Hill City School District

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Welcome to 2020 and the start of the 2nd semester of the school year.  Our school has many things to celebrate from 2019.  Our ACT scores were once again top 5 in the South Dakota, we received the ‘Values Driven Award’ for our accreditation, our athletic and fine arts were awesome, we received a nearly perfect financial audit, we started a STEM lab, we started a Lego robotics club, we completed a state mandated food service review, we hosted a family friendly walk through sponsored by the SD Department of Education, we provided after school academies, we used Federal funding to send out teachers to national conferences, and we worked together for the best education for all of our kids!

            While I am proud of our accomplishments, I know that we have big things on the horizon in 2020.  I had an opportunity last week to visit the Hill City Library, the Hill City Café, the Keystone Community Center, and the Hill City Visitor Center.  My goal was to visit with our community members.  I wanted to engage them, thank them for their support, and give them an opportunity to interact with me.  One thing I discussed with a few people was my vision for 2020.

            My goals include: (1.) All students will show growth,(2.) our teachers will meet our students at their level, (3) all students will be reading at grade level by 3rd grade, (4.) we will provide opportunities for advancement in the middle school, (5.) we will support dual credit, (6.) we will offer STEM for all, (7.) we will provide/maintain top notch facilities, (8.) our athletic and fine arts will represent our school/community in a positive way, (9.) the school will be the nucleus of the community, and (10.) we will continue to provide the best education for all of our kids!

            If you would like more discussion on these goals, lets set up a time to chat.  My door is always open.  I believe that working together we can achieve 2020 vision (My wife and I just had our 5th child and I am working on my dad jokes).  But honestly, it is such a blessing to work in a great school and a great community.  We are all on the same team with the same goal: THE BEST EDUCACTION FOR OUR KIDS!



                In October, we invited a committee of elementary parents, teachers, and South Dakota Department of Education officials to do a tour of our elementary school.  A survey was also disseminated that received 60 parent responses and 9 teacher responses.  One of my goals as a superintendent is to provide exceptional customer service and to foster an inviting and welcoming environment.  The team took notes on four areas: Physical Environment, School-Wide Practices, Learning Connections, and Written Materials/Technology.

            Once the notes were compiled and the committee debriefed, the SD Department of Education and SD Statewide Family Engagement Center created a booklet of commendations and recommendations.  Ultimately, we will look at the 10 recommendations and attempt to implement them this year.


                Students selected for the High Plains Choir and Band Music Festival participate in two days of rehearsals and activities culminating in a concert at the end of the second day at Chadron State College. Students were selected by audition. The festival is on February 3rd and 4th. There were 7 students selected for the honor choir and 5 students selected for the honor band this year. Honor choir students include: Kylie Null, Raylin Spencer, Jaydon Rogers, Madesi Stedman, Billie Kassube, Mikennah Oleson, and Yamna Villalobos.  Honor Band Students include: Jada Bell, Samantha Timm, Noah Hamilton, Samantha Bambas, Holden Stach.

The wrestling team is off to a great start and they are participating at the Mid Dakota Monster Tournament in Presho this weekend.  The girls basketball team is 6-2 and the #2 ranked team in our region.  The boys basketball team continues to compete, improve, and its only a matter of time before they get into the win column.  Middle School boys basketball is just starting up with games January 17th at STM.



                Elementary principal, Mrs. Weaver applied for a grant to support a summer reading program in the Hill City Elementary School.  She was successful and received the grant on January 9th, 2020 at the Custer County Library.  The grant will keep our students engaged in reading over the summer break.



                The dates for the science fair were altered due to a scheduling conflict with regional basketball tournaments.  Registration is set for February 26th and the science fair dates are March 12th and 13th.  The science fair is open to all students in our district. The Missoula Children’s Theater was originally the week of the 13th will now be the week prior, March 2nd-6th for elementary and middle school students.



                I serve as a liaison on the Heart of the Hills Economic Development board.  Once a month, I attend the meetings and report on the ways that our school district is preparing our students to be college and career ready.  Our students make up a large percentage of the work force in this area and I am proud of the product that we are developing.  As a school we host a job fair in the spring, provide internships for some of our students, and try to create a pathway towards graduation that will benefit our students once they leave Hill City High School.

            The Heart of the Hills Economic Development had a strategic planning retreat on January 8th.  The group shared many ideas for the economy of Hill City, but also the COMMUNITY of Hill City.  I was so happy that the school had a voice in the strategic planning.  It is awesome that our committees and government agencies are all working together and providing opportunities for our vibrant community.





            Marcus Isakson is the Hill City School District School Resource Officer.  January 13th we will celebrate SRO appreciation day.  We encourage all of our staff and students to wear blue on Monday to show appreciation to Mr. Isakson for all of his school safety and security work!



                As many of you know, one of my recent passions is early childhood education.  I believe we could eliminate many issues on the back end of the educational journey if we focus on the front end.  While neither South Dakota nor the Hill City School District have a general education preschool, there are some platforms that exist to help give our students a head start:


                A night for early child hood providers such as day care, preschool, or stay at home parents has been created by Black Hills Reads.  Information is below:

Date: Tuesday, January 14th

Location: Dahl Fine Arts Center (cyclorama room)

Time: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.




Families in your school district are eligible to participate in a no-cost Kindergarten Readiness program. This unique opportunity for South Dakota families allows for participation in the Waterford UPSTART program to support home-based kindergarten readiness delivered via technology. When parents are given the tools and knowledge to support their children, everyone wins. Every parent is empowered as their child’s first teacher right in the home.


FREE, this program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education called Education, Research, and Innovation (EIR).  



  • Research-based, efficacious, award-winning reading and math/science instruction delivered to each child for 15-20 minutes daily
  • Weekly family support through a family education liaison to encourage the family through literacy knowledge, preparation for supporting a school-age child, and usage tracking. This personalized support is available in over 20 languages.
  • All necessary hardware, software, and infrastructure for each family (including a laptop computer for each family, software, and internet when needed).
  • Software licenses for all children in the home, including those who are not participating in the program directly, but may require additional reading, math, and science support. 
  • Pre/Post Assessment and efficacy research.


  • Families can register for Waterford UPSTART directly by completing the pre-registration form online at www.waterfordupstart.org or by calling 1-888-982-9898.
  • You may download and share this document with families. Waterford will provide you with printed copies if you request them.
  • To be eligible, children must have a birth date that falls between: 09/16/2015 - 09/15/2016.
  • For more information or questions, please contact Sarah Walsh, our Waterford South Dakota Representative, at sarahwalsh@waterford.org.

This grant is focused on providing services to 250 children in the 2020-2021 school year.




            PIPTO (Parent Involvement- Parent Teacher Organization) will meet on Tuesday, January 14th in the elementary commons area.  The meeting will start at 3:15.  We are always looking for people to attend the meeting.  Agenda topics for this meeting include: Dr. Seuss literacy night, science fair, parent teacher conference meals, and literacy bags for families.  We hope you are able to attend.



Blake Gardner – Blake.Gardner@K12.SD.US – 605-574-3030




















                Bienvenidos al 2020 y el comienzo del segundo semestre del año escolar.  Nuestra escuela tiene muchas cosas para celebrar del 2019.  Una vez más los puntos de ACT son 5 en South Dakota, recibimos el premio ‘Values Driven’ para nuestra acreditación, nuestras artes y atletismo estuvieron espectaculares, recibimos la auditoria anual casi perfecta, comenzamos un laboratorio STEM, comenzamos un club de Lego robotics, completamos una supervisión requerida de servicio de comida, recibimos una visita amistosa patrocinada por el Departamento de Educación de SD, dimos academias para después de la escuela, usamos fondos federales para mandar a nuestros maestros a conferencias nacionales, y trabajamos juntos para una mejor educación para todos nuestros niños! 


            A la vez que estoy orgullo de nuestros logros, sé que tenemos cosas grandes en el horizonte en 2020.  La semana pasada tuve una oportunidad de visitar la Biblioteca de Hill City, El Café de Hill City, El Centro Comunitario de Keystone, y el Centro Visitador de Hill City.  Mi meta fue reunirme con miembros de nuestra comunidad.  Quise conectarlos, gracias por su apoyo, y darles la oportunidad de interactuar conmigo.  Una cosa que hable con algunas personas fue mi visión para 2020.


Mis metas incluyen: (1) Todos los estudiantes enseñaran crecimiento, (2) nuestros maestros trabajaran con los estudiantes en su nivel, (3) todos los estudiantes estarán leyendo a su nivel de grado cerca del 3er. Grado, (4) proveeremos  oportunidades de clases avanzadas en la secundaria, (5) apoyaremos créditos dobles, (6) ofreceremos STEM para todos, (7) proveeremos/mantendremos facilidades de primera clase, (8) nuestros atletas y arte representaran nuestra escuela/comunidad de una manera positiva, (9) la escuela será el núcleo de la comunidad, y (10) continuaremos dando la mejor educación para todos nuestros niños! 


            Si a usted le gustaría más pláticas de estas metas, vamos a poner un tiempo para platicar.  Mi puerta siempre está abierta.  Creo que trabajando juntos podemos lograr la visión 2020 (lo siento, mi esposa y yo tuvimos nuestro quino hijo y estoy trabajando en las bromas de papá).  Pero honestamente, es una gran bendición de trabajar en una gran escuela y una grandiosa comunidad.  Todos estamos en el mismo grupo con la misma meta:  LA MEJOR EDUCACIÓN PARA NUESTROS HIJOS!         



