Tuesday, July 20, 2010

4K Possibility Still Alive

Two of three members of the Board Instruction Committee gave the okay to Ted Neitzke to continue studying the possibility of adding 4K to the West Bend School District. Voicing strong objection to this added program, Dave Weigand recommended not pursuing it further.

The West Bend School District is looking to “partner “with local parochial schools, the YMCA daycare and other preschool providers for an offsite 4K program. It would not be fully funded until its third year.

Tim Stepanski questioned why the district would add a non-mandated program in the midst of “budget cuts”. Weigand echoed that thought, further stating that the district would likely use union teachers, which are part of the current budgetary problems we have today. Weigand cited the financial liabilities and legacy costs that come with hiring teachers from the teacher’s union. No one denied that the district would hire union teachers for 4K, even though it would not be necessary to due to 4K not being mandated by the state.

The lack of data showing the benefit of 4K to students future school years was one reason Weigand is opposed to adding this to the district‘s offerings. “The studies of the success of 4K are ambivalent”, stated Weigand.
Many studies have shown that by third grade, any advantage to being in 4K is lost.

Kris Beaver strongly supported the proposed program, stating that not all moms can prepare their kids for school. “There are moms who know how to teach kids and moms who don’t”. He went on to say that because his mom was a teacher, he had an advantage over other kids whose moms were not teachers.

Neitzke echoed that thought adding, "Eighty-five percent of parents in our district have a high school diploma." He compared that to the parents who have college degrees and said that there is an increase in vocabulary of kids from homes whose parents have a college degree.

That made me wonder how my two daughters succeeded. I have a some college credits and a one year diploma degree in nursing, but not a college degree. I home schooled my daughters through high school, and they scored higher than West Bend’s average on the ACT test. HMMMMM
It’s all about perspective and priorities. To me, a large vocabulary at age 4 or 5 is not as important as character, respect, a strong family environment, teaching my values to my young children, etc.

We are told that this program is optional, “We’re not encouraging anyone to do anything.” they say. But, they are forcing the tax payer to add another program which will increase taxes and cause parents to give up their responsibilities to the schools again.

Weigand asked, “where will it end?” Neitzke agreed. I agree too.

Post your comments regarding the move toward one high school in West Bend

Friday, July 2, 2010

Daily News article about the proposed charter school in West Bend

Charter school hearing sought Pastor of First Baptist Church seeks approval for K-12 school; it would be West Bend’s first By KRISTEN J. KUBISIAK Daily News Staff
The West Bend School District received an inquiry about opening what would be the district’s first charter school this week.

A certified letter was submitted to the district by Bruce Dunford, a West Bend resident and pastor of First Baptist Church. In the letter, Dunford requested a public hearing for approval to begin a K-12 charter school.

“Our intent is to begin this fall (if we get the approvals) with kindergarten and first grade with plans to expand to additional grades in a systematic manner,” Dunford said.
Charter schools are public, nonsectarian schools created through a contract between the operators and the sponsoring school board, according to the Department of Public Instruction.
Wisconsin charter school law gives charter schools freedom from most state rules and regulations in exchange for greater accountability for results.
The charter defines the missions and methods of the school and the chartering authority holds the school accountable to its charter.
“Our desire to start this school is based upon a long-held belief that families desire and deserve an option to the mandated government school monopoly that is presently in place,” Dunford said.
West Bend School District Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Ted Neitzke will be handling the charter school request. Neitzke said he had only just received Dunford’s letter on Wednesday and was still trying to contact him to discuss the details.
Wisconsin, there are more than 200 charter schools.
“As school districts around the state go, we have a fine one in West Bend,” Dunford said. “But I think there are parents looking for an alternative that more closely reflects their values.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Charter School proposed in West Bend

A certified letter has been send to West Bend school district administration requesting a public hearing on the matter of a charter school in West Bend.

The plan at this point is to start this fall with K and 1st grade. Future expansion to 6th grade or possibly 8th grade would continue next fall. According to Pastor Dunford of First Baptist Church, many parents have expressed a desire for them to begin a charter school.

