Helena High School welcomes new principal

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, October 27, 2021

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

HELENA – Ashley Bahr is not a stranger to the Helena school district. She worked at Helena High School several years ago first as an administrative assistant then as an assistant principal. After moving to Helena Middle School to be assistant principal, she earned the position of Program Area Specialist where she worked with all high schools across the county. She never strayed far away from Helena, though, and as of Friday, Oct. 22 Bahr is officially the new principal of Helena High School.

“Coming back here, I feel like I never left because I still got the ability to come to Helena as often as I wanted to,” Bahr said.

Having worked with the school in the past, Bahr said she thinks the transition will be easier, and said she is already familiar with roughly 50 percent of the staff.

“In my former role as program area specialist I would come in and meet with teachers,” Bahr said. “That was part of my job was to support teachers and support the principals in the building. So, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be here visiting with teachers, going into classrooms.”

Bahr has already become acquainted with the new teachers at the High School, and she said she has been taking the time to absorb as much as possible regarding the school’s staff and students.

“I do know and remember some of them [the students] from the middle school, so when I walk the halls I can see some of them who I do remember,” Bahr said. “I enjoy that, and I’m trying to get around to meet and visit with every teacher as much as I can. That’s what I’m trying to spend the first couple of weeks doing.”

Entering the role after former HHS Principal April Brand, Bahr said she wants to try to follow down the path that has been laid down by the previous principal while growing relationships with teachers and students.

“I know her work, I know what she values in students and teachers and the culture of the school and the quality of instruction,” Bahr said. “So, having worked with her, she has done such an excellent job that I feel like I could go in and just continue down the path that she has set and continue that course and focus on really just taking a minute to feel where everything sits. I don’t have to come in and say, ‘We’re drastically changing everything,’ because she has done such an incredible job.”

“I have on my list of things to do to meet with department chairs and some of our student leadership teams,” she said. “I just want to talk with them to find out how things are going and what they would like to see and what can we do now that we’re coming out of COVID-19. We’re already discussing what to do with our first pep rally, and a lot of students haven’t had the chance to participate in a pep rally yet. So, I’m really excited to have these conversations and be able to do these things within a school that has such a great culture and support from the community.”

Bahr said Helena High School “feels like no other place,” and she feels the best part of her job is being able to talk with the students, something she missed dearly during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic reaching what seems to be an end, Bahr is excited to return to conversations regarding new protocol, instruction and letting the freshmen and sophomore students participate in activities they haven’t encountered before, such as the school pep rallies.

“I think it’s exciting because it’s only going to be moving, in my mind, in a positive direction for students returning to normal, which is what I think everybody from teachers, staff and students are ready for,” Bahr said.

Bahr said she is thrilled to be at Helena High School and said she has “some big shoes to fill” as far as following in her predecessor’s footsteps.

“The thing I want people in the community to know more than anything is that I do love this school,” she said. “I do feel like I am home. I love the way it feels here, and the credit for that goes to the teachers, the staff, the counselors, the bus drivers, the administrative team here. All of the credit goes to the individuals that make up this school and of course also the community that supports it.”