout Unlimited and the Rapp Family Foundation. The new partnership made it possible for the two schools to join in a nationwide program called "Trout in the Classroom" that allows students to experience the journey of rainbow trout from egg to fingerling. A few months of ensuring that water temperatures, pH and ammonia levels remain in balance is already reaping educational benefits that could be long-lasting.

Superintendent retiring after 37 years with East Helena Public Schools
Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer, who has dedicated his life and work to the students of East Helena Public Schools for the past 37 years, plans to retire in July. "I once had a teacher tell me that when I was teaching the grandkids of my original students, it's time to get out," Whitmoyer said with a laugh. Whitmoyer took his first job in the district teaching math and science in 1984. He was primarily a seventh grade biology teacher and taught a few math classes. After approximately eight years, Whitmoyer earned his degree in school administration and took on the principal role at Radley, when it was still a middle school.

Former health officer earns award for work with schools
Tamalee Robinson, the former public health officer for the Flathead County City-County Health Department, recently was awarded the 2021 Friends in Education Award by the Montana Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals at the Montana Virtual Principals Conference. The Friends in Education Award provides an opportunity for the members of the Association to recognize those individuals or organizations in Montana communities who have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty in supporting and promoting public education. In her nomination letter, Jen Stein, principal at Edgerton Elementary School in Kalispell, stated, "Tamalee has been an unbelievable resource and tireless worker for schools during this time of stress for COVID. She works for the health department; attends numerous meetings, makes calls for hours a day, and orchestrates the process between community and school for our Valley.

Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders offer scholarships
The Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders is again sponsoring two scholarships for a graduating senior who will be attending an in-state college or university. The first-place scholarship is for $1,000 and the second-place scholarship is for $500. The last day of acceptance of applications is March 12. Application forms are available from the guidance counselor at the high school or from the Hill County Clerk and Recorder, Susan Armstrong, at 315 Fourth St., Havre MT 59501. People who have any questions can call the direct line at 400-2323.

Havre Middle School lists students of the month
Havre Middle School's Sixth-Grade Student of the Month for January is Treasure Squires. She is the daughter of Tim and Kimberly Nixdorf. She has two siblings, Alexa Squires and Jonah Nixdorf. At the middle school, Treasure participates in the choir. Outside of school, she is very involved with dance lessons. Treasure has a wide variety of skills and excels in ballet, tap and contemporary dancing. In her spare time, she loves spending time with friends and family. Treasure is an asset to have in the classroom. She is hardworking and instinctively knows what needs to be done. Treasure has a personality that lights up the school and makes it a great place for everyone.

Russell Elementary raising money to build on-site garden, outdoor learning area
Learning about the life cycle of a plant involves watching it grow from seed to sprout to full bloom. The best place to do that is in a garden. With plans to break ground this spring, Russell Elementary is seeking donations to build its own garden and outdoor learning area, complete with raised beds, fruit trees, native plants and plenty of learning opportunities. "When you have a school in the middle of a city, and we are surrounded by a lot of apartment buildings, I want to do everything I can to make sure kids don't need to go to the forest or a museum to see green things, to see life cycles, to see things grow," said Peter Halloran, principal at Russell Elementary.

Helena High students move Science Circus online amid pandemic
Helena High School students had to get creative with this year's Science Circus due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so they moved the fundraising effort online. According to senior Emily Hagengruber, students in the HHS Science Seminar class knew they wouldn't be able to hold the circus in person and wanted to do something fun during these tough times, after the event was canceled last year. The 21 students of teacher Missy Sampson's class put their heads together and came up with a solution: put the science in kids' homes.
East Helena boasts first place winner in speech and debate
East Helena High School is boasting a first place winner among its first-ever medalists in speech and debate history. Following the state competition on Jan. 29 and 30, East Helena had three students who placed in the various Montana High School Association sanctioned activates. Dru Lindsey took top prize in the Original Oratory competition, placing first in the state. Riley Ophus took sixth place in the Lincoln Douglas debate and Sarah Foster took eighth in informative speaking.

Lewistown school counselor recognized as 2020 Montana School Counselor of the Year
Even when Teresa Majerus was in high school she had her sights set on school counseling. Now, after 16 years as a school counselor with the Lewistown Public Schools district, she's been recognized as the 2020 Montana School Counselor of the Year. Majerus works with grades 7 through 9.  "I always ask God to show me what he wants me to do, and this is the path," said Majerus. "When I look back on it now, this is my 16th year in school counseling, and I look back and think 'yeah, this was meant to be.'"  This year, National School Counseling Week aimed to focus public attention on the contributions of school counselors and the impact they have on students to help them achieve academic success and move towards their future careers.

Harlem High School film nominated for national award
On Thursday, a film produced by Milk River Productions, a student-led filmmaking organization founded in 2019 through Harlem High School, will be recognized at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) as a nominee for the National Student Production Award. This is the highest honor in the United States for high school filmmakers. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, founded in 1955, is an organization that recognizes production excellence with Emmy Awards. The award ceremony will be live-streamed through the NATAS website.

'Good speakers and good thinkers': Bozeman High speech and debate tops undefeated season with state championship
Bozeman High School's speech and debate team won the state championship, capping a season that has been held entirely virtual amid the ongoing COIVD-19 pandemic. The win makes the team the first undefeated speech and debate team since 1984, Head Coach Adam Thane said. "Our philosophy is we do the right things at the right time and everything follows," he said. "Good speakers and good thinkers and the rest kind of takes care of itself."

North Star students place at state BC speech meet
The North Star speech and drama team, coached by Linda Lett, competed online in the Class BC state meet hosted by Huntley Project Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All five North Star Knights competing made it to the semifinals to place in the top 14, including Garret Pedersen in impromptu speaking, Collin Welch in humorous interpretation of literature, Emily Conner in spontaneous interpretation of literature, and two made it to finals to place in the top eight.

HHS band holding Crunch for a Cause fundraiser at Taco John's
Havre High School's band is holding a Crunch for a Cause fundraiser Thursday at Taco John's. From 5 to 7 p.m., people going through the drive through at Taco John's can show a flier of the fundraiser on their phone or a printed version or mention that they are donating to the band and 50 percent of the purchase price will go to the band.

Havre debater just misses state medal
A Havre High School debater just missed advancing to single-elimination quarterfinals in Lincoln-Douglas Debate and earning a state medal, and potentially a first-place rank, in a heartbreaking finish at the online Class A state speech, drama and debate tournament over the weekend. Senior LillieAnn Mecklenburg, a four-year Blue Pony debater, went 3-2 at the state tournament and ended with a total of 138 speaker points, two points short of breaking into the single-elimination out rounds, and finished in ninth place. "It was too bad how things played out this weekend for all of our debaters," Head Coach Tim Leeds said. "Lillie was so close, and worked so hard all year and for the past three years, to miss by just that much is too bad.

CJI competes at state BC meet
Three members of the Chester-Joplin-Inverness High School speech team competed at the state BC speech, debate, and drama online tournament over the weekend. More than 40 Class B and Class C schools competed at the state meet, hosted by Huntley Project. CJI senior Emma Wickum did what she has done all year and placed in the top eight of her event. Wickum finished sixth at state in extemporaneous speaking. Senior Cain Cole just missed qualifying for the final round in memorized public address. Cole ended up in ninth place in MPA.

Class A Speech and Debate: Whitefish wins state title, ending C-Falls dynasty
Whitefish High School Speech and Debate captured the Class A state title over a three-day tournament, ending Columbia Falls High School's championship dynasty. It was another close tournament, with 33 points separating first and second place. Whitefish amassed 200 overall points for the win. Columbia Falls racked up 167 points, taking second place at the virtual tournament held last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Laurel finished third, with 112 points. "I could not have been more proud of the balanced effort we produced across the three days of competition," Whitefish Head Coach Sara Mueller said. "With every entry scoring points throughout the weekend, we were able to hold our own and keep ourselves in contention during the first two days, to give ourselves the chance we needed in the final rounds. Every state tournament comes down to mental toughness and bouncing back as there are just too many rounds for perfection, and this one seemed like an extreme example. The support this team gave to each other, even through personal disappointments, was inspiring."

Class AA Speech and Debate: Flathead takes 2nd, Glacier 3rd at state tourney
After putting up a good fight in the battle of words, Kalispell's Class AA high school speech and debate teams finished a consistent season in second and third place behind Bozeman - the season's undefeated champion. State runner-up Flathead High School achieved 163.5 overall points in the virtual tournament hosted by Butte last Friday and Saturday. Glacier High School earned 139.5 points to finish in third. State champion Bozeman High School shot to the top of the competition with 206 overall points. "It has been a remarkably consistent season," Flathead Head Coach Shannon O'Donnell said. "The Bozeman and Flathead rivalry has a long, 40-year history, and we can only tip our caps to their remarkable season. I'm proud of every one of our kids; they gave it their all in every round and fought to the last ballot."

Today's Achievers: Compassionate leader is 'go-to-girl' at Flathead
Flathead High School's Paityn Reece is the "go-to girl" for support, guidance, friendship and leadership, attributes she built out of hardship, according to Mike Kelly, a career center counselor at the school. "Paityn has beautifully blended her kind and genuine disposition with assertive and effective leadership skills in order to positively impact her school and community," Kelly wrote in a letter nominating Reece, who was selected as a Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders honoree. Reece believes there is strength in kindness when it comes to leadership.

Teen of the Month: Senior thrives at Butte High Career Center
Not everyone thrives in a traditional school setting. That was true for Aimee Provost, a 17-year-old senior at the Butte High Career Center. During Provost's time in middle school, she struggled with the large number of students in her classes and the competition for her instructor's attention. Having a more introverted personality also made her a target of ridicule. "I was bullied," she said. Over time, Provost grew to hate middle school and was dreading the thought of going on to high school.


January 2021

Turner students take advantage of dual enrollment
Junior and senior students at Turner High school have been attending dual enrollment courses this school year, earning both high school and college credits. Dual enrollment is offered every year in Montana and many students earn general education credits at a free or discounted rate while in high school. The classes are general education classes and in Montana the first two are free, after that the classes are reduced price from regular tuition.  Turner Public Schools Superintendent Tony Warren said dual enrollment gives students a chance to take an entry level class in a field they are interested in and get a feel about the career the student is pursuing.

CJI claims Class C speech championship at Northern BC divisional meet
The Chester Joplin-Inverness High School Hawks speech team competed Saturday at the Northern BC speech and drama divisional tournament. CJI served as the virtual host for the divisional tournament, which saw teams from seven Class C schools and six Class B schools compete to qualify for the State BC speech and drama tournament hosted by Huntley Project.  The Hawks were once again led by senior Emma Wickum, who claimed her second consecutive divisional championship in extemporaneous speaking. Wickum has qualified for state each of the last four years.

Speech and debate: Flathead, Glacier have high hopes heading to Class AA state tourney
The Glacier High School speech and debate team pulled ahead of Flathead High School to win second place at the Great Falls Invitational. Glacier earned 124 overall points behind first-place finisher Bozeman, which amassed 192 points at the virtual tournament on Jan. 22-23. Flathead came in third place with 113.5 overall points. "We still are improving. I am hoping that we can peak for the state AA tournament next weekend," Glacier Head Coach Greg Adkins said. "This season has been a wild ride," he added. "I like the direction we are heading. We are thrilled with the second place finish, but our goals are much higher than that.

Basketball is 'oxygen' for Montana Native Americans. COVID-19 has filled this season with challenges.
Last year, Lame Deer athletic director August "Tiger" Scalpcane was in a meeting with other school administrators when his phone lit up with a text message. The person left in charge of the high school told Scalpcane that basketball players were late to class and roaming the halls. Scalpcane, who is also the Morning Stars' girls basketball coach, got on the loudspeaker. "If I see any basketball players in the hallway when I come down, you will not play this weekend," he announced. Scalpcane could hear students running up and down the halls as he returned to the meeting. He and the other administrators shared a knowing laugh.

Student debater takes on the pandemic, political division
In a normal year, 17-year-old junior Hogan O'Donnell would be standing before a crowd of 500 peers and fans, his eyes fixed on the spectators and judges before him while his opponent's sweat pools on the gymnasium floor. This year, the captain of Butte High's speech and debate team sits in front of a computer in a classroom alone and fights battles of logic over the virtual airwaves. Even remote competition is a privilege for O'Donnell and his team. It's taking place only because fellow students and the community have taken the pandemic seriously. Butte School District No. 1 made in-school instruction a priority throughout the pandemic, for which some members of the community have been critical.

Call of duty: Army colonel steps up to help as substitute teacher
When Columbia Falls schools closed late last March and transitioned to remote learning for the remainder of the school year, Kelly Smith, father of two energetic teenage sons, gained real-time clarity on the value of an in-person education. In an effort to keep that valuable resource smoothly operational, Smith has made a personal commitment to spend his spare time as a substitute teacher for District 6. Smith's recent commitment came after watching his high school sons miss out on traditional athletic and social opportunities last spring as the district moved to virtual classrooms in an attempt to navigate the pitfalls of education during a pandemic.

Western Montana students celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. with words, art
Every year Missoula's MLK Day Celebration Committee honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by engaging the community in dialogue about race and justice through a virtual, intergenerational and community-led celebration. This year's event will feature the annual Youth Art and Essay Contest based on MLK quotes, a keynote address from Dr. Carlton P. Byrd (pastor, professor, and civil rights activist), art and music presented by local artists Andre Floyd, Jeremiah Coutts, Elijah Jalil Paz Fisher, and calls to action from local youth leaders, Samantha Francine and Lucy Mills-Low. This virtual event will be streamed live on EmpowerMT's Youtube Channel on Jan. 18, from 6 to 8 p.m.

New homeless liaison connects kids with resources
Casey Driscoll is the new homeless education liaison for Kalispell Public Schools and Evergreen School District and director of the HEART Program. Since July, Driscoll has worked alongside former liaison and director Nichole Heyer as an AmeriCorps Vista member. Heyer took a position as the youth homelessness demonstration project navigator for the Montana Legal Services Association. As the homeless education liaison, Driscoll works directly with students identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to connect them with resources and support such as free meals and transportation to and from school. From year to year, 300 to 400 students in the two school districts are identified as homeless under the act, which defines homelessness as lacking a fixed, regular or adequate nighttime residence. 

Soroptimist International in Hamilton award scholarships with surprise
Using the element of surprise, Soroptimist International in Hamilton presented $7,000 in scholarship awards to winners just before Christmas. "Right now it is hard to know how to get the word out [about scholarship recipients and award winners]," said Mary Lyn, SI co-chair. "We are struggling with how to celebrate them in the time of COVID." Rather than alerting the winners, or having their usual award event, the Hamilton Soroptimists placed the $2,000 and $3,000 scholarship checks in Christmas cards and went in person to surprise the recipients. 

Snapshots: Dillon student awarded scholarship
Amber Sitz of Dillon is one of four Montana students to receive a $1,000 scholarship from Rocky Mountain Supply Inc. Sitz is a fourth-year student in Montana State University Northern's nursing program. She is the daughter of Jim and Tammi Sitz of Dillon. Rocky Mountain Supply's scholarship program aims to make a positive impact on recipients in their education, their community, and the industry within their field of study.

Harlem High students work with NASA
Harlem High School has partnered with NASA and The Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens in the Growing Beyond Earth Project to conduct experiments that expand food options and increase plant diversity for spaceflight. The project was designed to support NASA research on growing plants in space. The project emailed all FFA advisors asking for their help in doing this research via email including teacher Lisa Hamilton of the Harlem High School Agricultural Education Department and the FFA advisor at the school. Two of her classes have participated in the trial. It is challenging, she said because Harlem schools are using the hybrid learning model and students only attend class in-person two days a week.

Fifth-graders to benefit from Archives' online educational program
The New Year started out with a bang for one Butte-Silver Bow government office. The crew at the Butte-Silver Bow Archives just launched "Butte History in the Classroom," an online educational tool. Thanks to a $25,380 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Butte fifth-graders now have access to 35 informational packets that tackle historic Butte moments like the June 24, 1914 explosion of the Miners' Union Hall to the -52 temperature on Dec. 23, 1983. According to Audrey Jaap, Archives assistant director, the grant was extremely helpful as the Archives has been unable, due to COVID-19, to hold in-house field trips for Butte and area students.

Room to grow: Special Ed Co-op grateful for larger building
After relocating to 305 Third Ave. E. in Kalispell more than a year ago, Flathead Special Education Cooperative staff and students have settled into the more spacious building, which has been a silver lining to operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. "We went from 1,900 to 5,700 square feet," Special Education Cooperative Director Cheryl Russell said. Previously located on Meridian Court, the cooperative sold the property and the proceeds went toward the purchase and renovation of the Third Avenue East building. With the additional space, staff members are able to separate students in its preschool and communications program to reduce the number of people children come into contact with. The space also offers room to spread out and store more supplies to provide individual students with materials and reduce sharing.

