HomeNewsCommentariesDisplay

Great Falls schools prepare students for the military and beyond

Col. Jeffery Carlton, 120th Airlift Wing vice commander, left, Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, speak to JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.

Col. Jeffery Carlton, 120th Airlift Wing vice commander, left, Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, speak to JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. JROTC combines classroom instruction with service to school and community, extracurricular and social activities and the chance to take on leadership roles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, speaks to JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.

Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, speaks to JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. JROTC is a military-regulated program designed to offer high school students leadership experiences and motivate them to become better American citizens. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson

Distinguished visitors from Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Great Falls, Mont. education community speak to JROTC cadets during a facilities tour April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.

Distinguished visitors from Malmstrom Air Force Base and the Great Falls, Mont. education community speak to JROTC cadets during a facilities tour April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. JROTC combines classroom instruction with service to school and community, extracurricular and social activities and the chance to take on leadership roles. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School associate principal, gives a tour of the auto hobby shop April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School associate principal, gives a tour of the auto hobby shop April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. The tour also recognized Month of the Military Child and Purple Up! For Military Kids. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School assistant principal, gives a tour of the metal shop April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School assistant principal, gives a tour of the metal shop April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. Visitors toured new state-of-the-art equipment for the Career and Technical Education programs. CTE programs teach trade skills in health science, business education, industrial technology, agricultural education, and family and consumer sciences. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

First Lt. Denise Guiao-Corpuz, 341st Missile Wing public affairs officer, left, and Capt. Madelaine Sawyer, 341st Missile Wing commander’s executive, admire a student-made table April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.

First Lt. Denise Guiao-Corpuz, 341st Missile Wing public affairs officer, left, and Capt. Madelaine Sawyer, 341st Missile Wing commander’s executive, admire a student-made table April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. Visitors toured new state-of-the-art equipment for the Career and Technical Education programs. CTE programs teach trade skills in health science, business education, industrial technology, agricultural education, and family and consumer sciences. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, tours the wood shop April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.

Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, tours the wood shop April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. The tour also recognized Month of the Military Child and Purple Up! For Military Kids. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School assistant principal, gives a tour of the wood shop April 16, 2021, at GFHS, Mont.

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School assistant principal, gives a tour of the wood shop April 16, 2021, at GFHS, Mont. Visitors toured new state-of-the-art equipment for the Career and Technical Education programs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School assistant principal, welcomes distinguished visitors to the school April 16, 2021, at GFHS, Mont.

Paul Culbertson, Great Falls High School assistant principal, welcomes distinguished visitors to the school April 16, 2021, at GFHS, Mont. Visitors toured new state-of-the-art equipment for the Career and Technical Education programs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, and Thomas Moore, Great Falls School District superintendent, meet with JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 11

Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, and Thomas Moore, Great Falls School District superintendent, meet with JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, at Great Falls High School, Mont. Feugate Opperman visited the school to tour updated facilities and speak with JROTC cadets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

Col. Lisa Martinez, 341st Mission Support Group commander, meets JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, during a visit at Great Falls High School, Mont.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 11

Col. Lisa Martinez, 341st Mission Support Group commander, meets JROTC cadets April 16, 2021, during a visit at Great Falls High School, Mont. JROTC is a military-regulated program designed to offer high school students leadership experiences and motivate them to become better American citizens. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob M. Thompson)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

The Great Falls community is close-knit and it’s no surprise that it wants the best for its children’s futures. Through generous donations from local businesses and families, Great Falls High School added a new addition to house larger classrooms and state-of-the-art equipment for Career and Technical Education programs.

Col. Anita Feugate Opperman, 341st Missile Wing commander, and Col. Lisa Martinez, 341st Mission Support Group commander, visited GFHS this afternoon to celebrate Purple Up! For Military Kids. They met with Great Falls JROTC cadets, school staff and education partners for a tour of the updated CTE facilities.

There are about 600 students, many who are military dependents, in the CTE program learning trade skills in health science, business education, industrial technology, agricultural education, and family and consumer sciences. Contributions from the community create more opportunities for graduating students.

The new wood shop is double the size of the old one with an added classroom, allowing the students to learn in an appropriate environment.

The community also pours into the youth of GFHS by donating their time and experiences.

“People in the community are giving back to our schools and children,” Paul Culbertson, GFHS associate principal said. “We’ve got experienced electricians, plumbers, craftsmen donating their time to teach these kids.”

The welding and metal shop also got an upgrade. The old shop could fit 18 children and was known for its poor ventilation; now, 24 students can work comfortably. The Office of Public Instruction, the state education agency, is working with private sector partners and higher education to ensure that students graduate with skills that will allow them to succeed in college or the workforce immediately after completing high school.

The new auto hobby shop has room for four cars and a state-of-the-art program that offers Great Falls graduates internships and certifications right out of high school, allowing these students to jump into their career without college debt.

“Classrooms don’t have to have desks and chairs for students to learn,” said Elsie Arntzen, Public Instruction superintendent. Thomas Moore, Great Falls Public Schools superintendent, added, “These programs prepare kids for careers in the military and trade industries… they learn team building and problem-solving skills.”

From a student-run coffee bar to early childhood development programs, these students are getting the skills and experience needed to start a career right out of high school. According to Culbertson and Arntzen, these programs are rendering positive results.

About half of their students immediately enter the workforce after graduation. About seven percent enter the military. Ninety-seven percent of their students enrolled in three CTE programs graduate on time, 10 percent higher than the state average.

“We’re trying to expose our students to as many careers as possible so they can make informed decisions about what they want to do in life,” said Culbertson.

After the tour, the group had a networking opportunity over lunch. The JROTC cadets introduced themselves and asked questions to Feugate Opperman and Col. Jeffery Carlton, 120th Airlift Wing commander.

“Thank you for all you do to support our military families,” said Feugate Opperman in her closing remarks. “Giving our military kids a solid foundation and education is reassuring to our Airmen. You grant us the peace of mind to get the mission done, knowing our families are taken care of.”

She addressed the JROTC cadets, “The skills you’re learning now will help you in whatever you choose for your careers, whether it’s in the military or something else. For those of you who do join, I’m excited to see what you will bring to our force.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.