The West Bend Board of Education needs to approve such a measure. Charter schools typically educate for less money, have smaller class sizes and results that compare favorably to or better than traditional public schools. There is strong potential for cost savings to the community by educating through charter schools.
This is a very exciting idea for West Bend!

More details later...............

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The district administration is moving toward getting every child ready for college and the ACT test. They are in the process of changing curriculum to move toward that end. "College readiness" is frequently on the lips of our superintendent, Pat Herdrich. The district boasts about expanding curriculum and offering college credits through their courses. They talk about "career clusters" that students will take part in from middle school on up. All this is what makes the comments and concerns of local business leaders, as they spoke to top district administration and the two school board members in attendance(Weigand and Carlson), so compelling.
Local business leaders (see agenda in previous post for some of their names) encouraged the school administration to focus on teaching reading, writing, math skills and good communication skills. They also spoke of the importance of attitude and the ability to learn on the job skills needed in employment. Those who spoke were not as concerned with the job training of potential employees; they regarded strong basic skills in the above items as what they desire in their employees. Someone with good basic skills, they said, can be trained on the job.
One local business leader asked the school administration to restructure and fundamentally change the way we do education- to use technology and save on paid staff, something some school board members are trying to get implemented as well.
District administration was encouraged to "not cut off your fingers and toes", but be purposeful in making budget reductions and controlling costs. "Just remove the accessories". Private businesses are downsizing and because of that are bouncing back, the district should do the same. Government money available to schools is not likely going to increase. We need to use what we have wisely and not ask for more. One person also mentioned that the community does not want an operating referendum, and asked the administration to forgo asking for one. Some concern was expressed about kids making career choices in middle school (thus the career clusters), which will determine which courses they will take in middle and high school, due to kids just not knowing what they will want to do as adults.
These are refreshing comments from local businesses. We seem to have some good business sense in the local businessmen who spoke. I hope the administration and board members were listening. These comments seem to suggest the administration needs to simplify and stay with the basics. They want to see students coming out of high school with strong fundamentals. If the students have those, they will be on the right path to success in whatever path they take after high school.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Business Forum misnamed.....................

When this was first proposed I was under the impression that local businesses would be letting government officials know how they feel about local government and the local government run schools. I thought it a good thing that the voices of local business would have a platform and that local government and school administration would listen to what they have to say. Now, looking at the agenda I can see that this is not the case. It will be your typical, "government bureaucrats taking the floor and telling the community how to run their businesses and what agenda to follow". Just take a look at the agenda, who is speaking, and how long they have the floor. I think you'll come to the same conclusion.
It is really too bad. I had hopes this meeting would have a more beneficial purpose.

The closing statement is very telling:
"this effort at creating a shared vision for this District and City Governments to begin working together in a closer partnership."

Business Forum Agenda (three hour meeting)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company

Introductions - (10 minutes - Kevin Steiner).
8 a.m. - 8:10 a.m.

West Bend School District: Strategic Vision / 21st Century Skills (20 minutes - Joe Carlson,
Dr. Herdrich and Ted Neitzke)
8:10 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

EDC (20 minutes- Charlie Hillman and John Torinus)
8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Focused Discussion - (20 minutes - led by Joe Carlson, Dr. Herdrich and Ted Neitzke)
(9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.)

· Describe the skills needed to ensure college readiness and career success in a global economy.

· List the innovations needed in our K-12 Strategic Plan.

· List funding options for the vision and proposed innovations.

· Describe how the stakeholders can collaborate for West Bend.

Round-table discussion - (20 minutes)
(9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.)
School board members, school district employees, University of Wisconsin - Washington County, Moraine Park Technical College, business owners and Village of Jackson.

City of West Bend Vision (15 minutes - Mayor Deiss, John Capelle, Dennis Melvin)
(9:50 a.m. - 10:05 a.m.)

Business Vision for the City Business Climate Discussion- (15 minutes - Economic Development Committee/Chamber of Commerce)
(10:05 a.m. - 10:20 a.m.)

Round-Table Discussion on Future and Potential for West Bend- (30 minutes)
EDC, City Council, City Leaders, Business Owners and Village of Jackson.
(10:20 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.)

Wrap Up (10 minutes - 10:50 - Joe Carlson, Mayor Deiss and Dr. Herdrich)
(10:50 a.m. - 11 a.m.)
Wrap up to determine future follow up and possible meeting to regroup in the future to continue this effort at creating a shared vision for this District and City Governments to begin working together in a closer partnership.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keep Two High Schools or Change to One High School?

It is increasingly apparent that the district administration is moving in the direction of changing to one high school. As community members, everyone needs to let the Board members know how they feel about the change. The Board will be voting this fall on this proposal.
There are some very serious considerations they need to think about.
1. No one knows if the district will lose students to open enrollment due to the West Bend having the largest high school in the state if we make the change.
2. No one knows if the proposed savings will really pan out.
3. The administration refuses to consider reducing the number of high school principals unless the change is made from two high schools to one. WHY? Just because it has been tried before does not mean that intelligent, well paid people can't make it work.
Such a move will save the district well over $100,000.00 a year while retaining the two high schools.

Please let these men know how you feel:

2009-2010 Members
Joe Carlson

Personnel / Finance
Stakeholder Communications

Vice President
Tim Stepanski

Board Instruction
Stakeholder Communications
Kris Beaver

Board Instruction
Bruce Koenig


Todd Miller

Stakeholder Communications
Randy Marquardt

Dave Weigand

Board Instruction

Monday, June 21, 2010

In the Spirit of More Transparency

A monthly budget report will now be published and available online. Tim Stepanski suggested that this new budget report be made available on the district's website. Be sure to look for it and check it out.

My only question is how detailed it will be. Will it give enough detail for anyone to know exactly where the money is being spent? Time will tell.

Updates on Athletic Handbook

Jeff Rondorf, East athletic director, and Scott Stier, West athletic director, presented to the board of education some good changes to the athletic handbook. Among the proposed changes is a change regarding the penalty of an athlete who is at a party with underage drinking. Any student, whether consuming illegal substances or not, will receive the same penalty, which is a two week suspension from play. Previously, if a student was at an event with alcohol being served to those underage, but was not himself drinking, his penalty was less severe. Now, the handbook will reflect the standard that simply being at a party with alcohol is in violation of the athletic code.

The board gave Rondorf and Stier some input about academic expectations for athletes. The board has asked them to make a change in the handbook regarding grades and GPA for athletes. Currently, the West Bend School District's policy is one failing grade requires a two week suspension from play. The student must verify that his grades are passing in every class before returning to play. The board would like to see the policy also reflect a minimum GPA of 2.0, which would make the policy state that a failing grade OR a GPA of less than 2.0 requires a two week play suspension. Interestingly, the W.I.A.A. policy allows for one failing grade and does not suspend players for one failing grade, but two.
The board is expected to discuss this further on July 19th and possibly act that same evening.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

One High School Plan-Monday June 21 meetings

While the school board has not approved the one high school plan, the district administration is already moving forward on its implementation.
The Stakeholder Communications Committee meeting has on its agenda, "Discussion of Communication Plan around one-high School".
That meeting will be held:
4:30 – 5:30 pm
West High School – Room V15
1305 E. Decorah Road

Public input will be allowed at the Regular Board Meeting that follows: (Stakeholder Communicati0ns is on the agenda which allows for public input on the topic)

Regular Board of Education Meeting
West High School - Library
1305 E. Decorah Road
6:15 p.m.


Sunday, June 13, 2010


ESC 735 S. Main St.
The regular board meeting begins at 6:15pm.
Committee meetings:
Board Instruction and Facilities-4:30 and Finance-5:30
A Work Session is scheduled to begin at 7:22. Probably about the budget. Try and be there!