DUI Taskforce billboard features art by Hamilton middle schooler
The poster art of a Hamilton Middle School student is on a billboard near U.S. Highway 93 north of Woodside where it will remain for three months thanks to the Ravalli County DUI Taskforce Art Contest. The creative efforts of eighth-grade student Lauren MacGillivray, 14, for Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23–31, with the theme of "Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free" was chosen by the DUI Task Force from 40 submissions. DUI Task Force Coordinator Glenda Wiles said the goal is always to encourage children, families and the community in making positive choices for healthy, happy and drug-free lives.

Filmed and produced by Browning students, 'Blackfeet Country' to premiere on PBS Thursday
Written, filmed and produced by Browning Public Schools students, "Blackfeet Country" will premiere on Thursday at 7 p.m. as part of the PBS series "Stories From Montana's Future." "Blackfeet Country," which is the first episode in the series, features three stories produced by students in partnership with MAPS Media Institute, a nonprofit that aims to empower young Montanans for professional and community success through media arts. The project was supported by Montana GEAR Up and the Greater Montana Foundation. "The Last Day" and "Aisitsimstā (Imagination)" are narrative fiction films, which were written and produced in an intensive 5-day MAPS workshop. "Browning Rising Voices" was a months-long project and follows a high school poetry club.

MAPS series airing on MT PBS in 2021
Anew film series produced by MAPS Media Institute will premiere on Montana PBS at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7. "Stories from Montana's Future" showcases the filmmaking talent of high school students from across the state. The first episode, airing on Jan. 7, is entitled "Blackfeet Country" and includes three award-winning short films made by the students of Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation

Stevensville School District plans for state-of-the-art fitness facility by fall 2021
Stevensville School District plans to open a state-of-the-art fitness facility in the fall of 2021 with the first fundraising event set for Saturday, Jan. 9. The SSD's Athletic Performance Center will take over the former Ag Education building, a 4,000 square foot building about 20-yards from the high school gymnasium. "We're using those lockers for this facility," said Chance Edman, activities director. "This will partner really well with our main gym and sports facilities because it is right near our practice field and right in the middle of everything." After heavy renovation, plans for the facility include dedicated cardio and team film rooms, in addition to a turf runway and the latest workout equipment. The open floor plan will allow plenty of space for fitness classes, team workouts and adult ed classes from the community.

Dual enrollment pays dividends for Great Falls high school students
It doesn't take a lot of detective work to find the benefits of taking college classes while in high school, according to Great Falls High senior Madi Nowakowski who will graduate with 54 college credits when she finishes high school this spring. "It's really helpful, especially if you want to go to college in Montana after graduation," she said. "At least get your core requirements done. It will save you so much time and A LOT of money. Like a lot, especially if you can get scholarships. I'm on scholarships, and I'm not paying for my classes. The only thing I sometimes pay for is textbooks." Nowakowski isn't exactly sure of her plans immediately after high school as she is looking at some military options, but she is certain she wants to someday work as a police officer and eventually an FBI agent.

Student teachers navigate pandemic with students, mentors
Montana State University teaching students experienced some of the same challenges and unexpected joys as experienced teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, while still striving to learn their new profession. Student teachers reported the ups and downs of virtual learning, unexpected quarantines, strong student bonds, and moments of wonder in their first semester teaching amid the pandemic. "We had to model what's happening in the local school systems," John Melick, MSU's director of field placement and licensure, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. "We mirrored what's happening in the real world because our students are a part of that during their student teaching experience."

Coding for Kids is expanding in Stevensville
Coding for Kids, a Stevensville-based Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) program, has received significant new grant funds to expand its program for high school students in the Bitterroot Valley. Dedicated, local community members, plus high-tech associates, valued foundation supporters, and the Stevensville School have combined to build an elementary-through-high school computer-oriented after-school and summer program - Coding for Kids (C4K). This perfect storm has recently come to fruition due to a committed, energetic team of Stevensville citizens, all of whom want to see their community's children have employment opportunities that strongly surpass what is currently available in Montana. But, with the twist.

December 2020 to October 2020

SLE students sing in the season

Seeley Lake Elementary students spread Christmas cheer at their Winter Program on Friday, Dec. 11 inside the school's gym. K-12 Music Teacher Janet Morgenstern led the entire program including directing the band that incorporated Seeley-Swan High School students. Morgenstern said she was working under several limitations while leading the school's performances for the first time since joining the school in September.

LHS students raise money for American Cancer Society

A group of Laurel High School students have been baking and selling dog treats this year for a business they started in the fall as part of their job skills class. LHS Special Education Teacher Tracy Grazley said the students have been baking the homemade dog biscuits onsite in the Life Skills classroom and selling them at the school and by word of mouth to raise funds to donate to a charity of their choosing. Grazley said, "We started this fall and will continue to make and sell them for the rest of the year. What better way to learn job skills than to start a business?" After a batch of treats are done the kids decide as a group who will be the recipient of the proceeds. Earlier this year they were able to raise enough money to pay the adoption fee for a dog at B.A.R.K (Billings Area Rescue Kare), a private non–profit animal shelter serving Billings and the surrounding areas. "We are still talking with them and hope when the dog gets adopted they will be able to bring it to the high school," Grazley said.

How to spark your child's interest in the field of education

If your child is an effective communicator and a natural-born leader, they may have what it takes to be an amazing teacher. However, a love of learning is fundamental to a career in education.

LHS recognized nationally for 2020 success

The National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators is pleased to announce that Laurel High School has been named a National ESEA Distinguished School by the state education agency in Montana. Laurel High School is one of up to 100 schools throughout the country that is being nationally recognized for exceptional student achievement in 2020. A project of the NAESPA, the National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program publicly recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. It highlights the efforts of schools across the country making significant improvements for their students.

Greenfield Students Will Offer Holiday Music To Fairfield Residents With Parade Along Town Streets

Since Greenfield School will be unable to have their traditional Christmas Music Program this year, they are getting creative. The plan is to have a night of music filling the streets of Fairfield. The students will perform in groups. Each group will have their own trailer set up with hay/straw bales and decorations if they choose to do so. Each group will have prepared a few classic holiday songs to perform.

Death of Cartwright teen has sparked Montana's first SAVE chapter

He had an exuberant personality, always ready for adventures, and he loved to run. When 15-year-old Fairview track star Anders Lassey took his own life last month, it shocked everyone who knew him. No one saw it coming. Least of all, his Cross Country Coach, Bert Olson, who the family asked to give Lassey's eulogy. "He was looking at going back next year and being part of the team," Olson said. "I had talked to him about stepping up into a leadership role, possibly even becoming a team captain. And he showed interest in that." After Lassey's death, his parents showed Olson the letter the youth had left behind.

Speech and debate team takes first at Laurel tourney

The Columbia Falls Speech and Debate team topped 19 other schools to take first at the Laurel Invitational tournament over the weekend. Whitefish took third. Columbia Falls was able to close the gap in debate and win the tournament by 37 points over Frenchtown 146 to 109, a 55 point reversal from last week, where they took a rare second place in a virtual meet hosted by Whitefish. Coach Blake Ladenburg was pleased with the performance.

Fairfield Student Administers Aid To Choking Restaurant Patron In Great Falls

On Saturday, October 21 Fairfield High School student Isaac Lauver was enjoying a meal at one of his favorite places to eat, the 3D in Great Falls, along with his mom and dad, Michelle and John. "We were just done eating," Isaac told the Sun Times, "and we're waiting for our receipt when a man at another table stood up and put his arms up." That man, who Isaac said was bout 55 to 60 years old, was choking. A younger man at the table, possibly the older gentleman's son or son-in-law, began attempts to help by using the Heimlich Maneuver.

Elementary Christmas concert during Covid

Many of the town's Christmas celebrations have been canceled this year due to the pandemic. However, the show must go on, and so music teacher TJ Bond and FE Miley Elementary Elementary have put on the annual Christmas concert with a creative twist. Due to safety considerations, the concert was not performed for a live audience. Instead, the show was streamed online where it can be viewed by parents, families, and the community. "I wish we could do the real thing! But what a great solution in this weird year!" remarked Principal Heather Wolery.

Area schools adjusting Christmas concerts

With a continued rise in COVID-19 cases in Teton County and a strong desire to keep students learning in school, many school districts have made major changes to annual Christmas concerts. Choteau Elementary School will not hold a Christmas program this year. The elementary students will make Christmas cards and art to be distributed throughout the community. Choteau music teacher Rose Carlson will share Christmas music with the students as they work on their cards and artwork this holiday season. The Power School District music department will present Christmas programs this year, but the concerts will be different in delivery. To limit crowd size, the school district is asking only two parents from each family attend the concert.

Virtual Book Fair!!! Don't Miss Out

The Scholastic Book Fair will look a little different this year, being conducted all online for students and parents to shop. The book fair starts on Dec. 1 and will end on Dec. 14. There are over 6,000 items and books to choose from and all orders will ship directly to your home. All purchases go to supporting Baker Public Schools, so don't miss your chance to look for some awesome finds while also helping out our schools! 

New elementary named for Story Creek

Story Creek Elementary will be the name the new elementary school under construction on Bolinger Road. The Belgrade School Board voted Monday to approve the top recommendation of a naming committee that ranked Story Creek as its top choice. The committee's other suggestion was Horseshoe Hills Elementary. The committee solicited community suggestions for a name for the school and received 218 responses. From there, it narrowed down the choices to the two finalists.

Big Sandy Education Foundation helping students with scholarships

The Big Sandy Education Foundation has been quietly working to improve our local schools and help students for nearly five years. The less well-known foundation has given over $25,000 to classroom projects at the schools and over $8,000 in scholarships in the last five years. Brad Moore, the chairman of the foundation board, explained some of the recent projects the foundation has undertaken: "A couple of our bigger projects that we helped with... we gave $5,000 to the lighting project in the auditorium. The latest one, we just gave another $5,000 donation to the basketball court at the elementary to help with that project, too."

CJI speakers place at Red Lodge tournament
The CJI speech team competed at its second virtual meet of the 2020-2021 season Saturday.  Four students competed for the CJI Hawks at the Red Lodge Class BC Invitational. Emma Wickum led the way for the Hawks, finishing second in extemporaneous speaking for the second week in a row.  Wickum tied for first place with the eventual champion from Three Forks but lost the tiebreaker and was awarded second place. Cain Cole claimed third place in memorized public address with his interpretation of a speech given by former professional wrestler Marc Mero.

Teaching first grade students during a pandemic
Highland Park Early Primary School first grade teacher DaNelle Bakke said that since COVID-19 hit, her job has become "challenging, yet so gratifying." She said she has had to find ways to actively engage students, teach concepts from a screen and organize the students entire learning days. "The organization of making sure that the kids have all of the supplies in from of them for a week at a time means that I have to know what we will be doing every minute of that week well ahead of time," Bakke said. "It is a fun challenge, though. When I see the kiddos learning and making progress with parents, grandparents or other significant people in their life right by their side helping them to learn and grow, it very gratifying."

Two Bitterroot Valley students are semi-finalists in the 2021 Coca-Cola Scholar program
Two Bitterroot Valley students are semi-finalists in the 2021 Coca-Cola Scholar program that could result in a $20,000 scholarship each. Hamilton High School Senior Bella Sidoruk and Corvallis High School Senior Nyssa Schairer have been selected, along with eight other Montana students and 1,607 students out of 99,403 applicants from across the nation who applied in October. Schairer and Sidoruk are in the top 1.6% of all applications. Sidoruk said being selected was a surprise. "I never thought it would be something I could achieve because nearly 100,000 people applied," Sidoruk said. "When I got the email I was shocked and so excited."

Corvallis School District's classified staff honored Friday
The Rotary Club of Hamilton and Interact, their youth service organization, gave Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce gift certificates to all of the classified staff in Corvallis School District on Friday. The Rotary Club past president and Interact (International Action) Rotarian adviser Marilyn Morris said they have chosen the classified staff to support those who often go unacknowledged and unrewarded. "A few weeks ago, Montana Rotary clubs were given the opportunity to apply for a $1,500 grant to assist with COVID relief," Morris said. "The Rotary Club of Hamilton chose a process where we could get the funding back into our local economy while acknowledging some of the Corvallis school district employees."

Class AA Speech and Debate: Flathead takes 2nd, Glacier 3rd at Kalispell Invitational
Bozeman notched a solid first-place win at the Kalispell Speech and Debate Invitational Tournament Friday and Saturday, outdistancing the competition with a total of 237 points. Flathead took second place with 143 points, followed by Glacier in third with 123.5. "I'm very excited about the growth this team made in seven days," Glacier Speech and Debate Head coach Greg Adkins said. "We won four events and closed out Oratory, MPA, and Dramatic Interp in an impressive fashion. Our next step is to become more balanced across the events, but I feel like we are trending in the right direction."

Class A Speech and Debate: C-Falls rebounds to win big at Laurel Invitational
The Columbia Falls Speech and Debate team rebounded from its first tournament to top the competition at the Laurel Invitational Tournament on Saturday. The team topped the other 19 schools to take home the first-place trophy. Columbia Falls was able to close the gap in debate and win the tournament by 37 points over Frenchtown 146 to 109, a 55 point reversal from last week. Frenchtown placed second with 109 points, followed by Whitefish in third with 88 points. "I told the students that this year was going to be a challenge and they would have to work hard to hold off the competition, and they responded this week," Columbia Falls Head Coach Blake Ladenburg said. "We have to keep up the effort to keep this trajectory going.

Great Falls JROTC students honor POW/MIAs
There's a new bench in Great Falls designed to honor prisoners of war and military personnel missing in action. JROTC cadets from both Great Falls public high schools dedicated the bench at the Montana Veterans Memorial on Wednesday. The cadets used their participation in the annual Bataan Death March Memorial Hike in September to raise more than $3,000 to get the bench. After the Battle of Bataan in World War II, an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 American and Filipino soldiers were forced by the Japanese to march more than 60 miles, and it became known as the Bataan Death March. "I think it's a really big deal to have it out there for everyone to see and bring awareness to it," said Cadet Captain Chance Gerbert.

Bozeman teachers receive state-wide award, finalists for presidential prize
Two Bozeman School District teachers have been recognized as finalists for a prestigious national teaching award in math and science. Lisa Moellenkamp, a kindergarten teacher at Longfellow Elementary School, and Christine O'Shea, a fourth and fifth-grade teacher at Hyalite Elementary School, were among five Montana finalists for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The award is considered one of the highest honors for U.S. educators teaching math and science in kindergarten through 12th grades. Moellenkamp has taught kindergarten at Longfellow for 11 years and has worked in education for about 25 years.

New high-school band director keeps the beat in Whitefish
Matthew King stood on the ladder podium conducting the famous Ohio State marching band during the second quarter of the BCS National Championship college football game in early 2015 when the Buckeyes defeated Oregon. King, who is the new Whitefish High School band director, refers to that memory as a "pinch me" moment in his career. He was at Ohio State during that time completing his master's degree in wind conducting, which is a highly selective program that usually only accepts two students at a time. That prestigious degree could have taken him almost anywhere, but he's known all along that his passion lies within teaching at the high school level.

Speech and debate: Flathead takes 2nd, Glacier 3rd as season kicks off online
Flathead and Glacier high school speech and debate competitors finally got a word in this season after it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two Class AA high schools competed in their first tournament of the season on Friday and Saturday, which was held virtually because of the pandemic. Flathead scored 141 points overall, earning second place. Glacier placed third with 112 points. Bozeman took the top spot with 215.5 points. "Competing virtually surely had its challenges for our team," Glacier head coach Greg Adkins said. "As the two-day tournament progressed, we certainly became comfortable with the new platform."

Towering nutrition education earns Billings teacher health award
Snack time is a lot different in Kerra Olson's first-grade classroom at Boulder Elementary. Instead of procuring food from a shiny wrapper, snacks typically consist of fresh fruits or vegetables. Sometimes they're made with food literally grown in the classroom, which students help nurture and harvest, making nutrition a tangible lesson that they see evolve with their own eyes. That process imparts lessons that a worksheet can't.

Christmas comes early for HEART program
This holiday season, 60 high school students connected with the HEART Program will be receiving a special gift. Sabrina Wisher-Dewitt, a longtime supporter of the HEART Program, and founder of her own nonprofit, Mikayla's Miracles and Blessings, has gifted 60 backpacks filled with sweatshirts, hats, gloves, blankets, chapstick, haircut certificates, food and grocery store gift cards, hygiene products, among other items. Wisher-Dewitt has been a consistent donor to the HEART Program for more than four years, and she wanted to do something special for the teenagers who are often overlooked at the holiday giving time.

Three Great Falls schools receive Purple Star recognition for supporting military families
Three schools in Great Falls were awarded Purple Star status by the Montana Military Interstate Children's Compact Commission. Loy Elementary, North Middle and C.M. Russell High School were among the five schools to receive Purple Star status this year. The Purple Star is awarded to schools that "go above and beyond to provide inclusive environments for active military families." Glacier High School in Kalispell and Valley Christian in Missoula also received the recognition.

