Sad departure of Layton mentioned at School Board meeting

By Melissa Huber, I-O Reporter

Conrad High School student council member Hailey Orcutt delivered the high school report after Student of the Month recognitions at the school board meeting on Dec. 10. It included an account of the going away party the CHS Science Club hosted for special needs senior Josh Layton. They served Layton’s favorite things: lasagna and Coca-Cola, and showed a Star Wars film as per Layton’s request.

Principal Ken Larson later mentioned how the party created a strong sense of community, and added that it would be nice to be able to do something similar each month.

He also mentioned how well Layton—who was this year’s Homecoming King—fit in at CHS, and that he will be greatly missed by everyone. The day after his going away party, the secretaries were reportedly caught crying over Layton’s departure.

During Student of the Month recognitions Joylynn Petrosky introducing Conrad High School’s Student of the Month, senior Rebecca Brown. There were several comments from her teachers about how she always has a smile on her face, and Beth Ann Bolmeier reported that she “works hard to make sure her assignments are done to perfection.”

Superintendent Craig Barringer said what a wonderful job she and another drafting student did in redoing floor plans for a house for the Port Authority. This included a comment from Cheryl Curry about the “incredible time and effort” it took “to finish it.”

Principal Tara Thielman added that Brown does a wonderful job managing the UMS concession stands, and they have seen an increase in profit since she’s taken over.

Thielman then introduced Utterback Middle School’s first Student of the Month, eighth grader Andrea Russell. Mick Morris commented that “she is a well-rounded young woman who excels in the classroom and athletics.” Thielman said she was a “great leader,” and that “her concern for others is immense.” Russell said her favorite classes were shop and P.E., and that she enjoyed playing basketball and swimming. Russell would like to be an architect someday, and has taken steps towards that goal by taking Geometry early via online courses.

Seventh grader Brian Awtrey was the second student recognized by UMS. Teachers could not say enough about his niceness, and it was also mentioned that he often puts others ahead of himself, and always gives 100 percent effort in his work. His favorite class is Science, and he enjoys basketball. Someday he would like to be a marine biologist.

Kim Hofstad then introduced Aiyanna Peterson, Prairie View School’s fourth grade Student of the Month. Hofstad said that Peterson shows responsibility and respect, and that she is part of Council Kids, Prairie View’s student council. Other comments included that she shows patience and has a caring nature.

Meadowlark’s student of the month was Oliver Smith, but he was unable to attend. He will be presented next month with the other Meadowlark Student of the Month.

Orcutt also mentioned, during her CHS report, that the Action Committee will be selling candy canes again, and there will also be a contest to raise money for Toys for Tots. The winning class will win an early lunch.

Before the mid-meeting recess, Chairman Joe Russell commented, “You kids are doing what’s right,” and further encouraged all students recognized to help others that were in need.

When the meeting was brought back to order, Jill Swanson reported that thanks to the Conrad Community Education Foundation (CCEF) and an anonymous donor, there will be a second iPad lab, this time implemented in Prairie View. The purchase was estimated at $12,000. Students will make short videos about their school with the new technology, some of which will be shown at the next Chamber of Commerce meeting on Jan. 8 at Coaches Corner.

CCEF is working with another donor for a possible Google Chromebook lab at the high school. Swanson mentioned how generously the community has helped out in keeping the schools up-to-date with technology.

Jim Carroll reported about the recent trend they have seen that suggests C-squad games are going by the wayside. Several schools in the area no longer have the numbers to offer three levels of basketball in their schools.

Carroll went on to report that really cold weather is hard on the buses. Some minor repairs are being taken care of, but roads have been good. Carroll mentioned the “county is doing pretty good keeping those roads open for us.”

Principal Greg Jensen said there was an excellent 98 percent turnout for parent/teacher conferences both at Meadowlark and Prairie View. He said, “I feel that this says a lot about our staff. They are dedicated and committed to making sure all students are successful.”

The cold snap that gripped the area last week left kids stranded inside during recesses. Regardless, Meadowlark started their walking club in the halls, and about half of the students have already filled a five mile card. Prairie View’s walking club will begin after Christmas break.

Dec. 20 will be a movie day at the Orpheum Theatre for both the Meadowlark and PV. Ninety-eight students out of 119 from UMS achieved their Accelerated Reader goal and will join them for a viewing of The Hobbit. This is their best total ever, and Tammy Jones is to be congratulated for setting up the event.

The AAA students for December are Dania Jones for Academics, Cassie Peterson for Art, and Madisyn Hampton for athletics (girls basketball). The Buckaroo PRIDE+ winner was Elle Buhl.

From now until Jan. 3 20 percent of all online orders made to Schwann’s will go to UMS. All information needed to make online orders is on the front page of the district website, and also on the UMS school announcement web page.

The UMS Christmas concert is Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. at the CHS auditorium.

Thielman closed her report with praise for Browning De LaSalle Blackfeet School when they let Aaron Kleinsasser, who has Down Syndrome, play in the game. Kleinsasser went on to earn his team six points, and some footage of that is up on KRTV’s website. Go to the Montana news section and look for the headline “Blackfeet, Conrad basketball video clip goes viral”.

Principal Larson expounded on the going away party for Layton, and Janice Farkell added that Layton, though he could not read, had the most AR points out of the entire school. He often listened to books on tape and never forgot a word.

There were good attendance numbers at the high school parent/teacher conferences, and Shakespeare in the Schools went well. Principal Thielman added that the sixth graders “thought it was great”. UMS English teacher’s prepared for the performance by teaching the play beforehand.

Larson then switched gears and mentioned how for the past two years he has been building documentation to support a plan to implement an alternate school program at CHS.This program would be for students at serious risk of dropping out of school due to grades and absences.

Larson got more assertive with the idea after attending an Alternative Education summit with high school guidance counselor Debbie Ostertag. As of now, the biggest obstacle is finding an appropriate place. Larson has one in mind for the time being, but added that it was not ideal. Larson projected the possibility of three students at this time, but added that once a better location was found that he would like to increase the maximum amount of possible students to six.

The board then moved on to one more piece of business. It began with Chairman Joe Russell inquiring, “The custodians wore out a tractor?” To which Barringer replied “Yeah. It’s not good.”

During the summer the custodians are in charge of mowing 31 acres of property, and during the winter they plow all parking lots and sidewalks, which, it was remarked, they are very good at. Quotes for a new tractor were looked at, and the board agreed to make the purchase soon before the meeting was drawn to a close.

The next regularly scheduled board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14. As always, the public is welcome to attend.