Celebrate Kurt Kautz at service at HP High School

Pre-released online due to time constraints

WORDEN — Huntley Project basketball coach Kurt Kautz will be remembered at
a celebration of his life on Friday at the high school where he returned a
decade after his graduation to help build a girls’ basketball program.
Huntley Project Red is the color of the day.
The ceremony begins at 11 a.m. in the school gym. Doors will open at 10.
Everyone is welcome. In lieu of flowers, Kautz’s family requests donations to Blankets and Bears or Citizens For Our Veterans.
Superintendent Mark Wandle, who helped the family with the arrangements,
said Kautz’s family requested that “those in attendance are asked to wear
red and those who have extended wishes and support, but cannot be there in
person, can wear HP Red wherever they may be that day to remember Kurt.”
There is no school for HP students on Thursday or Friday, but students are
welcome at the celebration of life.
Kurt “Cubby” Kautz, 37, was killed in a rollover accident on Interstate 94
near Lockwood on Saturday, Oct. 14. Emergency personnel from the Worden
Volunteer Fire Department, Montana Highway Patrol and Yellowstone County
sheriff’s office responded to the crash after it was reported by another
driver.
“It’s been… a long day here,” said Wandle on Monday, “with Kurt’s
participation and efforts over the past three years. He attended school
here at HP and the staff know him that way too. It’s a big impact on us.”
Monday morning began with a voluntary meeting of students and staff who
were dealing with Kautz’s death. Wandle said basketball players attended,
but it was for everyone. Kautz did not teach at the school, but had coached
girls’ basketball for three years and ran summer camps. He graduated from
Huntley Project High School in 2003. Kautz operated a trucking business,
Kurt Kautz Trucking. He had graduated from Montana State University
Billings with an elementary education degree.
Wandle said the school has received offers of help from many other school
districts, including supplying extra counselors or substitutes in case
employees took time off, he said, but the district is handling everything
internally for now with counselors Teresa LaForest and Logan McKenney and school psychologist Sam Lambert.
He said he hopes students who want to talk will seek out someone they
trust, whether it’s a mentor teacher, a counselor or other staff members
such as custodians and cooks who have contact with students.
“Our staff is tremendous,” Wandle said. “We have some very dedicated people
and I feel blessed to be here.”
The school has endured several tragedies in recent years, he noted,
including the death of a student two years ago.
“We’ve had to deal with it recently several times,” he said, “and our staff
has been resilient. Kurt was part of that staff and that’s part of the hole
that’s left right now.”
Wandle said counselors and teachers will continue to help and support each
other, students and their families.
“We know that there’ll be some ups and downs,” he said.