MCPS ag students learn industry, work with 'Oreo cows'
Big Sky High School students took time out of the conventional classroom Thursday to cut their teeth as agriculture enthusiasts on 100 acres in the middle of Missoula. It was their first day of class at the Missoula Agricultural Center and the freshmen and one sophomore trudged through mud-filled rain puddles to see newly weaned Belted Galloway calves together in the barn. "We need to keep 'em contained," said ag teacher Tom Andres.

Orchestrator of learning: Lifelong musician named Montana's Outstanding Music Educator
Jenanne Solberg of Whitefish started playing piano at age 5 to keep occupied, at the urging of her teachers. The experience, however, did much more. It revealed her aptitude for music, which was nurtured throughout her education and set her on a path to teaching others. Solberg, who retired as the Whitefish middle and high school orchestra director in August, recalled how as a 5-year-old, her school thought she was academically advanced enough to skip to third grade. Her parents decided to enroll her in second grade because she was young and hadn't yet turned 6.

Megan Rost of PHS receives TATL award
"Don't waste any hardship," is the advice offered by Polson High School senior Megan Rost, recipient of October's "Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders" award for exemplary students making an impact on their community. "Make the most out of every opportunity that comes your way. We have these negative connotations of hardships, but in reality, we're just improving ourselves and our character. If we shift how we view our challenges, it will definitely impact us for the better." The award, sponsored by Kalispell Regional Healthcare and the Lake County Leader, was presented Nov. 1 by Dr. Adam Smith of Polson Health in a surprise ceremony at the school. Megan was nominated for the award by guidance counselor Betsy Wade.

Shelby students remember, honor vets on Veterans Day
On Nov. 11, Americans all over the country celebrate Veterans Day. This year, Shelby High celebrated with a video and gifts for the veterans of the community. "We served all veterans who came in, a free cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll donated by TLC for Veterans Day," said Kelli Lohr, owner of Prairie Peddler, said. "We feel it's important to recognize our local veterans who have sacrificed to keep our country safe." "In the past, Shelby Schools held an assembly, but due to COVID-19, that wasn't possible this year," said teacher Sanna Clark.

Students create Egyptian artifacts
For the past few weeks, Mrs. Johnson's 6th-grade class has been working hard on creating an Ancient Egyptian exhibit for the O'Fallon Historical Museum. Along with studying the many elements of Egyptian society, students took a closer look at items that may have been found in Egyptian tombs. For their project, students then had to create their own ancient artifact based on the information that they researched. The students worked extremely hard to replicate a tomb-like King Tut's and did a great job in arranging and displaying their many artifacts.

New elementary school close to finding name
Belgrade's new elementary school soon will be named for one of the significant geographical features in its viewshed. Lori Degenhart, principal of the new school, reported the unanimous recommendations of the naming committee to the school board on Monday. In ranked order, they are Story Creek Elementary and Horseshoe Hills Elementary. Trustees are expected to make the final decision at their December meeting. Degenhart said the committee solicited community suggestions and received 218 responses. From there, it narrowed down the choices to the two finalists.

Columbia Falls standout athlete now administrator in Whitefish
Becoming an administrator was not always on the forefront of Tyler Jones' mind as he progressed through his teaching career. But, it was an option he kept open if the right opportunity arose. When the opening for the assistant principal role at Whitefish Middle School came about, he had a feeling it might be the perfect fit for himself and his family. He took over in the role at WMS at the beginning of the school year, after longtime Whitefish educator Jackie Fuller retired in the spring. Jones said his father inspired him on his journey to becoming an educator by telling him, "Whatever you're going to do, make sure it's something you enjoy."

Flathead, C-Falls students excel at Model UN conference
As the United Nations commemorates 75 years, the University of Montana held the 55th annual Model United Nations high school conference on Nov. 13. In the wake of a global pandemic, the mock United Nations conference went virtual this year, where student delegates went online to debate, negotiate caucus and vote on resolutions to address world problems. Students were also able to hear keynote speaker Dr. Marshall Bloom present: "Pandemic Viruses: Global Citizens." Bloom is chief of the biology of vector-borne viruses section in the Laboratory of Virology and is the associate director for scientific management at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton.

Pandemic doesn't stop kids clothing program
The COVID-19 pandemic may have altered the Kalispell Firefighters Association annual winter clothing program for kids in 2020, but it didn't stop it. On Thursday, members of the association and the Kalispell HEART Program worked to distribute 60 winter coats, snow pants, boots and winter hats to elementary school students at Kalispell elementary schools. It was the seventh year for the program and certainly the most challenging.

Troy school employee is Montana's nominee for inspirational award
Troy Public Schools Maintenance and Transportation Director Keith Haggerty is Montana's nominee for the U.S. Department of Education's Recognizing Inspirational School Employees (RISE) Award. He was recently nominated by Gov. Steve Bullock to be considered for the national award that "honors and promotes the excellence exhibited by classified school employees who provide exemplary service to students in pre-kindergarten through high school," according to the U.S. Department of Education.

DUI Task Force announces art contest winners
Hamilton Middle School students won the Ravalli County DUI Task Force Red Ribbon Week art contests with the theme of "Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free." The goal was to encourage children, families and the community in making positive choices for healthy, happy and drug-free lives. DUI Task Force Coordinator Glenda Wiles said the number of entries was low this year due to COVID-19. She said it was disappointing that DUI Task Force activities have been canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions and school closures.

Peterson Elementary Students Organizing Veterans Day Tribute
Every Veterans Day, students of all grades at Peterson Elementary School in Kalispell hold in-person ceremonies to honor veterans, while the fourth-grade class organizes a fundraiser for the Montana Veterans' Home in Columbia Falls. Due to the pandemic this year, however, an in-person ceremony was out of the question, but that didn't deter the kids, even with fewer students due to COVID-19. They shifted gears, with the fourth-graders modifying their annual community-service donation drive for the vets home and students of all grades making a video as a digital tribute in lieu of hosting veterans at an in-person ceremony.

Libby High School students launch annual care packages with high hopes
On Friday, October 30, approximately 100 freshman and sophomore students at Libby High School were spotted in the back-parking lot testing "care-package" prototypes developed by teams of engineers-in-training who had collaborated for a solid week in hopes their efforts would not ultimately become scrambled in a singular, split-second's time. Part of an annually proposed venture within Mrs. Rose's physical science class at LHS, students have been teaming up each Fall to form mini-firms focused on engineering an egg-ceptional vehicle for safe transport.  Each team is granted an initial investment in their company to utilize in effectively designing a prototype while meeting budgetary and supply constraints.  All teams then actively collaborate to execute product-testing and follow-through with mindful assessment for future endeavors.

Darby School District produces video to observe Veterans Day
The Darby School District remembered veterans with a heart-touching video released on the district website on Veterans Day. Darby Elementary School educator Brooke Gardner helped produce the video with messages from students thanking veterans for their sacrifices and hard work. She said Veterans Day is a favorite day for students and that enthusiasm inspired the teachers to take action. 

First affordable housing units open for Big Sky teachers
The first teachers to live in the Big Sky School District's affordable housing units moved in this month. The affordable housing project, a joint venture between Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley and the school district, will provide affordable housing for staff in its three schools. "It's a big community project," said David Magistrelli, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley. "We might be a catalyst or a facilitator, but we're only able to do this because the community recognized the need of housing for the teachers to help strengthen the educational process."

New elementary school close to finding name
Belgrade's new elementary school soon will be named for one of the significant geographical features in its viewshed. Lori Degenhart, principal of the new school, reported the unanimous recommendations of the naming committee to the school board on Monday. In ranked order, they are Story Creek Elementary and Horseshoe Hills Elementary. Trustees are expected to make the final decision at their December meeting. Degenhart said the committee solicited community suggestions and received 218 responses. From there, it narrowed down the choices to the two finalists.

After beating cancer, C-Falls girl aims to walk again
At the tender age of 10, Columbia Falls fifth-grader Kymber Johnson has already had to brave her way through a gauntlet of staggering hardships. About a year ago, she found an aggressive type of bone cancer requiring amputation of her right leg. Today she has emerged from the ordeal 100% cancer-free with a radiant smile, gentle determination and a new, fully functioning knee joint.

Peterson students organize virtual program, donation drive for veterans
Peterson Elementary students didn't miss a beat in organizing a virtual Veterans Day program in light of COVID-19 restrictions. Since the school wasn't able to hold an in-person ceremony, students created a video tribute honoring veterans by singing songs, sharing about the importance of Veterans Day and creating a photo slideshow of local veterans related to Peterson students. The video will be shown to Montana Veterans Home residents today, according to fourth-grade teacher Karissa Prewitt. In addition to the program, Prewitt's class organized its annual schoolwide donation drive to collect items for Montana Veterans Home residents in Columbia Falls.

CHS's Tyson Tucker is 2021 Assistant Principal of the Year
Corvallis High School Assistant Principal Tyson Tucker is the Montana Association of Secondary School Principals' 2021 Assistant Principal of the Year. Tucker was nominated by Corvallis School District Superintendent Jon Konen and CHS Principal Cammie Knapp. "Though I have only worked with Mr. Tucker for the past couple months, I have quickly found him to be one of the top administrators I have worked with in my 22-year career," Konen said. "He is a dedicated professional and it is shown through his commitment to our school and community."

Eastern Montana teacher wins national rural teacher of the year award
Joni Carroll doesn't seek the spotlight. But it found the teacher at Cohagen's one-room schoolhouse (two-rooms, really). Carroll was named the Montana Rural Teacher of the Year, and found out in Mid-October she was selected as the National Rural Teacher of the Year. Both awards were a surprise for the teacher who, when given the chance to brag after a day of school, instead pointed to her students. "I don't know that we do anything better than anybody, but I just have a group of children who have the biggest hearts and look out for each other and look out for others," she said. "They have a really strong sense of community and family and taking care of each other."

Novasio, Lockwood School board win awards
The School Administrators of Montana recently announced Tobin Novasio, superintendent of Lockwood Public Schools, is recipient of the 2020 G.V. Erickson Award. The award is given to a member of SAM who has made the greatest contribution to the betterment of education in Montana. This is the most prestigious award a school administrator in Montana can receive. Novasio has been an educator in Montana for more than 20 years serving as a teacher, principal and superintendent. Since 2012, he has been the superintendent at Lockwood Public Schools.

Hart, Whitacre recognized for academic achievement
Havre High School and The College Board would like to recognize Simon Hart and Grant Whitacre, both seniors, for their remarkable academic achievements and outstanding performance on the PSAT/NMSQT. "We are extremely proud of all they have accomplished thus far and celebrate their success," a release from Havre High said. "We know that they have bright futures ahead of them."

Retired teacher builds desks for at-home Helena students
A retired teacher in Helena has taken it upon himself to build desks for local students learning from home. Reid Miller said he was browsing the internet when he came across a news story about the group Dads for Desks, which builds desks for at-home students in Maryland. Miller said he thought, "Why not Grandads for Desks too?" Miller was a teacher and coach for 35 years at Great Falls High School before retiring in 1999. From his teaching experience, Miller is well aware of the fact that many students simply don't have dedicated space for learning while at home, instead using dining room tables or TV trays for their workspace. During the time of COVID-19, this is more crucial than ever as many students are learning digitally from home.

UM education student teaches Missoula Online Academy learning pod
In the basement of a house in the upper Rattlesnake neighborhood this week, Alex Carey circled a table of four Missoula third-graders typing on laptops. On one wall, a poster displayed multiplication tables, and on another, student art projects gave the space a splash of color. In the background was a dry erase board with the day's schedule. "Alex, how do you spell 'talked?'" Lucie Moriarity, one of the third-graders asked. "Let's sound it out," Carey responded, as she knelt beside Lucie to enunciate one letter at a time. The third-graders were working on narrative writing before moving into quiet reading time. Later in the day, they'd take their Unit 1 test.

Polson teen claims national literacy award
For a second consecutive year a Polson High School student has earned national recognition for academic achievement through a literacy program the school district employed several years ago. Sophomore Colter Wilson learned last month that he's among 15 students across the country - and one of only three in the western states - to receive a 2020 National 180 Student Award. The awards are presented by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, a Boston-based publisher of textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and nonfiction.

Dual enrollment helping Sidney senior get a jump-start on life after high school
Annika Bennion is a dual enrollment student from Sidney, Montana who is completing a health administration degree at Montana State University Billings through the University Connections program. Bennion has been taking online classes as a high school student, alongside current university students, through the University Connections program at MSUB. She is considered a junior at MSUB with 66 completed credits towards a bachelor's degree, while at the same time finishing her senior year of high school. She is on the MSUB honor roll.

'It's fun to sing again:' Choir students take to the stage, debut special singing masks
Tuesday evening's Fall Choral Concert at the newly renovated Davidson Family Auditorium at Great Falls High brought a sense of normalcy to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Audience members could sit back in the new auditorium seats, close their eyes and let the rich vocal performances of the evening wash over them just as they're used to. Open your eyes and you'd see that it is anything but ordinary. A limited amount of audience members were allowed in the auditorium and appropriately distanced throughout.

Bullock touts apprenticeship program as economic success
Not every high school or college student is interested in a four-year degree, long hours sitting in a classroom, or the debt load from student loans. Meanwhile, workers with knowledge of the skilled trades like carpentry, healthcare, plumbing and welding are constantly in high demand. That's why Gov. Steve Bullock visited Missoula College's carpentry program building on Wednesday to highlight the benefits of the state Department of Labor and Industry's Registered Apprenticeship Program. He said the program has boosted the Montana economy by helping businesses find skilled workers and connecting students with good-paying jobs.

St. Ignatius claims School Board of the Year award
The St. Ignatius School District No. 28 School Board recently was recognized as "2020 School Board of the Year" by School Administrators of Montana. Superintendent Jason Sargent nominated the board for the prestigious award. "The school board is well organized and willing to take on big issues with dignity, respect and responsibility," Sargent said in a released statement. "The school board has overcome great obstacles with positive core values and dignity." The citation said the board "ran a bond, and after three attempts got it passed for a new career and technical education facility, gym, locker rooms and event bathrooms. (They) drove finding a way to replace the old district office with two new elementary classrooms," and "continue to do what is right for kids with a focus and sacrifice for the very best with very little."

Montana AG Network: Orchard brings fresh fruit to schools
A farm-to-school program funded through the Montana Office of Public Instruction brings locally-farmed fruit and vegetables to schools across the state. MTN News talked with an apple farmer on Finley Point who makes weekly deliveries to Kalispell schools throughout the fall. Apples about as fresh as you can get -- that's what Kalispell School District students get to enjoy during the fall months thanks to the farm-to-table program that brings locally farmed food to public schools.

Montana National Guard uses virtual reality as a learning tool for students
Imagine learning about the cardiovascular system by being inside of a heart – virtually, of course.  That's just one of the things students at Huntley Project High School got to experience Monday morning through a virtual reality presentation from the Montana National Guard. Sgt. Steve Weber and Sgt. Joshua Baird demonstrated two learning tools – Z Space and Oculus. "[Z Space] allows students to be able to pull the images they see on the screen actually off of it, like you can see up here on this screen, out into a different viewing field," says Sgt. Weber.

Montana receives new USDA School Nutrition Grant
The USDA announced that the Montana Office of Public Instruction has been awarded a new $199,800 school nutrition grant to support the National School Lunch Program. The OPI along with the Montana Team Nutrition Program at Montana State University will develop and evaluate recipes for school meal programs using ingredients from foods produced in Montana including barley, beets, bison, chokecherries, sweet cherries, lentils and winter squash.

Polson teacher awarded for excellence
Amy Williams, a special education teacher at Polson Middle School, was the recipient of the 2020 Teresa Veltkamp award for excellence in Indian Education for All. This prestigious award was created in honor and memory of its namesake Teresa Veltkamp and was first bestowed in 2012. Williams received the award in 2020 for her role in Indian Education in Polson, including her work with the EAGLES recycling and environmental education club, her sponsorship and coaching of the robotics team in the Mars challenge and the several community events she organized.

Bayer Fund presents $15,000 grant to Valier School district
In early 2020, Bayer Fund's America's Farmers Grow Rural Education partnered with Valier area farmers to nominate rural public school districts and award grants to enhance their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum. Because area farmers answered the call, through Grow Rural Education, Bayer Fund awarded a $15,000 grant to the Valier School District.

Superior School holds food drive for pantry
During the month of October, the Superior School District is holding a food drive for their school's pantry that provides students with meal staples, personal hygiene items, and proper nutrition through the schools' backpack program. Superior Elementary Administrative Assistant Dawn Bauer was around when the school pantry and backpack system first started. She said, "My first year in the office, I saw the needs of some of our students and became concerned about their well-being as far as food security and hygiene availability." She added, "I went to Scott Kinney, the elementary principal at the time, and voiced my concerns. He simply said "then find a way to fix it."

