By Dustin Shipman BSSD Superintendent

“The Ram’s Horn” is a regular column by Big Sky School District Superintendent Dustin Shipman, offering news and insight from the district.

In this column, I will describe some of the partnerships that the Big Sky School District has capitalized on to impact our students’ growth and development, both intellectually and artistically.

This year, we formed a partnership with “Hatch,” a network of innovators and thinkers who are among the best in the world at what they do. Our first relationship with Hatch was student participation during their annual conference at Moonlight Basin last summer. Our students were able to participate in workshops and network with Hatch members from all over the world and the Ostinato Project was one result of the conference.

Led by Warren Miller Performing Arts Center Artistic Director John Zirkle, the Ostinato Project provides a platform for our students to work with world famous composer Phillip Sheppard and producer Russell Spurlock. We are able to communicate with these experts in their field via Skype and email, and give the students an opportunity to create music while also experiencing how music is edited and recorded.

Hatch has also exposed our students to Missoula-based writer Elke Govertsen, owner and writer for the parenting magazine “Mamalode.” Govertsen spent a day with our students during an assembly prior to more formal meetings with students about their writing projects. Both of these Hatch partnerships have exposed our students to people who are at or near the top of their industry. We hope Hatch becomes a long-term partner and continues to encourage innovation and passion in Big Sky students.

Zirkle is also leading the “1st Chair Project,” which is a partnership between the school district and Montana State University music students, who visit the school weekly to perform with our kids. Big Sky students are able to hear and see others performing their instruments at a high level, providing a unique learning opportunity.

While these are two of our key partnerships, we have many others with community members here at the school. Jill Bough and Tori Pintar are working with our students through Art Café, a lunchtime program hosted on campus for all of our high school students. Barbara Rowley also volunteers her time to lead our students in sophisticated theater productions.

Any partnerships the school can initiate and cultivate are important for our kids as they navigate the challenges they face as young learners. If you wish to partner with the school in any way, please come see us. We are always looking for opportunities to expose our kids to people they can learn from and be inspired by.