                En octubre, invitamos a un comité de padres de la primaria, maestros, y a oficiales del Departamento de Educación a hacer un recorrido de nuestra escuela primaria.  También un cuestionario fue difundido que recibió 60 respuestas de padres y 9 de maestros.  Una de mis metas como supervisor es proveer servicio al cliente excepcional y fomentar un ambiente invitante y hospitalario.  El grupo tomó notas en cuatro áreas:  Ambiente físico, Prácticas de la Escuela, Conexiones de Aprendizaje, y Materiales/Tecnología Escrita.

                Una vez que las notas fueron completadas y el comité interrogó, El Departamento de Educación y el Centro Familiar de Reclutamiento de SD crearon un folleto de recomendaciones y elogios.  Y por último, miraremos las 10 recomendaciones e intentar de implementarlas este año.    



                Estudiantes seleccionados por el Coro High Plains y Festival de Música de Banda participaron en dos días de prácticas y actividades terminando en un concierto al final del segundo día en el Colegio del Estado de Chadron.  Los estudiantes fueron seleccionados por audiciones.  El festival es el 3 y 4 de febrero.  Fueron 7 estudiantes seleccionados por el coro de honor y 5 estudiantes seleccionados por la banda de honor este año.  Los estudiantes del coro de honor:  Kylie Null, Raylin Spencer, Jaydon Rogers, Madesi Stedman, Billie Kassube, Mikennah Oleson, and Yamna Villalobos.  Estudiantes de Banda de Honor: Jada Bell, Samantha Timm, Noah Hamilton, Samantha Bambas, Holden Stach.

            El grupo de luchas comenzó muy bien y están participando en el torneo de Mid Dakota Monster este fin de semana.  El grupo de baloncesto de muchachas es 6-2 y el segundo grupo calificó en #2 en nuestra región.  El grupo de baloncesto de muchachos continúa compitiendo, mejorando, y en no tiempo estarán en la columna de ganadores.  El grupo de baloncesto de muchachos de la secundaria apenas ha comenzado con juegos el 17 de enero en STM.  



                La directora de la Primaria, Mrs. Weaver aplicó para una donación para apoyar un programa de lectura para el verano en la Primaria de Hill City.  Tuvo éxito y recibió la donación el 9 de enero, 2020 en la Biblioteca de Custer.  La donación mantendrá nuestros estudiantes enfocados en la lectura en el descanso del verano. 



                Las fechas para la feria de ciencia fueron alteradas debido a un conflicto con torneos de baloncesto regional.  La registración está puesta para el 26 de febrero y las fechas para la feria de ciencia son el 12 y 13 de marzo.  La feria de ciencia está abierta para todos los estudiantes de nuestro distrito.  El Teatro Missoula Children era originalmente la semana del 13 ahora será la semana anterior, marzo 2 al 6 para la primaria y secundaria. 



                Serví como vinculo en el comité del Desarrollo Económico del Heart of the Hills.  Una vez al mes, atendí a la junta y reportar las maneras que nuestro distrito escolar se está preparando a nuestros estudiantes para estar listos para el colegio y carreras.  Nuestros estudiantes hacen un porcentaje grande del trabajo en esta área y estoy orgulloso del producto que estamos desarrollando.  Como escuela patrocinamos una feria de trabajo en la primavera, proveer aprendizaje para algunos de nuestros estudiantes y tratar de crear un camino hacia la graduación que beneficiaran a nuestros estudiantes una vez que dejen la preparatoria de Hill City. 


            El Desarrollo Económico de Heart de Hill City tuvo un retiro de planeamiento de estrategias el 8 de enero.  El grupo compartió muchas ideas para la economía de Hill City, pero también la COMUNIDAD de Hill City.  Estuve muy contento qué la escuela tuvo voz en el planeamiento de estrategias.  Es maravilloso que nuestros comités y gobierno están trabajando juntos y dando oportunidades para nuestra comunidad vibrante. 



                Marcus Isakson es el Oficial del Distrito Escolar de Hill City.  El lunes 13 de enero será el día de apreciación SRO.  Animamos a todo el personal y estudiantes a que vistan de azul el lunes para demostrarle apreciación a Mr. Isakson por toda la seguridad de la escuela y seguridad en el trabajo! 



                Como muchos de ustedes saben, una de mis pasiones recientes es la educación temprana.  Yo creo que podemos eliminar muchos problemas en el viaje de la educación si nos enfocamos en el frente del final.  Mientras que South Dakota o el Distrito Escolar de Hill City no tienen una educación general de preescolar, hay algunas plataformas que existen que ayudan a darle a nuestros estudiantes un comienzo:   



Una noche de proveedores de niños como una guardería, preescolar, o padres que se quedan en casa ha sido creada por Black Hills Lee.  La información está debajo: 


Fecha: Martes, Enero 14to

Localidad: Dahl Fine Arts Center (cuarto cyclorama)

Tiempo: 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.




Familias en su distrito escolar son elegibles para participar en un programa de alistamiento para el kínder sin costo.  Esta oportunidad única para las familias de South Dakota permite la participación en el programa de Waterford UPSTART para apoyar alistamiento basado-casa para el kínder mandado vía tecnología.  Cuando a los padres se les ha dado las herramientas y conocimiento para apoyar a sus hijos, todos ganan.  Cada padre es apoderado como el primer maestro de su hijo justo en la casa.    


GRATIS, este programa está cubierto por una donación del Departamento de Educación en E.U. llamado Educación, Investigación, e Innovación (EIR)



  • Investigación-basada, eficaz, instrucción ganadora de lectura, matemáticas/ciencia dada a cada niño por 15-20 minutos diarios.    
  • Apoyo familiar semanal a través de una vinculación familiar de educación para animar la familia a través de conocimiento de alfabetización, preparación para apoyar un niño de edad escolar, y uso de seguimiento.  Este apoyo personalizado está disponible en más de 20 lenguas.  
  • Todos los accesorios necesarios, programas, e infraestructura para cada familia (incluyendo a computadora portátil para cada familia, programas, e internet cuando se necesite).
  • Programas con licencias para todos los niños en la casa, incluyendo a aquellos que no están participando en el programa directamente, pero puede requerir lectura adicional, matemáticas, y apoyo de ciencia.
  • Evaluaciones de Antes/Después e investigación eficaz.  



  • Las familias se pueden registrar para Waterford UPSTART directamente completando la forma de pre-registración en línea www.waterfordupstart.org  o llamando al 1-888-982-9898.
  • Usted puede bajar y compartir este documento con familias.  Waterford le dará copias si usted las pide.
  • Para ser elegible, los niños deben de ver nacido entre:  09/16/2015 - 09/15/2016.
  • Para más información o preguntas, favor e contactar a Sarah Walsh, nuestra Representadora de Waterford de South Dakota, al sarahwalsh@waterford.org.

Esta donación está enfocada en proveer servicios a 250 niños en el año escolar 2020-2021




December 13th, 2019



Happy Holidays!  Our staff and students are focused on completing the next week of music concerts, final exams, NWEA testing, and class projects.  The semester ends at Christmas break this year and we think that is advantageous for our students.  In years past, we would take our Christmas break only to come back to school for 2 weeks and then start a new semester in mid-January. 

As Christmas break approaches, I want to take a moment to reiterate how much I love this school and our community.  We have amazing people and programs.  Our parents are supportive, our staff is amazing, and our kids are great.  We are all on the same team with the same goal: THE BEST EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS!



I have advertised many times that my door is always open. I genuinely mean it!  I want to be accessible to you, but I also know that sometimes it is intimidating or inconvenient to come to the school.  I would like to offer a few opportunities to interact over Christmas break at a neutral site.  This can be a meet and greet opportunity, a listening session, or just a chance to talk about the holidays!  (These dates are dependent upon our newest child whose due date is January 9th; therefore, I will be at the locations listed below unless I am at the hospital!)

  • December 30th – Hill City Public Library 9:00-9:30 AM
  • December 31st – Hill City Café from 7:30-9:00 AM
  • January 2nd – Keystone Community Center 2:00-3:00 PM
  • January 3rd – Hill City Visitors Center from 10:00 – 11:00
  • If you would like me to speak at a meeting or with a group please contact me.



            On December 4th the Hill City School District practiced an enhanced lockdown drill as part of our school security training.  The drills were announced ahead of time.  Our staff prepared the students by explaining the procedures and at the elementary school Deputy Isakson prepped the students by reading the book I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared.

            The drills went very well.  We were able to reinforce concepts with our students and staff.  We also identified some things that we need to improve upon.  At the completion of the drills, our staff debriefed with our students.

            As a superintendent, I hate the fact that we even have to practice these types of drills.  It is sad, but I promise; while your kids are at school I will treat them like they are my own.  I will do everything possible to keep them safe and we are making great strides.  This is my 10th year as an administrator in the Hill City School District and our security and preparation is light years ahead of where we were a decade ago.  I feel our students and staff are proficient with A.L.I.C.E procedures.


            The Hill City Food Service Department completed the South Dakota Administrative Review and passed with flying colors.  The review is completed every 5 years and they commended Mrs. Dubois and our staff on the organization, management, and compliance of the food service department.  Just two years ago, Mrs. Dubois was the South Dakota Food Service Director of the Year and many of those qualities carried over to the review.  On a side note, I love the positive atmosphere in our kitchen and I think we have a wonderful staff.  Congrats Food Service on completing your review!