St. Regis students write letters to first responders
Some people reading this article remember where they were and what they were doing on Dec. 7, 1941. More can remember Nov. 22, 1963. And most anyone who is reading this will recall where they were and what they were doing on Sept. 11, 2001. 2021 will mark 20 years when our world changed forever and continues to evolve or mutate as of recent with so much that can be traced back to that dreadful day.

Havre High's Hart a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist
Havre High School Senior Simon Hart has qualified as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist.  "I think it's pretty cool," Simon Hart said. "I kind of forgot that this whole thing was even possible because it took about a year for me to hear back from, so to have confirmation that some of that hard work that I did has manifested itself in this way is nice."

Smiles Across Montana program serves Heart Butte and Browning
The Southern Peigan Health Center School-Based Clinic in Browning and the School-Based clinic of Heart Butte welcomed Hygienist and Dentists with Smiles Across Montana on the week of Sept. 14-18. Smiles Across Montana focuses on serving rural and native lands with a vision to "create a sustainable, equitable and consistent presence in vulnerable communities throughout our entire state." With two open exam chairs in each location, a total of 32 adults and 72 children were served last week. Services provided were exams, x-rays, sealants, fluoride, cleanings and referrals to new potential dental homes for each patient.

Bozeman High celebrates five National Merit semifinalists
A pandemic hasn't slowed down the plans of these students. Five Bozeman High School seniors have been named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists this year, based on their scores on last year's Preliminary SAT college-entrance tests. The teens are among 16,000 semifinalists announced in September, and considered the top 1% of the 1.5 million juniors who took the test nationwide last year. The semifinalists will compete for 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth over $30 million offered next spring.

Great Falls teacher creates safe space for students to discuss politics
Tuesday's contentious presidential debate left a lot of Americans discouraged with the political process. The debate quickly devolved into a shouting match between the two candidates. The debate was so unconventional that the commission in charge of overseeing presidential debates is considering adopting new rules before the next showdown between President Trump and former Vice President Biden. It wasn't what presidential debates normally look like. But if you think America's past the point of no return when it comes to civility in politics - think again.

Russell Elementary earns National Blue Ribbon School honor
Russell Elementary School is among 367 National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020, and was one of two Montana schools to make the list. The award recognizes public and private K-12 schools and is based on overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Russell was recognized as an "exemplary high performing school," meaning it was among Montana's highest performing schools, which is measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Longtime Hellgate High science teacher receives Presidential Award for Excellence
After a 22-year teaching career, nearly 20 spent at Hellgate High School, Rob Jensen capped off his retirement last year by receiving the most prestigious award in the country given to math and science teachers. "It's a huge honor and it's really humbling," Jensen said of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science teaching he was honored within August. "I feel like I'm kind of accepting this award for a lot of people who've worked really hard and helped me make my lessons better. And it's actually my students too."

Heart Butte School murals depict Blackfeet leaders and ancestors
Anyone who's been to Heart Butte and gone to the schools will have seen how well the buildings are built into the mountain foothills that surround them. Home to the Warriors, Heart Butte boasts a rich history in culture and athletics, a history that is now being depicted in a series of murals around the main entrance. "Everyone thinks this is something we've needed for a long time," Superintendent Mike Tatsey said of the project. "They recognize them, and that's a big thing for the south side." Located at the southern tip of the Blackfeet Reservation, Heart Butte lies in Pondera County, unlike their brethren to the north.

Marsh receives technology award
Since changing her career from marketing to education, Columbia Falls High School business and technology teacher Diane Marsh has used previous real-world marketing experience and ever-expanding accreditation to provide students with the most relevant education possible. The combination helped earn her the 2020 Outstanding Technology Teacher of the Year award, presented by the Northwest Council for Computer Education, an organization based out of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho.

Corvallis Schools Foundation funds Musical Instrument Program
The Corvallis Schools Foundation completed its fundraising for the Musical Instrument Program providing nearly $48,000 in support of music education for students in the Corvallis School District. Harlene Marks, chair of the foundation, said CSF supports learning with their goal to inspire, innovate and invest in opportunities for all Corvallis students. CFS was formed as a non-profit in 1998 and serves the district in two different ways. They provide classroom teacher grants for everything from innovative projects to scholarships for field trips then have a special project focusing on a specific larger need of the school.

Students hard at work
Sports and extracurriculars are not the only thing that keep students busy here at Baker High School. Many students also have jobs and are working long hours outside of going to school each day. The students that choose to do this are gaining some valuable life skills that will benefit them in their future after graduating from high school. Whether it be to become more responsible, find skills and career path interests, or even just to gain some spending money; these students have chosen to work extra hard each day. Baker offers a variety of job options for students who choose to go this route. I reached out to four specific students this past week to get more details and gain insight into potential job opportunities for students in this community.

MAPS enters 17th year with high hopes and solid plan
Confronting a global pandemic wasn't part of the MAPS action plan for 2020. Just a year ago, MAPS Media Institute was celebrating a significant milestone, looking forward to growth in new directions and expanding their award-winning program to students statewide. 2019 marked MAPS 16th year of providing intensive, free-of-charge after-school and summer media-arts classes for 8th to 12th-grade students in Ravalli County.

Russell Elementary earns National Blue Ribbon School honor
Russell Elementary School is among 367 National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2020, and was one of two Montana schools to make the list. The award recognizes public and private K-12 schools and is based on overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Russell was recognized as an "exemplary high performing school," meaning it was among Montana's highest performing schools, which is measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

September 2020 to July 2020

Stevensville's 2021 National Merit Scholarship semifinalist has lofty goals
Stevensville High School's 2021 National Merit Scholarship semifinalist has a lofty goal of studying aviation and becoming a commercial pilot. He used his quarantine time (due to COVID-19) to earn his private pilot's license. Senior Michael Zielinski did exceptionally well on the tests and is completing the paperwork necessary to be a National Merit finalist, eligible for more scholarships. "It's also a really good thing to put on college applications," Zielinski said. "For me the SAT and the PSAT weren't really that hard." He enjoys reading, his favorite subjects are math and English, and he praised SHS for preparing him for life.

Gibson donates two dozen acoustic guitars to Bozeman, Montana high school
Gibson Gives, Gibson's charitable arm, has donated 24 acoustic guitars to Gallatin High School in Bozeman, Montana in order to bring the "power of music" to returning students. Representatives from Gibson, along with country music artist and Bozeman native Stephanie Quayle, presented the young student players with the instruments, built in the company's Bozeman facility. Erica Schnee, Gallatin High School's principal, said in a statement, "Music is such a powerful influence in all of our lives and learning music has such great benefits to brain development.

C-Falls teacher picked for NY Times Teaching Project
As a world traveler who has taught overseas in countries such as Morocco, Columbia Falls English and French teacher Jeanette Price continually seeks to connect her students with the outside world. That belief system made her a perfect match in joining a cohort of 60 teachers from around the nation who were selected to participate in the inaugural year of the New York Times Teaching Project. The Teaching Project was born from the New York Times' Learning Network, an online educational resource that has offered content to students and educators for over two decades, much of it free.

Boulder educator who taught in Helena receives prestigious national award
Among the ranks of rural Jefferson High School in Boulder is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The school recently hired Mary Anne McMahon, who has been recognized with the prestigious national award, which is touted as the nation's highest honor for math and science educators. While still a student at Carroll College, McMahon student taught at Jefferson High in 1986, and after more than two decades as an educator, she said her career has come full circle.

Polson's McKee claims P.E.O Star Scholarship
Recent Polson High School graduate Mesa McKee earned P.E.O. Chapter CA's STAR Scholarship for the 2020-'21 academic year. Chapter President Lynn Sherick presented the $2,500 scholarship certificate Aug. 5. McKee is the daughter of James and Spring McKee and was recommended for this scholarship by Chapter CA of Polson, Montana. She plans to attend Montana State University in Bozeman beginning this fall and will pursue a major in global studies and a minor in Spanish.

Awesome art!
Sophia Spini and Tenley Hersel along with Tirzah McNiven (not pictured) are the Laurel students who placed in this year's statewide Keep Montana Green Poster Contest based on the the theme of wildfire prevention. Tenley, now a 4th grader, took first place in the Primary Division (grades K–3), Sophia, also a 4th grader at Graff School took third place. Tirzah, a current Middle School 5th grader, won the top prize in the Special Education Division (grades K–6).

Local students explore health careers during MedStart Camp
High school juniors and seniors from across Montana participated in the Billings MedStart Camp, July 26-30. Collin Welch of Gildford, Jade Wendland of Rudyard and Tyra Medicine Bear of Harlem were three of 25 campers who attended. This five-day camp encourages students to pursue their interest in a variety of health care careers, learn about college life and realize they can pursue higher education.

Heart Butte ancestors await their students
Look casually at the school entrance and you'd swear a quartet of Blackfeet elders was painted on the sky. The façade above the Heart Butte Public School now features massive portraits of historic personalities along with spiritual symbols of Blackfeet culture, set against a blue backdrop as bright as a summer day on the Rocky Mountain Front. Last week, Louis Still Smoking was high on a scaffold putting shadow details on Mountain Chief, whose ear was as big as Still Smoking's chest.

Schoolyard stockyard: Escaped cattle graze on lawn at Montana school
Montana City School might have saved a buck on lawn mowing this week. A small group of cattle moseyed on to the rural school's athletic fields Tuesday, having slipped through a gap in a local rancher's fence and discovered a culinary appreciation for the school's lawn care. "We've had black bear on the property, we've had deer, elk, we've had horses," Montana City superintendent Tony Kloker said. "This was the first time the cows showed up." The K-8 district, located about halfway between Helena and Clancy, isn't alone in adventures with wildlife and livestock.

Great Falls groups gets $50K grant from Blue Cross of Montana
Rural Dynamics of Great Falls is one of four nonprofit groups to receive a $50,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield Montana that will be used to help children and their families with issues such as nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management, substance abuse prevention, and suicide prevention. The goal of the program is to improve access to quality care and drive down the future cost of health care. Similar grants were also awarded to the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools, Families First Learning Lab and Riverstone Health Foundation.

A walk through the halls: Schools an integral part of Butte's history
Butte's mines flourished because of the working class. The same could be said for its schools. For the most part, Butte's immigrant population came to this country with minimal or no education at all. That trend ended with them. As these men and women married and started their own families, education became a priority for their children. So much so that by 1910, there were two colleges, 29 public and Catholic grade schools, a public and Catholic high school, along with a school for kindergartners and an International Correspondence School.

Helena Education Foundation to giveaway 'specialist backpacks' to area grade schoolers
Among the numerous challenges Lewis and Clark County schools have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most difficult to overcome has been the equitable distribution of classroom materials for remote learning, specifically specialty classes like physical education and music. In a normal school year, about 300 students at each local elementary school would share a single classroom's items such as recorders and jump ropes. But this school year is far from normal.

Flathead student to compete in national science competition
Kalispell student Keanu Ng made the cut as one of the top 300 students competing in the Broadcom MASTERS. Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) is a middle school science, technology, engineering and math competition. For the competition, students are tasked with conducting independent research projects that tackle every day challenges. Ng, a Flathead High School student, entered the competition as a Kalispell Middle School eighth-grader with his project "Microplastics: A Macro Problem." He will receive a $125 award.

Kalispell fundraiser brings in money for new tech in schools
A new piece of technology is being slowly introduced to Flathead County schools. TemChek is a new, portable unit combining a touchless palm thermometer with an automatic sanitizer dispenser. TemChek kiosks display temperatures between 97 and 108 degrees and set off an alarm for high temperatures. A fever alert goes off at 99 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brekhus named Havre teacher of the year
Havre High School science teacher Erika Brekhus was named Havre Public Schools certified employee of the year/teacher of the year by the district. "It's quite an honor to be number one nominated for it and then receiving the award to be recognized by others that you work so closely with on a day-to-day basis, and you see the amazing things that they do on a day-to-day basis, Brekhus said. "It's quite an honor."

Group covers Bigfork student lunch debts
Gap Fillers Flathead, an organization that raises funds to supply schools with feminine hygiene products and pays off school lunch debt, recently covered $4,730 in unpaid student lunches for Bigfork Schools. This cost would otherwise be left to the school to cover, noted founder Tammi Fisher.

Ronan awarded school nutrition team of the year
The previous school has clearly been a challenging one. Schools faced many ongoing changes and adaptations throughout the year as the COVID-19 pandemic progressed. But the Ronan School District was already implementing innovative adaptations to the regular school day for elementary students well before any school closures. In the fall of 2019, the Ronan Food Service team brought a program called "Breakfast After the Bell" to K. William Harvey and experienced great success in its inaugural year.

Two Eagle River School 2020 Graduation
To say 2020 has been an unusual year would be an understatement. To say 2020 has been a monumental historic year would not be an overstatement. COVID-19 has affected everything and everyone this year and it isn't over yet. However, one thing that is over - at last - is the Two Eagle River School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony. It was finally held last Saturday, outdoors on the TERS football field, and at last the 20 TERS graduates had the opportunity to toss that tassel from left to right, from student to adult, from old norm to new norm, from now to future.

The Mineral County Dixieland Band plays on
In the late 1970s, St. Regis School found itself without a band director. The obvious issue was that the students were not being taught musical instruments and a side effect was not having a pep-band at the football games. However, there were some folks around that had played instruments years before that were now parents, ranchers, mill workers, teachers and truck drivers that came up with an idea that sounds like a Hallmark Channel movie, minus the romance.

Back-to-school scavenger hunt
Even though school is starting, that doesn't mean the fun is ending. The Deer Lodge Youth Board is holding a back-to-school scavenger hunt, and all students are encouraged to participate. Michele Spears with the Deer Lodge Youth Board said, "The Deer Lodge Youth Board wanted to hold a back to school event, but because of the continuing health situation, we had to come up with a way to do it remotely."  There are three different scavenger hunts based on grade level, each with their own unique list of activities to complete.

Longfellow Elementary School holds grand opening ceremony
Teachers, staff and community donors gathered to celebrate the opening of the newly constructed Longfellow Elementary School with a ribbon cutting on Monday afternoon, just days before students will return to their neighborhood school. The new school is just over 58,000 square feet and features 18 classrooms to serve grades K-6. The total cost to complete the new facility ended up being about $15.4 million and was supported by the passage of the 2016 bond initiative and private donations for enhancements throughout the building.

New Muldown School ready for students
A pair of giant green scissors were used to cut the ribbon last week officially celebrating the completion of the new Muldown Elementary School building. A ceremony recognizing the new school building was held outside the front entrance on Pine Avenue. The ceremony was limited in attendance to the Whitefish School Board trustees and key people involved in the project while maintaining social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Muldown Principal Linda Whitright began by speaking to the audience, simply saying the date - Aug. 13, 2020, and time of 6 p.m.

Bigfork ACES finds new, larger home near school
The ACES After School program has been a fixture in the Bigfork community and lifeline for working parents for the past eight years as a local provider of affordable childcare just steps away from Bigfork Elementary School. But the future of the program was in flux earlier this year when director Cathy Hay learned that the building they'd been renting at the corner of Grand Drive and Commerce Street was on the market. She began searching for a new home that would meet three primary needs including more space, a location near the school and, ideally, come equipped with a commercial kitchen.

Great Falls couple with Whittier PTA receive statewide award for volunteerism
When Sue Turton walked into the gym at Whittier Elementary School on Monday morning, she figured she was just there to do training for the upcoming school year to work as a volunteer, but the staff at the school had a surprise for her.  Sue and her husband Dennis were recognized as the recipients of the 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Award through the Montana State Parent-Teacher Association, surrounded by the socially distanced staff of Whittier.

Bronc athletes give back at annual community service event
Hamilton High School fall sport athletes participated in their annual Sports Community Day on Friday by cleaning and painting around Hamilton. Organized by HHS staff member Chad DeLong, the two-hour community service event was a success. The Bronc football team was pulling weeds, picking up trash, sweeping sidewalks and wiping down trash cans, flower pots and light poles downtown. Senior Orion Kutney said Bronc pride includes giving back to their community of supporters.

New English teacher hopes to keep students in the classics
Amanda Leichtnam is just getting started as the new English teacher for the eighth, ninth and tenth grades in Baker. She will be focusing on both literature and learning the rules and usage of the language, she explained as the start of school neared. "I use a lot of literature to teach the standards of writing and English," she explained. Leichtnam is coming from Hot Springs. "I was looking to get out of Choteau and Baker just kept coming up online. I thought I would give it a shot. I never have been over that far and I don't know anybody, but I figured it is an adventure."

