UW partners with Bonduel on innovative science education

Photo by James Runde Lisa Sorlie’s middle school students race to uncover a phylogenetic tree, seeking to find out which genetic traits caused species to branch apart from one another.

Photo by James Runde Bonduel Middle School teacher Zac Krause, left, checks over a group’s DNA amino acid sequence while the students await the results.

If science classes at Bonduel Middle School had a rallying cry it would be, “Don’t expect to find the answers in the book!”

Lisa Sorlie, enthusiastic advocate of innovative classroom science, would definitely be holding the megaphone.

“Too often, classroom science has kids looking for answers between the covers of a textbook,” said Sorlie, who taught middle school science for 14 years before stepping this year into a new role as library media specialist for the school district of Bonduel.

“Here in Bonduel,” Sorlie said, “it’s absolutely our goal to infuse our future scientists, future innovators, with the realization that science is about asking questions.”


Students excel in school’s new space

Leader Photo by Scott Williams School staffer Becky Dillenburg awaits her next students inside The Zone, an alternative learning space created this school year at Olga Brener Intermediate School in Shawano.

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Students visiting The Zone are given many tools to help them relax and refocus, including rocking chairs, coloring books and bicycle pedals for working out stress.

For students at one Shawano school, being sent to the principal’s office no longer means what it used to.

Olga Brener Intermediate School has carved out a new space — far away from the principal’s office — to try a new approach with students who are struggling to stay focused in the classroom.

It is called The Zone.

Olga Brener students wind up in The Zone not to receive punishment or discipline, but to decompress and recalibrate themselves so they can return to class.

School administrators converted former offices into the specialized space where a trained paraprofessional helps agitated or distracted students with tools that include coloring books, hand toys, music, rocking chairs and even a little calming lavender-scented air freshener.

Officials say the experimental approach introduced earlier this school year has proved so successful that some students go voluntarily when they sense they are losing focus in the classroom.


Local student helps build solar-powered water heater

Contributed Photo Kim Pierson, right, discusses the solar-powered water heater with research students Brendon Kwick, Sawyer Buck and Hunter Hermes.

When Kim Pierson began teaching a new class about renewable energies, he used some inexpensive materials he found at a local store to build a small model of a solar thermal water heater that he could use in his laboratory.

The UW-Eau Claire physics professor quickly realized that his model — if built to a much larger scale — actually has a lot of potential for use in the real world.

After a few stops and starts, mostly due to time constraints, last summer Pierson pulled together a team of two students to begin building a larger prototype of his model solar-powered water heater.

Their goal is to develop a low-cost, lightweight solar water heater that can be used to preheat hot water for electric and gas water heaters, and to provide hot water for ground-source heat pumps to heat buildings.


School Notes

Contributed Photo National Honor Society members at Gresham Community School are, from left, front row, Makena Arndt, Lizzie Ketchum, Kali Jones, Dani Huntington, Kaci Wendorff, Kiersten Fischer; back row, Kayli Posselt, Eric Schmidt, Sydney Jensen, Neal Cerveny, Makenzie Hoffman, Drew Haffner and Hailey Hoffman.

Contributed Photo From left, Mya Shawanokasic, Roselynn Rosenow and Riley Kaquawich play a game at the Gnome Games Family Night on March 30 at Gresham Community School.

Gresham Community School

Seniors went on the ad sales trip to Shawano on March 29 to approach businesses for ads for the yearbook.

The National Honor Society banquet was held March 29. The juniors inducted were Kalisa Jones, Kiersten Fischer, Mackenzie Hoffman, Hailey Hoffman, Elizabeth Ketchum, Kaci Wendorff, Drew Haffner and Dani Huntington.

March 30 was the Gnome Games Family Night. People of the Gresham community came to the school and played games and had pizza.



Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Ann O’Leary, the 69th Alice in Dairyland, asks fourth-grade students a question about agriculture Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic School. O’Leary visited schools in Birnamwood, Bonduel, Bowler, Gillett, Gresham, Shawano, Tigerton and Wittenberg to teach students about where their food comes from.

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Ann O’Leary uses four students at Gresham Community School to point out how agriculture is vital to the economy. Participating in her demonstration are, from left, Seth Marks, Derek Schrieber, Robert Kaquatosh and Jeny Reedy.

Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland, but much more than milk and cheese is produced here.

Fourth-grade classrooms across Shawano County received a lesson this week on the foods that Wisconsin is famous for growing and producing. Ann O’Leary, the state’s 69th Alice in Dairyland, told students about the variety of crops — as varied as green beans, cherries, trout, wild rice and more — and where those crops thrive.

