Hill City School District

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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!


Follow us on Facebook:

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