Corvallis Golfers play at the National High School Golf Invitational in Pinehurst, North Carolina
Two of Corvallis High School's top golfers are competed in the National High School Golf Invitational at the iconic Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, August 3-5. CHS junior Luke Schlimgen and sophomore Macee Greenwood, and six other high school golfers from around Montana, competed on their dream greens in the midst of hurricane Isaias. They experienced torrential rains, greens that looked like rivers, massive wind and nearby tornadoes. Pinehurst has nine golf courses around the "village" and has hosted US Opens, the US Amateur Championship and is ranked up there with Andrews Golf Course in Scotland.

Watch this: Hellgate senior hosts online auction to benefit Pov
Isabel Emmert-Nolte, a senior at Hellgate High, said she didn't think a project required for her International Baccalaureate program diploma would amount to much, but an online art auction she organized to benefit the Poverello Center has already received the support of numerous local artists and businesses.

Fairfield Back-To-School Clothing Exchange Great Success; Extra Day Added: Next Tuesday, Aug. 4
The Annual Back-to-School Clothing Exchange was a great success! Thank you to all of the people who donated their gently used clothing, because without you this event wouldn't happen! Thanks for going through your closets during quarantine so that we had more than enough clothing and shoes on hand!

Remote Teaching Technology for Laurel Schools
Back to School' this year is a challenge both here in Montana and around country. One big question that many schools districts are dealing with is how to keep classes and students learning together, even when they are apart. At Laurel High School on Monday morning, teachers got their first look at in-classroom software that will record their lessons live, for students learning remotely.

Gardiner teacher honored for making history come alive
History teacher Christina Cote-Reinhart is amazed at how many parents tell her they hated history in school and are surprised that their kids actually like her class. Cote-Reinhart – who has taught history for 20 years at Gardiner School - says instead of treating history as a bunch of dates to memorize, she has her students read the original documents, where people from the past speak in their own words. That means documents like Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and Abigail Adams' letters asking husband John to remember rights for women during the American Revolution.

Capital High Girls Supporting Girls club hosting comedian Maya Rudolph
The Capital High School club Girls Supporting Girls is hosting a special online event Sunday featuring five speakers including actress and comedian Maya Rudolph. Capital seniors Zoe Brown and Mariah Mercer had the idea for the group last year with the goal of developing a supportive group for high school girls. "We went on a little bit of a rant about high school and how girls kind of act in high school and realized it'd be really great if we could band together and get girls to talk to others their age and not feel judged or have any pressure," Brown said.

Retired physics teacher harnesses old-time energy source
Faced with hours of newfound free time during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakeside retired physics teacher Don Bumgarner decided to take a step back in time. Wanting a rotisserie for his grill, Bumgarner set to work on his own design using not electricity, but a 500-pound steam engine from the 1880s. Why would he do this? The answer is a simple - why not? "I had this idea for a while, but had been putting it off for years. When the virus forced us inside the house most of the time, I decided to take the project on," Bumgarner said. "I'm just an eccentric, retired old school teacher with nothing better to do."

Great Falls High pool complex renovated over summer through anonymous donation
The pool complex at Great Falls High School underwent locker room renovations this summer thanks to an anonymous $20,000 donation through the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation that was matched by the school district. "This donation means all of our boys' and girls' shower towers work, and we were able to re-plumb the swimsuit dryers in the locker rooms," said Bob Stingley, pool manager. "Everything is fully functional and it will help get swimmers in and out quicker."

District secures low rates, will save taxpayers $3.6 million
There was some good news recently for the Three Forks School District. The 2020 Bond Issue Summary showed the district was able to take advantage of record low-interest rates, $3,666,994.50 lower than originally projected to voters with bond election information. Three Forks voters approved in May a $10 million bond for the Elementary District and a $15 million bond for the High School District.

Local high schoolers excel at Big Sky State Games
Though the 2020 track season never left the starting line due to COVID-19, Seeley-Swan High School senior Klaire Kovatch and her sophomore brother Klayton did not miss a beat during a statewide race July 19. Not only did they place in multiple events, Klaire now holds the farthest discus throw in the history of the Big Sky State Games. "Breaking the Big Sky State Games record made my first and last track meet of my junior year even more meaningful," now senior Klaire said. "It tells me that even with the challenges of COVID I'm still a consistent high 140-foot thrower."

Havre Elks Lodge #1201 recently awarded five scholarships to local graduating high school seniors. Lodge Scholarship Chairman Bob Nieuwenhuyse announced that Hope Gasvoda, Stacey Alderdice and Clint Darlington of Big Sandy High School, Aubrey Welch of North Star High School, and Cameron Pleninger from Havre High School are the recipients of this year's local Elks Most Valuable Student Awards. The five local MVS winners were advanced to the Montana State Elks competition.

Hospital scholarship goes to nursing student
Hamilton High School graduate was selected to receive the annual Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital scholarship from the hospital and medical staff. Class of 2015 valedictorian and basketball star Kali Hayes Humphrey changed her career path from becoming a teacher, gave up a full ride to Brigham Young University in Utah and is studying nursing at Montana State University. Humphrey said the change after a year of teacher training was motivated by her experience at the hospital where she had knee surgery.

New kindergarten teacher set to start at Highland Park school
"I'm looking forward to finally having my own and being the boss of my own room," Pamela Tackitt said. "All the experience I have had I've been under teachers, so it's finally a space that I can call mine and that I get to have my own group of kids that's what I look forward to most." Due to COVID-19 she might have to teach remotely and she is preparing how she'll have to adjust accordingly.

CHS' Sarah Urban named as Montana's outstanding biology teacher
Capital High School honors and AP biology teacher Sarah Urban has been named as Montana's outstanding biology teacher by the National Association of Biology Teachers. Each year the organization honors one teacher from each state for their work in teaching biological sciences. Urban is their choice to represent Montana for the year 2019.

Eats & Essentials: Food Truck Frenzy event to support local students in need on Thursday
Community members will be able to treat themselves to lunch while also supporting students in need at the Eats & Essentials: Food Truck Frenzy on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2525 10th Ave S. The event is geared toward supporting students and restocking food pantries throughout the Great Falls Public Schools district for the upcoming school year. "Right now is so important for everyone to get together as a community with what's been going on in the world today," said Stand Up for Students committee chair Marie Willson, a realtor with Dahlquist.

Students help out at local food bank
Mark Eekhoff was assisting the local students and said they s usually get to travel somewhere out of state for the "Serve Project", but it has been a blessing to be able to help out locally. He added a lot of the kids did not realize there was a food bank in Three Forks. "It's a good eye-opener for them to see what is around them," he said.

Stockman Continues Elementary Backpack Program
The Backpack Program was started two school years ago, with just the Sidney Central and Westside Elementary. There was a need for our young youth to be able to have their own backpack that has supplies in them for the school year. All registered students are able to receive one, even if they don't accept it. This year we donated to surrounding schools, Pre-K to 5th Grade: Sidney, Rau, Brorson, Fairview, East Fairview, Savage and Lambert. That came to a total of 1,030 students.

Polson High student finds purpose in helping others
Spencer Henning is the Polson High School recipient of the Today's Achievers, Tomorrow's Leaders award sponsored by Kalispell Regional Healthcare and the Lake County Leader. As Spencer Henning looks forward to his senior year and beyond, he is sure of at least one thing - he desires to always continue serving others and extend a helping hand. In the vast span of activities he is involved in, most center around giving his time and talents to many people, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike.

Mr. Jim May retires after 30 years of teaching and coaching
The coming Autumn, despite being an end for the green in the valley, indicates the beginning of so much more for students and their parents. Yet, with Covid's persistence, it would be no surprise for virtual classrooms to make a depressing reappearance. As families then attempt to figure out childcare and how to teach their child at home, many will come to realize how much work teachers do every day to teach and mold our communities' young people. One teacher, who has set a momentous standard for impacting students' lives, will, unfortunately, not be returning to the classroom this year.

HHS senior project to benefit Emma's House
A Hamilton High School Senior is organizing "2020 Miles for Smiles," a run on July 24 – 26, which can be completed virtually or in person, to benefit Emma's House. Logan VanDenburg is getting his senior project completed before the school year even starts. "It's required to graduate and I was encouraged to do something I'm passionate about and enjoy doing," he said. "I knew from the start that I wanted to do something running related. I knew that with the coronavirus, it would have to be something small." He also didn't trust Montana weather to cooperate next spring.

Band teacher comes to Havre High from Louisiana
"The first thing I'm looking forward to is the difference in temperature," Cullen Hinkle said. "I can tell you all the kids are excited to have a new band director and they are super excited that I've done marching band a lot, so they're excited to get started, and it's just going to be exciting to work with kids that really, really work hard and that's pretty much what I've been hearing." He is also excited to work in a community that is supportive of the arts, he said, because he is not used to that where he comes from.

School District receives MCLSDP grant
There was some amazing recent news for the Whitehall School District. The Montana Office of Public Instruction announced the local district was a Montana Comprehensive Literacy State Development Project (MCLSDP) grant recipient. According to Whitehall Superintendent Hannah Nieskens, 129 school districts in the state were eligible to apply for the competitive grant.

District receives Cook Fresh Award
There was more great news last week for Whitehall Schools with the notification they were one of four districts statewide to receive the Office of Public Instruction's Cook Fresh Award. Superintendent Hannah Nieskens said Thursday Whitehall School District's food service program staff, under the leadership of Kathy Coughlin, received OPI's Cook Fresh Award for their excellence and dedication to serving nutritious school meals, cooking from scratch, and motivation to exceed requirements.

Kim Hellwinkel recognized as most inspiring teacher in the state
Kim Hellwinkel, second grade teacher in the Twin Bridges School District, was recognized as the most inspiring teacher in Montana by the Sanford Programs, established by philanthropist T. Denny Sanford to support teachers around the nation. She was awarded the Sanford Teacher Award, which recognizes 51 educators-in each state and the District of Colombia-for going above and beyond for their students. Ms. Hellwinkel received an email announcing her nomination this fall. Teachers can be nominated by a parent, fellow teacher, or administrator but are not notified of their nominator's identity. Nominees must decide whether to go through the application process in order to receive the overall designation in Montana.

MSU, Manhattan team up to create new playgrounds with help of kids
Manhattan's antiquated elementary and middle school playgrounds will be refurbished next week in the a culmination of a nearly year-long design project that allowed younger students to dream big and older ones to think like kids. A year ago, both the school district and Manhattan Parent Teacher Organization were aware of the need to update the decades-old school playgrounds. Existing equipment that didn't meet codes had been removed for safety reasons, and the apparatus that remained needed to repaired or upgraded. The grounds had drainage problems, leading to icy conditions in the winter. A basketball court was the only recreational resource available to middle schoolers.

When Jeremy MacDonald speaks, we all need to listen
These are trying times we live in. There's so much anxiety and uncertainty globally, in the United States, in Montana and right here on the Hi-Line. But, in times like these, I'm sure glad we have leaders in our communities like Jeremy MacDonald.

Benefit cruise to raise bus safety awareness
Kruise Kalispell Facebook group is having a benefit cruise Friday evening in Kalispell to raise funds for Jordana Hubble and JABS (Jordana's Alliance for Bus Safety). The event will begin about 6 p.m. at the Kalispell Center Mall parking lot. The group hopes to raise awareness for the importance of stopping for school buses and crosswalks. Drivers are reminded that flashing yellow lights should trigger the thought to slow down, use caution, and prepare to stop; not to hurry up to beat the red light, be it on a bus or a stop light. Drivers need to keep 100% of their attention on the road and never text or let anything distract their attention.

GFPS CARES Act funds to focus on student achievement and food services amid COVID-19
The Great Falls Public Schools district received $2.38 million from the federal CARES Act for COVID-19 relief and anticipates to spend approximately two-thirds of that funding on student achievement and food services. The district will spend 47%, or approximately $1 million on student achievement and 22%, or $521,000, on food services. Sanitation will receive about $129,000, and childcare programming will receive just over $250,000. The district will set aside $250,000 for unforeseen expenses accrued by the pandemic, and 5% will be allocated to local private/non-public schools and students.

Capital's Paige Bartsch is Independent Record's High School Girls Athlete of the Year
Looking back on the 2019-20 school year and athletic season, picking out the best female athletes from the Independent Record coverage area wasn't easy. For one, it was a year unlike any other in high school sports. Montana crowned co-champions in each classification for girls and boys basketball, while not even having softball, track, tennis and Class B-C, golf.

Helena teachers self-publish a kindergarten readiness guide
Two Helena teachers recently self-published a kindergarten readiness guide for parents. Co-Authors Emily Hankins and Ashlie Buresh worked together when writing "The Summer Before Kindergarten." According to Hankins, work on the book started approximately six years ago. Hankins, a 15-year teacher at Kessler Elementary School, taught kindergarten for most of her career. The other kindergarten teacher was Buresh. Hankins said they would regularly get lots of questions from parents nervous about their child's first year of kindergarten.

January 3, 2019
Great Falls Tribune
Bullock renews call for preschool program
Gov. Steve Bullock is once again proposing Montana launch a state-funded preschool program for those who cannot afford private pre-kindergarten programs for their children. The governor included a $30 million grant program to support high-quality preschool programs supplied by public schools, community-based providers or head start programs in his budget ahead of the 2019 legislative session.

Hardin student bound for Rocky fueled by unsteady childhood
Trajan Hill has a lot to be proud of. The Hardin High School senior is an all-state athlete and an honor-roll student. He's headed to Rocky Mountain College next year to study biology and run cross country and track. He's done that while navigating family turmoil, sleeping on floors and bouncing from one home to the next.

January 2, 2019
Daily Inter Lake
The Evergreen School Board was recognized as one of two "Honor School Boards of the Year" by the Montana Association of School Superintendents. The association selects two outstanding school boards each year that represent excellence in providing dedicated and ethical service on behalf of Montana students.

Great Falls Tribune
Member of the Little Shell Tribe and descendant Blackfeet Tribe to attend Stanford
Great Falls High senior, Alyssa LaTray, is headed to the Silicon Valley in 2019, and it's not just for a change of scenery and weather. LaTray is officially a part of Stanford's Class of 2023.

Billings middle school implements education initiative
Riverside Middle School principal Kevin Kirkman wields a barcode scanner like a cashier. But he's not scanning gifts or produce - he's checking out students' grades, which pop up instantly as he scans a student's planner or ID card.

Independent Record
Shodair partners with Helena schools for therapeutic learning programs
Autism isn't the only condition on the rise in the Helena school district. The number of Helena students with emotional disturbance, a term defined under state law, has risen 53 percent over the past five years.

Helena schools develop new programs as the need for special education rises
Helena's schools have recently seen a significant increase in conditions such as autism that can cause emotional disturbance and affect formal speech and language skills.

Montana Standard
Butte Police work to develop positive relationships with students through city-wide program
On the Thursday morning before students went on winter break, Officers Bill St. Pierre, Ryan Hardy and K9 Officer Steve Honer walked into Kennedy Elementary School.

Ravalli Republic
College/Career Planning: Getting Ready for Life After High School workshop planned for Corvallis
One of the biggest concerns that high school students have about going to college is how to pay for it. Another concern is how to manage time effectively once they get there. Through an #iGraduateMT grant supported by the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, Dr. Tricia Seifert from MSU-Bozeman and Valley Oak Education Resource Center are bringing interactive workshops to students and families throughout the Bitterroot Valley to address these concerns.

Stevensville Middle School hosts Geography Bee
Stevensville Middle School's National Geography Bee winner was Zane Svaren, fourth grade, and the runner-up was Thomas Walthall, eighth grade, in the school competition of the 2019 National Geographic GeoBee.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Armed with pilot project success, Bullock renews call for preschool program
Gov. Steve Bullock is once again proposing Montana launch a state-funded preschool program for those who cannot afford private pre-kindergarten programs for their children.

FFA, music help Park City student grow into leader, start composting program
Jerrica Bursik never pictured herself as a leader - "like, ever." Leadership, it seemed, was for the hand shakers, the natural speech makers, those who didn't think twice about standing up in front of a crowd.

December 21, 2018
Fallon County Times

Mrs. Spencer is Awarded – Funding the Future Grant
Mrs. Spencer recently won Continental Resources – Funding the Future Grant for $5,000. There were over 200 applications this year, and they awarded 47 grants.

Second grade Native American Projects
Mrs. Oberlander's second grade class recently did projects on Native American Tribes throughout North America. The students were split into groups of two and each group was given a different tribe to research.

Belgrade News
BHS grad tells her tale of struggle, joy and acceptance to students
About 4-1/2 years ago, Taylor Woolman harbored dreams and hopes similar to current Belgrade High School students, although her prep accomplishments put her on a Panther pedestal. Then her life veered off in a direction she never could have imagined.

Christmas Miracle: Anonymous donor gives $60K for new marching band uniforms
Concert goers at the Belgrade High School auditorium witnessed a Christmas miracle Tuesday night. They saw the unveiling of the new uniform that the school's marching band will wear, thanks to an anonymous donation of about $60,000. The miracle lies in the fact that junior band member Sydney Eastwood even had a uniform to model at the end of BHS' annual winter band concert.