Friday, June 11, 2010

School Board meeting regarding combining the high schools

Monday June 21st is the date the school board will be discussing combining the high schools. It seems to me that the superintendent already sees this as a done deal.
The public needs to be there letting their elected officials know how they feel about combining the two schools into one. If this goes through, West Bend will have one of the largest high schools in the state.
Everyone has a price, but the projected savings of combining the schools is minimal, and the benefits to students none (that I can think of).
The projected savings the first year is $205,660 and subsequent years savings are projected to be $382,910(from a budget that exceeds $70 million) The projected savings will come from having one less principal and reductions in coaches and staffing events. One athletic director will be called an activity director, but the salary is the same.
We also do not know the impact of open enrollment if families decide to try and get into a nearby district with a smaller high school.
As I think about this I am considering:
1. How many kids will not make sport teams because of stiffer competition. High school is a time when many kids engage in sporting activities for their local school. It will probably impact the number of kids who make the team.I see less kids having the opportunity to participate at a meaningful level.
2. Will we end up losing money in the deal? No none knows. If more kids move to a different school district for high school, this could be a net loss.
3. Is it worth changing the way we structure our schools? Everyone has a price? It is worth it for a "savings" that could end up costing?
4. Impact for the kids in other areas. I hope kids and parents come out and share their thoughts.
I look forward to more discussion from the community on this.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Business Forum June 29th

The date of the invite-only Business Forum has been changed from June 15th(see previous post regarding this) to June 29th. It will be held at West Bend Mutual Insurance and will include large and small business owners, community leaders, the Economic Development Committee, Chamber of Commerce, West Bend Public Schools, the University of Washington County, Moraine Park Technical College, City of West Bend and Village of Jackson government officials.

This event will provide opportunities to share a wide range of perspectives and information for future planning in education, business and government.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Packet with One High School Model Information


The information regarding the one high school proposal begins on page 33. The 4K proposal begins on page 50.


A few items on the agenda from last night's meeting (Monday May 24, 2010):
1. Four-Year Old Kindergarten
Administration would like to move forward to design and develop this new program. If adopted it will mean additional classroom space of 12-13 classes and more staff. It will not be fully funded the first two years, but a very small amount grant money may be available for some start-up costs.
It is not difficult to find studies showing that any benefit a child receives from 4K is lost by 3rd grade. Studies also show that a child who has been in 4K tends to exhibit more physical aggression through 6th grade.


article on all day kindergarten:


The was not discussed at the meeting due to lack of time, but it will be discussed in June. Stay tuned.......

2. Technology and Engineering Courses
Administration would like to, “ Restructure and expand the work-based learning experiences in technology and engineering education into a Technology and Engineering Internship.” The Civil Engineering and Architecture classes will be new this fall. Once implemented, these courses would give students 9-12 college credits.
Some teacher training will take place during the school year and substitute teachers will need to be used in classrooms on those training days.
Two comments that are memorable were: Ted Neitzke, “If we can afford it.” (referring to some of the changes), and Pat Herdrich, “We are the most aggressive district around. We offer more classes than any other high school.”


1. One High School Model
The administration states, “As a result of the funding dilemma, the leadership team has suggested to the Board of Education that the high schools be combined. The 'one school' model would allow the system to capture sustainable savings because of the reduction in athletic teams.” A business plan was developed by administration. I will post it shortly.
This will be the topic of the June 21st board meeting.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Business Forum June 15th

