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Hays-Lodge Pole senior honored in Helena

Juneau lauds Brandon Bradley for working to improve school

Hays-Lodge Pole senior Brandon Bradley got a shout-out from Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau during her State of Education address Monday.

As she spoke to the joint session Montana Legislature, Juneau praised Bradley for overcoming lots of obstacles to become a student leader at his school.

Bradley was being raised by his grandfather, Juneau said, but he died. Now Bradley and his older brother are taking care of their younger brother.

While doing this, he is working at Martin’s Grocery Store after school and is a very active member of the School Improvement Grant program that is trying to lift the school district out of the sad academic and financial situation it has found itself in.

He is also leading an effort to create a student business making T-shirts. “With people like you, the future of Indian Country is in good hands,” she said, asking Bradley, who was in the balcony, to stand.

The nearly 150 lawmakers present for Juneau’s address joined in thunderous applause. Juneau is the nation’s only Native woman to hold a statewide elective office.

Bradley said Tuesday he learned that Juneau would talk about him when someone came into the grocery store and gave him the news.

He said he got up at 4 a.m. Monday, rode to Helena, met with Juneau, had breakfast and was taken to the Montana House chambers.

There he met Craig Beals, a senior high school teacher from Billings, the state’s Teacher of the Year, who was also introduced by Juneau during her speech.

Juneau got to know Bradley through his involvement in the Juneau-inspired program to pelp troubled schools. Under the program, the Office for Public Instruction works with local officials to solve problems that lead to poor student performance. Hays-Lodge Pole had the second lowest test scores in the state, and the district was in tumult because of school board and administration dysfunction.

In some states, the state government takes over operation of troubled schools. In Montana, state representatives are sent in to work with the existing school officials.

The program has gotten Bradley involved in every aspect of school operations.

He has worked throughout the year in the school and has attended programs in Washington.

His biggest effort now is to get the T-shirt program underway. Students have raised $6,000, and the money will go to purchasing the software and other equipment needed to design the T-shirts.

Students plan on asking the Fort Belknap Indian Communmity Council for all of the tribe’s T-shirt business.

As part of the program, Bradley has been successful in beginning an art program at the school.

He looked at the possibility of several elective courses at the school, he said.

“I talked to my friends, and most of them wanted an art class,” he said. So, an art teacher was hired.

Under the SIG program, he said, students have set “expectations,” rules on how students should behave in various situations.

There have been expectations on how to act in the hallways, how to act in class and standards on how to keep the school clean.

There are still problems in the school, he said, but things have improved markedly.

“Grades are up,” he said, “And there are fewer disciplinary problems.”

It’s great things are improving, he said.

“We were at rock bottom.”


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