Big Sandy Mountaineer
BSHS Senior Awarded Grant to Study Snow Pollution
Tyler Schwarzbach, a senior at Big Sandy High School has been awarded a grant from the Dr. David W. Baker Memorial Student-Science Foundation to study Glyphosate concentrations in snowfall.

Elementary students give Christmas Food Baskets
After spending a month of asking about individual Christmas memories, it became very obvious that most of our memories are around food while sitting with family celebrating and laughing. So, the Christmas Food Baskets are more than just supplying a meal to families needing a little extra help. Christmas baskets are in fact supplying the Christmas memory for the entire family.

Blaine County Journal
Chinook High School Student Council gets active in the community
The Chinook High School Student Council has become very active and is looking for ways to make an impact within their school as well as their community.

School Music Programs Provide Entertainment
'Tis the season for holiday programs, and the Chinook Schools are showcasing the musical talents developed by Mr. Levi Williams, the Music Programs Director. On December 18 beginning at 6:30 p.m., Meadowlark Elementary students enrolled in kindergarten and first and second grades performed a program called Once on a Housetop.

Choteau Acantha
Editor recalls Bynum School program traditions
Earlier this month, I was invited to speak at the Choteau LDS women's Christmas gathering, where I was asked to share a Christmas tradition. In the spirit of the holiday season, I'm going to share my traditions story with the Acantha readers.

Stillwater County News
10-year-old Columbus boy finishes radiation, rejoins CES classmates
He's home. Columbus fifth-grader Kolemen Gairrett has knocked down the first part of treatment for a recurring brain tumor, completing seven weeks of radiation last week in Colorado, and is now back home in Columbus.

Silver State Post
Students learn and experience much at convention
The students who went on the trip to the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis got the opportunity not only to attend the event and expo with its various seminars and workshops, they also got to learn a tremendous amount about horses.

Clark Fork Valley Press – Mineral Independent
With cash in hand, Superior school fourth-graders went to local stores for their annual shopping trip for families in need. Mrs. Crabb's class works to raise funds each year to purchase the gifts that are then donated to the Women in Timber Superior group.

Valley Journal
MCT helps local children become actors
Children in the Ronan School District got together to develop a production of "Blackbeard the Pirate" after only five days of rehearsal on Friday night at the K. William Harvey Elementary school.

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
SVES students wish families a Merry Christmas
The entirety of the Swan Valley Elementary school performed traditional Christmas carols in the school gym, Dec. 13.

Shelby Promoter
CHS invites residents, customers to 'Christmas at the Carousel'
"We wanted to host a fun event at the carousel for our patrons and employees' families," said Jamie Price, Marketing Communications Specialist for CHS. "Because the carousel is such a large part of the Shelby community, we thought, 'Let's make it a community event for everyone!'"

Sidney Herald
Veteran teacher always provides fun, entertaining music program
Each year for the holidays, teacher Synneva Meldahl at West Side Elementary School puts together a new, fun and adorable Christmas program.

Froid student earns nomination to Air Force Academy
Froid High School senior Mackenzie Dethman has been nominated to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. "I was excited," Dethman said of the news that she was nominated by Tester.

December 19, 2018
Independent Record
Choirs from Helena High, Capital High croon Christmas classics at the Montana Capitol
Singers from both of Helena's public high school's grace the halls of the State Capitol on Tuesday with a selection of Christmas songs. The choirs were led by Molly Steele of Helena High School and Thomas Baty of Capital High School.

Frenchtown High School honored for Advanced Placement class achievement
Frenchtown School District is one of 373 school districts in the United States and Canada being honored for its advanced placement class program with the annual AP District Honor Roll award from the College Board.

Ravalli Republic
Daly Elementary School Hosts Poetry Jam
The Daly Elementary fourth grade classes and some of their family members joined Daly faculty, staff and guest poet Dominic Farrenkopf in the Daly Den for the First Annual Poetry Jam Monday.

December 17, 2018
Education Week
Montana Supreme Court Strikes Down Tax-Credit Program for Private Schools
Montana's highest court has struck down a tuition tax-credit program which, as enacted by that state's legislature, allowed tuition scholarships to benefit students at private religious schools as well as secular schools.

Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls 3rd grader wants to thank mystery benefactor after kind deed
When Mattilyn Beedy, 8, lost her school backpack, the mistake might have meant her family had to replace it and the two library books inside. Instead, a yet-unknown, kind-hearted Great Falls person found the backpack at the bus stop and noticed the fraying, the missing zipper and the way it was worn so thin it was nearly transparent in places.

Independent Record
Helena Youth Against Gun Violence taking cause to Montana Legislature
A Helena student group devoted to preventing gun violence plans to take its cause to the Montana Legislature for the first time next month. Helena Youth Against Gun Violence was established in February, after 17 people died in a school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Santa signs to deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Jefferson Elementary School
Santa travels around the world to deliver toys to girls and boys, so it should come as no surprise that he's fluent in every language, including American Sign Language. Santa paid a special visit to Jefferson Elementary School's preschool class for deaf and hard-of-hearing students on Friday to make sure that each child had a chance to share their Christmas wishes with the man in the big red suit.

State distributes $1.1 million in restored educational grant funding
The Montana Office of Public Instruction distributed $1.1 million of restored grant funding to schools throughout the state on Friday.

Ravalli Republic
Samsung recognizes Corvallis High School for inspiring change in the community
Corvallis High School is one of five schools in Montana selected for inspiring change in their local communities through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

December 14, 2018
Big Sandy Mountaineer
Elementary Students sing in the Christmas season
Before I could write a single word the first song by the 5th grade band was over-It was Joy. Second one sounded like the first. But the last one was totally different.

Lone Peak Lookout
More student demand creates volunteer shortage for the CAP mentorship program
I ran into Julie Lisk, youth program coordinator with Thrive, at the joint Gallatin and Madison county commission meeting held at Lone Peak Cinema recently. She was desperate for volunteers, she said.

Blaine County Journal
Local Schools doing their part to ensure everyone can have a Happy Holiday
Christmas is nearly upon us and the thought of spending time with family and friends warms us all. Some families find themselves in a position that has them feeling like they won't be able to experience that joy themselves.

Fairfield Sun Times
Simms High School News: National Honors Society Food Drive And Blood Drive
Since it is the Season of Giving, we want to give back, and we need your help! The Simms Chapter of National Honor Society will be hosting a food this December.

Ranger Review
DCC introduces program to help homeless students go to college
Representatives from Dawson Community College met with community members to formally introduce the Dawson Promise program to the public. The program was originally announced in October of this year. Dawson Promise is an initiative started by DCC personnel which will provide aid to unaccompanied youth, be they homeless or aging out of the foster care system.

Lewistown News Argus
Scientist and teacher bring STEM to classroom
Collaboration between a junior high science teacher and a clinical laboratory scientist at Central Montana Medical Center is bringing learning to life through a microscope.

Char-Koosta News
Ronan High School senior class visit CSKT
A first year Ronan High School teacher took his government class to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Council to meet the council members face-to-face and hear firsthand how the CSKT tribal council operates.

Clark Fork Valley Press – Mineral Independent
Students in Thompson Falls exercised their First Amendment right of freedom of assembly last week when they organized a "peaceful protest" to raise awareness of bullying and harassment issues.

Lake County Leader
Officials with the Polson School District are offering a new program to students during the upcoming holiday break. Tom DiGiallonardo, curriculum development coordiator for the district, said that before Dec. 7, parents will receive a "barage" of information for winter break activities for the two-week holiday vacation.\\

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Providing access, exploring options

"What are you going to be when you grow up?" asked University of Montana President Seth Bodnar of Seeley-Swan High School juniors and seniors Dec. 3. While Bodnar promoted higher education at UM and Montana College answering specific questions and talking individually to each student, he also left them with three important messages that he hoped would help them wherever life takes them.

Sidney Herald
Safe party for high school students planned for Dec. 31
The Fairview Community Foundation aims to have area high school students celebrate the dawning of a new year in a positive way. That's why members of the group made the decision to hold a DJ dance and social at the Richland County Fair Event Center on New Year's Eve.

Bitterroot Star
New police officer in Stevensville
Officer Kevin Oberhofer is the newest member of the Stevensville Police Department. He comes with lots of experience and will serve as the School Resource Officer along with other duties.

December 13, 2018
Billings Gazette
Montana Supreme Court: Tax credit that benefited religious schools is unconstitutional
The state program allowed donors who contributed to scholarship funds for students to reduce their state taxes by $1 for every $1 they gave to the fund.

Great Falls Tribune
State Supreme Court strikes down tax credit for private schools
The Montana Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision Wednesday and said a tax credit program approved by the 2015 Legislature for private schools violated the state Constitution.

Hall Passages: New elementary English curriculum at Missoula schools focuses on phonics awareness
First-graders sounded out the word "stop" as their teacher Cassie Murphy pointed to letters on the board at Chief Charlo Elementary on Friday.

Ravalli Republic
Ravalli County sends unique delegation to Model United Nations
Ravalli County was represented by a unique delegation at the 53rd Annual Montana Model United Nations high school conference at the University of Montana, Nov. 19-20.

Havre Daily News
Awards given and attendance lauded during Havre school board meeting
Two high school students were presented with an award at the beginning of the Havre Public School Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night in Havre Middle School's Assembly Room.

NBC Montana
Bozeman schools draft bill to cover expiring mental health grant
A federal grant used to fund mental health resources worth millions in Bozeman schools is set to expire. Now district officials plan to ask lawmakers to pass a bill asking residents to take over the cost.

December 12, 2018
Great Falls Tribune
From listeners to composers: East Middle School music program evolves with grant
The relationship between music and technology has evolved quickly over the years. The two have merged to allow vast creativity in artists. The East Middle School music program will now be able to be a part of this evolution because of the Music Technology Lab grant.

Montana Standard
Montana State University experiment launches into space with help from Butte High grad
On Dec. 5, a rocket launched from NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida and began its long journey to the International Space Station that orbits the globe.

Butte Education Foundation releases fall grant winners
The Butte Education Foundation recently announced its fall "Great Ideas Grant Program" recipients. About 10 years ago, the education foundation 501(c) (3) began the grant program, designed to help teachers and schools implement innovative projects that are outside of their normal funding capacities.

December 11, 2018
Montana Standard
Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, mine donate sweatshirts
Kennedy Elementary School fifth-graders received free sweatshirts, courtesy of both the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Resources. The duo donated 546 sweatshirts to fifth-grade students in Butte, Anaconda and Whitehall. This is the fourth year the Washington Foundation has organized the charity event.

'Usable artwork': Missoula high school teacher helps kids craft custom skis
Scot Traeder gets immense satisfaction from gliding over water, whether frozen or liquid, on something he's built himself from scratch. He's put his wooden canoe-building career on hiatus for now to focus on constructing homemade lightweight, high-performance skis for all terrain and conditions.

Ravalli Republic
Hannah's Hope Fund purchases much-needed furniture for Victor school library
At the Victor School Library, there's a little nook called Hannah's Reading Corner where students gather to read, study or sometimes just hang out.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman schools offer new diploma choices
Starting with next year's freshmen, Bozeman high school students will have new choices of diplomas, designed to let them pursue their own interests and career aims.

LaMotte School kids like lunches by personal chef
Not many schools can boast of having a personal chef. LaMotte School enjoys that distinction, offering lunches prepared by licensed personal chef Derek Ivester.

December 10, 2018
Billings Gazette
Gazette opinion: Restore 2017 cuts, support K-12 schools
Montana K-12 public schools had to lean more heavily on local property taxpayers in the current two-year state budget cycle because the 2017 Legislature balanced the state budget in part by cutting support for schools.

Independent Record
'Niceness is Priceless' project started by student killed in crash expands to all Helena schools
This year, a kindness project that started as a Facebook page has expanded into an initiative that has taken over Helena's school district. The fundamental tenets of Niceness is Priceless are to spread kindness, inclusiveness and an anti-bullying message throughout the schools.

Ravalli Republic
Stevensville School District welcomes new school resource officer
Stevensville Police Officer Kevin Oberhofer began his new job as Stevensville School District's school resource officer Monday. The school has been without a resource officer for several months during the hiring process and training.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Fast talk at Bozeman High: Speech tourney attracts hundreds of students
Bozeman High School was filled with poker-faced teenagers wearing black suits, black blazers and stylish black dresses with high heels Friday evening when more than 700 students from all over Montana gathered to compete in the 2018 Hawkers Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament.

Havre Daily News
Student wins national honors in essay contest
St. Jude Thaddeus School honored two of their students Thursday morning for winning divisional and national awards through the American Legion Auxiliary.

December 7, 2018
Fallon County Extra
Sophomores Extract DNA from Bananas
The sophomore students in Mrs. Schumacher's biology class have recently been learning about macromolecules in cells and DNA. They have focused on the four main macromolecules, which are nucleic acids, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates.

Hour of Code
This week grades K-6 are participating in the "Hour of Code". Grades 3-6 are having fun coding a 'Dance Party' by going to Kindergarten and first graders are coding using an app on the iPad. Second graders are learning how to code using

Lone Peak Lookout
Teach here, live here
While the Big Sky School District has been successful in recruiting new instructors to its growing schools, it's still subject to the same issues most Big Sky businesses eventually face-including employee burnout when the commute to and from Bozeman rears its head, often due to the lack of affordable housing options in Big Sky.

Glacier Reporter
Glacier Electric donates Chromebooks
Glacier Electric Cooperative (GEC) Board of Trustees approved the donation of seven Chromebooks for the "Aap-aap-ait-sii-tapi Pok-aik-si" (White Weasel Children) class at Browning Elementary School. Mrs. Tailfeather's class of 23 is much different from other classrooms at the elementary school.

Blaine County Journal News
Winter storm brings fun to school playgrounds
These two third graders at Harlem Elementary enjoyed the recent snowfall when they took to the playground Monday morning.

Big Horn County News
Crow elementary teachers Michael, Round Face earn accolades for school
Connie Michael (back row, far left) stands with her fifth grade class Tuesday afternoon at Crow Agency Public School. On Monday, Nov. 26, she was one of 51 educators nationwide to earn the National University System-Sanford Teacher Award.

Laurel Outlook
Daytime astronomy
Mrs. Heinert's Laurel High School Earth Science class is seen entering the STARLAB at the LHS auditorium last Thursday. The inflatable dome was on loan from Bozeman's Museum of the Rockies for the week.

Lake County Leader
Officials with the Polson School District are offering a new program to students during the upcoming holiday break. Tom DiGiallonardo, curriculum development coordinator for the district, said that before Dec. 7, parents will receive a "barage" of information for winter break activities for the two-week holiday vacation.

Carbon County News
Students study media literacy
Is there one truth or variations on truth?   With all the tech savvy of the younger generations, it may seem like kids have become the media experts. But there is a big difference between being informed on current social, cultural, educational and political issues and using social media for fun. It may or not involve social media these days since there are endless opportunities to interact with sites claiming facts.

Sanders County Ledger
TFHS students bring awareness to inequality
Two Thompson Falls students saw a problem, and decided to do something about it. Junior Brooke Bowlin and senior Trinity Godfrey addressed the Thompson Falls School Board on Monday about some "serious issues we've been seeing at Thompson Falls High School."

Ravalli Republic
Stevensville School District expands breakfast program
Stevensville School District is now serving breakfast to students in the classroom as part of the "Breakfast After the Bell" program launched by Governor Steve Bullock.

Billings Gazette
Laurel student who lost her arm to cancer doesn't let disease keep her from her passions
Casey Burrows is hard to pigeonhole. Her passions are many, and each seem strong enough to anchor the Laurel High School senior's identity. 

December 6, 2018
Ravalli Republic
Shakespeare in the Schools performs 'Julius Caesar'
Shakespeare in the Schools performed "Julius Caesar" at high schools in Corvallis, Florence-Carlton and Hamilton this week. On Monday, CHS English educator Suzi Pliley said having the production in the school is important.

Billings Gazette
Billings middle-schoolers build up recycling program
The impact of recycling can be hard to see for kids. Students at Riverside Middle School found a literal way to address that problem. Students turned over a six-foot tall plus cage of plastic to a local recycling company Friday, emptying a monolith that stood near the school entrance.

December 5, 2018
Daily Inter Lake
Kalispell Public Schools are focused on increasing math achievement among elementary students within the next three to five years by putting in place a strategic plan, starting with professional development.

Great Falls Tribune
More beautiful skies and cleaner water: Lewistown, Simms students tackle solutions to real-world problems in Samsung science contest
In middle school, Mackenzie and Madison Wiegand set a goal for themselves and their science fair project: Cure cancer. They scaled that back. Sort of. Now they're seniors and working on a filtration system to inexpensively and efficiently clean water around the world.

Havre Daily News
Teacher education grants available through Stone Child
Stone Child College has a new grant opportunity available for Native Americans seeking a bachelor's degree in education, on campus at Stone Child College, or a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction-special education on-line through the University of Montana.

December 4, 2018
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Gianforte visits Bozeman school to promote coding lessons
Coding computers might sound daunting to a lot of adults, but to the fourth-graders at Bozeman's Emily Dickinson School, it's a cool way to learn while having fun.

Billings Gazette
Billings middle-schoolers build up recycling program
The impact of recycling can be hard to see for kids. Students at Riverside Middle School found a literal way to address that problem.

Havre Daily News
Local school wins statewide competition to receive $1,000 prize
Highland Park Early Primary School will receive $1,000 for its display of school spirit in Tilleman Motor Co.'s School Shout Out competition.

December 3, 2018
Ravalli Republic
Middle school student is gathering warmth for homeless
Gathering articles of warmth for homeless folks was a good idea that grew bigger for a Hamilton Middle School student. Morgan Bisel, 11, is collecting hats, scarves, gloves and blankets for homeless people.

November 30, 2018
Education Week

Commentary: What It Takes to Make Suicide Prevention a Priority in School
Montana has some of the most beautiful vistas in America within Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. However, the state is also associated with an ugly statistic: Montana has the highest suicide rate in the nation. The rate, 29.2 suicides for every 100,000 residents, is nearly twice the national average. In Montana, suicide is the leading cause of death for children ages 10-14 and the second leading cause of death for children 15 to 24.

Fallon County News
Kindergarten community helpers
November 1, Mrs. Bidwell's kindergarten class took on the persona of what they wanted to be when they grew up. Each student had the opportunity to dress up and present their career of choice.

National Honor Society food drive
National Honor Society member Jessica Paul along with adviser, Mrs. Phelps, began a food drive for Thanksgiving on Nov. 1 and continued it through Nov. 16. They asked students to bring in canned goods for donation.

SADD update
SADD, or Students Against Destructive Decisions, has been very busy the last few months as they organized activities for Red Ribbon Week, Say No to Drugs, Stop Smoking and now Giving Tuesday.

Caught in a pickle
On Nov. 16, 2018, Baker High School Biology II students headed to their classroom and were shocked by their discovery of a grotesque crime scene upon arrival. Scattered about the room were deceased pickles.

Big Sandy Mountaineer
Science Olympiad earns second place in Small School and 11th over all in Bozeman
The Big Sandy High School and Junior High Science Olympiad teams competed in Bozeman this last week at their state competition. The high school team finished second in the small schools division and 11th overall.

Mrs. Weaver's Kindergarten class talks Thanksgiving
I love talking to Kindergarten kids. I wanted to talk to them about Thanksgiving. What were they thankful for? Mrs. Samantha Weaver asked them.

Powder River Examiner
Broadus welcomes Foreign Exchange Students
Two local families are hosting foreign exchange students this year. The young men, Guille Castellanos from Spain, and Alessandro Galieni, from Italy, are both going to school at PRCDHS for the 2017-18 school year.

Blaine County Journal
Chinook's Kourtney Hanson named a Coca~Cola Scholar Semifinalist Chosen for Next Level in Prestigious Scholarship Program
Kourtney Hanson, a student at Chinook High School, has been named a Semifinalist for the 2019 class of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.

The Madisonian
Kindergarteners celebrate Thanksgiving with performance
Led by counselor Roberta McKay and kindergarten teacher Betty Klein, Ennis's class of kindergarteners put on a celebratory Thanksgiving performance on Monday, November 19 that touched upon several different cultures.

Sheridan school board weighs solar panel project, strategic planning
The Sheridan school board held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 13, beginning with a public comment period that centered on a potential agreement between the Sheridan and Twin Bridges school districts concerning the schools' football programs.

Laurel Outlook
South School Rocks!
South Elementary had a fun afternoon last week doing the Only One You project for the second year in a row. This project is based off of the book "Only One You" by Linda Kranz.

The Montanian
Libby student vocalist to perform at Carnegie Hall
They don't call it the Big Apple for nothing. New York City, with an estimated population of ten million residents is know for many things.

Phillips County News
Malta grad pens 9th book telling tale on the prairie
BilliJo Doll has finished her latest book, My eMpTy Life, her ninth, and says that the book is in honor of the women of Eastern Montana.

Malta educators making the most of technology
Malta Middle School Science Teacher Robert Twiggs rolled in a large screen and laptop computer at last week's Malta School Board meeting and rolled out how technology at the schools is allowing himself and other educators to move into the future of educating the youth.

Clark Fork Valley Press & Mineral Independent
The St. Regis School Board was recognized as one of two School Boards of the Year in Montana for its efforts in policies, facilities, and programs at St. Regis. School Superintendent Joe Steele, who nominated the board for the award, said he has been impressed with the school board's vision, and those past board members who initiated their vision.

Carbon County News
RLHS Green team reaches finals in STEM Contest
Kate Belinda is a force of nature to the students of Red Lodge High School (RLHS). She teaches environmental science, advanced biology and chemistry. She is the Green Team (Environmental Club) advisor and strives to instill awareness and confidence in her students.

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Building relationships over pastries
Parents, children and teachers at Seeley Lake Elementary gathered before school Nov. 20 for the second Pastries for Parents. The intent of the program is to engage parents and build relationships between parents, the school and the teachers.

Shelby Promoter
SHS recognizes National Rural Healthcare Day, local professionals
Learning from local professionals in the field of healthcare is very beneficial for the students in the Medical Preparation class at Shelby High School. Students enrolled in this class are interested in the healthcare field, but possibly are not sure which field to pursue.

West Yellowstone Star
Students, volunteers organize Thanksgiving baskets
For all of its goodhearted intentions, the Thanksgiving holiday is one that tends to be fraught with distraction. Between meal planning, complicated family dynamics and an insane push from the commercial industry to start shopping for early gifts, it can be easy to lose sight of the simpler design of the season.

Great Falls Tribune
Business Goes to School: Two worlds collide for the betterment of education in Great Falls
Great Falls Public Schools got down to business earlier this week. Or rather, the business community got down to GFPS as part of the district's first-ever Business Goes to School event. 

November 29, 2018
Great Falls Tribune
Dirt to Décor: Great Falls High art students sculpting from construction clay
The Thanksgiving season has now come to an end. That means it's now an appropriate time to blast Christmas albums, set up Christmas lights, buy the perfect tree and collect some unique ornaments.

C.M. Russell High School to bring the Falls alive with 'The Sound of Music'
The hills are alive with the sound of music and will be for the next two weeks in Great Falls. The C.M. Russell High Performing Arts Department is kicking off its production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The Sound of Music" Thursday, Nov. 29.

November 28, 2018
Sidney Herald
Montana schools aim to teach accurate Thanksgiving, move away from stereotypical Pilgrims and Indians
Kim Busch took a quick poll of her fifth-grade students at Big Sky Elementary about what jumps to mind when they think about Thanksgiving.

November 27, 2018
Great Falls Tribune
Mansch On Montana: Jimmy McAlister's success puts Paris Gibson Education Center in spotlight
When Jimmy McAlister was a young freshman at Great Falls High, he violated the most important rule that's required of students. He didn't show up very much.

Independent Record
Montana universities hope to attract more students by helping high schoolers with the ACT
Montana university system leaders hope to persuade more high school graduates they can succeed in college. The Montana Board of Regents says its Resident Student Access Initiative seeks to improve student scores on the ACT by offering free PreACT tests to high school sophomores.

Hall Passages: Potomac Elementary puts $750,000 literacy grant to use
Eighth-graders at Potomac Elementary School in Bonner recently pulled out their new MacBook laptops and story maps as they began writing personal narratives about a significant event in their lives.

Ravalli Republic
Montana state trust lands revenue, which funds K-12 education, ends 5-year slide
Revenue generated by Montana state trust lands rose for the first time in five years, but still remains below five-year and well below 10-year averages. Trust lands are managed by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation mainly for the benefit of K-12 schools.

November 26, 2018
Daily Inter Lake

Bigfork ACES recently got a boost with a $30,000 grant from the Laura Grace Barrett Living Arts Foundation Fund, which will make an impact in securing the future of the after-school program after a longtime federal grant was not renewed in June.

Independent Record
Capital High seniors win Gianforte's congressional app challenge
Capital High School seniors Kyler Nelson and Andrew Stroop won the 2018 congressional app challenge, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte announced.

Montana Standard
Student of the month: Ryan Tomich meets the challenge of dyslexia
When you meet Ryan Tomich, you would never guess that this bright, articulate and successful eighth-grader faces each day with the personal challenge of living with dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disorder that impacts how the brain processes letters and words.

November 20, 2018
Independent Record
Helena College's dual enrollment grows by 160 students after launch of tuition-free program
Helena College saw a large spike in dual enrollment of high school students during the fall 2018 semester, and the increase seems to be a direct result of the state of Montana's One-Two-Free program.

Hall Passages: Students play, climb to design new Lowell Elementary playground
Third-graders from Lowell Elementary School laughed and yelled as they pushed each other in swings, lay back in a spinning saucer and hung from a webbed tower at Fort Missoula Bella Vista playground during a field trip on Monday.

Central School construction hits milestone
Monday afternoon marked a significant milestone on the construction of the new Central School Building. Students, educators, and community members gathered at the construction site on North Warren Street to witness the "topping out" ceremony.

November 18, 2018
Daily Inter Lake
A key vision for the role trails can play in Evergreen focuses on children getting to school unscathed in a town with a dearth of sidewalks and scarcity of bike and pedestrian paths.

Great Falls Tribune
CMR student-ambassadors fight depression, suicide
Between activities, academics and just being high school seniors, Bailey Schimerowski and Gabrielle Pope keep busy every day.

Ravalli Republic
Turkey Brigade: Victor kindergartners learn that it's better to give than receive
Surrounded by wagons filled with frozen turkeys, the two kindergartners seemed satisfied with that bit of bravado as they prepared to join this year's version of Victor Elementary School's turkey brigade.

Florence-Carlton Jazz Band presents 12th annual Jazz Coffee House
The Florence-Carlton High School Jazz Band will present their 12th Annual Jazz Coffee House at the Zootown Brew coffee shop in Missoula on Friday, Nov. 16.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Governor's budget seeks tuition freeze, Romney, free preschool
Montana higher education leaders broke into applause Thursday at the unveiling of Gov. Steve Bullock's proposed budget, which calls for freezing tuition for Montana students for the next two years to keep college affordable.

Billings Gazette
Career speakers crack door on real world for Billings high school students
Tauna Jeffery and Kelsey Skogen work in a cutting-edge scientific environment. As nurses at Billings Clinic in the research department, they care for patients involved in clinical trials for drugs not yet on the market.

November 16, 2018
Belgrade News
Belgrade Schools go all out for veterans
The entire Belgrade School District along with family and friends attended the annual Belgrade High School Veterans Day service on Monday.

Big Sandy Mountaineer
The Brumwell's have enjoyed living and teaching in Big Sandy for 40 years
Larry and Chris Brumwell have been teachers in our schools since the fall of 1978. That's 40 years of teaching.

Big Timber Pioneer Press
High school receives funds from Pattern Development to buy welding, weight equipment
Sweet Grass County High School has received a donation of $10,000 from Pattern Development to buy new welding and weight room equipment for use by its students.

Stillwater County News
Keeping Kolemen close
A total of $2,593 was raised for Columbus Elementary School 5th-grader Kolemen Gairrett at the school's recent basket raffle fundraiser.

Glasgow Courier
Hinsdale Sophomore Brings Home Bronze from National FFA
Members of the Hinsdale FFA Chapter had a trip of their lifetime participating in the 91st National FFA Convention and Expo held in Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 25 through Oct. 28. Sophomore Danika Soper also represented the Chapter by competing in the National Creed Speaking Career Development, where she competed with members from other chapters throughout the country.

The Montanaian
LES After School Program engages, entertains, and educates
The goal of the Libby After School Program is not just to help kids with school work, but to provide a safe and caring environment. They teach children to embrace learning while providing enriching educational activities for expanding their knowledge.

Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
Lincoln School honors volunteers for efforts over past two years
An assembly at Lincoln School provided the administration with a perfect time to honor Gwyn and Scott Jensen for their volunteer work at the school for the last two years.

Clark Fork Valley Dispatch – Mineral Independent
Katie Hillerman's kindergarten classroom at Plains School was transformed into a 1950s-style diner called Mrs. Hillerman's Kinder Cafe last Friday, and it was a very "fun day" for all of her students, and their teacher.

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Relationships key to healing from trauma
Traumatic events like the Rice Ridge fire affect everyone differently. According to licensed, clinical social worker Stacy York, a person's response and feelings are what make it traumatic.

Shelby Promoter
SHS recognizes National Rural Healthcare Day, local professionals
Learning from local profesionals in the field of healthcare is very beneficial for the students in the Medical Preparation class at Shelby High School. Students enrolled in this class are interested in the healthcare field, but possibly are not sure which field to pursue.

NTCHS seniors prepare for the future with help from community members
Nothing prepares you better for life out in the real world than the opportunity to practice before you get there. Mrs. Chelsea Taylor, the English teacher at North Toole County High School, works to provide such opportunities for her students whenever she can.

Whitehall Ledger
Whitehall Schools honor Veterans
The program included a 100th year celebration of Armistice Day in 1918 by Whitehall fifth graders.

November 14, 2018
Ravalli Republic
Stevensville School District Ramps up Technology
The Stevensville School District has been quietly developing technology infrastructure throughout the District for the past three years. In that time, the District has moved from radio relay internet access to fiber optic connectivity and has increased the available bandwidth available for instruction from 100 MB to 1 GB.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Belgrade 2nd graders chip in, but food bank short on turkeys
Second-graders prowled the aisles of Town & Country Foods on Tuesday morning, delighted to find canned yams, applesauce, boxes of stuffing and canned pumpkin to fill shopping carts for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank, so that needy families can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

Billings Gazette
Billings high-schooler who can 'outwork everybody' learns to live with diabetes
Skylar Zimmerman had to learn how to tweak her recipe for success. Some of the ingredients are packed away in a small cooler she carries on her hip to help her manage Type 1 diabetes. But more important is her grit, hard work, and adaptivity.

November 13, 2018
Hall Passages: Drop-in lessons help Arlee students learn to respect differences, each other
Sixth-grade students sat quietly and waited for their school counselor, Kelsey Tritz, to begin a lesson on respect at Arlee Junior High School recently.

Missoula schools join nationwide celebration of after-school programs
Students from eight different Missoula County Public Schools helped themselves to NASA stickers and an assortment of snacks as they gathered for an event to celebrate Missoula's after-school programs recently.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Editorial: Legislature must expand publicly funded preschool
Now that the dust has settled from the Nov. 6 election, state lawmakers are about to set the table for the 2019 Legislature. A top priority on that menu needs to be an expansion of publicly funded preschool.

November 9, 2018
Blackfoot Daily Dispatch
Lincoln kids find support for skate park
When Lincoln Schools English teacher Philip Reed heard two of his students discussing Pearl Jam drummer Jeff Ament's skatepark project last year, he encouraged them to write into the foundation, nominating Lincoln for a park.

Blaine County Journal News-Opinion
Fort Belknap Tribal Programs Share "Trunk-or-Treat" event with Harlem Elementary
Harlem Elementary was the most enviable location in the county as Ft. Belknap Tribal programs put together an unforgettable "Trunk-or-Treat" Halloween celebration.

Char-Koosta News
Tribal flag raised at Dayton Elementary School
For the first time at Dayton Elementary School, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal flag waves at its entrance. "We're proud and honored to have the tribal flag hanging at our school," Principal and Superintendent Dr. Darlene Hartman said. "This is good for all of our students.

Ekalaka Eagle
A bright future
In the Fall of 2017, the superintendent of Ekalaka Public Schools asked for an energy audit of the new elementary building and the high school. 

Helena Independent Record
Helena High woodworking class builds benches for YMCA's Camp Child
Over the last few weeks, the Helena High School woodworking class has been building benches for YMCA's Camp Child.

Montana Standard
My Student in Need program supports students in the Butte area and across the state
Kindergarten girl, age 5, in need of a new winter coat and winter boots. Sixth-grade boy in need of jeans and tennis shoes. Fourth-grade girl, age 10, with special needs in need of shirts, pants, a coat, underwear, and socks. These are just a few of the many students who have been assisted in the Butte and Anaconda communities through an anonymous electronic referral program known as My Student in Need.

Ravalli Republic
Florence voters pass $16 million bond
Florence-Carlton School District voters passed a nearly $16 million bond to renovate and expand the facility Tuesday. 

Shelby Promoter
Ready Readers exceeds $750 goal thanks to community & alumni
This project will provide five new books for every student in kindergarten through second grade! This was a huge success because of all of our wonderful community members and alumni who contributed. 

Valley Journal
Governor recognizes outstanding student leaders
Governor Steve Bullock today recognized high school students for their commitment to academic excellence and leadership development at the Jobs for Montana's Graduates 25th annual LEAD Conference.

