West Yellowstone school district superintendent Lael Calton read through a list of comments commemorating local residents and businesses at Tuesday evening's regular school board meeting.

Six local snowcoach operators including All Yellowstone Sports, Yellowstone Vacations, Yellowstone Alpen Guides, Back Country Adventures, Yellowstone Expeditions and See Yellowstone agreed to donate their snowcoaches and guide services to take all of the West Yellowstone School students, staff members and chaperones into Yellowstone National Park this winter. The class trips started in January and finished up in March. Each student was asked to pay a nominal $10 fee for the trip and the school paid for the staff and chaperones accompanying the students on the trip. The school also established a scholarship fund to assure that the trip was accessible to every student, despite the cost.

The operation costs including fuel, entrance into Yellowstone National Park, and supplying a guide to accompany each class for the day for the six snowcoach businesses totaled $24,935, according to Calton.

"$22,505 of that (the total cost) was donated by the snowcoach businesses," Calton said.

The remaining $2,430 was collected from the $10 fees for students, staff and chaperones.

"We wrote each snowcoach business a thank you letter and a letter recognizing them for their contributions," Calton said.

West Yellowstone High School competitive Speech and Drama coach Lisa Carter was voted coach of the year for speech and drama by fellow Class C Division coaches in the state. She was recognized at a dinner during the annual Montana Forensic Educators Association spring conference, with awards sponsored in part by the Montana High School Association.

The Speech and Drama team walked away with a second place trophy for drama at the state tournament in February.

Calton was also happy to see recognition given to West Yellowstone Elementary second-grade teacher Jeanne Hoskins.

Hoskins was selected to receive a Gold Star award through NBC Montana. The Gold Star awards bring public recognition to K-12 public educators who have made significant contributions to better education, according to the local NBC KTVM television news station in Butte.

One winner is chosen each month of the school year from around western Montana, with a total of nine winners chosen each year, according to information on NBC Montana's website, www.nbcmontana.com. KTVM produces and airs a winner profile on their news station. Hoskins' profile is set to air sometime throughout April 25 and May 1.

Hoskins is retiring at the end of the school year.

"It's so nice to see our staff member recognized in a positive light," Calton said of Hoskins' award.

Hoskins' second-grade class will present their annual spring play on Friday, May 20 at 1 p.m.

"This will be the last one Ms. Hoskins is putting on. She's been doing it with the kids for years and they're always wonderful," West Yellowstone school board trustee Gayle Archer said.

All the educators in the West Yellowstone school district can be recognized for their efforts by simply sending a "thank you" their way on May 3 to celebrate National Teacher Day.

In other business, Calton requested to move the first reading of policy reviews to be on the agenda for the next meeting so that trustees John Gospodarek and Kelly Burden, who were unable to attend Tuesday's regular meeting, can be present for the discussions. The board approved her request. 

The school district is preparing for changes to enhance tobacco policies in the future, according to the superintendent. Calton informed school board trustees and visitors at the meeting that the Montana Office of Public Instruction is working with school districts to improve their tobacco policies. 

The school district's tobacco policy doesn't currently address the continuing line of products that contain nicotine, not just tobacco and smokeless tobacco.

"There are so many different things out there (that contain nicotine)," Calton said.

Students thinking about future careers in business may be able to join a new club next school year.

School librarian and technology teacher Jo Stevens proposed to start a Business Professionals of America Club for West Yellowstone high school students in ninth through 12th grades.

Club members can compete regionally, statewide or nationally and learn about parliamentary procedure, community service, business management, career options and gain fundraising skills, according to Stevens. Stevens noted that she was a club advisor for five years at another school district.

"We would fundraise to get all of the fees (for the club) raised and paid," Stevens said.

She thought the club might be beneficial to students after noticing that she teaches similar topics in the freshman computer applications class.

Calton suggested that Stevens create and distribute an informational survey to eighth through 11th-grade students to see if there's a general interest for the club.

Physical education teacher Brian Smith has students up and moving with an instructional dance unit throughout the month of April. He invited staff members and trustees to participate in a dance-off on Friday, May 13 starting at 1:30 p.m. in the school gymnasium. Grades K-6 perform various dances and grades 7-12 have a dance competition complete with judges.

"The dance-off has gotten bigger every year," Smith said.

The dance-off acts as the test portion of the dance unit for students.

"It's something to watch," he said.

School board chairman Maggie Anderson requested that all staff members and trustees complete and return evaluations to her by April 29.

The input and thoughts on the anonymous evaluation forms for trustees are helpful to examine the performance of the school board and staff evaluations help examine the same information, according to Anderson.

"I encourage everyone to participate," she said.

Educators are also preparing for the 2011-2012 school year as the end of the current school year is quickly approaching.

Kindergarten registration is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. in the Wolverine Lounge at the West Yellowstone School.

Children who will be turning five-years-old before September 10 are welcome to attend the registration.

The next regular West Yellowstone school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 10 at 7 p.m. in the West Yellowstone School art room.