Baraboo students first in the state to become ‘Dementia Friends’

Dementia Friends students

From first recognizing you’re hungry to remembering where the bread is stored, there are more steps involved in making a sandwich than most people realize.

Considering those implicit steps and the difficulty they pose for people living with dementia was one of the lessons of a Baraboo High School health class Friday led by Gina Laack, a dementia care specialist with the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Eagle Country.

“Simple activities like making a sandwich or getting dressed that we think are so simple can become very daunting and difficult for individuals living with dementia,” Laack said.

Through 90-minute sessions, students in Julie Jensen’s six 10th-grade health classes became the first high school students in Wisconsin to be trained as “Dementia Friends” on Thursday and Friday, according to Laack. The program, originally started in the United Kingdom, came to the U.S. as Dementia Friends USAand seeks to inform more people about what it can be like to live with dementia and how to help.

The Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute adopted the program last year and trained 38 Master Trainers, including Laack, last fall. After the local resource center contacted the Baraboo School District, Jensen took up the offer to bring a trainer to her students, noting that the topic fit in well with the health curriculum.

“I think dementia is an issue in our society and is becoming more and more of an issue,” Jensen said. “A lot of these students are actually seeing this and dealing with it in their own homes and their own families, and to give them an education on how to communicate better with their loved ones is really a good skill to have.”

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Special-needs prom, now in its sixth year, transitions into new era

After Saturday’s Post Prom ended in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and nearly 1,100 high school students and their dates returned home, cleanup quickly began inside Festival Hall.

Outside, the red carpet stayed put for the second prom of the weekend.

On Sunday evening, more than 100 other young people, along with 200 volunteers, refilled Festival Hall for A Night to Remember, a prom for people with special needs.

“That’s what’s so special about both of these proms; I think Racine really understands how special both proms are for their communities,” said Sara Luther, one of the event’s organizers.

All high school seniors, including those with special needs, are invited to the traditional promenade on Saturday. But this second event, established by Great Lakes Church in 2014, caters to people with special needs and ages 13-30.

Mike Klug has quickly developed a deep appreciation for what A Night to Remember offers. His son Kevin — who has been diagnosed with epilepsy, a brain injury and autism — went to the traditional prom twice in high school. But A Night to Remember has become a highlight of his year, every year, for the past six years, he said.

“They’re kind of on stage and feel proud of who they are and being part of the community, and that doesn’t always happen,” Klug said. “That specialness lasts longer than one night. It builds confidence and makes them feel like they’re part of the community.”

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Spartan Influence Camp to be held for area students with disabilities

The football program at Luxemburg-Casco High School is holding the Spartan Influence Camp this Saturday, May 18, for students with disabilities, ages 5 to 21 years old. The camp is designed to give participating students the opportunity to be active while learning more about football.

Free of charge, the event is from 12:00-1:30 p.m. at the Luxemburg Sports Complex, 113 North Main Street in Luxemburg. Participants will receive a T-shirt and medal; water and a snack also will be provided. Roughly 20 area youth are expected to take part.

“Our football program is based on servant leadership and service learning, and we believe this is a great way to give back to our school and community,” says Dillon Maney, head football coach at Luxemburg-Casco High School. “The game of football has given many of our athletes great opportunities, and our athletes want to do the same for other people.”

Six members of the Luxemburg-Casco football team are serving as 2019 camp coordinators: Ben Naze, Mason Renard, Reece Worachek, Matt Cravillion, Matt Dorn and Andrew Spengler.

The event will be held rain or shine, and may move into the school’s gymnasium if the weather is inclement. Registration at the door will be accepted, or it can be done in advance at http://bit.ly/LCfbcamp. Participants do not need to be residents of the Luxemburg-Casco School District.

Senior Arabella Adams presented with Herb Kohl Initiative Scholarship

Arabella Adams, a senior at Luxemburg-Casco High School, has been presented with a $10,000 Herb Kohl Educational Foundation 2019 Initiative Scholarship at a recognition luncheon hosted by Herb Kohl, Wisconsin philanthropist and businessman.

