Baraboo School News
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Board Votes to Place Referendum on Nov. Ballot
AUGUST 8 - The Baraboo School Board voted unanimously Monday night to place a $21.95 million referendum question on the Nov. 8 ballot.
If passed, the referendum would fund classroom and facilities improvements at Baraboo High School. The estimated tax increase for district residents would be $0.45 per $1,000 of property value.
“This is laser-focused on one building. It will completely revitalize this building,” said board member Sean McNevin. “It changes the dynamics.”
The referendum question is the culmination of a year-long process by the Modernized Community Campus focus group, comprised of parents, business leaders, teachers and school board members who studied the district’s facility needs.
The group sent its recommendations to the board, which then put out a district-wide survey this spring to gauge community support for proposed improvements at BHS.
A majority of the more than 2,000 respondents said they would support facilities improvements in all areas that the referendum funds will cover:
- Renovating/expanding classrooms, including Tech Ed, Phy Ed, Art, and Family and Consumer Science;
- Renovating/expanding the cafeteria/student commons to accommodate;
- Renovating the Library and Student Services offices; and
- Installing modern HVAC and fire sprinkler systems.
Seven decades later: A diploma
By Christina Beam
Marketing and Communications
When Donald Cole graduated from Baraboo High school in January 1947, there was no pomp and circumstance.
The rest of his graduating class had finished the June before, but an incomplete in English had brought him back for another semester. The war was over, it was the dead of winter, and he was ready to get to work. He never received his diploma, and he never asked for it.
“I’m a procrastinator,” he said recently, around what would have been his 70th class reunion.
Admittedly, he doesn’t get a lot of requests for his diploma these days.
Twenty five years into retirement, after service in the Navy and a career in maintenance, after raising three daughters and witnessing the passage of the second half of the 20th Century, there aren’t many people demanding to see proof that he graduated from Baraboo High School in 1946. Or 1947, if you’re going to be particular about it.
And yet, he has thought about it often over the years. It has pulled at him, and he has longed for it in a way he can’t really explain.
But that’s, perhaps, what makes it so meaningful. He wanted that diploma for himself.
And then one day this spring, he decided to ask for it.
He went first to the old Baraboo High School, now the Civic Center. Then he came into the administration office on Second Avenue. He thought the district might have his original diploma on file, but they didn’t — only his transcript, with its hand-written grades from three quarters of a century ago.
Inspecting a photocopy of his high school transcript, he confessed his grades of record weren’t the same as his grades of memory.
“I guess I wasn’t half as good as I thought I was,” he shrugged.
But did it matter now?
“It was the end of the war. I wanted to quit at one time and join the service and my dad wouldn’t let me. He never finished school, so he knew the importance of an education,” he said. “So I stuck it out.”
This isn’t the story of the kind of high-profile high school hero we all know.
If you look for Donald Lincoln Cole in the Minnewaukan yearbooks from the mid-1940s, you’ll have a hard time finding him.
You won’t find see his earnest face in the photos for Latin Club or Pep Club, Band or Glee Club, Student Council or Prom Committee.
With the exception of his membership in the Wisconsin Guard, he recalls, “I stuck pretty much just to the courses.”
But the sticking with it is what he remembers. Even when the war called to him. Even when he didn’t pass English, and the rest of his class graduated without him. He came back in the fall. He finished the class. He graduated.
This isn’t the story of a high school hero. This is the story of a high school education.
Donald didn’t go on to a traditional college. But his time at Baraboo High School prepared him to work to support a family. To serve his country. To contribute to his community.
His education set him forth into the world to succeed, and he held his high school graduation as such a point of pride that a lifetime later he yearned for that gold-embossed piece of paper that conveyed, simply, “yes.”
“Yes,” you did this.
“Yes,” you stuck it out.
“Yes,” you finished what you started.
“Yes,” you’re deserving.
District staff had a special diploma printed for him, signed by current high school Principal Glenn Bildsten, School Board President Kevin Vodak, and Superintendent Lori Mueller.
He picked it up this summer, with glassy eyes and a humble smile and a thank you.
“I’m kind of proud of myself ’cause now I’ve got proof,” he said.
And so, diploma in hand, he headed for the door.
“Don't be late for your graduation party!” Mueller teased.
“Is that why they fixed up the Al Ringling Theater — for my party?” he quipped.
And then, as the door closed behind him, “See you in another 70 years.”
Community Partners Sought
The Baraboo School District is again inviting community volunteers to share their passions and expertise with kindergarten through fifth grade students as part of the Baraboo Community Classroom Connections program.
The program, now in its fifth year, partners elementary classrooms with local businesses or service providers. The volunteers visit throughout the year, collaborating on projects as elaborate as multi-week engineering experiments, or as simple as reading together in the classroom.
“The response from the Community Classroom Connection program has just been outstanding,” said West Principal Chris Olson. “Our students are learning about the possibilities their futures hold and what it will take to get there, and our community partners have told me that it’s been incredibly rewarding to work with our students.”
Chris Hamm, an Alliant Energy employee who has volunteered teaching Spanish in the Baraboo schools for years, said the experience helps him see the classroom from a teacher’s perspective.
“Teachers have an internal drive, a desire to share their knowledge to shape our children’s futures. The rewards are the kids’ smiles and hugs, not the paycheck,” Hamm said. “I get to experience that for two hours a week, and I am grateful.”
From engineers to bakers, from farmers to doctors, the program opens schoolhouse doors to community experts who share information about their field of work and how it impacts students, and give advice about what it takes to join that field of work after graduation.
Visits typically range from 20-40 minutes in length, and community partners are asked to commit to visiting their assigned classroom at least three times during the coming school year.
The district typically matches community partners with the following grade levels:
BELC (4K) and Early Childhood: Eyes, ears, and mouth health-related professionals.
Kindergarten: Emergency and safety, agriculture.
First Grade: Other health professionals (nursing, therapy, pharmacy, physicians), veterinary science.
Second Grade: Food providers (grocery, restaurants, manufacturing, bakery), conservationists.
Third Grade: Financial, energy production, local government.
Fourth Grade: Trades and construction, Ho Chunk Nation, automotive service.
Fifth Grade: Recreation and leisure, technologies, court system, funeral service.
Community members interested in joining the program for the 2016-17 school year can contact Chris Olson at 355-3906 or email@example.com.
Lifelong Learning Begins in Baraboo
JYMS Students Shine at National History Day
JYMS sent 21 students to the National History Day Regional Competition in Madison last weekend. Congratulations to all 21 students who participated, and special congratulations to Jacob Carignan, Alyiah Whitrock, Paige Splinter, Arianna Macias, Kyra Hess, Charlie Cochrane, and Lara Justus, who will advance on the State Competition on .
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