“It’s a lot of fun,” O’Leary said after visiting with several classes at Gresham Community School. “I love coming to the schools and talking with them. Each classroom is different and seems to have its own knowledge of food and where it comes from.”



Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Melissa Koziol, played by Sabrina Demaskie, talks and writes at the same time in a scene from “Among Friends and Clutter.”

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Katharine Green, played by Sahara Homan, acts frustrated as her grandpa, played by Matthew Schwitzer, tries to comfort her in a scene for “Among Friends and Clutter.”

One day, you’re sitting in second grade getting ready to work on an assignment for your teacher.

The next day, life happens.

That’s the plot in a nutshell for “Among Friends and Clutter,” a one-act play that will hit the stage at Shawano Community High School this week.

The play, written by Lindsay Price, follows seven students in a second-grade classroom. It is a drama-comedy that shifts from childhood scenes to moments from their adult lives, both real and imagined.

The setup for the show is a little different than what has previously been done. Instead of the audience sitting in the auditorium, ticket holders will be on the stage.

The show has two young directors, including a recent SCHS alum. Addison Lewis, who graduated in 2016, helped out as a director’s assistant with “Mary Poppins” and “Frankenstein.”


Needy pets find friends in kids

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Gracie Hensel, left, joins her fellow volunteers in selling cookies, muffins and other treats in the Olga Brener Intermediate School cafeteria to raise funds for the Shawano County Humane Society.

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Teaming up for the community service project are, from left, Layden Stemper, Kendra Strebel, Gracie Hensel, Kendra Westphal and Rachael Carroll.

Gracie Hensel looked at the pictures of stray dogs and cats in an animal shelter, and she knew she could not turn away and do nothing.

So she thought up a plan to raise funds to help stray animals by rallying support from the people she knows best: her fellow students at Olga Brener Intermediate School in Shawano.

The fourth-grader has joined with classmates in a fundraising drive to support the Shawano County Humane Society so that dogs and cats there are as happy and comfortable as possible.

“I’ve always loved animals,” Gracie said. “It makes me excited just to know that something me and my friends did succeeded.”

Offering a bake sale in the Olga Brener cafeteria, the students raised nearly $200 in the first few days selling cookies and muffins and other treats. They are continuing their drive this week in hopes of delivering a generous show of support to animals at the humane society.


Spies in the school cafeteria

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Natasha Sparrow, played by Hannah Block, threatens astronaut Robert Ness, played by Regan Koenamann, if space secrets are not forthcoming in a scene from “Spy School.”

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Villian Blake Moore, played by Izac Lueck, does battle with heroic spy Priscilla, played by Emily Stanslawski, in a scene from “Spy School.” The comedy is Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School’ spring play and will be performed next week in the school’s auditorium.

It’s tough enough to be a teenager, even in the 1960s, but when the fate of the world rests on your shoulders, suddenly term papers and algebraic equations seem small in comparison.

Everyday teen girl Jane Doe finds herself drafted into the CIA in the comedy “Spy School,” which Wittenberg-Birnamwood High School is performing next week for its spring production.

The show takes place in 1961, when Jane must infiltrate an American high school to locate a Russian spy who is about to send classified information about the United States’ space program to the Soviet Union. Part of her undercover family are a femme fatale mom, a 40-year-old “younger” brother, and a father who takes narcissism to a whole new level.

Jane finds it difficult to succeed in a time when women were seen as housewives and secretaries and not as intelligent equals, as seen by the sexist curriculum in the high school. Obnoxious students and a prom scene like no other round out the show.


Clintonville teacher gets national honor

Karen Petermann, of Clintonville, was recently named the National Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year by SHAPE America.

Petermann teaches at Rexford-Longfellow Elementary School in Clintonville.

The award from the Society of Health and Physical Educators was presented at its 132nd national convention in Boston earlier this month.

The award is given in recognition of outstanding teaching performance at the elementary school level and the ability to motivate today’s youth to participate in a lifetime of physical activity.

Petermann, a physical education teacher in the Clintonville School District for more than 29 years, vied with five other district winners for the 28th annual award.

In all, six national Teachers of the Year were selected in the areas of adapted physical education, dance education, school health, elementary physical education, middle school physical education and high school physical education.


School Notes

Gresham Community School

We raised $708.72 last week for Pennies for Patients.

On Friday, the culture club had a lock-in at the school from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. The students and teachers who chaperoned had a fun time.

On March 23, the second- and third-grade classes went to the Milwaukee Public Museum.

The Gnome Games family night is from 5-7 p.m. Thursday. Dinner is from 5-5:30 p.m., and games will be played in the library after dinner.


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