Prickly Pear Elementary School

Project overview

In January of 2017, CWG was contracted to begin programming, design, and contract administration on a new elementary school for East Helena. 


  • Community participation and involvement were encouraged throughout the entire project. In the initial phases, CWG sponsored a barbeque with a Q&A session to fully understand the needs of the users, and create transparency between the project team and community.
  • The 12 million-dollar bond had to be very carefully stretched. Along with the new elementary school that would initially accommodate first and second graders, the bond was to provide a 5-classroom addition for the existing middle school as well as upgrades to their district kitchen in Radley Elementary School.
  • Once the construction process started the different teams, including Stahly Engineering and Dick Anderson Construction, worked hard to use local materials and people.
  • Northwestern Energy granted the school a large 50 KW solar panel system to lower power bills. Throughout the entire building, sustainable and smart design was used to keep utility costs low.


The new building includes a full-size gym that can be used for tournaments and other community events, a computer lab and a spacious library which has exterior access for public events after school hours.

Building a new school gave the district an opportunity to boost security measures. The school has a camera system and electronic locks to quickly lock down wings of the school in case of a threat. All the entrances to the schools are on timers so the district can control access. The door leading out to the playground, for example, is open when students are at recess, but automatically locks during class time.

The compressed budget and tight schedule proceeded very smoothly, and the school was completed in August of 2018. This project is a testament to our team attitude and get-it- done approach.

“As the East Helena School Superintendent, I would like to recommend that a school district interested in a construction project give serious consideration to the CWG Architect firm for the shear fact that Tony Perpignano is a co-owner and an extraordinary architect that will be at your service.”
—Ron Whitmoyer, Superintendent, East Helena Public Schools