The oldest high school in Billings, Senior High, is celebrating its youth.
The high school is home to Montana's Young Teacher of the Year and two music students who played with the All-Nation Band at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Nicole Bogunovich, Senior High's business teacher and adviser of the school's Business Professionals of America club, was named Outstanding Young Teacher by the Montana Business Education Association last week.
"It was really exciting," she said.
Bogunovich strives to make sure her students are learning real-world business and technology skills, which they can take out into the workforce or into college-level business programs.
"I think of it as exit-ready," said Principal Dennis Holmes.
It's one of the reasons Bogunovich caught the eye of the Montana Business Education Association. Her students regularly place in state and national competitions.
"They're really picking up higher skills, more than most people think high schoolers could do," she said.
Holmes described Bogunovich as a lifelong learner who is always finding ways to revise, improve and refine her teaching techniques and lesson plans.
Bogunovich just earned her master's degree in technology education and runs a paperless classroom.
"She's just a great resource," he said. "She does an excellent job."
He's also proud of seniors Madeleine Duncan and Julie Almer, who were selected to perform with the All-Nation Band over the summer in Washington, D.C.
"It was just crazy," Duncan said. "Everyone there was just as good as anyone else."
Duncan, who plays the clarinet, and Almer, who plays the flute, had won honors competing at All-State and All-Northwest. When the chance came to audition for All-Nation, they jumped at it.
"We don't know until we give it a chance," Almer said on her decision to audition for the group.
The experience for both girls was remarkable. Playing at that level with so many other talented students was instructive.
"I learned a lot," Duncan said.
"Being in that experience just makes you want to work harder," Almer said.
The two students will begin applying to college next month. They both have plans to major in music or music performance. Duncan said she's looking at a double-major to study neuroscience. She wants to be an occupational therapist.
Holmes is proud of the young musicians. He said they've represented the school well. He also noted that both were remarkably talented.
"It really sends chills through your spine when you see these students perform."