            The Hill City School District had the ELO accounting firm from Huron complete the annual school audit.  ELO presented the audit via phone to the school board.  The only finding from the audit was regarding the segregation of duties.  We have had this finding every year and the only way to correct it would be to hire more office staff to segregate the office duties, which even ELO said is not a feasible decision.  Therefore, we are proud to announce that this is the first year with only that finding.  Kudos to Mrs. Voorhees and the business office staff for a great audit.



            We have many concerts in the month of December.  The high school choir concert was last week, and the elementary concert was earlier this week.  We have high school band and middle school choir coming up.  Kudos to Mrs. G and Mr. Schaefer for awesome concerts. I am always amazed how great our fine arts are in Hill City.

            High school basketball games start this week.  Our first home game is Friday against Belle Fourche.  High school wrestling is in full swing and they go to Rushville on Saturday.  Middle school girl’s basketball and middle school wrestling are nearing the end of their seasons.

            Last month, the Hill City drama department performed the play Almost, Maine.  We had a great turnout and I was so proud of our actors and actresses.  Congratulations to Mr. Christian and Mrs. Jones-Stewart for directing a wonderful play!



            Two teams from Hill City competed in the regional Lego Robotics competition in Rapid City.  The Ranger Robotics team finished 1st place!!!! The Lego Rangers finished 7th and both teams will compete at the state competition in Sioux Falls in February.  Special thanks to all of the parents who help with the project and Brady Besco for volunteering his time to coach!



            The Delta Dental Van will be in Hill City the week of December 16th-20th.  The van will offer dental care to students upon the completion of an application.  The Dental Van is sponsored by the Tin City Masonic Lodge and coordinated by Hill City Dental.  This is a great event for our students as last year nearly $30,000 worth of dental work was completed.  The application is attached to this email or it can be found on the school website.  Everyone is invited to complete the application.



            We had 68 elementary students participate in STEM Camp after school in the elementary.  Thank you to Mrs. Gardner, Ms. Henderson, Miss. Willard, and Mrs. Scott for all the time and preparation making this academy so successful.  Students were able to learn programing skills, maneuver sphero balls, and they created objects with a 3D pen.  There are so many neat STEM activities which builds creativity, strategies, and solutions/outcomes. 



            All students are encouraged to participate in the 11th annual science fair held on March 5th and 6th.  Students can get entry forms from the school website (and attachment on this email).   PIPTO sponsors this science fair and it is a huge event with many prizes and opportunities to advance to the regional competition!  PIPTO is also looking for judges for the event.  For more information please reach out to Mrs. Ronish or hillcitypipto@k12.sd.us.



The elementary is still looking for donations to build gingerbread houses.  If you have any crackers, frosting, or candies you can donate to the elementary prior to December 19th. This will be a fun, mathematical activity for the kiddos to construct gingerbread houses.  We might just have some future architects or engineers!


The Hill City Board of Education spent the last month reviewing Policy B which deals with board governance and operations.  Policy B can be found on board docs.  The school board will also be completing a self-evaluation at a work session/board retreat.  The board continues to strive for excellence as they were honored with a Gold Level ranking from the ASBSD.



            Thank you to the generous people in our district that have donated to the Angel Fund. The Angel Fund is designed to help feed students who are suffering financial hardships.  In our district, we don’t turn kids away from eating, which sometimes leads to a negative lunch balance.  If you would like to donate to the Angel Fund, any amount helps.  Think about it, an elementary lunch costs $2.95, therefore even a donation of $10 can help feed a few students.



            At the last school board meeting, Mr. Satter presented the AP scores from the past 5 years.  Since 2015 we have had 119 students take advanced placement courses and they have consistently scored above the national average.  We have identified a correlation between AP and a spike in our ACT scores. 

The SD DOE requires Smarter Balance as our accountability assessment, but as a district our teachers get more data from NWEA MAP testing (North West Education Association – Measures of Academic Performance).  This formative assessment is administered district wide multiple times per year.  With the data our teachers are able to identify areas of strength and weakness.  Next, they set goals and design instruction around those goals.  It yet another reason our students are showing huge academic gains and why our school is amazing.






Felices Fiestas!  El personal y los estudiantes están enfocados en completar las  próximas dos semanas de conciertos de música, exámenes finales, NWEA pruebas, y proyectos de clase.  Este año el semestre finaliza en el descanso de Navidad y pensamos que es de mucha ventaja para los estudiantes.  En los años pasados, pudimos tomar el descanso de Navidad para regresar a la escuela por dos semanas y enseguida comenzar un semestre nuevo en medio de enero.  

Conforme el descanso de Navidad se acerca, quiero tomar un momento para reiterar cuanto amo a esta escuela y nuestra comunidad.  Tenemos maravillosas personas y programas.  Nuestros padres son de apoyo, nuestro personal es estupendo, y nuestros niños son espectaculares.  Todos estamos en el mismo grupo con la misma meta:  LA MEJOR EDUCACION PARA NUESTROS HIJOS! 



He anunciado muchas veces que mi puerta siempre está abierta.  Realmente lo digo!  Quiero esta accesible para ustedes, pero También sé que en ocasiones es intimidante o inconveniente venir a la escuela.  Me gustaría ofrecer algunas oportunidades para interactuar en el descanso de Navidad en un sitio neutral.  Esto puede ser una oportunidad de encontrarse y saludarse, una sesión de escuchar, o solo una chanza de hablar acerca de las festividades!  (Estas fechas dependen de nuestro hijo nuevo que se debe el 9 de enero, de tal manera, estaré en la localidad que está debajo al menos que esté en el hospital!)  

  • Diciembre 30 – Hill City Biblioteca Pública 9:00-9:30 AM
  • Diciembre 31 – Hill City Café de 7:30-9:00 AM
  • Enero 2 – Keystone Community Center 2:00-3:00 PM
  • Enero 3 – Hill City Visitors Center from 10:00 – 11:00
  • Si usted quiere que hable en una reunión o con un grupo favor de contactarme.



            El 4 de diciembre el Distrito de Hill City practicó un cierre mejorado como parte de nuestro entrenamiento de seguridad.  Los ensayos se anunciaron con anticipación.  Nuestro personal preparó a los estudiantes explicándoles los procedimientos y en la primaria de Oficial Isakson preparó a los estudiantes leyendo el libro No Estoy Asustado, Estoy preparado.   

            Los simulacros estuvieron muy bien.  Pudimos reforzar conceptos con los estudiantes y personal.  También identificamos algunas cosas que necesitamos mejorar.  Al completar el simulacro, el personal interrogó con los estudiantes.   

            Como director, odio la realidad que tenemos que practicar estos tipos de simulacros.  Es triste, pero prometo; mientras que sus hijos estén en la escuela los trataré como si fueran míos.  Haré todo lo que sea posible para mantenerlos seguros y estamos haciendo grandes pasos. Este es mi decimo año como administrador en el Distro Escolar de Hill City y nuestra seguridad y preparación es años de luz adelante de donde estábamos hace una década.  Siento que nuestros estudiantes y personal son proficientes con los procedimientos de A.L.I.C.E.



            El Departamento de Servicio de Comida de Hill City complete el Repaso Administrativo de South Dakota y pasó con colores.  El repaso es completado cada 5 años y ellos encomendaron a la Sra. Dubois y al personal en la organización, manejamiento, y complicidad del departamento de servicio de comida.  Solo hace dos años, la Sra. Dubois era la Directora de Servicio de Comida del Año de South Dakota y muchas de esas cualidades estuvieron en el repaso.  En una nota, me encanta la atmosfera positiva en la cocina y pienso que tenemos un maravilloso personal.  Felicidades al Servicio de Comida por completar su repaso!     



            El Distrito Escolar de Hill City tuvo la auditoria anual completa ELO de Huron a ELO presentó la auditoria por teléfono a la dirección de la escuela.  Lo único que se encontró en la auditoria fue acerca de la segregación de trabajos.  Hemos tenido estas cosas cada año y de la única manera de corregirlos es de emplear más personal de oficina para segregar los trabajos, lo cual ELO dijo no es una decisión posible.  Por lo tanto, estamos orgullosos de anunciar que este es el primer año con ese encuentro. Felicidades a Mrs. Voorhees y al personal de oficina de negocios por una gran auditoria.   



            Tenemos muchas preocupaciones en el mes de diciembre.  El concierto de la prepa fue la semana pasada, y el de la primaria fue esta semana.  Tenemos la banda de la prepa y el coro de la secundaria que vienen.  Felicidades a Mrs. G y Mr. Schaefer por los maravillosos conciertos, Siempre estoy sorprendido de las grandes artes en Hill City.    

            Los juegos de baloncesto de la prepa comienzan esta semana.  El primer juego en casa es el viernes contra Belle Fourche.  Las luchas de la prepa están funcionando y ellos van a Rushville el sábado.  El baloncesto y la lucha de la secundaria están cerca del fin de la temporada.  

            El mes pasado, el departamento de drama de Hill City realizó la actuación Almost, Maine. Tuvimos una gran participación y estuve muy orgulloso de nuestros actores y actrices.  Felicidades a Mr. Christian y Mrs. Jones-Stewart por dirigir una maravillosa obra!