Several local businesses and local government agencies will gather together for a Business Forum at West Bend Mutual on June 15th. Among those there to discuss planning for the future of West Bend will be the mayor and the school district. Local businesses will be expressing their ideas about their expectations of public school offerings. For their part, the West Bend Public School District will be bringing their "Simon Family Presentation".
Found on their website: http://wbsd.schoolfusion.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/496946/File/The%20Budget%20and%20Future%20of%20WBSD%20%5BCompatibility%20Mode%5D.pdf?sessionid=ea11d9a25eac85842291e4b115cb3f3d
This is the presentation Ted Neitzke showed at the School Board meeting on March 22nd. The PowerPoint highlighted a scenario of a "typical district family" going through the district and the educational programming changing over time. Basically, it shows different school programming scenarios according to the amount we will be taxed next year--recommended cuts or added programs according to the amount of increase in the tax levy or the remote possibility of the levy not increasing. The scenarios presented are according to the Administrator's budget recommendations and wishes.
Since the "Simon family" has been introduced to us, there have been some new developments in their family. Mr. Simon lost his job. Combined reporting has caused his business to move out of state. He will be busy trying to find new employment (He's hoping for a government job and heard that the school district is the largest employer in the county), while Mrs. Simon will be taking a retail job for minimum wage. Her financial contribution will help keep up with their mortgage and property taxes. She is busy working evenings and weekends now and is not at home when Alex, age 10, comes home from school. She is also unavailable to help with his scout troop and homework. Mr. Simon hopes to step in where mom is no longer able to. They are concerned about more tax increases and its effect on their already strained budget. Jon is planning on finding yard work this summer to help pay for his car insurance (he just got his driver's license), while Megan was offered a weekly Booster route to help with personal expenses. The experience is causing her to mature in a wonderful way. They are learning all about family living while living real life together. They collectively hope that both local and state government will stop the tax burdens and unfriendly business climate so that they can once again function as a healthy, vibrant family.
Stay tuned................

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What is the Role of Public Schools?

McLane Elementary Principal Andy Kasik gave a presentation at last night's meeting. It was sort of a “state of the state” for McLane.
Mr. Kasik really seems to be a sharp guy. Over and over I heard him state or imply that McLane has high expectations for their students, and it shows. Their WKCE scores are the highest in the district. If a 1% decrease in test scores shows one year, they focus on that subject the next, whether it be math or reading. He said strong classroom instruction is what works. Period. McLane also uses technology to help struggling students and challenge more advanced learners to excel.
When kids need it, they are offered “second and third doses” of math or reading, which is done using manipulatives and technology. He understands that the means of education is changing and likened it to current technology advancing beyond the use of steam engines.
I was happy to hear him mention their use of technology in the classroom. It will be the future, especially in tough economic times when staff needs to be cut or reorganized to decrease tax burdens of citizens.
Mr. Kasik told of community projects the kids worked in, and he mentioned how they are working to increase communication with parents. I have no doubt that if his school budget was cut in order to budget without a tax levy increase, he and his staff could do it.
I'll end with this. He began his presentation with the comment that “30% of McLane students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. He went on to say that the staff at McLane needs to be certain that “all the needs of students are met; that the social and emotional needs are met by the school staff. Later he asked the question, “How do we meet families' needs?”
I wonder if that is a good question. I sometimes ponder that. Yes, some kids come to school with unmet needs. That is sad for the kids and for the parents. I understand that teachers love their students and want to “be sure their needs are met”. Some may think me hardhearted for saying this, but I'll say it anyway. The calling of a school district is not to “meet all the needs of students and families”. Schools are there to provide curriculum and instruction to students and share that responsibility with the parents and guardians. (WI statute 118) When schools begin to parent, more and more parents allow them to be the parents ,and they themselves refuse to do what is expected from them. That is stated as a general rule, and if we look back just a few years we can see that trend. Government becomes the family and provider, and many allow them to do it.
Just as high expectations for students is a way to see them succeed, so it is with parents. Our schools should have high expectations for the parents. Once we get that on the right track, our school budget will get on track too. It takes a new way of thinking. Schools are there to educate, and parents are there to parent. Period.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Preliminary Budget Advances

By a board vote of 6-1, the West Bend School District Superintendent's Preliminary Budget for 2010-2011 passed. Dave Weigand was the lone No vote. The budget, which grew to $79,348,067 from last year's budget of $73,000,000.00, passed with budget "reductions" of 1,420,792.00 to make the current preliminary budget $77,927,275.00. This budget presupposes a maximum levy tax increase of over 8% (wasn't last year's levy increase 10.3%?)

