We, Montana! has grown a lot since we started with a simple homeschool chorus in the Fall of 2018–to the point where it gets a little complicated talking about everything that’s going on–and to the point that our website at wemontana.org is quite crowded! So we’re splitting off our two most advanced vocal ensembles, Freedom Choir and Women’s Chorus under the Sing, Montana! banner, and we’ve given them their own website at SingMontana.org.
Registration for Fall 2021 is open, and we’re expecting our biggest enrollment yet! You can now register right away—and we are now taking online payment through PayPal. Courses are $60 per student per semester starting September 1, but if you pay now, it’s only $50. (You may pay by check on the first day of class at the $60 rate.)
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 situation has created lots of upheaval in the educational world, and even at this late date, many parents are still uncertain as to how they will proceed for Fall 2020. Consequently, our We, Montana! enrollments for Fall are down such that moving forward with our classes is simply impractical. As a result, our Board has decided to suspend all course offerings for now while looking hopefully ahead to January or September 2021 to recommence, provided the situation is better. We regret this disappointing situation on behalf of all the people it affects, but we’re determined to make lemonade from the lemons that COVID-19 has handed us. Since we can’t fill up our classes with students, we’re going to take advantage of this opportunity to rework our strategic plan so that we can build another area of our intended outreach ahead of schedule, while hopefully raising enough financial support in the interim to keep the rent paid on our dedicated classroom space (the Great Room) .
WE’RE MOVING AHEAD WITH IN-PERSON CLASSES AND A REDUCED FEE STRUCTURE
We, Montana! understands that it’s hard to know how to proceed in these crazy times, so as part of our mission to facilitate homeschooling in the Billings area, we’re implementing a new pricing policy for Fall 2020, and we’re moving forward with in-person classes for those who are interested in getting out during COVID-19.
As you may know, we’ve been making a big push this summer to spread the word about We, Montana! And thanks to the help of several of our older students, we’ve put together some great videos to help spread the word. Meanwhile, however, I think there’s a real need to get some parent testimonials out there, too. I’m thinking about putting together a video slideshow of written parent testimonials, and also about posting the same copy on a simple page on our website.
We’ve been very busy getting ready for the Fall, and there are many new things going on. I’ll start posting registration announcements all over social media today—and we sure could use your help to spread the word.
These are difficult times, to be sure, but we have high hopes that we can keep things going at the Great Room. With all this in mind, then, a successful Summer recruiting push is crucial!
Meanwhile, here are some brief bullet points about what’s new this year:
Here’s an audio recording of today’s meeting about the future of the Great Room classes. You’ll have to sign up for a free account at buzzsprout to hear it. Sorry about that, but the file is too large to host at our website or on Facebook.
In these difficult social/political/economic times, the future of the Great Room is in doubt. I’m calling a meeting, therefore, for all parents and students who would like to discuss what it will take to move forward. If there is a way to keep going, it’ll likely be figured out on Sunday, so if you’d like to be involved, please find a way to attend. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of playing wait-and-see through the summer, so now is the time to be proactive.
The meeting is at 3:00 p.m. in the Great Room, this coming Sunday, April 26.
I have sent out a notice about this post through the Remind app. Please do let me know in advance if you plan to come.
I had been hoping that we could watch My Fair Lady together as a class, but that seems highly unlikely anytime in the near future. Given the situation, therefore, I’d like to suggest that each student watch the film at home and write a summary of what Eliza Doolittle learns about how to improve her speech.
Unfortunately, a brief search for the film at Netflix and Amazon Prime yielded no results, but I did not search any other streaming services. I did find, however, that the DVD can be bought from Amazon for $6.79. I hate asking anybody to spend money in this chaotic time, but it’s not much, and it may be less than the gas money you’d spend coming to and from class. So please participate if you can. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching it to refresh my memory in preparation for reading the summaries that are submitted, and we’ll discuss the summaries in class whenever we meet next. It’s a long film (170 minutes), so you’d better get plenty of popcorn.
The goal of the assignment is to get students thinking about the various reforms that Eliza makes in the movie, as well as about the effect her speech has on others, both before and after her transformation. I hope everyone can participate, and I’d like to suggest a due date of April 1. (Summaries can be sent to me as attachments through Facebook messenger, or to my email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
How long should the summaries be? They should be as long as it takes to cover what details Eliza has to deal with to improve her speech. I’d also like to see a paragraph or two on the student’s thoughts about the overall transformation Eliza makes.
