Students representing the Billinghurst Middle School Student Government and Think Kindness groups greeted me during my visit to their school. They were an enthusiastic and welcoming group of kids and I enjoyed having a few minutes to talk with them about their wonderful school.
Principal Mark Hutchinson escorted me to Sherl Alldredge’s Journalism class where I did a live message to the entire school telling them how excited I was to be visiting their school and how I was looking forward to seeing them in the hallways and classrooms. After Principal Hutchinson and I recorded the greeting, I visited with the Journalism students and they asked me some really interesting questions. They wanted to know if I meet with the mayors in our community, if I have ever met the President of the United States, and what kind of job opportunities there are in WCSD. Pretty impressive questions.
I really enjoyed the discussion with students in Brooke Bernard’s seventh grade special education class. The kids were talking about topics for their argumentative essays. We had some honest and meaningful dialog about topics like integrity, stealing, and texting. I loved how thoughtful and honest the kids were in their conversations with me. I also loved how focused these students were on preparing for their essays.
I enjoyed visiting with David Moss and his students in the STEM Lab. Students were involved with coding to plan the path for the electric balls they were working with. The software was really intuitive and easy to understand. One group of young men programmed their ball with a special welcome for me! All of the students I talked to told me how much they enjoy and value this elective course because they are able to work on a wide variety of projects that are using their love for math and preparing them for high school.
Leslie Dandois’ art students were all working with clay to make pottery. They showed me their beautiful designs and were excited to fire them next. The students were all working hard and staying focused even though there was a large number of students in the classroom. I also enjoyed the magnificent student artwork hanging in the hallway.
I was able to have a quick conversation with Site Facility Coordinator, Edgar Arias, between classroom visits. He and his crew do a spectacular job keeping the school immaculate and the grounds beautiful. In addition, they were very busy preparing for my State of Education Address later that day. My thanks to them for all their hard work!
I enjoyed listening to the students in Matt Herald’s World Culture class as they worked in pairs to answer questions in preparation for an upcoming quiz. Each question was supplemented with the nation’s flag and a landmark to help students remember the countries they were identifying. It was fun to watch the kids compete with other groups to answer the questions quickly. This technique kept all of the students engaged and focused.
Kara Kahl’s Spanish students were playing a jeopardy style game with topics such as translation, fill in the blank, stems don’t change, and re-write the sentence. The lesson was action-packed and quick moving. The students were having fun and they certainly covered a lot of material in a short amount of time.
I took a few minutes to visit with students in Brittany Culbertson’s math class. They were spread out in the hallway near her classroom doing hallway math. They had problems taped to the lockers and were working on solving the equations. I was amazed at how quietly and quickly the students were working on the problem before moving to another one. It was great to see the kids up and moving around and still focused on their math lesson.
Caryn Neidhold’s first year strings students were lively and entertaining. Students took turns selecting songs to practice. I was treated to Ode to Joy and Can Can in addition to an advance cello song. The musicians were extremely talented and I really enjoyed listening to all of their songs. I also had fun learning the Bunny Song that they learned at the beginning of the year to help them learn how to place their fingers on the bow.
Matt Rowe had all of his students playing basketball in PE. The teams were competitive and having fun. I also enjoyed learning about the pride that the entire school population feels for their Thunderdome gymnasium. The facility is beautiful and I can see why it is such a source of pride for them.
On our way to see Jennifer Rice, Billinghurst librarian, Principal Hutchinson pointed out the kindness chain, bulletin boards, and posters throughout the school. The Kindness Crew uses these decorations as a way to support and cultivate school culture. They have worked hard to implement these tools to make the school inviting and welcoming to everyone who walks through the hallways.
I was joined by a diverse group of eighth grade students for my Superintendent’s Luncheon. We talked about the importance of working hard now and continuing that hard work as they transition to high school. We also talked about using resources and teacher support when they need it. I enjoyed the Q&A time with the students, too. They asked many interesting and thought-inspiring questions such as what is the net worth of WCSD, how electives are determined, arming teachers, and how snow day delays and cancellations are determined.
My visit concluded by having seven amazing students representing Student Government and Think Kindness share information with me about Billinghurst Middle School. They did an amazing job detailing many programs, SEL, academic teams, and the “Bighorn Attitude.” They were able to answer my questions and even asked me pertinent questions. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time having this in-depth conversation with the students. They are truly great student leaders and exemplify the amazing culture at Billinghurst. I also enjoyed having time to talk to the schools administrative and counseling teams to learn about the uniqueness of their school and their students.
I really had a great time learning about and experiencing the Bighorn Attitude at Billinghurst. It was a special treat to visit the school and then host many community members and District staff that evening for the State of Education Address. My thanks to everyone at Billinghurst for a wonderful day!