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Students make history signing beam for Montana Heritage Center

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Posted at 2:03 PM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 16:03:16-04

BILLINGS - Students in Billings and Hardin got to etch their names into the history books on Tuesday by signing a steel beam destined for the new Montana Heritage Center in Helena.

“I think it’s cool that everybody is going to get to see my name," said Colton Herman, a sixth-grade student in Hardin.

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From left: Hardin students Dakota Takes Enemy, Darrell Left Hand and Colton Herman.

Construction is moving right along at the new Montana Heritage Center museum in Helena.

It won’t be fully complete until 2024, but it’s ready for the installation of a steel beam signed by students at 15 schools across the state.

Castle Rock Middle School in Billings is home to Abby Kochel, Montana's 2020 History Teacher of the Year. She was one of the first to sign the beam.

“It will be a huge wrapping up, because once those beams are in, they can close up the outside and start working on the inside," Kochel said.

Billings Castlerock Middle School geography teacher (and 2020 Montana History Teacher of the Year) Abbey Kochel stands in front of the final steel beam that will be added to the Montana Heritage Center in Helena.

After Castle Rock, the beam then traveled to Hardin, where eighth-grade student, Darrell Left Hand, got to pen his name.

“It’s going to be in a museum where a lot of people go. There’s a lot of names up there, but what if they see yours? Then you can go back to that museum and look for your name," Left Hand said.

A close up shot of the final beam that will be added to the Montana Heritage Center in Helena.

The beam will be installed at the new museum during a topping-out ceremony in May, which will symbolize a job well done.

Attendees will also wish the new building and its construction workers well in their lives.

The Billings students didn’t quite understand what they were involved in.

“It was huge. They did not understand the gravity of it. I explained it to them like this. When you are an old person and you have your own kids and you go to the Montana Heritage Center you can say, ‘Hey, my signature is up at the top of this building,'" Kochel said.

Students in Hardin sign the final beam that will be added to the Montana Heritage Center in Helena.