Parents and students of the Public Speaking Workshop—
I previously posted on Facebook about scheduling a special movie night for the Public Speaking Workshop students, but I got zero responses. So I’m trying again and will post this announcement on the website, and on Facebook, and will sent out a notice of it on Remind. Please respond ASAP as it is not a very effective strategy simply to schedule a date and then hope people show up. If possible, I’d like to get the ENTIRE class assembled at once to see this movie outside of class hours (along with whatever number of other people—including parents—comes to watch).
So once again, I’m going to suggest a date and I want you to please respond ASAP as to whether you can attend.
TENTATIVE DATE: Friday, February 28 TIME: 6:30 p.m. sharp! MOVIE: My Fair Lady DESCRIPTION: The film is the story of a famous speech professor who takes on giving speech lessons to a British commoner as a bet. He eventually gains respect for her as she masters the lessons. The film is about 3 hours long, so we should be done about 9:30.
This Friday, 21 February 4:00 until 9:00 p.m. or until it’s done, whichever comes first.
I’m having a painting party Friday afternoon/evening. Here’s what that looks like. It looks like me painting, along with whatever other qualified help shows up. Meanwhile, whatever OTHER people show up are having fun playing games and eating whatever snacks they brought! (I’ll supply popcorn and water bottles.)
I could use as many as 4 or 5 OK painters. We’re painting the interior of the bay door green. We’re also painting mortar lines on the brown closet walls. These are almost certainly not tasks for folks under 12 years old—and maybe not every 12-year-old is up to this, either—but probably a lot would be at that age.
So please do let me know if you can come, just so I’ll know what to expect. It’ll go a LOT faster if I have help. And even if I don’t have lots of help, it’ll be a lot more fun to paint during a party than all by myself in the Great Room!
Parents, to increase our efficiency and effectiveness in communication, we’ve just set up ten new “classes” in the “Remind” app. We need all parents with smart phones to go get the app and to register for those classes that pertain to them and/or their students. You’ll find our school listed under “We, Montana!”. You can download the app here.
For most new posts we make here, we’ll send out the appropriate notifications on the Remind app so that you’ll be informed immediately of things that pertain to you. So please go take a few minutes to look through the ten “class” options there—one of which is for “Weather Closures”, by the way.
I’ve been talking for months about how nice it would be to have better acoustics in the Great Room. Well, now we’re going to go on a field trip so you all can see for yourselves what I’m talking about!
On Monday, 3 February, the chorus will have its rehearsal not in the Great Room, but at St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral in downtown Billings. Please read the following details very carefully:
SPECIAL REHEARSAL DATE / LOCATION Monday, February 3 12:10 p.m. to 1:30 LOCATION: St. Patrick’s Co-Cathedral (See Directions)
IMPACT ON OTHER CLASSES(Only the two classes listed below are impacted. General Music, Beginning Band, and Skits Workshop will meet as usual.
Public Speaking Workshop. This course normally meets from 10:25 to 11:40. For this special day, it will end 10 minutes early, at 11:30.
Etiquette Class. This class usually meets from 1:50 to 2:45. For this special day only, Etiquette will start 10 minutes late (2:00) and will end at the regular time of 2:45.
GREAT ROOM CLOSINGFOR THE FIELD TRIP For this, the Great Room will close promptly at 11:35 (right after Public Speaking). It will open again at 1:50 (ten minutes before the delayed start of Etiquette at 2:00.
NEED A RIDE? We realize that some of the students who spend a lot of the day at the Great Room may need a ride to St. Patrick’s and back again. Whether they’re in chorus or not, we’ll be happy to try to find rides for them to go with us both ways. I’ll start a discussion about this on the Facebook page for the chorus. (See it here.)
THANKS! Thank you, Bethany Elkin for arranging this with St. Patrick’s! I would not have gotten to it this early if left to my own devices. You’re such a champ for getting this done!
