News and Information for the Week of March 9, 2015

Click on the links below to read this week's stories and learn more about school facility planning activities.

1.  Superintendent's Weekly Newsletter

2.  Learn About Facilities at  

3.  Influenza Arrives in Helena



Students from HHS and CHS Participate in Helena's 150th Anniversary High School Essay Contest

The Montana Historical Society, the Helena School District, the Helena Area Community Foundation and contest co-chairs Stephanie Baucus and Betsy Baur are pleased to announce the following essay contest winners.

The winners were announced at a celebratory event at the Montana Historical Society on the evening of February 26.

Congratulations to the students.  Thanks to all of the event sponsors.

Fourth Place Scholarship winner who will receive a $250 scholarship is Jayden Peterson, a Senior from Capital High School, whose essay was entitled “Hotel Broadwater and Natatorium.”

Third Place Scholarship winner who will receive a $500 scholarship is Kendra Gensch, a Senior from Helena High School, whose essay was entitled “From ‘Ineffective’ to Innovative:  The Road to the Veterans’ and Pioneers’ Memorial Building.”

Second Place Scholarship winner who will receive a $750 scholarship is Moira Shae, a Senior from Helena High School, whose essay was entitled “A True Helena Legend: The Story Behind the Actress Myrna Loy.” 

First Place Scholarship winner who will receive a $1,000 scholarship is Pepper Pennington, a Junior from Helena High School, whose essay was entitled “Montana’s Mansion” (about the Original Governor’s Mansion).  


Superintendent’s Newsletter 


What are Academic Standards?
February 12, 2015 
Academic standards are the learning goals for what students need to know, understand, and be able to master at each grade level.  Standards assist teachers to make sure that all their students learn the skills and knowledge they need to be proficient.  Standards also help parents to understand the academic expectations of their children.
This column serves to help explain how the Helena Public Schools uses standards and assessments as import tools to support student learning.
Academic standards have been around for a long time and considered a normal component of classroom life for students and teachers.   As a matter of fact, just a few years ago in 2011, the Montana Board of Public Education adopted new standards focused on math and literacy.  The Helena School District utilizes these Montana State Standards as one of our many tools, in addition to high quality educators, classroom resources and professional development, to meet the needs of all students.   
These Montana State Standards were developed to “boost Montana’s long-term economic competitiveness because students will graduate from high school with real-world skills they need to be successful in college and the workforce. The standards reflect the knowledge and skills that students need to be successful in the 21st century economy such as problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, teamwork, research and use of technology.”
How then do we know if students are meeting academic standards?  Twofold:  District assessments given to students throughout the year provide teachers critical information on how students are doing.  Teachers then use the data to adjust teaching strategies.  Secondly, all schools under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) are required to have an annual summative test to determine student performance.  In the past, Montana used the Criterion Referenced Test (CRT) and parents were provided their child’s CRT progress along with their annual report card.  Beginning this school year, the Smarter Balanced test will be used by Montana, along with sixteen other states, for accountability purposes.  Helena Schools will administer the Smarter Balanced test this spring to grades 3 through 8, and 11.  
So, are schools really teaching to a mandated national test?   Our district’s proactive professional development strategy based on the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) model includes locally designed instruction and assessments to ensure that Helena’s students successfully master skills as defined by the Montana State Standards.  Student learning is the goal and Smarter Balanced is simply the state’s assessment tool.
In summary, our academic standards serve as an important baseline for the District to ensure that we aim for the same high target.  They help guide us on what students need to learn and what we can expect from students.  As school leaders, our principals are critical in making certain that all grade level classrooms are headed in the same direction and aligned with the incoming and outgoing grades.  Teachers are on the frontline implementing the academic standards to make sure that every student receives a high quality education that is consistent and student-centered.  Parents, with the help of PowerSchool and state assessment data, now have access to how their children are performing against the standards. 
With everyone working together our locally driven high academic standards will raise expectations for students, make learning fun and engaging and move us one step closer to our shared goal for children to be successful in the 21st century economy. 


Kent Kultgen, Ed.D.


Influenza Arrives in Helena

Posted:  1.14.2015

Helena Public Schools and Lewis and Clark City County Health Department want you to be aware that our community is experiencing a sharp increase in flu cases as is most of the nation.  The flu season usually runs from October through March with increased flu activity during or after holidays when families are gathering and traveling.

Public health officials recommend an annual flu shot to help protect you and your family.  Everyone over 6 months of age and those who are at high risk of flu related complications are urged to get immunized.

Flu viruses change constantly from season to season and even within the same season.  Each year the flu vaccine is designed to protect against three or four different flu viruses, based on which are expected to be most common that year.  This season, there is one strain that has mutated and the vaccine doesn’t match.  However, the flu vaccination is still recommended for all.

Symptoms of the flu may include: sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and pains,  a dry nonproductive cough ,decreased energy , abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

Flu can be caught by being in direct contact with a sneeze or cough from a person who has the flu, or by touching contaminated surfaces such as faucets, door knobs and not washing hands before touching face and or eating.

Those with flu-like illnesses should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or signs of fever without using fever reducing medications ( like acetaminophen ( Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)  We discourage the use of aspirin in children under the age of 18.

Prevention of flu includes:

  • Vaccination  ( still highly recommended),
  •  Hand washing often  and especially before eating, 
  • Covering coughs, avoid touching face, eyes or nose, and especially

Contact your family health care provider if you  or your child has flu like symptoms. Medication may be prescribed that may help in the severity and length of illness.

 If you have questions, check with your school nurse, health care provider or Lewis and Clark City County Health Department, at 443-2584.    



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