Due to the late hour, I'll close with comments from board members and the Superintendent:

Joe Carlson:
This budget is a sheared sacrifice of a budget.
Randy Marquardt: The teacher's contract took away any discussion from the board's hands. The $600,000.00 of cuts had to be put back into the budget. Because teachers salaries make up 85% of the budget it is the only place we can cut, and the union took that away.
Dave Weigand: Basically we are told if we don't spend money we won't have it later. This mentality is epidemic in school districts across the state.
Todd Miller: [Teacher] negotiations are tough. (From me: I don't doubt they are!)
Pat Herdrich: The leadership team will not make the recommendation to under-levy.
We are a low spending district (that was stated several times as well as comments about state funding favoring the most affluent communities)

Mrs. Herdrich also mentioned wanting to get waivers from the state to allow the district to opt out of unfunded mandates. That confused me because she is always saying she wants to increase programming.

I give accolades to Mclane principal Andy Kasik. He leads his staff in high expectations for the students there. More on that tomorrow.

Election of Officers

Board President: Joe Carlson by a 5-2 vote. Dave Weigand and Randy Marquardt voted against the appointment. The other appointments were unanimous.
Vice President: Tim Stepanski
Treasurer: Bruce Koenig
Clerk: Kris Beaver
Weigand motioned and Marquardt seconded motion of Tim Stepanski for President, but Stepanski refused to accept.

Proposed Housing Project

In Saturday's paper Judy Steffes wrote about a proposed new low-income housing project downtown West Bend. A survey has been set up by the district's alderman and Boots and Sabers posted on it. I'll add a link here to access all.
Besides the concerns expressed there, the future of this proposition will have an impact on our schools. It's time to be good citizens and look out for the best interest of our community.


Friday, May 7, 2010


The Preliminary Budget is on the agenda for Monday's meeting (May 10) at McLane Elementary School (833 Chestnut St). It will be a topic in two meetings:
Board Work Session in Room 101 from 5-6:15pm and
Regular Board meeting at 7Pm in the gymnasium.
Now is the time for folks to come to the meetings and express themselves. It was good to see so many local folks come to the annual meeting last fall and express their concerns over another tax increase.
The budget for this fall
will be discussed and you can have input now about what will be voted on this September 27th at the annual meeting.
The proposed budget will not be available to the public until Monday at the meeting.
I really do wonder about something. Why is there only 15 minutes on the agenda for the budget discussion, 3 minutes for public input and 35 minutes for student recognitions?
The budget discussion is scheduled for 9:10 pm.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Budget Enhancement:
K-6 World Language $550,000.00

Increased focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math
through the development of courses 6-12 $259,000.00

Restore Gifted and Talented Programing K-8
(my note: Unless I am mistaken, Gifted and Talented is required by law. HOW it is done is at the district's discretion. So I wonder at the word "restore".) $242,640.00

Increase Librarians at the Elementary Level $285,000.00

ACT Curricular Alignment and Testing $83,000.00

Intervention Strategies for Elementary and Middle School math (double session of learning) $708,000.00

(my question: Does this mean hiring more teachers?)

Instructional software for research based interventions (20% intervention need)

This would mean:
Tax at allowable rate
Projected to be an 8.3% increase
(assuming the state funding is the same)
Alternative revenue sources which could include an operating referendum
Reverse the trend of reductions and begin to look to sustain and enhance


Of course they accepted.

The agreement's provisions are in the previous post.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010