            Dos grupos Hill City compitieron en el Lego Robotics Rapid City.  El grupo Ranger Robotics terminó en 1er. lugar!!!! El Lego Rangers terminaron 7th los dos grupos competirán en la misma competencia en Sioux Falls en febrero.  Gracias especiales a todos los padres que ayudan con el Proyecto y Brady Besco por ser voluntario como entrenador!   



             Delta Dental Van estará en Hill City la semana de diciembre 16 – 20.  La van ofrecerá cuidado dental para estudiantes de acuerdo a una aplicación.  La van dental está patrocinada por Tin City Masonic Lodge y coordinada por Hill City Dental.  Este es un gran evento para los estudiantes ya que el año pasado cerca de $30,000 en costo dental fue completado.  La aplicación está adjunta a este correo o puede ser encontrado en el sitio web de la escuela.  Todos son invitados a completar esta aplicación.



            Tuvimos 68 estudiantes de la primaria que participaron en el campamento STEM después de la escuela en la primaria.  Gracias Mrs. Gardner, Ms. Henderson, Miss. Willard, y Mrs. Scott por todo el tiempo y la preparación de hacer de esta academia un éxito.  Los estudiantes pudieron habilidades de programación, maniobrar bolas sphero, y crearon objetos con 3D pen.  Hay muchas actividades STEM padres el cual forma creatividad, estrategias, y soluciones/resultados.  



            Se les anima a todos los estudiantes a participar en la 11 Feria de Ciencia anual el 5 y 6 de marzo.  Los estudiantes pueden agarrar formas de entrada en el sitio web de la escuela (adjunto en este email).  PIPTO patrocina esta feria de ciencia y es un gran evento con muchos premier y oportunidades de avanzar en la competencia regional!  PIPTO También está buscando jueces para el evento.  Para más información favor de llamar a Mrs. Ronish o hillcitypipto@k12.sd.us. para el evento.



La primaria aún está pidiendo donaciones para formar casas de jengibre.  Si usted tiene galletas, cobertura de pastel o dulces los puede donar a la primaria antes del 19 de diciembre. Esto será una actividad de matemáticas divertida para que los niños construyan casas de jengibre.  Podríamos tener arquitectos o ingenieros en el futuro!     


La Junta Directiva de Hill City estuvo el mes pasado repasando la póliza B la cual se encarga con la gobernadora y operaciones de la junta.  La póliza B puede ser encontrada en los documentos de la junta.  La junta de la escuela También estará completando una evaluación misma en trabajo sección/junta retiro.  La junta continua en avanzar para excelencia ya que fueron honrados con Nivel de Oro de ASBSD.



            Gracias a las personas generosas en nuestro distrito que donaron al Angel Fund.  El Angel Fund está designado para ayudar a alimentar a estudiantes que están sufriendo financialmente.  En nuestro distrito, no rechazamos a niños para comer, el cual guía a deudas por el lonche.  Si a usted le gustaría donar al Angel Fund, cualquier monto de dinero ayuda.  Piense, el lonche de la primaria cuesta $2.95, así es que una donación de $10 puede ayudar a alimentar a algunos estudiantes.  





            En la junta de la escuela, Mr. Satter presentó los puntos AP de los pasados 5 años.  Desde 2015 hemos tenido 119 estudiantes que toman cursos de clases avanzadas y consistentemente calificaron encima del promedio medio nacional.  Hemos identificado una correlación entre AP y un aumento en las calificaciones en ACT.   

El SD DOE requiere Smarter Balance como una evaluación de nuestra acontabilidad, pero como distrito nuestros maestros toman más información de las pruebas NWEA MAP (North West Education Association – Measures of Academic Performance). Esta evaluación informativa está administrada en todo el distrito varias veces al año.  Con los datos nuestros maestros pueden identificar áreas de habilidades y debilidades.  En seguida, ponen metas y diseñan instrucciones alrededor de esta meta.  Todavía otra razón que los estudiantes están enseñando un gran mejoramiento académico y porque nuestra escuela es grandiosa.   


November 15th, 2019


            Public school districts are required to participate in an accreditation process every 5 years.  The Hill City School District recently completed accreditation through a firm called AdvancEd/Cognia.  They sent an external review team to observe our systemic practices and to interview our stakeholders.  It was a tedious process as they interviewed students, teachers, administrators, school board members, and parents.  After it was all said and done, not only did they provide us with accreditation, but they also presented us with an additional award.  Our region consists of 11 states and they announced that Hill City was the recipient of the VALUES DRIVEN AWARD at the national conference in Chicago.  They stated that our school had a positive atmosphere and that it felt like a family.  I have always known that we have a top school, but its extra special when an external review team confirms it.

            Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving.  I hope its an opportunity for everyone to recharge your batteries and prepare for the final phase of the first semester.  I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to serve as a leader in this school district.  I am thankful to interact with intelligent students, amazing staff members, and supportive parents.  I am thankful that we are all on the same team with the same goal: THE BEST EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS!



The Hill City High School Drama Department’s production of the award-winning play Almost, Maine will be held on Monday and Tuesday evening, November 18 and 19, in the HCHS theatre.  Almost, Maine centers on a fictional town in Maine, where on one deeply cold and magical Midwinter Night, the citizens of Almost – not organized enough for a town, too populated for a wilderness – experience the life-altering power of the human heart.   Sometimes tragic, often hilarious, always entertaining, this play finds people of all types falling in and out of love in unexpected ways.   

The HCHS production features  a cast of 14 and a behind the scenes crew of 7.  Shows will start promptly at 6:30pm.  Both productions will feature a dessert intermission, with donations being taken to help fund a variety of drama department ventures: attending regional plays, the spring Denver theatre trip, spring banquet, and traveling to one-act state competition.   Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens. 



            On November 14th, 2019 the elementary students of Hill City got to meet the author and and illustrator of Porter the Horder children’s book.  The book was written by Sean Covell, the producer of Napoleon Dynamite.  The book was projected on the big screen of the theater and Mr. Covell and the illustrator Rebecca Swift read the book with our kids.


Graduating Class

Hill City School District

South Dakota Average

Class of 2016



Class of 2017



Class of 2018



Class of 2019



4 Year Average



            The ACT assessment is just one form of assessment that our students can take but it is generally viewed as a benchmark for college readiness.  Other assessments that students can use for post-secondary entrance include the Accuplacer (Vocational Schools) or Smarter Balance (SD Board of Regent Schools for students who score a 3 or 4).


            Students and staff in the Hill City School District will participate in an A.L.I.C.E training on December 4th, 2019.  A.L.I.C.E is our district wide safety and security protocol.  A.L.I.C.E is an options-based approach that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.


            Thank you to everyone who attended or helped with the veteran’s day assembly.  The assembly was held on November 12th and included performances by the Hill City High School band, choir, guest speaker Dan Richer, gifts for veterans created by elementary and middle school students, and presentation of quilts by the Heart of the Hills Quilters.  Special thank you to Mrs. Roth-Bushur and Hill City Student Council for organizing the assembly. 

            People often ask me why we have school on Veterans Day.  Trust me, I love a day off from school as much as anyone, but what an amazing day to learn more about the holiday and pay tribute to our local veterans.  Therefore, while other schools might take the day off to honor their veterans, I think it is really cool that we have an amazing assembly and spend part of the day talking about our freedoms and the importance of our veterans!



            The students that participated in fall activities such as football, volleyball, cross country, cheer, knowledge bowl, choir, band, and drama did a fantastic job of representing our school.  I love athletics/activities for many reasons.  First, I believe that our students learn life lessons such as hard work, teamwork, and how to handle the emotions of success and failure.  Next, I believe our programs are an opportunity to promote our school.  Our students are ambassadors for our school and community.  In some cases, people from other towns will formulate opinions about our school and community based upon the way our students/spectators conduct themselves.

            Just as quickly as the fall season finished, another has already started.  Middle School girls’ basketball and wrestling are in action.  Cheerleaders are practicing, and soon high school wrestling and boys/girls’ basketball will start. 




            The Hill City Board of Education approved the administrative recommendation to add another special education teacher in the elementary.  The position is currently posted on the school website and applications can be sent to the district office care of Heather Robinson.  This teacher is expected to begin in the 2nd semester which starts January 6th, 2020.

            The elementary school has experienced a higher demand for a special education teacher.  Dr. Joe Hauge, director of the Black Hills Special Services, assured the committee that this is a normal trend in public education as case loads are rapidly increasing.  From a school finance perspective, I think its important to note that schools have three funds: General, Capital Outlay, and Special Education.  The general fund is focused on salary, benefits, and supplies for general education teachers.  The capital outlay fund focusses on building projects, debt services, and upkeep.  Finally, the special education fund is dedicated strictly to special education with no flexibility to share revenue with any of the other funds.  Our special education fund can sustain the addition of an elementary special education teacher.



            Mr. Besco has created a middle school Lego robotics club.  At this point, the club consists of 8 team members that meet Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings before school.  The Lego Rangers use the STEM Lab to code and program robots to complete obstacle courses and other challenges.  The club will compete in the regional Lego League Competition in Rapid City against approximately 30 other teams.  One of the other teams is a privately organized team from Hill City who made the state tournament last year.  The two teams will scrimmage in Hill City on December 3rd.



            After school STEM academy will start in the elementary on Monday.  The academy is open to kids 1st-5th grade from 3:05-4:30.  Approximately 50 students have already signed up for the academy that will be facilitated by Ms. Willard, Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Gardner, and Ms. Henderson. 



