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The Belgrade School District requires that students have at least 23 credits in order to graduate high school. A normal student completes seven each year if they pass all their classes. Belgrade High School senior Emma Peterson started her junior with none and ended the school year with 16.5.

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VFW Post 7621 Commander Matt Bugland fully acknowledges that the circumstances of this week’s Americanism event were far from ideal given the cold weather, ongoing pandemic and it falling on a weeknight. However, he was determined that the annual celebration continue.

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1. Song Sparrow

The Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) is a common species in brush and hedges. Aretas A. Saunders in 1911 reported that the greatest variety of bird species in Gallatin County could be found in riparian and swampy areas with thickets of willow and alder, and that is where he found what he called the Mountain Song Sparrow. He also found the species in lower mountain canyons and in cottonwoods. Although Song Sparrows are found here year-round, the species is migratory. In the late nineteenth century the United States lost an estimated 40 percent of the total bird population disappeared. That prompted the Audubon movement, state laws protecting birds, and the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 that still provides protection for this and other migratory species.

2. Great Horned Owl

The Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) is a nocturnal hunter that finds prey in diverse habitats. The "horns" are distinctive ear tufts. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds describes the Great Horned Owl as "uncommon but widespread." This owl lives throughout North America, coast to coast, from Mexico to Canada and Alaska. There are regional variations in its coloring: sooty in the Pacific Northwest, gray in the southwest, and almost white in Canada. Aretas Saunders, in his 1911 list of the birds of Gallatin County, said this owl was a permanent resident in both valleys and mountains. It is a solitary bird, usually seen alone; seen in pairs only during breeding season. John James Audubon described their flight as "elevated, rapid, and graceful."

This image is Plate 61 of John J. Audubon's Birds of America. Used by permission, the image is from https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/great-horned-owl/

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Middle schoolers aren’t known for their enjoyment of writing essays, Belgrade Middle School principal Julie Mickolio admits, but she says that makes the accomplishment of students who chose to participate in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States’ Patriot’s Pen essay contest all t…