news; Snow Day

School buses line up at Broadwater Elementary School Thursday.

Gary Marshall, BMGphotos.com

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas break for Helena's high school athletes.

After calling off Thursday night's scheduled basketball games early in the day, the Helena School District officials decided to cancel all weekend interscholastic events, such as basketball, wrestling, swimming and speech and debate.

However all of Helena’s holiday and music programs this evening will continue as scheduled. All buses to and from school today are running normally.

Helena Schools canceled all rural school bus routes for Friday, but schools will remain open, said interim superintendent Jack Copps. School buses in town will run on Friday.

School officials are alerting parents and also posting up-to-date information on their Helena Public Schools Transportation Facebook page. A list of specific routes being canceled will also be sent out to parents, said Copps.

East Helena Public Schools postponed tonight’s fifth- and sixth-grade band concert until Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at East Valley Middle School, said superintendent Ron Whitmoyer.

East Helena is planning to have all its school buses running on Friday.

Both Helena and East Helena school districts said they would send out parent and media alerts if anything changes about schools remaining open on Friday.

Weather reports predicted 15 to 25 degrees below zero temperatures headed toward Helena, said Kalli Kind, school facilities manager. Road conditions are also expected to be bad.

Snow began falling in Helena late Wednesday night and has continued throughout the day. Combined with plummeting temperatures and the potential for gusty wind, travel conditions were deemed too dangerous for out-of-town travel.

Other area cancellations include Jefferson's wrestling team's trip to compete in the Great Falls Duals on Thursday. All after-school activities and practices at Jefferson were canceled on Thursday, but at last report practices were still being held at Helena and Capital high schools.

The Helena High boys teams were to be hosting CMR, while the Bengals girls teams were set to travel to Great Falls to face the Rustlers.

Wiped out Friday were basketball games between Bozeman and Capital. Both schools' wrestling teams were scheduled to compete Friday and Saturday at the CMR Invitational.

Also Saturday, Dillon's boys team was to play at Capital and the Bengal and Bruin swim teams were to travel to Missoula.

There was some mention Thursday of missed basketball games turning into postponements, rather than cancellations. But Capital boys coach Guy Almquist said that may not happen.

“I’m sure there will be an effort to make up the games, but typically non-conference games won’t carry the same urgency,” he said. “Nobody will want to upset a week of preparation for conference games with a random non-conference game. That being said, I’m sure they will see if we can’t match up schedules.”

Jefferson's Friday and Saturday events are still going on as scheduled, as of Thursday afternoon. School officials will reassess the weather conditions on Friday, as will their counterparts at Townsend.

Not afraid of the snow: The University of Lethbridge. The Canadian school's men's basketball team will still play against Carroll at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, as scheduled.

Both Helena and East Helena schools report each had one bus slide-off, but no crashes.

Helena Schools had a bus slip off the edge of a turnaround on Sierra Road Thursday morning and sent out a replacement bus.

East Helena Schools had a bus slide off an S-curve on Wylie Drive north of Town Pump. Two replacement buses were sent out, said Whitmoyer. One picked up children from the disabled bus, while another finished the route. Both school districts reported they had no injuries.

Buses could be running late on Friday, according to school officials from both districts. They asked that no unattended students be left waiting for buses in the cold.

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