The Herb Kohl Initiative Scholarship recognizes state “students who have demonstrated a high level of motivation, have shown strong promise for achieving success in college and beyond, and have overcome significant personal obstacles or adversity.”

In summing up Arabella, Luxemburg-Casco school officials described her as “a twenty-first century Renaissance figure, equally adept in and intrigued by the arts and sciences.” She also was saluted as an advocate for the arts, particularly music, and a student possessing considerable musical talent. Arabella is said to have the ability to pick up practically any instrument and not only play it, but play it skillfully.

Arabella plans to study mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She is the daughter of Daniel and Heather Adams of Luxemburg.

In December 2018, Arabella and another student joined with a high-school English teacher to play Christmas carols for students and staff outside the main office on the day before Christmas break. Further demonstrating her passion for music, she wrote a major research paper for her English 12 class that addressed the impact of music education and advocated for expanding access to it for students throughout their academic careers.

The Herb Kohl Educational Foundation has recognized educational excellence for the past 30 years by awarding scholarships annually to 200 graduating high school students throughout Wisconsin. Since its establishment in 1990, the foundation has given $17.8 million to state students, teachers, principals and schools.

Greendale Middle School Student Qualifies for History Day National Contest

Rachel Kohl's National history Day project

Greendale Middle School student Rachel Kohl is one of two Wisconsin students heading to Maryland in June for the finals of the 2018-2019 National History Day contest. There she will compete against one hundred other middle school students from across the country. Rachel’s project is in the individual exhibit category. Guided by an annual theme, students participating in National History Day are encouraged to choose a topic that matches their personal interests. The 2018-2019 theme is Triumph & Tragedy in History. Students enter their projects in local level contests, with top entries advancing to regional and state/affiliate contests. Along the way, students receive honors, awards, and scholarships. The top two entries from every category are then invited to the National Contest held June 2019 at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Rachel’s project focused on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in New York City on March 11, 1911. This was the deadliest industrial fire in American history. It claimed the lives of 145 people, mostly young immigrant women who spoke no English. They worked in cramped, crowded sweatshop conditions and the deaths were largely preventable. Working on the 8th, 9th and 10th floors in the Asch Building in Manhattan, only one of the four elevators was in working condition and the fire escape was not only very difficult to access, it collapsed under the weight of fleeing workers. There were also two stairways down to the street but one was locked (to prevent workers from stealing materials) and the other had a door that opened inward. As a result, 49 women died in the building, 36 in the elevator shaft, and 58 jumped to their death to try to escape this horrible tragedy. 

For the triumph of this historical event, Rachel focused on changes in laws that both protected workers and kept them safe in the workplace. To keep workers safe, laws were implemented ensuring that doors of factories opened outward, stairways were accessible, fire escapes sturdy and lead to the ground and that sprinkler systems were required in buildings. At the end of her project, Rachel also identifies the struggle women have had in being treated fairly in the workplace, a struggle and tragedy that still exists today.  

More than a half a million middle and high school students from across the country take part in National History Day each year. This project-based contest provides students an opportunity to develop critical thinking and source analysis skills while gaining historical perspective. Participants spend months researching a topic of their choice before presenting their work in one of five categories: documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, and website.

Riverside High School robotics team ready for largest STEM gathering in world

Operators Mikalayah Tulloch, Arianna Massey, Damien Berna and Mordechai Tinney guide their 2830 robot.

Two years ago, Arianna Massey was walking through the halls at Riverside University High School as a freshman and came across a classroom where a mini-robotics competition was happening. Although she had no previous experience, she was hooked.

“I liked the energy,” Massey said. 

Now a junior, Massey is in her third consecutive FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics world championship. 

