Tag Archives: Alyssa Birkeland

Tooting Our Own Horn: NEWSPA Awards 2017

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Bensen leads with four awards

The West Bend Current set a school record with 21 individual awards from the Northeastern Wisconsin Scholastic Press Association in a statewide contest for high school journalists. Continue reading

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Tooting Our Own Horn: NEWSPA Awards 2016

2016.05.23 Current Staff

WBHS journalists score 12 awards in statewide contest 

For the second year in a row, The West Bend Current received top recognition from the Northeastern Wisconsin Scholastic Press Association.

Judges for the 2016 NEWSPA contest again gave blue ribbon honors to The Current for a website not published as part of a journalism class, saying that many of the stories “reflect an original, enterprising approach to news gathering.”

The website’s student reporters also took home eleven individual awards. Continue reading

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Suffrage at Seventeen: Wisconsin Should Pull the Lever

VIEWPOINT

Legislation would expand democracy and reduce confusion

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By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

At least one vote was improperly cast during Wisconsin’s primary election. This wasn’t a case of voter fraud, though. It was a case of voter confusion.

You may have heard of “Suffrage at Seventeen,” and chances are you have bad information on it. It’s led to misconceptions across the state of Wisconsin, and that’s why one local 17-year-old erroneously voted on April 5. 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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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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Exchange Students Respect American Patriotism

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By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Each year, a handful of students from around the world travel to West Bend to learn in the local schools, take part in traditions, and pick up on little Americanisms. This includes the revered customs that are held close by many citizens, and proudly echo through school walls across the nation every day.

But how do these foreign students, loyal to their own nations, feel when placed in a classroom with 30 Americans reciting the Pledge of Allegiance? The West Bend Current set out to get an answer. Continue reading

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Not an Easy Path

New sidewalk project finally completed after longstanding concerns over budget and land rights

By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

As classes resumed at the high schools in September, not much had changed since June. Students walked down the same halls, sat in the same classrooms, and saw mostly familiar faces. But one thing stood out for those who enter on the East side: a new sidewalk that stretches over a quarter mile between the school and Sand Drive. Continue reading

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Prom Has That Sinking Feeling

Der Untergang der Titanic

By Allison Trampe, Contributing Writer

When this year’s prom theme was announced, many students didn’t think about tuxedos, corsages, and a night of luxury. Instead, they thought about mass disaster.

West Bend juniors and seniors will board the Titanic for prom on Saturday at the Washington County Fair Park. The choice of theme has proven to be controversial. Continue reading

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Look Out Below

2015.05.17_BoosterBallDrop

By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

The East Booster Club is hosting a new kind of fundraiser that includes a helicopter, a target, and over one thousand golf balls. Continue reading

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Advanced Placement Students Can No Longer Exempt Semester Exams

Changes in state policy mean changes for AP semester finals

By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

With exam exemption policies changing year to year, many Advanced Placement students and teachers are confused about this semester’s plans. Continue reading

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Seeking Re-election, Pheng Says Testing Should Be Minimized

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Vinney Pheng is running for re-election for his seat on the school board. The election among three candidates for the two open seats will be held April 7.

Pheng was raised in California’s Bay Area and attended San Francisco State University for his bachelor’s degree in political science. After spending more than 10 years in the military, Pheng moved his family to Wisconsin for a job opportunity.  He currently works for a company in Cedarburg in the fulfillment department. Continue reading

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Challenger Schmiege Wants to Replace Common Core with Local Standards

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Monte Schmiege is one of three candidates running for two seats in the April 7 school board election.

Schmiege has lived in West Bend for “quite a number of years” and has many ties across the city.  He originally attended Dr. Martin Luther College and received his bachelor’s degree in education, but after a few years of teaching became more interested in working with computers. He has been working for the West Bend Company and Regal Ware for 40 years, most of which has been spent in the IT department. He has also recently worked with Habitat for Humanity.

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Sizer Stresses Experience and Diverse Background in Re-election Bid

SchoolBoardElection_LogoBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

The election for two school board seats is on April 7, and Therese Sizer is in the race. Sizer has been on the board for three years and is up for re-election.

