Helena schools offer superior experiences

Helena Elementary students penned poems during the recent Poet-Tree event at the school. (Contributed)

Helena Elementary students penned poems during the recent Poet-Tree event at the school. (Contributed)

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

The final weeks of school bring an onslaught of wonderful interactions – Awards Day, students honored for their achievements over the year, days for just fun and games and spending times with friends in the sun reminiscing about the year. Where to start?

First of all, the existing schools in Helena all offer superior experiences, from kindergarten to eighth grade. Positive reinforcement of positive behaviors abounds. And while working on attitude, each teacher is meeting the standards required of his/her grade in a way that is inclusive, inspiring and ultimately a great send-off for each student’s next rung up the ladder to adulthood.

This week, I have met students under the age of 14 who have clearly developed life goals, who anticipate contributing in meaningful ways to their generation. I met students who have found their “tribe” along the way via special activities and programs—not all of which relate to football.

I learned about Destination Imagination, a program brought to HMS by teacher Luci Tucker, who came our way via Thompson Middle School.

Destination Imagination, similar to Odyssey of the Mind, was created “to inspire and equip students to become the next generation of innovators and leaders and teaches critical thinking, collaboration, communication, citizenship and courage.”

Courage is what it takes to stand up in front of an audience of your peers and assume a role, to improvise and interact and be confident or grow towards more confidence.

I have talked with students who aspire to be missionaries, professional soccer players, design high-performance automobiles or to emulate the teachers who have been significant in their own lives by teaching others.

I marveled at the Poet-Tree at HES, where young writers like Tucker wrote and illustrated, “Shoe: The shoe is like a mouth. It eats your foot. It has bad breath.”

And finally, Helena Middle School eighth-graders are thrilled about having our new high school finally opening its doors come August. They realize that being a member of the first four-year class graduating from this beautiful new facility will be a permanent and special memory.