School’s in for summer: EXCEL session had 21 new courses

Photos by Derek Spellman. A.J. Knickmeier and Colton Toso browse through some books during the last week of the Stoughton Area School District’s EXCEL summer school classes. Students who signed up for summer reading classes got to take home a free book.

Legos, biking, Minecraft and football. 

Clearly, this is not your mother and father’s summer school.

The Stoughton Area School District’s summer “EXCEL” program wrapped up last week, and although there were plenty of fun courses for the 821 students and 49 teachers who participated, the extra class time can prove to be very beneficial when the new school year begins in September. 


‘Gifted’ program reaches many students

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction mandates that public schools districts identify the exceptional needs of advanced learners with a formal K-12 process. At the Stoughton Area School District, however, the idea is to try to include as many students in that process as possible.

“A well-grounded TAG (Talented and Gifted) program supports many types of learners,” said SASD director of curriculum and TAG program coordinator Judy Singletary. “The key is knowing that ‘one size does not fit all.’”

Singletary said while labels such as “gifted” or “talented” can evoke a feeling of “exclusiveness or elitism,” the district’s TAG program is about meeting a wide range of academic and social-emotional needs for a wide variety of learners.


Stoughton students earn UW-Extension scholarships

Ben Veum and Jessica Wendt of Stoughton were two of several students selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship from the John T. Lyle Memorial Trust Fund for the 2015-2016 school year. The scholarships are awarded annually to Dane County students who have a career goal in agriculture or a related field, exhibit a strong sense of community volunteerism and service, maintain high grades, and participate in 4-H or FFA.

 Veum will continue his studies at Iowa State University for a degree in animal science. Wendt is attending the College of Agriculture at UW-Madison, in preparation for a career in improving efficiencies in food production and distribution.


State aid to district drops

The news that the Stoughton Stoughton Area School District was among the majority of public school districts in the state with funding decreases for the next year wasn’t surprising. 

But it didn’t make the reality any more pleasant. 

According to a news release last week by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, SASD will get $310,083 less for the 2015-16 school year that it did this past year. District director of business services Erica Pickett said decreasing state aid is an “ongoing trend” for the district that school officials have to deal with.

“Given our declining enrollment and the fact that the estimate is using the ‘14-15 aid allocation for the state (no increase), the decrease for SASD doesn't surprise us,” she wrote in an email to the Courier Hub on Monday. 


SASD grants got kids moving, learning this year

Photos by Derek Spellman. Hannah Thompson and Payton Schellin use fidgets while completing their homework.

Innovation is important in the Stoughton Area School District, and after the success of four “Innovation Grants” awarded last year, that program is likely to continue. 

Last year, the district announced funding for pilot programs to be developed this school year by teachers looking for better ways to reach students – from new technology to using movement in classrooms. Looking back, both teachers and administrators are happy with the first-year results.


SHS student to attend state ‘Business World’

Mary Manci of Stoughton High School is one of more than 250 Wisconsin students who will participate in this year's Business World program at Edgewood College in Madison from June 28 through July 1. 

According to a press release from Wisconsin Business World, the sessions provide hands-on business experience for students and teach them about the challenges facing business. The program has educated nearly 14,000 high school students from across the state.


SHS Graduation 2015

Sunday’s graduation ceremonies were held at Stoughton High School Collins Field.  


Stoughton High School seniors ready to graduate

On Sunday afternoon, 265 students will graduate from Stoughton Area High School, closing one exciting chapter of their lives and beginning another, including a possible comic book artist, pediatric nurse and journalist. 

Here are profiles of three of those graduates, selected by SHS guidance counselors.

Alexus Crockett is an aspiring comic book artist who might consider becoming an entertainment lawyer. Reghan Anderson is a certified nursing assistant who wants to become a pediatric oncologist. And Nick McGlynn plans to major in journalism and figure out what he wants to do along the way.

Here are the questions we asked of each of them:


What are some of the activities and groups you’ve been involved in?


State voucher change alarms district officials

After hand-delivering a message to local state legislators in March, Stoughton School Board vice-president Donna Tarpinian is concerned that the voices of parents, educators and administrators are being ignored in the debate over how the state funds public education. 

The school board drafted a letter outlining its concerns over funding of public schools and a number of other issues, but after the state Joint Finance Committee (JFC) unveiled its changes to Gov. Walker’s proposed biennial budget a few weeks ago, most of those went unheeded by legislators. 

Tarpinian said the recent move by the JFC to restore $150 per pupil funding to public schools that Walker had removed isn’t revealing the true picture. 


Beloved Stoughton educator to retire

Photo by Scott De Laruelle. Jerry Wendt, left, holds a snake for teacher Eric Benedict to kiss during homecoming.

After more than three decades of teaching, including 23 years in Stoughton, agriculture educator Jerry Wendt has made a difference in the lives of countless young people. Next month, he will retire from Stoughton High School, wrapping up a remarkable career that has coincided with a noted improvement in the school’s agriculture and FFA programs

Agriculture has been a part of Wendt’s life from the start. Raised on a dairy and crop farm in Waukesha, he attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls before working for the National FFA organization in Washington, D.C. He taught for nine years in Kiel, then came to Stoughton in 1992 so his family could be closer to his wife’s parents in Minnesota. It proved to be a fortuitous move for many Stoughton students. 


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