November 7, 2018
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman children can sign up for a free book each month
Bozeman best-selling author Mark Sullivan has pledged $15,000 toward a charity that plans to mail free books every month to hundreds of local preschool children, to ensure more kids learn a love of books and the reading skills crucial to success in life.

Ravalli Republic
Corvallis Receives AdvancEd Accreditation
Corvallis School District received approval from the AdvancED Standards for Quality Schools accreditation process that included district-wide evaluations, stakeholder surveys, facilities evaluations and an onsite visit.

November 6, 2018

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Montana schools ready their wish list for 2019 Legislature
More money for special education kids, for 4-year-old preschool children, for career training, for school buildings, for 19-year-olds, and for low-income, at-risk students.

Hall Passages: Missoula schools join nationwide celebration of after-school programs
Students from eight different Missoula County Public Schools helped themselves to NASA stickers and an assortment of snacks as they gathered for an event to celebrate Missoula's after-school programs recently.

Montana Standard
Butte-Silver Bow Health Department hires part-time CONNECT program coordinator
The Butte CONNECT program is a web-based referral system that directly links families in the community to various medical and mental health services, including those that can prevent suicide. The Butte School District No. 1 is also working closely with the health department to implement the community-wide program.

November 5, 2018
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
MTSBA backs Bozeman schools' idea for safety tax
After the tragic Florida school shooting in February that killed 17 students and staff, dozens of worried Bozeman parents packed a school meeting to ask local officials what more they need to ensure students' safety

Ravalli Republic
Darby School District food director receives Health Hero Award
Darby School District's food service director has been selected as a Health Hero in the Eat Right Montana and Montana Action for Healthy Kids 2018 Health Hero Award Program.

November 2, 2018
Fallon County Extra
UnMASC Your Inner Leader 2018 State Student Council Convention
On Sunday all student council students and advisors arrived at Laurel High School, prepared for the busy and fun filled days ahead.

Kindergarten learns piano
On Oct. 3, the kindergarten started learning how to play the piano in the Piano Lab with Mrs. Wagnon. They learned where a few of the keys are, as well as fingering on the piano. This way they can start practicing their own piano skills.

Montana Apple Crunch Time
On Oct. 24, at 2 p.m., the Plevna students along with many other schools around the state enjoyed another Apple Crunch, a program that celebrates National Food Day as well as National Farm to School Month.

Blaine County Journal
Turner High School hold National Honor Society Induction Ceremony
The Turner Honor Society held an induction for incoming Honor Society Inductees this past week. Three new members, Brooke Reed, Shyan Krass, and Brandy Calvert, were inducted and joined into the chapter by the six other members and their advisor, Mrs. Shelly Harmon. These students should be commended for their achievements.

Sugarbeeter Shout Out
As we wrap up the first quarter at Chinook Public Schools I would like to share several academic adventures our staff has started to embark on Robotics, Coding and Stem Curriculum: At both buildings we are have a strong integration of Science, Technology and Math programs in our classrooms. At the elementary level the gifted and talented program has worked on coding and robotics the last several years.

Glendive Ranger Review
Classroom technologies can make learning easier
Technology is changing the face of education. Check out the newest ways teachers are modernizing their lesson plans in order to make learning easier and more fun.

New website, app will open school dialogue
Be on the lookout! Exciting times are ahead for Glendive Public Schools. I am thrilled about the future direction of our schools. While we have experienced some frustrating issues in the past, I am confident our District and community are prepared to meet these challenges and develop positive solutions to promote innovative teaching and learning for our amazing students.

Seeley Swan Pathfinder
First graders raising funds to cure cancer
After learning in social studies about the impact six-year-old Jane Addams had on the poor, Seeley Lake Elementary first graders decided they wanted to help people too. With their teacher Sheila Devin's assistance, the first graders sewed potholders from recycled materials which will be sold to raise money to cure childhood cancer.

Ovando teacher receives KECI Gold Star Teaching Award
Ovando teacher Andrea Tougas received the KECI Gold Star Teaching Award this past September. Tougas is thankful to the Ovando School and the community for allowing her to do what she loves to do in such a wonderful place.

October 30, 2018
Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls students use personal struggles to create play, documentary
Donning a red cap and gown, Luke Palmer earned raucous applause last spring as he shared his story of struggles before success and his dreams of becoming a reporter and writer.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bringing a big heart to Bozeman schools
Some people get pretty lax as they near retirement, but not Nancy Brady. Hard-working and cheerful, she's getting everything organized before she leaves.

October 29, 2018
Daily Inter Lake

Swan River School is diving deeper into 3-D printing with a project aimed at restoring the coral reef in the Caribbean Sea.

October 26, 2019
Independent Record

Report: More Montana kids were prepared for kindergarten with public preschool
A Montana public preschool pilot program helped get more students ready to begin kindergarten, especially those who often begin school at a disadvantage, according to a new state report.

Great Falls Tribune
CMR, GFH football players come together to build High School House
For five days this week – and every week for the rest of the school year – C.M. Russell center William Harr and Great Falls High offensive tackle Daunte Janikula are working side-by-side building a house.

Ravalli Republic
CHS Career Exploration
Corvallis American Legion connected Corvallis High School students with business professionals to explore career options and paths on Wednesday. Over 200 students learned about career fields, how to get in and why hard work makes a difference.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman's Watson named Montana school superintendent of the year
Rob Watson is going to need a bigger mantel for all his awards. Watson, 48, who has led Bozeman's public schools since 2012, has just been named by his peers on the Montana Association of School Superintendents as Montana's school superintendent of the year.

Fallon County Extra
Fire Safety
On Oct. 11, Fire Chief Kalyn Bohle, Kay Webb, and Larry Dahl introduced the K-5 students to fire safety. The firefighters worked with the students to let them know that many of the firefighters are everyday people, often times, people they know.

Fourth grade scrambled eggs
Mrs. Isaacs and her fourth grade class had an egg drop Oct. 26, followed by a second drop on Oct. 28, as part of their science studies.

Fifth and sixth grade maps of Plevna
The fifth and sixth grade classes, along with the help of Mrs. Spencer, have been learning about the five themes of geography. These themes are Movement, Region, Human Interaction, Environmental Interaction, Location, and Place, better known by the acronym MR HELP.

Belgrade News
Heck-Quaw earns accolades
Staff members and students Belgrade's Heck-Quaw Elementary School found out earlier this month that their school has joined elite company as one of the top-performing learning places in the land.

Schools, Police work together for safety
Students, teachers and staff in Belgrade schools began seeing police officers walking the halls this fall, but there's no pattern for when or where the men and women in blue will show up. That's deliberately random.

Big Sandy Mountaineer
The Reason We have Red Ribbon Week
Red Ribbon week is celebrated nationally normally between October 23-31. This year both the high school and the grade school will be focusing on the purpose of Red Ribbon Week which is to encourage student to make a commitment to live safe and drug-free lives.

Dillon Tribune
Playground equipment project popular at elementary school
Sherry Lagunas has spent 11 years on the Parkview Elementary School Parent Council. When she started, the group voted to add playground equipment.

Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
Helmville students learn about fire fighting during Fire Prevention Week
Helmville school students had the chance to get up close and personal with the Helmville Volunteer fire department's equipment Friday Oct. 12 as part of Fire Prevention month.

Clark Fork Valley Press – Mineral Independent
Operations of Mariposa have recently donated the green "Guardian of the Herd" from the Wild Horse display in Plains to the students and staff of Plains Public Schools.

October 25, 2018
Great Falls Tribune
United Way, schools partner for eighth-grade career fair
United Way of Cascade County and the Great Falls Public School District are coordinating nearly 100 volunteers and 800 8th Graders as part of the sixth annual Graduation Matters career fair on Thursday, Oct. 25.

Independent Record
Surprise event honors Helena educators: 'Great schools are everyone's business'
The Helena Education Foundation surprised seven educators Tuesday as "Let's Talk About Great Teachers" honorees.

East Helena a sea of red championing drug prevention for Red Ribbon Week
East Helena students and community members parade through town Wednesday for the annual Red Ribbon Week parade. Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco, and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign.

Montana Standard
Two Butte preschool programs receive extra support through federal development grant
On a recent Wednesday morning, Shantel Broadhead's preschool classroom bustled with hands-on, play-based learning.

October 23, 2018
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman students learning social and emotional skills
Kids can't learn if they're upset about bullying on the playground, parents divorcing or similar problems. That's why the Bozeman School District has adopted an array of programs to teach children social and emotional skills.

October 19, 2018
Daily Inter Lake
For the past two years, a Kalispell collective of public school, restorative justice, law enforcement and juvenile probation representatives have been contributing their areas of expertise to come up with a comprehensive approach to behavior and discipline of at-risk youth.

October 16, 2018
Independent Record
French students visit their Helena counterparts through exchange
After several Helena High School students visited France last spring, their French counterparts are now paying them a visit.

October 15, 2018
Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Growing number of English learners in Bozeman schools
Bozeman schools have a small but growing number of students who arrive here speaking one of 60 different languages, from Spanish to Ukrainian, and who need to learn English to succeed in class.

October 12, 2018
Glacier Reporter
BCC's TCTC program makes earning a teaching degree easier for local students
Education truly makes a difference in our society, as Blackfeet people and society as a whole. Our unique worldview is valid and important. This couldn't be more evident than in the lives of local teacher candidates at Blackfeet Community College.

Yellowstone County News
Students to study houses before they're burned
A couple of houses across the street from Huntley Project Schools will become a temporary learning lab before the property becomes a parking lot.

Valley Journal
School helps with community project
This past week, Ronan High School clubs and sports members helped lay sod for the new Boys and Girls Club facility. It took only a few hours with so many helping hands working together, including volleyball, football, cross-country, Technology Students Association, National Honor Society and the yearbook group.

Whitefish Pilot
The construction of a new Muldown Elementary School building is serving as a teaching moment for students both young and old.

October 11, 2018
New Flagship program offers academic, emotional support for students
On Wednesday, Oct. 10, a group of about 20 students gathered after the bell rang at Hawthorne Elementary to learn what their after-school activities entailed.

Arlee School District receives grant to fund mental health support, school safety
Arlee School District will receive about $150,000 to increase mental health resources for students and establish a crisis intervention team through the Bureau of Justice Assistance's STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program grant.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Advocates seek plan for homeless kids when high school splits
How can kids do homework if they don't have a home? That question was posed to Bozeman School Board trustees this week when they heard a report about school and community efforts to help homeless students.

October 10, 2018
Great Falls Tribune
United Way pairs students, mentors to increase graduation and career success
As early as kindergarten, Taylor Jackson knew he wanted to learn how buildings are made.

Billings Gazette
Columbus student finds strength after family tragedy
As a child, relatives called Kolton Gladney "little man." The nickname - or at least the first part - no longer fits the Columbus High School senior.

October 9, 2018
Independent Record
Capital High's Ethan Davidson achieves rare perfect score on ACT
Ethan Davidson, a 17-year-old Capital High School senior, achieved a perfect score of 36 on the ACT college admissions exam. Davidson, son of Erika and James Fehr, joined the few who earn this score.

Montana Public Radio
Montana Receiving Half A Million To Support School Safety
Montana is getting half-a-million dollars from a new federal grant to train teachers and students on school safety, following the mass shooting earlier this year at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

Montana Educator Brings Mars Lesson Close to Home
This year, Montana took a leap toward bringing the Next Generation Science Standards to the state's K-12 teachers by kicking off its first state science teachers conference. This pilot meeting brought together more than 100 of the state's top educators, who shared best practices with the teaching community.

NBC Montana
Montana elementary school receives National Blue Ribbon recognition
Even though Belgrade doesn't crack the top 10 largest cities in Montana, Heck-Quaw Elementary caught the attention of the highest office in the country.

October 4, 2018
Montana Standard
Montana getting $500K for mental health support in schools
Montana will get about $500,000 to bolster mental health programs and teacher training from a new federal program approved after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Breaking news: Time magazine picks Bozeman girl as kid reporter
Bozeman eighth-grader Ruby West was pretty happy when she learned that she'd won a national competition to be a kid reporter this school year for Time for Kids magazine.

Havre Daily News
Free college applications available this week
Seniors at 150 Montana high schools can send an application to any Montana campus of their choosing without paying a fee this week, eliminating a potential stumbling block for low-income students.

October 3, 2018
Montana Standard
High school seniors can apply to Montana colleges free this weekSeniors at 150 Montana high schools can send an application to any Montana campus of their choosing without paying a fee this week, eliminating a potential stumbling block for low-income students.

Ravalli Republic
Young and old come together to break ground on Daly School project
Under a steady drizzle, the 16 chosen students from Daly Elementary patiently leaned on their golden shovels as they awaited the signal Tuesday afternoon.

October 2, 2018
Montana Standard
First things first: Breakfast starts the day in Butte School District classrooms
In a third grade class at West Elementary School, every day starts the same: with breakfast. Students munch on cereal and sip on milk as they complete their morning writing activities.

October 1, 2018
Daily Inter Lake
This is a year of new beginnings for the Flathead Special Education Cooperative. This year, the cooperative got a new director, Cheryl Russell, and, for the first time, is housing a special education preschool program at its administration building located on a cul-de-sac at 15 Meridian Court in Kalispell.

Great Falls Tribune
United Way career fair prepares eighth-graders for success
On Oct. 25, 800 local middle school students will get a flavor for future careers and an opportunity to try their skills at a job interviews during United Way's annual 8th Grade Career Fair.

Ravalli Republic
Florence-Carlton High School ranked seventh in Montana
Florence-Carlton High School has been rated as the seventh best high school in the state by U.S. News and World Report.

September 28, 2018
Fallon County Extra
Baker's Linda Rost named 2019 Montana Teacher of the Year finalist
Throughout her time teaching in Ekalaka and Baker, Rost has had the opportunity to impact the lives of many and introduce countless students to research through the establishment of science fairs, her science research classes, and community involvement.

Lone Peak Lookout
High marks
The results are in, and for the second year in a row, Lone Peak High School came in first for ACT scores in the state of Montana, with 17 test takers averaging a 23.18. In 2015-16 LPHS came in third.

Ekalaka Eagle
Help support School Readiness Program
The Hammond and Hawks Home Schools are running a fundraiser through Schwan's to help cover the cost of the School Readiness Program, which offers preschool aged kids the opportunity to be in a classroom once a week.

Laurel Outlook
Laurel NASA–HUNCH student projects to appear in Netflix movie
The Utility Outlet Panel former Laurel NASA–HUNCH students Matt Smarsch and Matt Wallila built 10 years ago has been used to train NASA astronauts and will appear in an upcoming Netflix movie.

Lake County Leader
As the school year kicked off, so did a unique internship in the valley. Providence St. Joseph's Medical Center in Polson welcomed its fourth class of Polson High School students several weeks ago.

September 27, 2018
Arlee's Warrior Movement brings message of hope to Big Sky Native American Heritage event
Friends and families fixed their attention on a projector screen in the gymnasium of Big Sky High School Wednesday night as a video in which the Arlee boys basketball team, the Warriors, dedicated their state championship to people struggling with suicide.

September 25, 2018
Independent Record
Fort Belknap students learn traditional smudging, sweetgrass braiding during Native American week
Lots of schools in Montana will celebrate Native American day this Friday. A few schools with predominately Indian student bodies will even take the day off.

Hall Passages: Morning Moves gets kids active before school
Holding a coffee thermos with one hand and a jump rope in the other, Clara Meinershagen watched over two students at Franklin Elementary as one skipped and the other helped twirl the rope.

September 24, 2018
Great Falls Tribune
School-based clinics improve health, attendance
At least once and as many as three times a day, Paris Gibson Education Center Principal Drew Uecker or one of his staff members hop in the school van to take a student to see a doctor.

Arlee Warriors, University of Montana events celebrate Native American heritage
The Arlee boy's basketball team, the Warriors, will be visiting Big Sky High School on Wednesday to share their message of hope, talk about suicide prevention and celebrate Native American heritage.

Bonner teacher awarded Montana Teacher of the Year
Students cheered and stomped their feet on gymnasium bleachers as Dylan Huisken, a sixth- through eighth-grade social studies teacher at Bonner School, accepted Montana’s 2019 Teacher of the Year award on Thursday.

Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Bozeman first-graders given prize-winning book
Hawthorne School children hugged brand new books to their small chests Friday morning, the day that the Bozeman Schools Foundation handed out free copies of a prize-winning book to every first-grader in town.

Havre Daily News
Havre teacher turns author, publishes two children's books
A first-grade teacher at Havre's Highland Park Early Primary School is taking steps to achieve her dream as a writer.

Dodson, Harlem and Hays-Lodge Pole schools join in Native American Week
This year, Hays-Lodge Pole, Harlem and Dodson school districts are combining their Native American Week activities and expanding the week's worth of events this year, Hays-Lodge Pole Superintendent John Bach Jr. said Thursday.

September 21, 2018
Havre Daily News