Strong turnout for Bike to School Day

Photo by Keri Hicks

Parent Diana Woodke walks the route as her daughter, Reese Woodke, left, Kynlee Van Kauwenberg and Noah Soper ride their bikes to school from Zippel Park.

The streets of Gillett were filled with kids on bicycles — and their parents — the morning of May 10 as the elementary school held a special Bike to School Day event.

With Police Chief Jess Keplinger leading the way in his squad, 175 people biked or walked from Zippel Park to the school several blocks away. There were 116 students and 59 adults.

Prior to the event, 104 brand-new helmets were given away and 17 other students brought their helmets to be fitted properly.

Participants of the Bike to School were able to get some snacks when they arrived to school. The event sponsors were HSHS St. Clare Prevea Gillett Health Center, Gillett Civic Club, Saputo Cheese, Gillett Police Department, Robert’s Hometown Hardware and the Nurse’s Nook.


3 OHS students earn scholarships at NWTC event

Contributed Photo

Posing with trailers built in Travis Falkowski’s welding class are, from left, Tyler Wusterbarth, Trevor Schlauch,Chad Hendzel, Dylan Hendzel, Cody Laatsch, Jake Gordon, Falkowski, Collin VanHulle, Camrin Yudes and Jeff Eckes.

Three Oconto High School students from Travis Falkowski’s Northeast Wisconsin Technical College welding class were awarded $1,000 scholarships Friday at the NWTC Tech Challenge.

Tyler Wusterbarth, Jake Gordon and Dylan Hendzel were among seven Oconto students who participated in the welding competitions at the event, which enables high school students to test their skills and compete for college scholarships.

Along with live competitions, the challenge featured completed project categories. Falkowski’s class entered a steel trailer and an aluminum trailer in the display competition. Sales from the trailers will pay for students’ lab fees in tech ed class at Oconto High School.

One of the highlights of the competition was when judges questioned whether the steel trailer was actually built from scratch, because it was so well-made, Falkowski said.


OFHS drama students prepare Romeo and Juliet sequel

Contributed Photo

Kraig Patenaude and Addy Hatch rehearse a scene as star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet in Oconto Falls High School’s upcoming spring production of “Romeo and Juliet’s Unofficial, Unnecessary Sequel.”

All Oconto Falls High School freshmen study the writings of William Shakespeare, including “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” in English class.

The OFHS Drama Club this year decided that it was time to bring Romeo and Juliet to the local stage, but with a twist. Rather than the original story, the students will present “Romeo and Juliet’s Unofficial, Unnecessary Sequel” by Edward J. Thomas.

Not happy with how the story of Romeo and Juliet ended, Prince Escalus decides that everything would have been better had the two famous lovers lived. With Romeo and Juliet alive and their fathers agreeing to end their vicious feud, it appears that there will finally be a happy ending.

Preparations are made for the couple to renew their vows in front of both families to cement the new peace. Will they live happily ever after, or will the fickleness of being a teenager – coupled with Romeo’s knack for getting those around him killed – ruin this famous relationship?


OFHS dancer advances to state

A student from Oconto Falls High School competed recently at the 2017 High School State Dance Championships in La Crosse.

Sophomore Haylee Whiting, 15, was one of 24 dancers statewide chosen for state. She presented a solo performance that she choreographed.

Haylee is the first Oconto Falls High School student ever to advance to state as a dance soloist.

“Competing at state was a great experience,” she said, “and I hope I get the opportunity next year.”

Haylee started dancing at age 5 and has been dancing for the past six years at Christian Dance Company in Oconto Falls, where she takes classes and performs in ballet/contemporary lyrical, jazz, tap and hip-hop. She played basketball and softball in middle school, but forced to choose, she realized dance was her true passion.


Delegates announced for girls convention

American Legion Auxiliary Unit 44 in Wabeno will sponsor four girls nominated by local high schools to attend Badger Girls State.

The 73rd annual Badger Girls State convention is scheduled for June 18-22 at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Money to fund local delegates is raised through the auxiliary’s annual fall raffle.