Dec 5th – MS/HS Choir Concert

Dec 10th – Elementary Music Concert & 5th Grade Band

Dec 12th – HS Band Concert


Superintendent Blake Gardner – Blake.Gardner@K12.SD.US
October 23rd, 2019

Superintendent Newsletter 10-23-19



Homecoming week was a great success for the Hill City School District this year.  Our students and staff showed tremendous school spirit.  We had many dress up days, but my favorite was ‘superhero’ day.  I observed Superman, Spiderman, wonder woman, and Thor to name a few.  Yet, there were a few superheroes that were overlooked in my opinion. 

First, our teachers.  We have amazing teachers in our district that care, challenge, motivate, and put their heart and soul into our school.  In our district, 100% of our teachers are considered highly qualified according to the SDDOE, meaning our kids are learning from the best.

Next, we have amazing paraprofessionals that are the glue that holds the school together.  They mentor, tutor, administer recess duty, and many other complimentary roles.  I have even observed aids step in and teach a lesson when the teacher is absent.  We are in good hands. 

We have an amazing food service staff that cooks, serves, and cares.  Our kids go through the lunch line greeted with smiles and learn the value of good manners.  These are not your normal lunch personnel and the lunch room is a warm and inviting place. 

Our custodial staff are the behind the scenes super heroes that make sure our facilities are top notch.  They clean, maintain, fix, and ensure our campus is in good condition for our kids.  They are the first ones here in the morning to get the school opened and the last ones to leave at the end of the day or after sporting events.

 Finally, our administrative assistants are superheroes.  People think administrators and directors run the buildings, nope, it’s the secretaries.  They answer phone calls, take student temperatures, get supplies for teachers, fix the copy machine, and keeping everything running smoothly. 



The first quarter is complete, and I have been extremely proud of what I observed.  I try to spend at least 30 minutes a day in the classrooms.  I have been so proud of the learning environment for our kids.  Our students are engaged, they are collaborating, they are thinking critically, and they are achieving at a high level. For those of you who haven’t been in school for a while, I encourage you to stop in because its way different than the stand and deliver/sage on the stage educational system that we grew up with.  Our lessons are authentic and engage our students in the 3 r’s.  It’s no longer reading, writing, and arithmetic…. Its Rigor, Relationships, and Relevance.

Finally, it’s a blessing to work in a great school district.  I have loved the first quarter of school and can’t wait to see what the next quarter brings.  I want to reiterate that my door is always open.  We are all on the same team with the same goal: THE BEST EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS!




The ACT is a standardized test generally viewed by post-secondary schools as a benchmark for college readiness.  Hill City averaged a 23.5 this year!  Another very impressive ACT average.  Below is a chart of our recent ACT averages compared to the state average.

The SPI is an index created by the South Dakota Department of Education to evaluate schools based on different indicators.  The indicators vary from elementary to high school, but in general focus on student achievement, growth, attendance, and graduation rate.  Hill City was once again leaders in the region with our SPI scores.



















Red Ribbon week is in the elementary from October 28th – November 1st.  The purpose of Red Ribbon week is to pledge against drug use.  Drug prevention and healthy lifestyle choices will be emphasized during guidance classes and dress up days.  Mrs. Weron will have games before school and during lunch.  Dress up days include: Relax in your comfy clothes and random act of kindness day (Monday), Outer space day and don’t let drugs get in the way (Tuesday), Movie Character and positive thoughts day (Wednesday), Stuffed animal we like hugs not drugs (Thursday), and Patriotic lets make wise decisions for America (Friday).


            I will admit, I was not looking forward to the snow.  There were several reasons.  One of them being that our previous snow storm was at the end of May, meaning that only 130 days and a few months later we were in the crosshairs for another storm.  Another reason is that I interviewed a dozen West River superintendents prior to accepting my new role as Hill City superintendent.  I inquired about everything from instructional leadership to fiscal management.  The only question that received a unanimous answer was, “What is your least favorite part of the job?”  The unequivocal reply was “Trying to predict snow days/delayed starts!”

            Predicting snow days is challenging in any district, but especially ours.  We have a large district geographically.  Our district encompasses 370,231 acres, which converts to approximately 578 square miles!  It spans from the Wyoming border to the Keystone Wye and from the Lawrence County border in the North to the Custer County border in the South.  Within our district boundaries we actually have many different climates.  My friends up Deerfield remind me that the weather there is often completely different than in Hill City.  It is an easy decision when the weather and roads are poor everywhere or when the weather and roads are good everywhere.  The dilemma is when a rural area has bad roads, but the other area is conducive for school.

            Another challenging aspect is the time constraints around snow days or delayed starts.  Typically, we need to make a decision by 5:00 AM so I can get the message out on school reach, news stations, email, website, and let the bus company know.  As you all know, the South Dakota rule of thumb is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it will change.”  Therefore, making a decision based upon the conditions at 5:00 AM and the radar predictions can often be wrong.

            Ultimately, I promise that I will do my best to travel the roads in the district to ensure they are safe.  During the most recent snow storm I took to the road at 4:00 AM both mornings to travel Old Hill City Road, Highway 16, Deerfield Road, and Highway 385.  Additionally, I communicate with the DOT, County, Harlows Bus Company, our maintenance department, and area superintendents. 

            Finally, I hope that I will never get a snow day wrong….But, just in case I do I am asking for your understanding in advance.  I also think its important that we don’t overdrive the road conditions, especially on curvy roads.  Plan on leaving a few minutes early if you anticipate ice or snow packed roads.  Another bit of advice is from a wise man who told me, “Never skimp on anything that separates you from the ground: your shoes, your bed, or your tires.”  Good tires are very important for South Dakota winter driving and can prevent slipping and sliding.  Finally, if you don’t feel safe coming to school then I encourage you to stay home or attend when you feel conditions improve.  Attendance is important, but not as important as your safety. 



            The fall activities season is finishing up.  The Ranger football team finished the season on Homecoming Friday against Kadoka.  The state cross country meet is Saturday, October 26th in Huron.  We want to wish Abby, Lizzy, Jazz, Natalie, Azure, and Luke the best of luck! Our girls volleyball team will begin the playoffs on November 5th.  Currently we are the #1 seed in our region, which would result in a first round bye and then hosting the #4/#5 team on November 7th.  The knowledge bowl finals will be on November 9th at Rapid City Central. Middle School girls basketball and wrestling are now under way.

The Ranger fine arts schedule is busy with All-State chorus on October 24th and 25th.  The Hill City High School play will take place in the theater towards the end of November.  The middle school band and choir winter concert will be December 5th, the elementary music concert and 5th grade band performance will be December 10th, and the high school winter band concert will be December 12th.



            The Hill City School Board was presented a plaque to honor them as a Gold Level School Board.  Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota (ASBSD) was in Hill City on October 21st to make the presentation.  ASBSD has a system that allows board members to earn points for attending trainings and participating in events.  School boards must earn 500 points to qualify for Gold Level status.  The Hill City Board of Education earned 700 points!


            A pumpkin painting contest is open to all elementary school students.  The painted pumpkins can be turned into Ms. Henderson by October 30th.  Pumpkins must be painted and not carved, as we learned the hard way that they get mushy very quickly.  Elementary Halloween parties will be on Friday, October 25th at 2:00 PM.  The kids will have a costume parade before the parties at about 1:30.  After school, the Hill City merchants will sponsor a main street trick or treat festival.



            The elementary is participating in the Race to Read contest.  For every book an elementary student (or parent) reads, the student will create a paper chain.  The elementary is currently starting the third wall, so they are making great progress.  The culminating event for this race will be an ice cream party on November 1st sponsored by Black Hills Reads.



            This week is bus driver appreciation week.  In Hill City, we contract our bus routes and activities through a company called Harlows Bus Company.  We offer 4 school routes that combine to have 143 students registered and travel 310 miles per day.  Our bus drivers are instrumental in getting our students to school safely and also getting them home safely.  If you see a bus driver this week, give them a big ‘thank you’.



            We have invited the South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement director, Lindsay Frankenfeld to tour and evaluate our school district.  On October 24th, Mrs. Frankenfeld and a team of teachers and parents will complete a checklist for our elementary.  We will eventually evaluate our entire district, but we are starting in the elementary school.

            One of my goals as a superintendent is to have the best customer service possible.  As a school district, we are in the kid business and our customers are our kids and stakeholders.  We attempt to communicate in a variety of ways including: via newsletters, website, emails, conferences.  This walkthrough will give us feedback on our performance.


Blake Gardner – Blake.Gardner@K12.SD.US – Hill City School Superintendent

Superintendent Newsletter 10-23-19



Este año la semana de Homecoming fue un gran éxito para el Distrito Escolar de Hill City.  Nuestros estudiantes y el personal enseñaron un tremendo espíritu de escuela.  Tuvimos muchos días de disfraces, pero mi favorito fuel el día del ‘super héroe’.  Observe Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, y Thor por nombrar algunos.  Con todo eso, en mi opinión había  algunos superhéroes que fueron pasados por alto.    

Primero, nuestros maestros.  Tenemos estupendos maestros en nuestro distrito que les importa, desafían, motivan, y ponen su corazón y alma en la escuela.  En nuestro distrito, el 100% de nuestros maestros son considerados altamente calificados de acuerdo a SDDOE, significando que nuestros hijos están aprendiendo con los mejores.   