1.Two year contract covering the period of July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2011
2.Any and all savings achieved as a result of this contract settlement shall be used to offset programmatic reductions in 2010-11. Any and all savings achieved as a result of this contract settlement shall not be used to under-levy 2010-11.
3.Provide salary schedule step and lane increments in each year, and increase salary schedule by 0%/cell effective July 1, 2009 and 3%/cell effective July1, 2010.
4.Effective July 1, 2010, delete one (1) full step from 2010-2011 salary schedule.
(My note: this brings a B.A. Teacher's starting salary from $36,338 to $37,920)
5.Effective July 1, 2010, increase the NBPTS(National Board Professional Teaching Standards) stipend by one thousand dollars ($1,000) to twenty-five hundred dollars ($2,500).
6.Effective July 1, 2010 award six (6) credits for salary schedule movement to an employee who completes a guided PDP for relicensure under pilot MOU for 2010-11-Appendix M
7.Effective September 1, 2010, credits taken at University of Laverne or McPherson College will need to be preapproved under a pilot for 2010-11-Appendix M
8.Effective July 1, 2010, increase the employee contribution to the family health plan by ten dollars ($10) to establish the new rate at sixty dollars ($60) per month.
9.Expand language on interschool mail to include electronic mail boxes. Add language that acknowledges the District Technology Use Policy and expectations that staff abide by this policy.
10.Expand language related to EEO protected classes to include all classes protected by federal and state law.
11.Create two (2) one-half (½) teacher workdays out of student-contact days. These
days will be March 25, 2011 and June 9, 2011. These days are accomplished by
restructuring the minutes of the student day and do not extend the school year.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I just wonder why a public school would incorporate Yoga
into an activity held at school. Yoga is deeply rooted in
Hinduism-isn't that a religion? Who authorized this?
What does this have to do with public education?
What were the parents told about the Yoga (and drumming?)?
This was many of the girls' FIRST YOGA EXPERIENCE!
The schools have engaged in proselytizing, using our kids as
the prize.

APD - West Bend Daily News;
Date:May 1, 2010;Section:Front Page;Page Number:A1

‘Girls-4-Girls’ focuses on reducing bullying Silverbrook seventh-graders spend a night together By KRISTEN J. KUBISIAK Daily News Staff

School is the last place most middle school students would like to spend a Friday night — but for Silverbrook seventh grade girls it was a great location for a celebration.

About 60 seventh-grade girls gathered in the school cafeteria Friday night for the fourth “Girls-4-Girls” event.

The “lock-in” is the culmination of a five-week program focused on breaking down clique barriers and reducing the incidents of bullying among girls, said program organizer and school counselor Sue Milkus.

“Bullying for girls is different than with boys,” Milkus said. “Girls are in many ways more subtle and more mean. They are cunning in regard to how they can hurt another girl — by gossiping and spreading rumors. We all have that capacity — to deal with our own insecurities by throwing them outside of ourselves.”

Each hourlong session during the program’s fiveweek period gave girls a chance to get to know one another and discuss the issues in their lives. Topics included self image, the difference between being popular and being likable, and character development as well as ways to turn intense
negative emotions — such as jealousy, anger, fear and insecurity — into something positive, Milkus said.

One of the positive activities Milkus introduced to program participants was volunteering.

Girls were required to complete two hours of community service at school, Milkus said, “so they know how good it feels to make a difference or help someone else.”

The big reward for their participation in the “Girls-4-Girls” program was the lockin.

Program participants were treated to a variety of activities during the fourhour event, including drumming, yoga, massage and manicures, T-shirt decorating and bracelet making. Girls were divided into groups of four to six, with one adult volunteer assigned to each group.

They rotated through the different activities, which took place in classrooms and were offered in 20-minute sessions.

Kathy Nieman of Yoga One Studio, Cedarburg, led girls through — what was for many — their first yoga experience.

“The purpose of teen yoga is to help the girls feel more empowered,” Nieman said. “Yoga brings a calmness to your body and your mind.”

One of the girls at the event looking forward to participating in yoga was Kaitlin Weidner.

Weidner said the “Girls-4-Girls” program enabled her to get to know her classmates better.

“There were girls I didn’t know who I found out we had things in common,” she said. “We are friends now.”

West Bend East sophomore Kate Vetter, who participated in the program when she was in seventh grade, was one of several Silverbrook alumni volunteers at the school Friday providing manicures.

“I remember my ‘Girls-4-Girls’ lock-in,” she said. “It was the first year the school offered it and it was a lot of fun.”

In year four of her program, Milkus said she hopes it is something that other schools might embrace.

“We don’t have a lot of bullying here,” she said. “I’d like to think that the program has had a positive affect on the school climate.”

Andrew Link/Daily News Staff Seventh-graders Allie Schoen, Danielle Bond and Cassie Albritton make their own beat during a drumming session at the Girls-4-Girls event Friday at Silverbrook Middle School.