Selected from Laona High School is McKenna Murray, daughter of Al and Brenda Murray. Selected from Wabeno High School are Kassidy Ashbeck, daughter of Steve and Raletta Ashbeck; Emma Barfknecht, daughter of Dan and Ann Barfknecht; and Hannah Christianson, daughter of Dan and Laurie Christianson.

The criteria for selection as a Badger Girl include scholarship, character, community service and an interest in learning more about government. Girls are nominated by their high school principals and guidance counselors, with final selection by the auxiliary’s committee.


Gillett students face off in spelling bee

Gillett Middle School students in grades 5-8 participated in the Scripp’s Spelling Classroom Bee. The top three spellers from each grade participated in the Gillett School District bee Jan. 19 in the Meunier/Pelow Auditorium.

The top two spellers were sixth-grader Isabella Matczak and fifth-grader Tyler Frank. Matczak will represent Gillett at the CESA 8 Regional Bee in Suring on Feb. 13.

Don Olderman and Tami McQuillan organized and proctored the event.


Students perform in all-state choir

Three students represented Oconto Falls High School in the prestigious 2017 Wisconsin Choral Directors Association All-State Choir.

The singers were three juniors, Camden Jackson, son of Jeff and Pam Jackson; Hunter Ryczek, son of Ginny Dunsworth and Chad Ryczek; and Peter Murphy, son of Candice Behnke and Steven Murphy.

The 120-voice All-State Men’s Choir performed “Brightest and Best” arranged by Shawn Kirchner, “Zion’s Walls” by Aaron Coplan, “Black is the Color” by Connor Koppin, “The God Who Gave Us Life” by Randall Thompson, and “We Rise Again” by Leon Dubinsky and Stephen Smith. They gave an exceptional performance at the historic Grand Theater in Wausau to a sold-out audience and received a standing ovation.

The director for the choir was Lee Nelson, director of choral activities at Wartburg College in Iowa.

“He treated us like we were his own choir,” Jackson said. “His knowledge and the skills he showed us were incredibly useful.”


Missing gingerbread men reunited with kindergartners

The 5-year-old kindergarten classes at Oconto Falls Elementary School recently made large gingerbread men to decorate and eat as they learned about story structure and characters.

But before the students could eat the sweet treats, the cookies ran away and were spotted all over school in different classrooms! As the kindergarten students looked for the runaway cookies, they read numerous versions of the classic story “The Gingerbre​​ad Man”​ and compared how the stories were the same and different.

Finally on Dec. 13, Officer Ron Ripley from the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department was able to help capture the cookies so they could be returned to their correct classes and enjoyed by all.


FBLA completes holiday outreach activities

The Oconto Falls FBLA chapter held its annual holiday food drive and cookie-baking day in December to help put food on the table for those less fortunate.

The FBLA “Stick it to Hunger” food drive started Dec. 5 and ended Dec. 20. To help ensure that quality items were brought in, FBLA officers established a point system. For this year, 2,016 points were needed in order for the students to be awarded an assembly. Students and staff donated approximately 936 food and household items for a total of 2,366 points.

Teachers volunteered to participate in the assembly as a way to show their appreciation for the number of donations. Maria Steingraber had whipped cream pies thrown in her face, Jeremiah Dorn was made into a human sundae, and Vicky Dallman was duct-taped to the wall.

The items collected were delivered to Kingdom Come food pantry in Oconto Falls.


Falls FFA member awarded aquaculture grant

Thirty-seven Wisconsin FFA members from 27 different chapters have been awarded $28,950 in Supervised Agricultural Experience grants from the Wisconsin FFA Foundation.

The foundation awarded the grants in five categories: aquaculture, dairy, livestock, organic agriculture and start-up. Successful candidates were chosen based on the level and scope of their SAE in accordance with their age, future goals and plans for the program, as well as financial need.

John Birr of Oconto Falls FFA was awarded a $300 aquaculture grant sponsored by the Wisconsin Aquaculture Association.

Through the SAE program, students are able to create their own business or build career skills through an existing operation. They apply concepts learned in the classroom to real-world challenges and work experiences.


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