Thursday, October 31, 2019

Celebrating HCA: Safety Support Belonging


by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski
One of the most important things that I think that I do as a superintendent is celebrate our student initiatives with the entire student body. This is an opportunity to bring students' attention to the importance of attending school and providing safety, support and belonging for all. 
On October 22 of this year we hosted our first District Assembly. Like all district assemblies we greet one another with a handshake and then move into the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. These are not only great opportunities to acknowledge our allegiance to our country and respect for those that have sacrificed in order to provide the freedom we enjoy, but showcase the work of the student body as the Choir, directed by Mrs. Robbie Hensleigh, sang our National Anthem in three parts. It was beautiful. More importantly, their performance is a representation of our entire system as many of the students have been here from kindergarten up to the twelfth grade. Surely not everyone is in the Choir, but the CHS Choir is a representation of everyone in our schools.
These assemblies showcase our students as well as to model intended outcomes. In  doing so we tried to capture as many students and staff as possible in a slideshow of photos titled "Who Are We." Belonging is truly important and having the opportunity of being recognized in the slide presentation brings about an excitement of being part of something greater than ourselves. Once again, not everyone gets pictured, but there are a number of K-12 students that do. The concept being that we are made up of a lot of people, with a lot of interests, looks and personalities. Most importantly, we want to acknowledge all those that are around us and provide them with the safety, support and belonging that we want for ourselves. This is our Home Court Advantage or HCA. See the link for details. 
At this time we introduced new administration, staff and students. We welcomed them with applause. Being new can be difficult, and our schools certainly want everyone to know that this is a place of welcome for everyone, it is “Who We Are.”
Drum-line performance
Part of identifying “Who We Are” comes through traditional venues of building school spirit, not just the high school, but the entire district. Colstrip is exceptional in providing these opportunities in our school; therefore, capitalizing on where we sit during games and how we cheer our representing teams is essential. The Pep Band, directed by Mrs. Hensleigh, played the school song as everyone stood up and clapped in unison. This not only provided recognition for the kids in the band, but were able to model important behaviors beyond ourselves.  HCA continued to take shape in our assembly with the Cheerleaders, sponsored by Mrs. Keri Weir, teaching us the school song. We sang the song and staff members held up the banner with the words to the song as one of the cheer captains provided the lead. Its was definitely a moment to remember.
HCA did not stop there. The Drum-line, directed by Tod Olmstead, played. The Cheerleaders taught cheers to the student body. We chanted HCA and reviewed its tenants of “SAFETY, SUPPORT and BELONGING.” A 5 X 10 foot banner revealed the mantra of be the “I” in KIND.” (You can see School Resource Officer in the photo below as another reminder to be our very best self). 
SRO Don Purdon is the I in Kind
Fall Activity Middle School and High School Teams and organizations were asked to come down out of the bleachers to the floor to be recognized for their extra curricular and co-curricular efforts and participation. CHS Student Council President JT Baer spoke to the students about setting goals and to “Know Your Why.” Identifying “Who We Are” in part of the whole modeled opportunities of excellence. 
Another incentive and mantra reviewed was that “You Must Be Present To Win.” This concept we have celebrated the last couple years. It is all about attending school. It is proven that the more days you attend will increase your chance of success. Brain science tells us that the more days attended in a row increases a student’s potential to move information from short term memory to long term memory; thus increasing learning. With that, we start this incentive by having all students that have come to school ten days in a row put into a drawing for various prizes. Their name goes on the attendance wheel and is spun in front of the student body. Winners are announced and come forward to choose their prize. Once again, not everyone wins, but coming to school on a consistent basis increases their chances in life. Winning isn’t everything, but it is a nice incentive to work toward our goals.
The assembly wrapped up with the distribution of “HCA Rally Towels.” Rally towels go back more than four decades — to the mid-1970s, when major-league teams originally began providing them to fans as distractions for the opposing team. After that, they became popular in schools and booster clubs, where you'll still see them today.
Rally towels have grown into an iconic symbol of fans supporting their teams ― for a good reason. When fans begin waving their colorful rally towels, it can make them feel like they’re part of an exclusive crowd, and this positive vibe uplifts their spirits and mood. HCA Rally Towels are an outward symbol of our schools SAFETY, SUPPORT and BELONGING. We asked students and staff alike to make a difference and bring theirs to the next game. 
With all of that, the CHS Pep Band played the school song as the students waved their HCA Rally Towels. It is always something to behold when school spirit is displayed. This was another great moment. 
Well done Colstrip staff and students. Now go out there and take the lead: Make Dust or Eat Dust!
That's HCA Baby!


GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

Monday, October 7, 2019

Overcoming The Odds and Winning

Robert "Bob" Lewandowski


Last Friday evening, October 4, 2019, the 1-2 Colstrip Colts faced the 4-0 Glasgow Scotties. The Colts are a young team, by the numbers, with upper class men that have been use to winning. This year winning has taken a learning curve. Winning traditions and celebrations are a little harder to come by, and giving up isn't an option when you are a Colt.

The past four years I have watched Assistant Coach, Andrew Torgerson jump into the arms of a winning Colt Football Team more times than not. All of the past graduates of Colt Football know what this is all about; however, last Friday's game was the first time that the team embraced this tradition with an unbelievable amount of joy as they taunted and waved the 200+ pound coach to leap into their arms. You see...it isn't all about their love for their assistant coach, it's what happens when you do what it takes to win. They knew what this tradition represented and they knew that they earned it by over coming the odds and winning 25-22.

Just look at the faces of these kids after the game as they look to their Head Coach, Stacey Yates, as he congratulates them on their victory. All too long I have taken both of these traditions for granted. Last Friday night was one of the sweetest victories I have experience (and I have to say I have been blessed to see the Colts win a number of times). This was special. What I had taken for granted as celebrations in the past became traditions of winning.

This is what I call HOME COURT ADVANTAGE! It's not just where you play (field, court or etc...), its who you are playing for and why. KNOW YOUR WHY!

Learning how to win is a hard thing to do and everybody has to go over a few bumps in the road before they learn how to drive. I think this group is getting the hang of it.

We call our students to BE YOUR BEST! Be your best self as well as performance. I am so proud of this team. Don't stop believing and making the sacrifice it takes to overcome the odds.

YOU CAN DO IT! has turned into YOU DID IT! Its a big difference in moving forward. Remember what it takes to win Colts and apply it to everything you do. Make Dust!


GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"




Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Coal Board Fully Funds School Grant ADA Phase II

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Jim Atchison present to the Coal Board on September 12, 2019
The Montana Coal Board approved a grant for $271, 303.00 on September 12, 2019 for access issues in the upper parking lot at Colstrip High School. This is the second grant the District was able to secure to offset the large deferred maintenance list totaling over $5.2 million. The prior Coal Board grant that was received in June 2019 was for $473,550.00.

Special thanks to the effort of the administration and board in the development and application of this grant. Bruce Brown, Brent Burton, Jim Atchison, Jody Williams, Rob Pontius, Tyler Busch and I presented in behalf of the application to address the following access issues from the upper parking lot to gymnasium: 1) handicap curb cuts at the upper parking lot to allow access to the building; 2) installation of a ramp from the entrance vestibule to the upper gymnasium level; 3) renovation of a storage area into a handicap accessible bathroom on the upper level of the gymnasium; 4) installation of a new upper level handrail and 5) the replacement of the upper parking doors into the vestibule and pool.

Too many times I have had people confined to wheelchairs apologize to me for taking the time to find them a place to watch a ballgame, graduation or some other type of activity in our school gym. This project will give them a bird's eye view of any gymnasium event from the mezzanine to the floor. The mezzanine access will be much to the liking of the Billings Metra. Our goal is to provide as much independent access as possible to allow folks in a wheelchair or walker access without having to ask for help. These people deserve the opportunity to attend events without apology or feeling like their attendance is dependent on others. This grant is so important on so many levels (literally).

Once again, this effort began last winter with community strategic planning meetings and has continued with a maintenance of effort by the board, administration and community. It is exhilarating seeing this type of support for Colstrip. Its a fist pump and cheer for our community.

Special thanks to the Coal Board and it's membership for their support and vision in seeing the value of the projects that have been presented to them on behalf of Colstrip Public Schools. The Coal Board is 100% funded by Montana coal severance tax. With that, I would humbly ask our community to thank the Coal Board Members for their support.



GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"







John Williams, Chair
Colstrip, MT
District 2
Field: Impact Area
john.williams@mt.gov
Term: March 10, 2017 - January 1, 2021

Sidney Fitzpatrick, Vice Chair
Hardin, MT
District 2
Field: Impact Area
sidney.fitzpatrick@mt.gov
Term: March 10, 2017 to January 1, 2021

Sean Smith
Anaconda, MT
District 1
Field: Business

Term: May 31, 2019 to January 1, 2021





Marianne Roose
Eureka, MT
District 1
Field: Public Administration
marianne.roose@mt.gov
Term: February 15, 2019 to January 1, 2023

Tim Schaff
Roundup, MT
District 2
Field: Education
tim.schaff@mt.gov
Term: February 15, 2019 to January 1, 2023





Amber Henning
Missoula, MT
District 1
Field: Attorney
amber.henning@mt.gov
Term: January 26, 2018 to January 1, 2021

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Loss in Our Community Family

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

I received a text last Sunday afternoon informing me that the fatality involved in a vehicle accident earlier in the morning outside of Ashland was Annie Bement. Annie is the mother of children that attend our schools as well as graduated from our school here in Colstrip. It is with heavy heart that the school district would like to pass on our condolences to the Bement family and all that are dealing with this tragedy. I know the people in Colstrip and the greater community that surrounds it are willing to extend themselves to the family in this time of need. Prayers and thoughts of peace and comfort go out from all of us here in Colstrip to the Bement family.


