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Student news

2010-04-23T00:03:00Z Student newsIndependent Record Helena Independent Record
April 23, 2010 12:03 am  • 

HHS grad to present thesis at national convention

Kaetlyn Cordingley’s senior thesis, “One Nation: American Collective Identity in Major Presidential Speeches,” has been reviewed and accepted for presentation at the National Communication Association’s 96th Annual Convention, Nov. 14 though 17, in San Francisco. Kaetlyn graduated magna cum laude from the University of Washington in December 2009 with a degree in journalism. She is a 2006 graduate of Helena High School.

Capital High educator receives national recognition

Jason Neiffer, Capital High teacher and Montana Digital Academy curriculum director, was honored with the Making It Happen award and jacket for his contributions to the successful integration of technology in education in the Helena Public Schools.

While attending the Northwest Council for Computers in Education Conference in Seattle earlier this month, Neiffer was honored by NCCE for his dedication to education and successful integration of technology in his classroom instruction. The Making It Happen program has made a commitment to work with U.S. state and national organizations and conferences to identify individuals who are truly Making It Happen within their respective state or region and to recognize them publicly.

Neiffer is now transitioning to a new position as the curriculum director for the Montana Digital Academy ( located at the University of Montana. Neiffer continues to serve on the Helena District Technology Committee and the Executive Planning Committee for the annual Summer Tech Camp. He will also be delivering technology professional development for Helena educators throughout the spring.

HHS grad off to Ivy League school

Amy Kathleen Ericksen has been accepted to study biological science and psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Amy is a 2008 graduate of Helena High School and the daughter of Charles and Kathleen Ericksen of Helena.

Local awarded MSU–Northern excellence award

Mandee Carroll, a 2005 Helena High School graduate, was recently awarded the student excellence award from Montana State University–Northern.

Carroll will graduate in May with a bachelor of science degree in design drafting technology and a minor in civil engineering technology.

She has been a two-year member of the student senate, was the president of the Northern’s Chapter of the American Drafting Design Association, and played on the basketball and golf teams.

To qualify for the award students must have completed 60 credits with a 2.75 cumulative GPA and demonstrated a commitment to educational goals through academic achievement and extracurricular participation.

East Helena teacher named PE educator of the year

Peggy Chappuis was honored as the Northwest District Elementary School Physical Education Teacher of the year by the National Association for Sports and Physical Education at its national convention.

Chappuis has taught at Eastgate and Radley elementary schools for 24 years. Principal Joe McMahon describes her as a tireless advocate for healthy kids.

Chappuis organizes the schools’ annual Walk to School and Jump Rope for Heart events and is the school coordinator for the student walking club. She is a founding member of the East Helena School District wellness committee, serves on the safe and drug free committee and works closely with the local PTA to plan the annual fun day for students.

“I’ve always been amazed at Peggy’s dedication and commitment to the children of this school district,” McMahon said.

HSD wins education award from OPI

The Helena School District won an $8,904 award to advance Indian Education for Helena area students. Helena was only one of 17 schools to receive the grant, which will help enhance and maintain the program.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau says that what makes these awards unique is that they offer different kinds of support to meet the specific needs identified by local districts.

Local earns degree from Bemidji State

Mara MacDonald recently graduated from Bemidji State University in Minnesota with a degree in education.

Local third-grader wins writing contest

Broadwater elementary student Madison Blixt recently won first place in the third grade division of the Pet Week Creative Writing Contest sponsored by the Montana Veterinary Medical Association Auxiliary.

Blixt received $100 and her essay will be sent to the national pet week contest.

The theme for this year’s contest was “Save a Life — Adopt a Pet.” Entries were judged by grade on originality, content, use of the theme and love for a pet.

Local selected as Truman Scholar

Hannah Harper of Helena has been selected as a prestigious Truman Scholar for 2010. Madeleine Albright, president of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, announced that 60 students from U.S. colleges and universities have been selected as 2010 Truman Scholars. They were elected by 16 independent selection panels on the basis of leadership potential, intellectual ability and likelihood of “making a difference.”

Harper is a graduate of Helena High School, and was the student representative on the Helena School Board. She also served as an aide in Gov. Schweitzer’s office. Currently a junior at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., Harper earned two grants as a freshman for a photography project with children in rural South Africa, designed her own major, participated twice in the Science Collaborative Research Program, studied for a semester in Ghana, volunteered at the Hope Project for Liberian refugees and has engaged in multiple campus clubs and volunteer projects.

Her experiences both on campus and abroad have been in preparation for her future career: working with a health organization in Africa to fight the global AIDS pandemic. (See a video at

The 60 Truman Scholars were selected from among 576 candidates nominated by 245 colleges and universities. Each selection panel interviewed finalists from a three- to four-state region and generally elected one scholar from each state and one at-large scholar from the region. Each panel typically included a university president, a federal judge, a distinguished public servant and a past Truman Scholarship winner.

Each scholarship provides up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Recipients must be U.S. citizens, have out standing leadership potential and communication skills, be in the top quarter of their class and be committed to careers in government or the not-for-profit sector.

The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established by Congress in 1975 as the federal memorial to our 33 president. There have been 2,730 Truman Scholars elected since the first awards were made in 1977.

Eastern Washington releases dean’s list

The following Helena-area students were recently named to the dean’s list at Eastern Washington University: Dawn Deininger, Isaiah Diehl, Abigail Smith and Paul Weber.

RMC honors for accomplishments

The following Helena students were honored at Rocky Mountain College’s academic banquet for their academic and civic accomplishments: Brian Krantz, English/ creative writing; Emily Lambert, Dean’s Cup; Steven Kotson, Dean’s Cup; and Tyler Vaughan computer science.

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