Sizer said she was approached to run three years ago because of her education, legal, and business background. She admires the board for its ability to discuss issues from all angles, find solutions, and not just argue each set point of view. Sizer said she is ready to continue tackling those matters, given her familiarity with the complexity of the board’s duties. Continue reading

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Full Transcripts: Board Candidates on Common Core

What is your view of Common Core and what would you do about it?

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Monte Schmiege

Well, I would like to get rid of Common Core, but I realize that it’s pretty much embedded right now and it’s probably not going to change for several years. A lot can happen in that time.  One of the things that I discovered somewhat recently is that the policy that the board has in place calls for the district to adopt the state standards, period. That’s not what the law requires. The law requires that the district adopt standards acceptable to the superintendent of public instruction. That’s a little different. So in Germantown we have the Germantown school board creating their own standards. So it’s not necessary for the district to adopt the state standards at this time. And it wasn’t when Common Core came out. But that’s the policy of the district. That’s one policy I would like to change. But if we change it, that means they could keep Common Core if the state adopts something else. Continue reading

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Full Transcripts: Board Candidates on Testing

What is your stance on the amount of standardized testing and is there any action you would take on that?

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Vinney Pheng

That’s something that always comes up and I’m pleased to say that the administration here from the superintendent on down, recognizes that there may be too much testing. And maybe we should consolidate the testing. I’m in full support of that initiative. Having said that, again, even though we do have some local control, there’s a lot of state requirements. And that kind of… it doesn’t help, let’s put it that way. But as a general policy, as a general philosophy, I believe some of these tests can and should be consolidated. And one of the things we hear as board members, and again it’s a totally valid concern, I totally understand it and in a lot of ways agree with it, is if you have too many tests, teachers end up teaching the test versus focusing on learning. Tests are a metric to measure learning, but it’s not learning. And so that’s a long way to say the board as a body has encouraged and directed administration to try to reduce that amount of testing. Continue reading

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Full Transcripts: Board Candidates on Tension at WBHS

What do you see as a possible solution for the recent tension between high school students and administration?

SchoolBoardElection_LogoTherese Sizer

That’s kind of multi-faceted too, isn’t it? I don’t think from the standpoint of administrators, that there is any obstacle that cannot be overcome. And at the same time, I’ve lived awhile. Students became dissatisfied with things when I was a kid. Our responses were not dissimilar. I remember “protests” out in the parking lot. I remember those things happening. They become scarier to us now because of what happens in other communities. But those reactions of students to rebel against authority or against rules, that isn’t actually new. Our worries are very real to us about not wanting it to escalate to something that is just absolutely not acceptable. Continue reading

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Balance the Curriculum

 District ponders whether financial literacy should join language literacy as a graduation requirement

By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

The West Bend High Schools business department believes there is a great need for better financial literacy among adults, and is trying to make that happen starting in high school. Continue reading

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Board Vote Gets Standing Ovation

The West Bend twin high schools will not merge

By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

On Monday, the school board unanimously voted to have East and West remain as two separate schools. Continue reading

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Merging East and West: Teacher Thoughts

Michael Kieser, East social studies teacher, opposes the combination of East and West.

Michael Kieser, East social studies teacher, opposes the combination of East and West.

By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

Five faculty members offer opinions about whether the high schools should become one school:

Michael Kieser, East Social Studies
I clearly support the status quo—two schools, one East, one West. First reason would be participation. Especially at the varsity level. I know they have talk that if we go to one school they would create two freshman teams and maybe a varsity reserve, but overall everything that I’ve looked at says that overall participation would go down a bit plus varsity opportunities would be cut in half. So that’s the primary reason because I think it’s better for kids to have those opportunities. Continue reading

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New Law Is Long Overdue

2014.03.14_Walker

VIEWPOINT

State lawmakers deserve praise for allowing advanced middle schoolers to earn high school credit

Birkeland - Editorial Pic - ResizedBy Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

We are taught from a young age to do our best in school and try to excel above the crowd. This is hard for some, but it comes naturally for others. It would seem to be common sense that those who are ahead of the pace get an equitable reward for their efforts or talents.

That reward was finally recognized by the state legislature last month. Governor Scott Walker signed a bill March 14 at Badger Middle School that grants seventh and eighth graders high school credit for high school courses that they take. The signing was attended by lawmakers, the school board, teachers, and about 40 students that will benefit from this.

Since numerous middle school students already take such classes, this new law serves a valuable purpose. Continue reading

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