Finding strength in smarts, the RoboTigers took first place in the regional competition in March, beating more than 50 other teams in the Midwest. This week, they are in Detroit for the world championship. The competition started Thursday and ends Saturday. It’s billed as the world’s largest STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) gathering.

The RoboTigers have been working toward this goal all semester, practicing 20 hours a week starting in January when they were given the game their robot would have to be able to play. 

Erik Orlowski, a fifth-year UWM electrical engineering student, is a mentor for the team. He talked about the challenges the team has faced due to the economic makeup of the area. He and the team’s coach, Chris Levas, spend a lot of time getting the students to meetings and balancing their school life with robotics.

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Grafton district earns national honor for music education

The Grafton School District’s music program has earned national recognition for outstanding commitment to music education.

In March, the district received the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation from the National Association of Music Merchants.

“It’s nice to bring awareness to what we’re doing in the music department,” said Maggie Condon, Grafton High School choral teacher and vocal music director.

“A lot of times people just see the performance side of what we do and don’t look at it from an academic standpoint.”

To earn the designation, districts must demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. 

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School district of Altoona receives 2019 NSBA Magna Award

Altoona School District is recognized for their hands-on efforts to develop alternative learning environments for students dealing with behavioral issues in class, receiving the 25th annual Magna Awards program sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ). This is the second year that the Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders for their efforts to bring educational equity to their students.

The Magna Awards, supported by Sodexo, a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations, honor districts across the country for programs that break down barriers for underserved students. A panel of school board members, administrators, and other educators selected the winners from 200 submissions.

“It takes commitment to start an equity program and fortitude to sustain it,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, National School Boards Association Executive Director & CEO. “I congratulate the 2019 Magna Award winning districts for performing the hard and sometimes unpopular work to ensure all of their students are supported and provided with the tools and opportunities needed to succeed.”

This year’s three grand prize winners and 15 first place winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students. Each of the grand prize-winning school districts will give a special presentation at NSBA’s annual conference, to be held March 30 to April 1 in Philadelphia.

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Shelter designed and built by students dedicated at Kimberly park

Visitors to Sunset Park in Kimberly will have a new place to gather. A rebuilt Shelter Number One was dedicated Thursday, and students from Kimberly High School were the ones who did the work.

“It’s kind of an iconic spot in Kimberly. With the scenic outlook and the proximity to the river. So, to have this structure here for the community to use, is an honor,” said Holly Femal, Village of Kimberly Community Enrichment Director.

Femal says the Village of Kimberly bought the materials, and students from the high school’s building construction class spent several months building a brand new shelter at Sunset Park. The students worked alongside local construction professionals, like concrete workers, and welders, in order to learn from the experts in the field. That includes the architects too.

Senior Mackenzie Beck designed the shelter, with some guidance from a local company. “It was overwhelming at first. But it ended up being really cool and exciting,” Beck said.

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Portage students organize to provide beds for kids

Not long after seven Portage High School students learned that children in their community were sleeping on the floor, they decided to do something about it.

Last summer junior Hannah Ness volunteered to build beds for the Portage chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace. Ness first heard about the charitable group from her friend, Tori Scheibach, whose father, Brian Scheibach, helped launch the nonprofit in May.

“It was both surprising and saddening,” Ness said of her initial thoughts about the need for the group. She had no idea the invitation to build for the organization from Tori Scheibach — a 2017 Portage High School graduate — would lead to her participation in several builds and deliveries and, ultimately, to her organizing an event to raise money for the program.

To raise money for the group, Ness and the seven-member officer team of Portage Future Business Leaders of America launched Winter Family Fun Day, which is from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Portage High School.

Their event is designed for children in preschool through fifth grade who will participate in a dance party, cookie decorating, crafts and games. Participants are encouraged to donate $2 or a children’s book or stuffed animal.

“We as a community should be so proud to know we are not only raising smart and high achieving kids, but even more importantly we are raising kids that see more value in giving back and helping others,” Scheibach said of contributions from local students.

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