En seguida, tenemos estupendos ayudantes que son el pegamento que sostiene la escuela a través de guiando, enseñando, trabajo de recreo, y cualquier otro papel complementario.  He visto aun a los ayudantes enseñando una lección cuando el maestro está ausente.  Estamos en buenas manos.   

Tenemos un maravilloso servicio de comida, servidores, y cuidados.  Nuestros niños van en la línea del lonche recibidos con sonrisas y aprendiendo el valor de buenos modales.  Estos no son el personal normal y el cuarto de lonche es un lugar acogedor e invitador.    

El personal de limpieza son los superhéroes de detrás de la escena que se aseguran que nuestro lugar esté siempre limpio.  Limpian, mantienen, arreglan, y se aseguran que nuestra escuela esté en buena condición para nuestros niños.  Son los primeros aquí en la mañana para abrir la escuela y los últimos en marcharse al final del día o después de eventos de deportes.    

 Finalmente, nuestros asistentes administrativos son superhéroes.  La gente piensa que los administradores y directores dirigen las escuelas, no, son las secretarias.  Ellas responden las llamadas de teléfono, les toman la temperatura a los estudiantes, obtienen suministros para los maestros, arreglan la copiadora, y mantienen todo funcionando suavemente.   



El primer cuarto está complete, y he estado extremadamente orgulloso de lo que observe.  Trato de pasar cuando menos 30 minutos al día en las aulas.  He estado muy orgulloso de la atmosfera de aprendizaje para nuestros hijos.  Los estudiantes están atentos, están colaborando, están pensando críticamente, y están logrando a un alto nivel.  Para aquellos que no ha estado en la escuela por un rato, los animo a que vengan porque está muy diferente del sistema educativo en el que crecimos.  Las lecciones son auténticas, e involucran a nuestros estudiantes en los 3 r’s.  No es más la lectura, escritura, y aritmética…. Es rigor, relaciones, y relevancia.      

Finalmente, es una bendición trabajar en gran distrito escolar.  Me ha encantado el primer cuarto de escuela y no puedo esperar de ver lo que el siguiente cuarto traiga.  Quiero reiterar que mi puerta siempre está abierta.  Todos estamos en el mismo grupo con la misma meta:  LA MEJOR EDUCACIÓN PARA NUESTROS HIJOS!   



  El ACT es una prueba estandarizada generalmente vista por escuelas secundarias como marca comparativa para el alistamiento del colegio.  Hill City califica a 23.5 este año!  Otro promedio muy impresionante ACT.    

El SPI es un índice creado por el Departamento de Educación de South Dakota para evaluar escuelas basados en diferentes indicadores.  Los indicadores varían de la primaria a la preparatoria, pero en general se enfoca en el logro del estudiante, crecimiento, asistencia, y porcentaje de graduación.  Una vez más Hill City encabeza en la región con nuestro puntaje SPI.   


















                                             SEMANA DE LA CINTA ROJA                                                 

La semana de la Cinta Roja está en la primaria de octubre 28 – noviembre 1.  El propósito de esta semana es comprometerse contra el uso de drogas.  La prevención de drogas y las elecciones de vida saludable se enfatizarán durante las clases de consejería y días de disfraces.  Mrs. Weron tendrá juegos antes de la escuela y durante el lonche.  Los disfraces incluyen:  Relájese en su ropa confortable y hacer una obra de amabilidad (lunes), Dia de Espacio y no dejar que las drogas se pongan en el camino(martes), Personaje de película y pensamientos positivos (miércoles), animal de peluche nos gustan los abrazos no drogas (jueves), y patriota vamos a hacer decisiones inteligentes para América (viernes).    


            Tengo que admitir, no esperaba la nieve con gozo.  Hay algunas razones.  Una de ellas es que una de las últimas tormentas de nieve fue al final de mayo, significa que solo 130 días y algunos meses después estuvimos cerca de otra tormenta.  Otra razón es que entrevisté una docena de superintendentes antes de aceptar mi nuevo papel como superintendente de Hill City.  Pregunté de todo desde liderazgo instruccional hasta manejo físico.  La única pregunta que recibuna respuesta unánime fue, “Cual es la parte que menos le gusta de su trabajo?”  La respuesta no equivocada fue “Tratar de predecir días de nieve/dilatar el comienzo de escuela”      

            Predecir días de nieve es un reto en cualquier distrito, pero especialmente el nuestro.  Tenemos un distrito geográficamente grande.  Nuestro distrito tiene 370,231 acres, el cual se convierte aproximadamente en 578 millas cuadrada!  Se expande desde el borde de Wyomig a Keysone Wye y del condado Lawrence en el norte del condado de Custer en el sur.  En nuestro distrito tenemos actualmente muchos climas diferentes.  Mis amigos de Deerfield me recuerdan que el clima allá a menudo es completamente diferente de Hill City.  Es una decisión fácil cuando los caminos están mal en todas partes y cuando están bien.  El dilema es cuando un área rural tiene caminos malos, pero la otra área es conducente para la escuela

            Otro aspecto desafiante es el tiempo limitable alrededor de los días de nieve o comienzos tarde.  Típicamente, tenemos que hacer una decisión a la 5:00 am para poder mandar el mensaje, estaciones de noticias, correo electrónico, sitito de internet, y avisarle a la compañía de autobuses.  Como todos saben, la regla de South Dakota es, “Si no le gusta el clima, espere 5 minutos y cambiará.”  Por lo tanto, hacer decisiones basadas en las condiciones a las 5:00 am y las predicciones a menudo son erróneas.      

            Ultimadamente, les prometo que haré lo mejor en manejar los caminos en el distrito para asegurarme que estén seguros.  Durante la tormenta de nieve reciente tomé el camino a las 4:00 las dos mañanas para manejar en el camino viejo de Hill City, Highway 16, Deerfield Road, y Highway 385.  Adicionalmente, me comunico con el condado DOT, la compañía de autobuses Harlows, el departamento de mantenimiento, y el área de superintendentes.     

            Finalmente, espero que nunca me falle el día de nieve….Pero, en caso de que me falle les pido de antemano una disculpa.  También pienso que es importante que no sobre manejemos las condiciones de caminos, especialmente en caminos con corvas.  Haga planes de salir algunos minutos temprano si uste anticipa hielo o nieve.  Otro consejo es de un hombre sabio que me dijo, “Nunca escatime nada que lo separe de la tierra: sus zapatos, su cama o sus llantas.”  Las buenas llantas son muy importantes para el invierno en South Dakota y pueden prevenir el resbalarse.  Finalmente, si no se siente Seguro de venir a la escuela entonces los animo a que se queden en casa o venir cuando usted sienta que las condiciones mejoraron. La asistencia es importante, pero no tan importante como su seguridad.   



            Las actividades de la estación de otoño están terminando.  El grupo de futbol terminaron su temporada el viernes de Homecoming contra Kadoka.  La reunión de atletismo es el sábado, octubre 26 en Huron.  Les queremos desear buena suerte a Abby, Lizzy, Jazz, y Luke.  El grupo de volibol de niñas comenzarán sus finales el 5 de noviembre.  A la fecha somos el #1 en nuestra región, el cual resultará en el primer juego gratis y después en casa con grupo #4/#5 el 7 de noviembre.  Las finales de knowledge bowl serán el 9 de noviembre en Rapid City Central.  El baloncesto de niñas de la secundaria y wrestling están en su camino.

            El horario de las artes finas Ranger está muy ocupado con el coro All-State en octubre 24 y 25.  La obra teatral de la Preparatoria será en el teatro noviembre 21 – noviembre 23.  El concierto de banda y coro del invierno de la secundaria serán el 5 de diciembre, el concierto de música de la primaria y las presentaciones la banda de 5to. Grado serán el 10 de diciembre, y el concierto de banda de la prepa será el 12 de diciembre.    



            Se le presentó al Comité de la Escuela de Hill City una placa para honrarlo como un miembro de nivel de Oro.  Wade Pogany, director ejecutivo del Comité de Escuelas Asociadas de South Dakota (ASBSD) estuvo en Hill City el 21 de octubre para hacer la presentación.  ASBSD tiene un Sistema que deja que los miembros del comité ganen puntos por atender entrenamientos y participar en eventos.  Los comités de escuelas deben de ganará 500 puntos para calificar para un estatus de Nivel de Oro.  El Comité de Educación de Hill City ganó 700 puntos!   


            Una competencia de pintura de calabazas está abierta para todos los estudiantes de la primaria.  Las calabazas pintadas pueden ser entregadas a Mrs. Henderson cerca de octubre 30.  Las calabazas deben de estar pintadas no esculpidas, ya que aprendimos de una manera dura que se vuelven suaves muy rápido.  Las fiestas de Halloween de la primaria son el viernes, 25 de octubre a las 2:00 pm.  Los niños tendrán un desfile de disfraces antes de las fiestas alrededor de la 1:30. Después de la escuela, los comerciantes de Hill City tendrán su trick or treat en la calle principal.   



            La primaria está participando en una carreta de Lectura.  Por cada libro que un estudiante de primaria (o padre) lea, el estudiante hará una cadena de papel.  Al momento la primaria comenzó la tercera pared, así que están haciendo un gran progreso.  La culminación de este evento será con una fiesta de helado el 1ro. de noviembre patrocinada por Black Hills Reads.



            Esta semana es la semana de apreciación del conductor.  En Hill City, nosotros contratamos las rutas de camiones y actividades a través de una compañía llamada Harlows.  Ofrecemos 4 rutas de escuela que combinados para tener 143 estudiantes registrados y viajan 310 millas por día.  Nuestros conductores son instrumentales en traer a nuestros estudiantes a la escuela seguramente y también llevándolos a casa seguros.  Si usted ve a un conductor esta semana, denle las gracias.    



            Hemos invitado al director de South Dakota Statewide Family Engagement, Lindsay Frankenfeld para hacer un recorrido y evaluar nuestro distrito.  En octubre 24, Mrs. Frankenfeld, un grupo de maestros, y algunos padres completarán una lista de chequeos para la primaria.  Eventualmente evaluaremos el distrito entero, estamos comenzando en la escuela primaria.

            Una de mis metas como superintendente es tener el mejor servicio posible.  Como distrito escolar, estamos en el negocio de niños y nuestros clientes son nuestros niños y participantes interesados.  Intentamos comunicarnos en una variedad de formas incluyendo:  vía noticias, sitio de internet, correo electrónico, conferencias.   








October 2nd, 2019


                We are off to a wonderful start to the school year and October is upon us.  In the next month we will complete our first quarter of school and have our first parent teacher conferences (October 8th).  We have many things to celebrate in Hill City including smart kids, wonderful educators, and supportive parents.  We are all on the same team with the same goal: THE BEST EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS!

Make today your masterpiece!

Blake Gardner – Blake.Gardner@K12.SD.US – 605-574-3030



October 7th – School Board Meeting @ 6:00 in High School Room 202

October 8th – Parent Teacher Conferences 4:00 – 8:00

                -Elementary in classrooms

                -MS/HS in gymnasium

October 14th – No School

October 14th – Coronation @ 6:00 in HS Theater

October 18th – Homecoming Pep Rally 12:30 – 1:00 Gins Gym

                       - 1:00 Dismissal from school

                       - PIPTO Carnival 1:00-3:30ish



                Hill City receives federal money called Impact Aid (Section 7002 of the Every Student Succeeds Act).  86% of the Hill City School District is national forest service land, meaning only 14% of the district generates local property tax.  Schools are funded through a variety of sources, but local property tax is the primary source.  In lieu of taxes, the federal government kicks in some money.  Even though it is only funded at 8% of what the district would generate on private land, every little bit helps.  Recently, school board vice-president Angie Ross and I met with our South Dakota congressional delegation to explain how important those funds are to the Hill City School District budget.



                The Hill City girls’ volleyball team is #2 in power points in South Dakota and is 20-0!!!  The next home game is October 15th against STM at 7:00.  Our football team is 3rd in our region with a 2-3 record and travels to RC Christian on Friday before finishing the season with 2 games at Ranger Field.  The cheer squad has been great at promoting Ranger pride! The cross-country team continues to make Hill City proud with Abby Cutler winning the previous meet.  At that meet Tate Grabow won the 6th grade boys and Jaelyn Peters won the 6th grade girls.  Our MS football team and MS volleyball team continue to have strong participation number.  The knowledge bowl team finished 4th place last week at the Rapid City West meet.  Choir is preparing for All-State and our band is preparing for the Veterans Day Assembly on November 11th.  Signups and auditions are coming up for the high school play that will take place November 21st-23rd!  As Mr. Ginsbach says, “It’s a great time to be a RANGER!”





                 The month of October, Hill City Elementary is participating in Race to Read, sponsored by Black Hills Reads!  For each book you or your child reads, fill out a strip of paper with your name and the book title.  With these strips of paper, we will create a big chain to show how many books we all have read for the month!  Then, on November 1st at 2:15pm, we will have an ice cream sundae party to celebrate our awesome reading!



Miss South Dakota spoke to our juniors and seniors about dual credit and college preparation.  She was impressed to find out that our students have access to college credits without leaving campus!  Our students can take sociology, psychology, speech, criminal justice, and/or college algebra.  We also offer online dual credit courses and some of our students take classes from Western Dakota Tech and the School of Mines.  Meaning, many of our seniors graduate high school with many college credits.



                Hill City once again had a strong student performance index.  The SPI is an index created by the South Dakota Department of Education that measures a school on areas such as student achievement, student growth scores, and attendance to name a few.  The high school was once again tops in the area!



                Governor Noem launched the South Dakota Week of Work program from Rapid City’s B9 Creations.  The Week of Work is geared towards 10th graders the week of April 20th to encourage apprenticeships and internships.  Brian Rupert and I were able to attend the kickoff and meet with many state level representatives to showcase the awesome things going on in our STEM lab. 



                Donor’s Choose is a website that has a mission statement to help teacher bring their dream classrooms to life.  Our district has funding for supplies and materials, but the Donor’s Choose website is for those that want to go above and beyond.  Our district is blessed to have several projects that have been fully funded by private donors including an engineering kit in the elementary and STEM lab resources in the high school.  For more information look up DONORSCHOOSE.ORG



October 4th is the last day to order the booster club gear.  The gear can be found at https://fancloth.shop/ynfza



                Lindsay Frankenfeld with the South Dakota Department of Education will be on campus October 24th to monitor our parent engagement.  As a school we attempt to communicate with all of our stakeholders in a variety of ways.  One of the tools the department of education will be requesting is data from a DOE created survey.  You can access the survey by clicking below.  It takes about 3-5 minutes to complete.  We ask that you take a moment to complete it!  Thank you!






                Comenzamos maravillosamente el año escolar y octubre ya está aquí.  En el mes siguiente completaremos el primer cuarto de escuela y tendremos las primeras conferencias (octubre 8o.  Tenemos muchas cosas para celebrar en Hill City incluyendo niños inteligentes, estupendos educadores, y padres que apoyan.  Todos estamos en el mismo grupo con la misma meta:  LA MEJOR EDUCACION PARA NUESTROS HIJOS!

Haga de hoy su obra maestra!

Blake Gardner – Blake.Gardner@k12.s.d.us – 605-574-3030



Octubre 7 – Junta de la Junta Directiva 6:00 en el cuarto 202 de la Prepa

Octubre 8 – Conferencias de Padres y Maestros 4:00 – 8:00

-Primaria en las aulas

-Secundaria/Prepa en el gimnasio

Octubre 14 – No Escuela

Octubre 14 – Coronación 6:00 en el teatro de la prepa

Octubre 18 – Homecoming Encuentro de Motivación 12:30 – 1:00 Gimnasio Gins

  • 1:00 Salida de Escuela
  • Carnaval de PIPTO 1:00-3:30



Hill City recibe dinero federal llamado Impact Aid (Sección 7002 del Acto de los Éxitos de cada Estudiante).  El 86% del Distrito Escolar de Hill City es terreno del bosque nacional, que significa que solo el 14% del distrito genera impuestos de propiedades locales.  Los fondos para las escuelas vienen de una variedad de recursos, pero el recurso primario son los impuestos de propiedades locales.  En lugar de impuestos, el gobierno federal da algo de dinero.  A pesar de que solo cubre el 8% de lo que el distrito generaría en propiedad privada, cada cosita ayuda.  Recientemente, la vicepresidenta de la junta directiva Angie Ross y yo nos reunimos con la delegación congresional de South Dakota para explicar que tan importante esos fondos son para el presupuesto del Distrito Escolar de Hill City.



                El grupo de volibol de Hill City está en 2do. lugar en el estado de South Dakota y está en 20-0!!!  El próximo juego en casa es el 15 de octubre contra STM a las 7:00.  El grupo de futbol esta en 3er. lugar en nuestra región con un marcador de 2 -3 y viajará a RC Christian  el viernes antes de terminar la temporada con dos juegos en el Campo Ranger.  El grupo de atletismo continua enorgulleciendo a Hill City con Abby Cutler ganando la anterior competición.  En esa competencia Tate Grabow ganó en el grado 6to. de niños y Jaelyn Peters ganó en el 6to. grado de niñas.  El grupo de futbol de la secundaria continua en tener una participación fuerte.  El grupo de Conocimiento terminó en 4to. lugar la semana pasada en la competencia en Rapid City West.  Ya vienen las registraciones y audiciones para la obra teatral de la prepa que será el 21-23 de noviembre!  Como dice Mr. Ginsbach, “Es un gran tiempo de ser un RANGER”




                La próxima reunión será el 7 de octubre a las 6:00 en el cuarto 202 de la prepa.



                En el mes de octubre, la Primaria de Hill City está participando en una carrera de Lectura, conducida por Black Hill Lee!  Por cada libro que usted o su hijo lea, llene una tira de papel con su nombre y titulo del libro.  Con estas tiras de papel, crearemos una cadena grande para mostrar cuantos libros hemos leído en el mes!  Luego, el 1ro. de noviembre a las 2:15pm, tendremos una fiesta de helado para celebrar nuestra gran lectura!



                En caso de que alguien se este preguntando, la retoma de fotos será el 15 de noviembre.  No se les requiere a los estudiantes que se retomen las fotos; la retoma será por pedimento del padre.



                Una vez más, Hill City tuvo un fuerte índice de desempeño.  El SPI es un índice creado por el Departamento de Educación de South Dakota que mide la escuela en áreas como el logro del estudiante, crecimiento del estudiante, y la asistencia por nombrar algunos.  Una vez más, la escuela de la prepa estuvo en la cima en el área!