In a perfect world, we could get EVERYBODY here at once—both parents, along with the older students. But if only one parent can come, we completely understand. Also, some of your students are of the age where they either are or should be starting to “take ownership” in their own schooling, as well as in our classes/programs here. So we encourage them to come, too. What’s the right age for that? Well, we’ll leave that to your judgment. Meanwhile, if there’s a way to leave most of the more-restless younger ones at home, that would be great—but we fully expect that at least of few will need to bring them, and that’s just fine!
We will begin and end promptly, so we really hope everyone will get here a few minutes early. And then you can stay afterward as late as you like for further discussion.
I apologize for the inconvenience, but a scheduling problem with work forces me to postpone the parents’ meeting that was scheduled for this Saturday morning, 11 January, from 9:00 to 10:30. My client in Havre scheduled more work than I could get done without delaying my return to Billings, and it’s just not practical to delay the work. The meeting will be postponed, then, to the following date and time:
Monday Night 20 January 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
As a reminder, this crucial meeting will be aimed largely at improving communication with parents and at informing everyone of the particulars of the upcoming semester and of our progress toward incorporating and achieving federal tax-exempt status. In a perfect world, all parents could attend, but we’re hoping that at least the primary educator parent can attend. Further, we’d be glad to have particularly our older students in attendance. More and more of them are “taking ownership” in what we’re doing, and that’s exactly the mindset that we want to encourage.
This meeting pertains to all six courses on our current schedule. Please do RSVP via our Contact Page as soon as you can so that we know that word is getting out.
As we continue to “sharpen the saw”, we’re adding for this Spring semester a mandatory parents’ orientation session on Saturday morning, 11 January, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Great Room.
This is for the parents of all enrolled students, across all our course offerings (or any thinking about enrolling). The goal is to explain briefly what each course is about, how it’s going, and what would make it better. We also want to iron out the communications/email process once and for all, as communication was spotty last Fall. Further, we want to be sure that parents have a good idea where We, Montana! is headed and how we plan to get there.
So please plan to attend this very important session. If both parents can come, that’s great. If only one can come, we really hope it’s the primary home educator. Your students are free to come with—and especially the older ones, as many of them are “taking ownership” more and more in what goes on here!
We had previously floated the idea of initiating some Tuesday courses in the Spring 2020 Semester. We have since decided, all things considered, not to pursue that expansion at this time, but to focus our attention more on the growth of the fledgling nonprofit corporation and the development of other projects that aren’t directly related to our Great Room classes.
We do hope to expand to a 2-day schedule sometime in the future, but it won’t be this Spring.
We’re making a shift in our Monday course slots for the Spring 2020 semester. Our Intermediate Band class has dropped below the attendance threshold, so we’re replacing it with a Public Speaking Workshop, which course was a big success when we ran it a year ago.
This course is capped at 12 students, with a minimum of 8. It’s for ages 12 to 18 years old. (Sorry, parents, but only kids are allowed in this one.)
Mondays from 10:25 to 11:40 a.m. January 13 through April 27.
This is not a debate class. Nor does it involve speech writing. Rather, this course, is simply about learning to effectively use the voice and body to speak excellently-written material. It’s largely about getting enough public speaking experience to feel confident, and especially about some of the most basic of fundamentals, such as learning to speak loudly enough to be easily heard.
Students will learn a series of excerpts from famous works, and will work toward a semester-end recital. There’s a Code of Conduct so that everybody knows what sort of behaviors are expected of everyone. And even though we run a “tight ship” in this class, there’s a lot of humor! It’s one of the funnest classes you’ll ever take. And it’s also a really good starting point for those who might like to audition for the Skits Workshop next Fall.
There’s no audition for this course, but I do ask that we talk it through before signing anybody up. Believe it or not, we’ve had students sign up for classes of this sort, and then refuse to do anything in front of the workshop on day one. So entry into this class is only with teacher approval after a good talk with the parent and/or student.
Please contact Jack Pelham ASAP, and by Wednesday, 27 November at the latest to express your interest in any of these classes. Please indicate the courses and the number of students for each. Otherwise, rather than trying to campaign until the beginning of next semester, we will simply withdraw the offer and keep our Mondays-only schedule for the remainder of this current school year.
Before we open official registration for the Spring semester, we need to gauge public interest in the following possible course offerings. Please let us know as soon as possible if you’d like to enroll in any of the following: