Category Archives: Community

Decision 2017: Meet the Six Candidates for School Board

SchoolBoardElection_LogoThe West Bend School Board will have a new look after the election on April 4.

Three seats are on the ballot and only one incumbent, Ryan Gieryn, is running for re-election, which means the board will have at least two new faces. Leaving the board are president Rick Parks and vice-president Bart Williams.

Gieryn will be joined by Richard Cammack, Nancy Justman, Bob Miller, Joel Ongert, and Tonnie Schmidt on the ballot. The West Bend Current asked each candidate about their background. That interview material is presented below in the order that the candidates will appear on the ballot. Continue reading

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Decision 2017: Board Candidates on Why They Chose to Run

What is your motivation for running for school board and what are your intentions if elected to the board?

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Joel Ongert

The West Bend School District was once among the best in Southeast Wisconsin. “Excellence for All” was something the entire community, parents, students, teachers, alumni and business owners believed in. West Bend was the district where every parent wanted to send their child… A Destination! What happened? Unfortunately, the standard of excellence has changed over the years. This is why I am running for school board, and where my campaign slogan was born. “Restoring Excellence!” We CAN get back to “Excellence for All.” We know what it looks like and our district can achieve that again. Continue reading

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Decision 2017: Board Candidates on Galileo Testing

How do you think Galileo testing should be used in the West Bend School District?

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Joel Ongert

Galileo testing should be eliminated immediately! Our students are being tested too much and this expensive platform provides no value for students, teachers or parents. Teachers should not be held accountable to tests that do not align with what is being taught in the curriculum, and neither should our students. These tests do not help the teachers individualize learning plans or improve outcomes. The time used for testing would be much better spent on teaching. The money saved by not having to pay for these tests could be allocated to positions where a need has clearly been demonstrated, such as social workers, librarians and classroom aides. Continue reading

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Decision 2017: Board Candidates on Common Core

How do you think Common Core should be used in the West Bend School District?

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Joel Ongert

That is a complicated question because the Common Core discussion has been so politicized. I believe in high standards and Common Core is a set of standards. The confusion starts when people misunderstand standards for curriculum. Common Core is not curriculum. I believe that teachers are subject matter experts and should create curriculums. Administrators, the federal government, the school board do not have the knowledge base to build or approve curriculums. We should trust that we hire the best instructors and get out of their way to let them do their jobs! Ultimately, the race to meet Common Core has resulted in more testing and teaching to the test as well as haphazard curriculum changes here in West Bend. As a school board member, I will work diligently to stop that cycle. That doesn’t mean we lower standards, it means that we focus on putting authentic learning first again. Continue reading

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A Snapshot of Talent

Art exhibit will feature photographs by East English teacher

By Jessica Steger, Current Staff

Anthony Shafer’s classroom looks as if an actual photo bomb was let loose.

Shafer, an East English teacher, shows his passion for photography in the pictures that canvas his walls and reveal his great talent. This talent has not gone unnoticed, especially by Gallery 224, an art gallery in Port Washington where some of Shafer’s photographs will be included in an exhibit. The exhibit, “Letters to Sassnitz,” opens Friday and will run until April 29 in Port Washington. This summer the exhibit will travel to Sassnitz, Germany. Shafer is undecided as to whether or not he will travel with his artwork. Continue reading

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Local Teacher Struggles with Travel Ban

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By Hannah Bensen, Editor in Chief

When Patricia McIntyre first heard about President Trump’s travel ban, she was immediately concerned about how the policy might affect her family. Continue reading

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‘I Think Everyone Should Be Involved’: Local Teens Protest Inequality

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West Bend students participated in the Women’s March in Madison

By Hannah Bensen, Editor in Chief

Cassiy Walker and Andie Schibline may not be of voting age, but they do not let their youth prevent them from participating in American democracy.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, Walker and Schibline were compelled to take part in the Women’s March in Madison. It was the first act of protest for Walker, a West Bend East High senior who will turn 18 in February. Schibline, a senior at West High, had some experience with peaceful demonstrations, having previously protested at the Trump rally in August at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Continue reading

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Area Students Traveled for President Trump’s Inauguration

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The entire Wisconsin 4-H delegation on Inauguration Day in front of the Capitol.

By Justin Scherzer, Current Staff

Two West Bend students not only witnessed President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, they also took part in their own election with hundreds of other 4-H members.

Libby Willkomm, a West High sophomore, Luke Schowalter, an East senior, and nine other 4-H students from Washington County joined up with 500 members from across the country for the Citizenship Washington Focus Presidential Inauguration experience. Starting Jan. 17, these students spent five days attending both the inauguration and the protest march while taking part in a multitude of other activities around D.C. Continue reading

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Big Men on Campus

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West grads help lead major university athletic programs

By Anthony Schlass, Current Staff

Two ambitious individuals from West Bend have upgraded from playing high school sports to directing big time collegiate athletics.

Both Craig Pintens and Mike Houck are highly respected officials at their respective universities. Pintens, a 1994 West High School graduate, is now at the University of Oregon and is the Senior Associate Athletic Director. Houck, a 1990 West graduate, is at the University of Oklahoma and serves as the Assistant Athletics Director/Strategic Communications. Continue reading

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East National Honor Society Raises Money for Habitat for Humanity

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By Jessica Steger, Current Staff

Habitat for Humanity dedicated its latest house to the Komp family, amid many of the dedicated volunteers who have helped with the building.

In addition to the home, the Komp family received a check of $1,085.94, which was raised by the West Bend East National Honor Society through a holiday loose-coin drive. Continue reading

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Thiesfeldt Will Focus on Education

Former teacher will serve a fourth term in the Wisconsin State Assembly

By Hannah Bensen, Editor in Chief

State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt has always had a passion for politics and education, and he had a chance to combine both those interests as a government teacher at Fond du Lac High School.

Now, Thiesfeldt will continue to translate his educational positions into policy. He was re-elected to a fourth term as the Republican representative for Assembly District 52 on Nov. 8. Continue reading

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The Magic of Giving

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By Jessica Steger, Current Staff

Unlike a wizard, you don’t need a wand to save lives, just a needle.

The West Bend High Schools’ Student Council hosted a blood drive Wednesday with the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. It was held in the south gym, with students, teachers, and community members all coming in to donate blood.

The blood drive has been held in years past, but this year StuCo added some extra spirit by creating a Harry Potter theme. For Kelly Sorce, a family and consumer teacher and StuCo adviser, it was a dream come true. Continue reading

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Independent Film “Another Yesterday” Has West Bend Connections

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By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff

As six-year-old Saleem Soden tried to sink a putt at a mini golf course, the cameras were rolling, the lights were on, and everyone was watching.

Saleem and his mother Hadwat acted as extras in “Another Yesterday,” a feature film directed by Steven Heil in Oshkosh throughout the month of October. Hadwat and Saleem are the wife and son of Joel Soden, a math teacher at West Bend East High School. Continue reading

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A House Divided Against Itself

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By Alina Prahl, Current Staff

Gabbie Becker again flipped over the Trump magnet on the fridge, much to her mother’s chagrin.

As with the country as a whole, the 2016 presidential election has divided the Becker family. Gabbie, an East senior, has reservations but prefers Hillary Clinton, while her mom, Paula, a West Bend real estate agent, plans to vote for Donald Trump. Continue reading

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Walking for Charity Brings Club Members Together

SAGA members raised more money for the AIDS Walk & 5K Run than any other high school group in the state

By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff

The WBHS Sexuality and Gender Alliance fundraised over triple their goal for this year’s AIDS Walk & 5K Run.

SAGA’s goal was $500, and the total raised was $1690. Donations were collected in late September and early October.

The AIDS Walk & 5K Run was held Oct. 1 at Milwaukee’s Summerfest Grounds. The event is put on by the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin to raise funds to increase access to life-saving health care among those with HIV and AIDS. Continue reading

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Millonig’s Moment

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Retired teacher keeps making his mark

By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff

The left brain and right brain merge seamlessly to create Bill Millonig, former East math teacher and current artist.

In August, a painting by Millonig was chosen as the winning trout stamp for 2017. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources holds yearly contests for the stamps, which residents must purchase to hunt or fish the particular species. Continue reading

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The Long Walk: In Conversation with Anthony Anderson

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Local veteran will appear at Monday’s film screening at UW-WC

By Allison Trampe, Current Staff

Some people know Anthony Anderson as a neighbor, some as a war veteran. Others know him as a lead in the new documentary “Almost Sunrise.” Continue reading

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Playing with Color: The Artist Who Makes Magic

Narendra Patel

 Narendra Patel talks about his career, his influences, and what inspired the sculpture that welcomes visitors to East High

By Hannah Bensen, Current Staff

Soon a plaque will be added to the colorful sculpture in the East yard.

The sculpture, titled “Confluence,” was designed by artist Narendra Patel. The plaque will be placed on the base of the sculpture for viewers to read. Since the sculpture is owned by the West Bend Friends of Sculpture, that organization will decide the final wording of the plaque, with input from the artist. Patel’s wife, Durga, says that the plaque might be installed before the school year ends. Continue reading

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Challenger Donath Emphasizes Respect for Teachers

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Jennifer Donath is one of four candidates running for school board in the April 5 election, in which two open seats will be voted upon.

Donath grew up in West Bend, attended college in Milwaukee, and returned here for her husband’s job as a police officer. Donath herself was raised in private schools in the city, but sends her second grade son to McLane Elementary and says she “is completely confident in our public schools.” Continue reading

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Candidate Larson Favors More Local Control

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Tiffany Larson is up against three other candidates in the school board election on April 5. Two open seats will be voted on.

Larson grew up in Miami, and attended the University of Florida for her masters health degree in occupational therapy, as well as Auburn University for her bachelors in psychology. After working in Atlanta for some time, she met her husband and moved to West Bend, where he is originally from. Larson is self-employed through her own personal training business. Continue reading

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Incumbent Marquardt Wants to Stay the Course

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Randy Marquardt’s school board term is ending, and he is up for reelection. Marquardt faces three other candidates in the race for two open seats. The election is April 5.

Marquardt grew up in Kewaskum and attended Texas A&M University for architecture, and finished schooling at UWM after receiving a job offer. Marquardt’s children have already graduated, and he currently has a grandson in the district. Continue reading

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Schmidt Is Concerned About Curriculum and Common Core

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Ken Schmidt is one of four candidates running for two school board seats in the coming April 5 election.

Schmidt was raised in Beaver Dam, and attended several colleges to receive degrees in both social work and divinity. He has lived in West Bend since 1979 and currently works at Community Care as a behavioral health specialist. Continue reading

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Full Transcripts: Board Candidates on Hiring a New Superintendent and Principal

With Ted Neitzke and Bill Greymont resigning after this year, how would you like to see the positions of superintendent and head principal filled?

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Ken Schmidt

Well, I’m mainly focused on the superintendent at the present point in time. I think we need to have someone who really has a strong background in curriculum. I think that is a real concern of mine that I have. Especially given the outcomes that we’ve seen recently. And I think as you’ve probably read in the paper, there’s going to be not only a local search but a nationwide search for superintendent. Certainly someone with a wide breadth of experience, with new ideas, and someone who’s going to be very objective. And I hope that that happens. Continue reading

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Full Transcripts: Board Candidates on Teacher Turnover

What are your thoughts about the teacher turnover rate and what do you see as a possible solution?

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Tiffany Larson

There has to be an element of trust and respect. Trust of the teachers towards the administration, and respect of the administration to the teachers. When that relationship has been negatively affected, I think you see a higher turnover rate because the teachers’ autonomy, their professionalism, their skill and expertise, is no longer being recognized and respected. The good news is, I think that fix can be made with just some attention. Some consideration. Positive business management skills. Making our teachers feel in control of the direction of the classroom. Continue reading

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Full Transcripts: Board Candidates on Policy Change

Over the past few years, the high schools have undergone a lot of changes with mixed responses from teachers and students. What course would you like to take in the coming years in regards to policy change?

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Jenn Donath

I want to be sure that teachers have a voice in it because I’m hearing so many times where, teachers from the high schools especially, are saying that “We’re not being listened to, we’re not being respected.” So if some policy is going to be changed, so let’s say for example with curriculum, just like Engage New York once again, we need to be sure that they’re a part of it, they have a voice, and that that voice is being respected and heard. That’s incredibly important. Continue reading

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Wall of Honor Recognizes Local Veterans

By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff

East social studies teacher Scott Mindel believes that veterans are not given the respect they deserve nationwide. Compelled by this, he has constructed a Veterans Tribute Wall and video.

The Veterans Tribute Wall is filled with the names of approximately 325 veterans who have also been either students or staff members at the West Bend High Schools.  Mindel says that there are still countless more names to be found. The Veterans Tribute video features around 170 pictures, but Mindel is still looking for more. Continue reading

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Meet the Candidates for School Board

What is your motivation for running and what are your intentions if elected to the board?

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

This spring, two seats on the school board will be up for election.

Karen Betz and Randy Marquardt currently hold those seats, and only Marquardt is running for re-election.  On Tuesday, Feb. 16, there will be a primary election to narrow the five candidates down to four who will move onto the general election on April 5.

The West Bend Current reached out to each of the candidates for written responses to a general question: What is your motivation for running and what are your intentions if elected to the board? Below are each of their responses, listed in the order that the candidates will appear on the primary ballot.

Read more about the candidates here. Continue reading

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DeLain Answers Burning Questions

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Paul DeLain, West science teacher, offers fire safety advice at the Aldstadt home on Dec. 1.

By Kathryn Aldstadt, Contributing Writer

On Oct. 20, at approximately 2 a.m., my neighbor’s house went up in flames.

Even though everybody safely exited the house, it still left our neighborhood in shock as we wondered how we could protect ourselves from horrific incidents like this in the future. Continue reading

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Practice Goes Into Overtime

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With many teams competing for gym space, some players and parents are unhappy about their team practice schedules

By Allison Trampe, Current Staff

Sixth grader Ryan Roehl comes home from a long, demanding day of school to finally relax and unwind–except for the fact that he has the burden of basketball practice on his shoulders until 9 p.m.

This is the same cycle for the nine other boys on the sixth grade East Junior Suns basketball team. Continue reading

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Remembering Saint Mary’s School

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Current WBHS students who attended Saint Mary’s School are saddened by its planned closure

By Kaitlyn Von Behren, Current Staff

Tears, texts, and turning stomachs. Friends messaging each other frantically. Parents reading and re-reading emails at work. The decision had been made: Saint Mary’s, their grade school, was shutting down for good.

“I never saw it coming,” said Becca Stucke, an East senior who recalled her nine years at Saint Mary’s parish and school. Continue reading

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My Dad Was There

For one East sophomore, the Paris attacks hit close to home

By Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief

When East sophomore Erica Bhatti came home from school last Friday, her mother told her to call her dad right away.

At first Bhatti was nervous because she didn’t know if her dad was sick or what was going on. But when she learned that Paris, her father’s home, had become a war zone, she felt the same pang of fear experienced by the world in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks. Continue reading

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Veterans Day: Meet John Zink

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By Beth Williams, Current Staff

The crackle of gunfire, the smell of blood, two enemies rushing to meet one another—these are images that might come to mind when one envisions warfare. Local veteran John Zink, however, had quite a different experience with war. Continue reading

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The Squawk Box

Administration hopes to fix the fieldhouse sound system

By Ethan Stubblefield, Current Staff

If Martin Luther King Jr. had delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in the WBHS fieldhouse, we wouldn’t be reading about it in history books. Continue reading

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Music Gives Wings to the Mind

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Kettle Moraine Symphony Orchestra provides lesson plans for area teachers

By Lauren Sorensen, Editor in Chief

It is natural for English teacher Pat McIntyre to teach about Orwell and Salinger, but she also has a natural impulse to highlight composer Antonin Dvorak. Continue reading

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It’s All Coming Together

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What’s the origin and meaning of the new sculpture?

By Hannah Bensen, Current Staff

When a new 20-foot tall sculpture appeared outside of the West Bend High Schools auditorium last spring, students were left wondering how the creation got there and what it meant. Continue reading

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