                La gobernadora Noem lanzo el programa de la Semana de Trabajo de South Dakota de las Creaciones B9 de Rapid City.  La semana de trabajo está puesta hacia estudiantes del grado 10 para animar el aprendizaje e internado.  Brian Rupert y yo pudimos atender al lanzamiento y nos reunimos con muchos representantes de nivel de estado para enseñar las maravillosas cosas que están pasando en el laboratorio STEM.  Si alguien le gustaría un recorrido de nuestro laboratorio STEM, favor de contactarme.




                Elección de Donadores es un sitio de internet que tiene una misión de ayudar al maestro a traer a la vida el aula de su sueño.  Nuestro distrito tiene fondos para los suministros y materiales, pero el sitio web es para los que quieren ir mas allá.  Nuestro distrito es bendecido de tener varios proyectos que han sido totalmente pagados por donadores privados incluyendo un juego de ingeniería en la primaria y recursos de un laboratorio STEM en la prepa.  Para más información busque en DONORSCHOOSE.ORG



                Octubre 4 es el último día para ordenar artículos ranger. Los artículos pueden ser encontrados en https://fancloth.shop/ynfza



                Liddsay Frankenfeld en el Departamento de Educación de South Dakota estará en el plantel el 24 de octubre para monitorear la participación del padre.  Como una escuela tratamos de comunicarnos con todos los participantes interesados en una variedad de maneras.  Una de las herramientas que el departamento de educación pedirá son datos de un cuestionario creado por el departamento.  Puede tener acceso al cuestionario haciendo clic abajo.  Toma cerca de 3-5 minutos para completar.  Les pedimos que tomen un momento para completarlo.  Gracias!

https://ties.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV  a3Rfj46enbyueNL


September 13th, 2019

Happy Friday the 13th with a full moon!  We are finishing our fourth week of school and next week signifies the half way point of the first quarter of school.  In the first month of school our educators have established routines and procedures.  Our students have completed the NWEA assessment; which serves as a benchmark for this school year.  We will administer the test two more times (Winter and Spring).  The premise behind the testing is twofold: first it allows our educators to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement, so they can tailor their teaching around our kids.  Second, it allows students/parents to observe growth through the year.  I try to spend time at the beginning of each day in the classrooms and I have observed top-notch teaching and top-notch learning!

            September is Attendance Awareness month and I would like to encourage everyone to make school attendance a priority.  The Attendance Works Council identifies students that miss twice a month as ‘chronically absent’.  The Council links academic and social struggles to chronic absenteeism.  I once heard a coach say, “Your best ability is availability”, so I hope we can continue to have very high attendance rates!

            The first document attached is a child find poster for any kids that are not school age yet (3-5 years old).  As a school, we understand the importance of early childhood education (this is an area that I am passionate about).  I believe that we can eliminate struggles on the back end of student’s educational careers if we target them at the front end.  Therefore, the purpose of this screening is to work with parents (and potentially pre-school/daycare providers) regarding the child’s academic, speech, and fine motor skills.

            The second document is my superintendent entry plan.  I named this plan, “Climbing the H.I.L.L”  H.I.L.L is an acronym for “Hill City – Interview – Learn – Lead”.  I know everyone is busy, but I encourage you to read through this document.  Especially the last two pages in which I outline my 10 goals for the 2019-2020 school year.

            Finally, I want to thank everyone in our educational community.  I love this school and fell blessed to serve as superintendent.  We have awesome educators, intelligent students, and supportive parents.  We are all on the same team with the same goal: THE BEST EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS!




September 17th @ 6:00 PM– Pick up/Drop Off Presentation – HS Theater

Geared for all parents who drop off or pick up kids from school.  Deputy Isakson will lead the discussion regarding student safety to and from school.


September 20th – PICTURE DAY



The high school girls’ volleyball team is off to an 8-0 start and are the #1 ranked team in the region.  Our cross-country team continues to be a force, our cheer squad provides school spirit, and the Hill City football team travels to Edgemont in search of a victory tonight.  Our middle school athletics have approximately 70 student-athletes participating in a fall sport.  Our band and vocal programs are ROCKING (52 in choir 6-12, 114 in band 6-12).  Knowledge bowl will have their first contest on September 28th.



The last school board meeting was September 9th.  The Hill City Board of Education approved the 2019-2020 budget, which can be found on the school website.  The board recognized our new employees and gave them a Hill City Ranger welcome!  The board approved payments to Ranger Field which nearly completes this phase of the renovation project.  This phase included excavation, irrigation, and sod.  The only project waiting to be completed is the fence around Ranger Field.  (Once the fence is complete I will send out a flier explaining all of the progress.)



Our kitchen staff is serving coffee drinks to high school students in the commons.  The cost is $2.00 for a drink and since they are made with milk, they meet the nutrition requirement!



The elementary office will look different as a window was installed.  The rational was for school security, but Mrs. Kalkofen will be happy to have some fresh air.  The railing and gutters outside of the middle school are in the works as we wait for the companies to complete the job.



Mrs. Bair and the Leo Club sponsored a motivational speaker named Nathan Harmon to speak to our middle school and high school students.  Mr. Harmon delivered a powerful speech about self-respect, self-worth, and being kind to others!  I have heard amazing reviews from our student body regarding this assembly!


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The district has a Facebook page Hill City School District 51-2 Rangers


Blake Gardner – Blake.Gardner@K12.SD.US – 605-574-3030

Hill City School District 51-2 Superintendent

August 10th, 2019 (Also Posted In Hill City Prevailer)

My dad used to tell me, “Character is what you do when nobody is watching.”  If that quote is true, then the people in our district have very high character.  It was a busy summer for students and staff to prepare for the 2019-2020 school year.  For example, we had over 40 elementary students attend 4 weeks of summer school that focused on STEM.  We had a week-long AP Boot camp in July for the high school advanced placement students to get a head start on the AP Classes.  Every morning the weight room, track, or gym was full of student-athletes that were improving upon their skills.  Therefore, while it is summer break; many of our students are still representing the Hill City School District in a positive way!

                Its hard to believe that school is just around the corner.  I personally can’t wait!  As educators we are in the ‘kid business’ and that means that while a little break is nice to re-charge the batteries, ultimately we want to be interacting with kids.  Here are a few dates to put on your calendar:

  • August 12-15th: New Student Enrollment (Secretaries office) and PC Checkout for 6-12th grade (HS Tech office)
  • August 14th: New Teacher Orientation
  • August 15th: Kindergarten Orientation 8:00-9:00AM
    • Optional for students entering Kindergarten to meet teachers, principal, superintendent, and other classmates.
    • August 19-20th: Teacher In-Service
  • August 21st – 1st DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!!!!!!!!
  • August 22nd – Substitute Orientation 9:30 in HS Theater
    • For any current substitute teachers or prospective substitute teachers.
    • Will cover policy, procedure, and expectations

It is an exciting time of year and I look forward to another wonderful year with all of our

stakeholders.  As I begin my 14th year in the district, I am always appreciative of the community pride, supportive parents, intelligent students, and amazing staff.  We are all on the same team with the same goal: THE BEST EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS!  Make today your masterpiece!

JULY 10th, 2019  - (Also Posted In Hill City Prevailer)

I am humbled and honored to begin my tenure as superintendent of the Hill City School District!  My research shows that I am just the 13th superintendent in Hill City School history and only the 6th in the past 46 years!  I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for this opportunity.  I moved here in 2006 and taught high school social studies for four years.  I completed my master’s degree in educational administration in 2010 and became the elementary principal.  Over the past 9 years I have served as an administrator in both the elementary and middle school.  As is the case in many small schools, I have worn many hats including: Coaching football, basketball, track, class advisor, and athletic director.  I have helped shovel snow at the school, wiped down tables in the cafeteria, and even filled in for the band director.  Simply put, I have done many jobs in this district that I hope have prepared me to be superintendent.

I recently completed my superintendent endorsement from the University of South Dakota and interviewed in front of a distinguished 12 person hiring committee.  During the interview I stated many times how much I love this school and community!  My wife, Kati (Ginsbach) grew up here and graduated from Hill City.  We have 4 kids (Witten, Baylor, Aspen, and Mercy).  This truly is my dream job and with any luck, my own children will have an opportunity to graduate from HCHS.  I am overflowing with pride in this school and community…and rightfully so.

Our school was recently named the #1 high school in South Dakota by US World & News.  The average A.C.T score was the top in the state with a 25.1, our kids have a rich curriculum of advanced placement classes and can earn college credits while still in high school.  Recently, students earned welding and phlebotomy certifications before they earned their high school diploma.  Being a small school also offers our students the opportunity to participate in extra curricular activities.  We have fantastic athletic teams and our fine arts programs are some of the best in the region.  The middle school offers classes to earn high school credit, which helps students get into advanced placement and dual credit courses.  At the elementary level, our teachers use the workshop model of instruction and our class sizes are optimal for student achievement.

I could go on about our school for hours, therefore if you see me around town please don’t hesitate to introduce yourself and talk about our school.  As superintendent, I want to be visible in our community.  I have created the slogan “Climbing the H.I.L.L” (H.I.L.L. is an acronym for Hill City, Interview, Learn, and Lead).  As a result, I plan on getting feedback from as many stakeholders as possible.  Schools should be the nucleus of a community and I hope that is what the Hill City School District can be.  I want everyone to know that my door is always open, and I want us all to work together for one common goal: THE BEST EDUCATION FOR OUR KIDS!

MAKE TODAY YOUR MASTERPIECE! --Blake Gardner – Blake.Gardner@K12.SD.US