Thursday, August 29, 2019

School Spirit and Coal Energy United in Gym Floor Design: It's a one of a kind GEM

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

The Colstrip High School gymnasium floor is definitely "a one of a kind gem," as defined by Steve Lalum, owner of High Performance Floors. The refurbishment of the gym floor was necessary, but how it would look and how it would be financed was unknown. The possibilities started to take shape with a grant from the Montana Coal Board. This last June, the Coal Board approved a grant for over $474,000 to address the floor needs and the handicap seating in the gymnasium. It was at that point that the design work began as Steve Lalum and his crew from High Performance Floors were ready to go to work. 

From the onset, the floor design was intended to unite our community with the contributions of students, parents, community and the industry that fuels this town and Montana. The fact that the coal industry financed and built Colstrip High School and now is paying for this major renovation certainly added to a design that incorporated more than just our school's logo and colors. The Board Facilities Committee, administrators and coaches worked with Steve and his crew to generate a basic design that would unite all of these faucets.

I really think Steve Lalum's description says it best in a series of tweets he made on August 21, 2019:
It incorporates elements from the proud, historic past of Colstrip, with elements of her progressive future. Running horses and horseshoes accent the corners while the new generation, massive horse head, dominates center court.

A strong, proud nod to the significant impact coal and energy play in the local and Montana economy also show in this beautiful floor with the smokey gray base, black borders, and dark gray 3 point arches. #MTCOAL takes it place in bold gold in the black borders and smokey gray floor.

Without a doubt, as much thought and consideration for local significance and importance went into this flirt, as any we have ever done. The entire High Performance crew wouldn't be happier or prouder to work on a floor than we are now with the completion of this job.

The people of Colstrip are looking forward with a positive, realistic outlook, and it has been our pleasure to finish this beautiful floor for them. Coal and energy are vitally important for Colstrip and all of Montana. All of us at High Performance Floors stand united with Colstrip! 
As a superintendent, there is so much satisfaction in seeing a vision become a reality. I certainly believe that #MTCOAL plays a critical role in the lives of the people of Montana. We hope this floor not only incorporates the energy industries contributions, but says thank you to the Montana Coal Board and the severance taxes that have fueled this project.

NEXT: I can't wait until the coal black bleachers are in place.

GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

CPS New Coach is Realized Through Depreciation Funds

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

When I arrived four years ago the Colstrip Board of Trustees laid out a plan to purchase a new coach to replace a Blue Bird coach commonly known as "C1." It has taken over five years of saving bus depreciation funds in order to purchase the new MCI coach bus. The timing was perfect as "C1" had been fully depreciated in the last fiscal year.


Every new route and coach bus is a depreciated asset as soon as it is purchased. The school district is able to leverage funding to replace these vehicles through the depreciated value of each vehicle. The depreciation funds are then used (and can only be used) to purchase and replace current route and coach buses.

I am very pleased with this purchase as it maximizes our staff and students' safety, support and belonging.  We have had problems in getting parts for C1 since Blue Bird discontinued making coach buses. Breakdowns were becoming more common and our District needed to execute it's plan to purchase a new coach.

The MCI J4500 is the top selling coach in the United States. It is a coach that is reliable up to one million miles. We are lucky to have this piece of equipment for our students to travel in. The bus is accented with our school logo and name. FMC 3D Printing and Design located right in Colstrip was able to decal and wrap the new coach.

I am not sure what it will be called by others, but I kinda like the title "Big and Beautiful." It certainly is all of that. I am sure our students will make the most of it and take special care.



GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"

CPS Staff is Back to School to Make Dust

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski


Monday, August 19, 2019 marked the first day back to school for all of the staff. After an initial welcome and introductions in the auditorium, staff began ALERT Training in the CHS Commons. This group of professionals are eager to meet their students and Make Dust in 2019.

During the afternoon break, I managed to gather the staff for a photo in front of the new Coach.



GO COLTS! GO FILLIES! 

MAKE DUST OR EAT DUST!

"Get out in front and stay there!"