KALISPELL — KPAX/KAJ and Whitefish Credit Union continue to highlight unsung heroes in Montana. Each week we'll spotlight someone who made a difference in our communities and also award them VIP tickets to this summer's Under the Big Sky Festival in Whitefish. If you know someone you think we should profile, nominate them here.
The 2020-21 school year has been tough on students and educators as the COVID-19 pandemic brought sudden change to classrooms and school activities.
Flathead High School Activities Director Bryce Wilson worked tirelessly through the school year making sure students and parents could still enjoy extracurricular activities in a safe and fun manner.
“Every time you turn the page, there was no page there to have what the directions were, so you were writing stuff and making stuff up as you went,” Flathead High School Activities Director Bryce Wilson tells MTN News.
With 30 years in the education field, Bryce said he’s never experienced a school year quite like this.
“Definitely the most challenging just because overall things just weren’t the same,” said Wilson.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed each school activity and sport, including restrictions on spectators and increased sanitation methods to keep students and staff safe.
Bryce quickly learned he was not going to be able to please everyone.
“For us to keep doing these events we have to have everybody masked, we need you to social distance and we need you to come and support the kids; we want you to but it’s in this limited fashion and we can’t exceed that, and so that was definitely a challenge,” said Wilson.
“It was oftentimes a seven-day a week kind of a job,” Flathead High School Principal Michele Paine tells MTN News.
Michele said Bryce navigated through unprecedented sports seasons, adjusting game schedules for every team, as schedules changed by the minute.
“Week by week schedules changed, you know in any given season you’ll have changes that happen, but this happened all the time!” said Paine.
Bryce would often work fast behind the scenes including buying special equipment for Flathead’s highly competitive Speech and Debate team, conducting their entire season virtually.
“You know the first tournament we had we didn’t have the technology we needed, our kids would get stopped and freeze right in the middle of it, so we had to go out and purchase some things, we had to have our I.T. look at all the computers we were using and how do we get through this,” said Wilson.
In early March, Bryce came to the rescue again, offering to host the State AA wrestling tournament at Flathead High School on late notice because of a schedule conflict in Billings.
He said he couldn’t just stand by and see athletes and families miss such a special event they’ve worked so hard for.
“The coaches, the athletes, so grateful, you know I’ve used that word throughout this year, I’ve felt that the parents and the athletes and the coaches have been grateful that we’ve had seasons and they’ve been grateful when we’ve been able to hold those events,” said Wilson.
Michele believes Activities Directors have had one of the hardest jobs across school districts this year.
She can’t envision how this school year would’ve looked if Bryce wasn’t in charge.
“Adjust on the fly and they were the first ones to take the criticism when people weren’t happy about the number of participants or the cancellations or the reschedule at a time when now that doesn’t work for the family, so he’s had to do a lot of that and we’re very proud to have him here at Flathead High School.”
One more big event will take place June 4 as Flathead High School seniors will walk across the stage for graduation in the Flathead High School Gymnasium.
Click here if you would like to nominate an unsung hero who has made a difference in your community.