The May 8 school bond election affirmed what the East Helena School Board was hearing from the community for decades -- that, indeed, our community wants a local high school for our kids.
I am thankful to local voters and to the parents and community members who took the time to vote their wishes. And I appreciate those community members who work so hard to share the costs and benefits of the design associated with the bond. Our plans for a local high school will now become a reality thanks to the belief of the community and the efforts of the volunteers who shared critical information.
As discussed at the numerous community meetings held to seek input into, and answer questions regarding the high school bond, a local high school will benefit our students in numerous ways. With more hard work East Helena kids will be able to attend school in their own community, grades K-12. This is more convenient for parents and students alike, and will allow greater participation in afterschool events.
Students also will enjoy the benefit of a small school and more individual attention from teachers. This will help ensure the unique academic, social and emotional needs of each individual student will be met. Numerous studies show that students in small schools do better academically, feel less alienated, more nurtured and more connected to caring adults.
This wish for a local, smaller high school has been a community desire for many years, and something I heard from parents since I started work here more than 30 years ago.
In addition to close attention from staff, East Helena high school students also will have increased opportunities to participate in student government and team sports. This will be a Class A school with sports facilities, including track, field and grandstands and academic facilities such as a woodshop and construction facilities, STEM, robotics, drafting, culinary arts, band and choir and more.
The ability to host local sporting events, music and other performances, along with community gatherings will add much to the East Helena community. There’s great excitement in our community and anticipation for the future.
As we move forward with more planning and, ultimately, construction, our school district will continue to share information with the East Helena community and hold meetings to seek ideas and advice, and to answer questions.
As we’ve said, this is “our community” and “our school.” We will all play a role in shaping East Helena’s high school and building for its success and the success of “our students.”