Students at Wausau West High School turned the holidays into a business opportunity in their entrepreneurial class.
From the outside in, it would look like any other high school class you’ve ever seen before, but if you look closer, you’ll find out it’s far from typical.
They’ve started their own company. They sell stock, they choose a product, they manufacture that product, they do sales and marketing to sell the product to their friends, family, and community members. Then the students walk away with a paycheck at the end of the semester.” Stephanie Jahnke said to NewsChannel 7.
Jahnke is the teacher leading the class, but she’s more like the manager in the midst of a business operation. During the class’ open house Wednesday, customers saw just that. The group is selling holiday greeting cards.
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WSAW.com: In the halls of Wausau East High School a group of students is gaining independence and job skills while running a business.
“They’re starting to believe in themselves. They’re starting to think ‘Oh, I can do this,” explained teacher Anissa Walter.
She’s the organizer for Jack’s Joe. The mobile coffee business, run by students with special needs, is a play on the name of the school mascot– the Lumberjacks.
Students, like Elizabeth and Sarah are learning how to be a team, manage inventory and handle money. Skills that will prepare them for the real world.
The business was created through a grant from Reach for the Stars. Since last spring, the rolling coffee shop is a favorite of staff and students.
The coffee is donated by Tom Belongia, owner at Biggby Coffee.
He said he was happy to be apart of the project.
“The teachers had seen a video online of a similar program and they were actually at Biggby Coffee and brainstorming and they asked, ‘Is this something you could actually help us out with?’ I though it was such a beautiful wonderful idea and it fit,” Belongia recalled.
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Wausau Daily Herald: Paula Hase thought she was attending an anti-bullying assembly Tuesday morning with fellow teachers, staff members and students in the gym of Wausau East High School.
But instead, the school’s librarian was handed an over-sized check for $100,000. Hase was one of six teachers across the country who won an online contest sponsored by Farmers Insurance called Thank America’s Teachers Dream Big Challenge. The money will be used to significantly upgrade the schools broadcasting lab. Right now, the lab uses analog video equipment, and the cash will allow the school to purchase state-of-the-art video cameras, computers and editing equipment.
“I think this is one of those defining moments,” Hase said immediately after announcement was made, fighting back tears. “This is the highlight of my career. … This broadcasting lab will put us, really central Wisconsin, at an advantage point in direct competition (with the rest of the country.) So these are exciting times and we’re looking forward to developing this.”
WSAW.com: In the past 10 years, Wausau East has seen an increase in diversity among students, and because of those rising numbers, teachers brought back a togetherness program that they used four years ago to promote unity in the school.
The program is called, ‘We are 1,’ and last year’s Wausau East seniors were the last ones to experience it. That’s why teachers thought it was time to bring it back.
The idea is to promote tolerance, and togetherness throughout the school community and show kids that they’re more alike, then they are different.
Students filed into the cafeteria for lunch on Thursday and were greeted with quite the surprise, as music filled the room and sweet treats were handed out to promote the “We are 1,” message.
The school said they hadn’t seen any diversity issues recently, but getting the message of being kind to one another across is still an important task.
“This is every bodies school regardless of who your parents are, or where you live,” explained Wausau East teacher Christy Powell.
John Muir Middle School teacher Patricia (Patty) Zemke was named Health Education Teacher of the Year by the Wisconsin Health and Physical Education (WHPE) Association. Zemke received her award at the WHPE Association’s annual convention in Wisconsin Dells.
Zemke was recognized for her significant contributions to the profession in the areas of teaching, research, creative activities, and service. She engages her students to participate in authentic community involvement relative to health and healthy living. Her students have ‘bagged the butts’ in a local park, worked with third graders using “I Love Not Smoking” coloring books, and developed and distributed positive health messages for “brown bags” and “movie messages.” They have also implemented and continue to participate in the “grab and go” breakfast program.
John Muir Principal Larry Mancl said, “Patty is a champion advocate for students. Her vigilance in developing and implementing a comprehensive and relevant health curriculum for our district middle school students is highly recognized! She has provided staff with best and promising practices to maintain student attention and focus by providing brain breaks and physical movement.”
Zemke began teaching in the Wausau School District in 1996 and holds a Masters in Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Wausau Daily Herald: Senior Brennen Pozorski learned how to fine tune the new cobalt-blue, manual mills in the Wausau East High School metals lab and was setting them up and leveling their tables a week after classes started this fall.
The 17-year-old likes working with his hands and is thinking about attending Northcentral Technical College, where he already has some credits earned through his high school classes. Pozorski will likely earn more of those credits before graduating and in the process learn how to use the lab’s new computer numerical-controlled — or CNC — mills, which can be programmed to cut things out and drill.
Wausau East and Wausau West high schools have a lot of new equipment and upgraded spaces for technology education. Welding booths, a laser engraver, plasma tables, a maker space, 3-D printers, revived wood and metals labs and a brand-new 9,000-square-foot auto lab all have been added to the schools’ tech-ed department in recent months.
It’s a good time for Wausau high schoolers to get into auto repair, manufacturing, design and other tech-centric electives. And local businesses hope students will be turned on to their industries after exploring them in school.
School district leaders, notably Career and Technical Education Coordinator Jon Winter, worked with businesses in the community to tailor the improvements at the high schools to what manufacturers and other local companies need. Some of those companies chipped in for equipment to help train students in technical-education courses.
“We see that they have a need. We’re trying to fill those pipelines,” Winter said of employers. “We built these facilities for our community.”
WAOW.com: Students at Wausau East High are changing the life of one of the school custodians.
Chong Lee is a custodian at the school.
He lost his arm during the Vietnam War when he was just 5-years-old. Earlier this year, the Youth Culture Club began fundraising to buy him a prosthetic.
He’s been using it for months now, changing how he does even the most simple tasks.
“We saw a need, and Mr. Lee is a really wonderful man,” said George Hagge, the club’s faculty advisor.
It’s a cause the students feel close to.
“He’s worked countless hours, worked super hard and we thought about him and then we wanted to give back to him,” said Fong Moua, a Wausau East High School senior.
WAOW.com: John Muir Middle School students in Wausau have spent months raising money for a race chair for children with disabilities, and on Tuesday, it was revealed.
The school teamed up with myTeam Triumph, a nonprofit that lets people with disabilities use specifically made race chairs in Wisconsin for 5Ks, marathons, triathlons, and more.
The chair cost $5,000, but the students raised $6,000 through fundraisers and incentives, even collecting pennies to add to the total.
“It’s amazing, and it’s so rare to see that students that want to benefit others and give back in that way, and so we’re just blown away and so thankful of the students at John Muir Middle School,” myTeam Triumph executive director Christian Jensen said.
Wausau School District Director of Pupil Services Dr. Jeff Lindell received The Educator Award from the Wausau Police Department at its first-ever Awards Banquet held on March 1.
This award is presented to an educator who best represents the Wausau School District and exemplifies excellence in their profession. This individual has made outstanding contributions to academic achievement and works hand-in-hand with the police department and other community organizations to keep our schools safe while educating youth and families.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Williams said, “Jeff is amazing at what he does and how he does it. His affable, thoughtful, empathetic, and collegial nature helps to contribute to our District and its students’ success.”
Wausau East and Wausau West DECA chapters recently raised more than $2,100 to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s mission to free individuals — and the families who love them — from the harmful effects of muscle-debilitating diseases so they can live longer and grow stronger.
Additionally, 40 students from East High and West High DECA participated in the Special Olympics Wisconsin Polar Plunge and raised $9,500 to help persons with intellectual disabilities to participate in year-round sports training and competition.