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High Schools Close After Threats Posted to Social Media

MIDDLETON–Both Middleton High School (MHS) and Clark Street Community School (CSCS) were closed on Dec. 11 because of social media threats on Dec. 10. The threats were directed at a sexual violence awareness and prevention walkout scheduled at Firemen’s Park on the day of the closure. The park is adjacent to both high schools.

Three students were arrested, 17-year-old Jakob Ripp, of Middleton, who has been charged as an adult, and two 16-year-olds males. According to a press release from Middleton Police Department, Ripp is tentatively charged with Unlawful Use of Computerized Communications Systems, which has been referred to the Dane County District Attorney’s Office. The 16-year-old boys also face charges as party to the crime.

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‘Mr. Peanuts’ Celebrates 80th Birthday with Students, Staff

CROSS PLAINS–Encircled by over 300 students and staff singing and boisterously shouting, “Happy Birthday!” Rod “Peanuts” Esser listened with moist eyes and a more than surprised look on his face. The Park Elementary School assembly celebration in honor of Esser’s 80th birthday had managed to remain hush-hush, and he had entered the gym expecting to set up chairs for an unnamed event.

After blowing out his cake candles, Esser had a request. “I want you all to close your eyes,” he said, “now, open them. This is what heaven looks like. You’re the reason I love to come to work.”

Earlier that morning, Esser had commented upon staff wearing plaid flannel shirts, inquiring, “Is this black and white day?” said kindergarten teacher Lisa Breunig.

Plaid and/or flannel is Esser’s trademark clothing choice, said Principal Monica Schommer, and she’s made a proclamation that Dec. 9 will henceforth be “Flannel Day.”

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Boundary Committee Sends One Scenario to School Board

MIDDLETON–The Internal Attendance Boundary Committee voted to advance one of the five middle school options to the Board of Education at their 14th meeting on Nov. 20 at Kromrey Middle School.

The committee voted to advance the Pope Farm Scenario. In that scenario, Neighborhoods 24, 25 and 26S would attend Kromrey, while the remaining Pope Farm neighborhoods would go to Glacier Creek Middle School. Neighborhood 24 currently attends Glacier Creek although under this scenario all Blackhawk neighborhood students would attend the same middle school.

Five percent of middle school students would change schools. Consultant Mark Roffers noted during a presentation of the middle school scenarios that in the Pope Farm Scenario those same neighborhoods would likely shift if the District builds a third middle school in the future.

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Boundary Committee Narrows Elementary to Two Options

MIDDLETON–The Internal Attendance Boundary Committee voted to advance two of the remaining three elementary options, with modifications, to the Board of Education at their meeting on Nov. 6 at Kromrey Middle School.

Modifications to Option D3.1, now called D3.1.3, and Option D3.7, now called D3.7.2, were approved by the majority of the committee. The committee decided the third option, A1, which was also shared at the two community forums, would not be advanced.

The Middleton Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) Board of Education is expected to discuss the committee's suggestions at its first meeting in December. The board plans to vote at its second meeting in December or in January about the new elementary boundaries, which will go into effect for the 2020-21 school year.

Summary of Options

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Parents Allege Bullying at Kromrey Middle School

MIDDLETON–It started last year with name calling and has escalated to physical violence this school year, according to two Kromrey Middle School moms who allege their kids have been the target of bullies.

Kirsten Lobe and Suzanne Sahran said their son and daughter had been the subject of verbal abuse last school year. In an incident that happened last week, Lobe’s son had rocks thrown at him during lunch. Sahran’s daughter was slapped by one girl, while another filmed the incident on Sept. 28. It was then posted to the social media site Snapchat with the title “I slapped that h**” and a smiley face. 

Both moms as well as seven others have contacted the Times-Tribuneclaiming their kids were the victim of similar incidents. The other moms did not want their names published because they feared their children would be further traumatized.

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Weekend Meals Program Deadline Friday

MIDDLETON–Applications are being accepted for the Middleton Cross Plains Area School District’s (MCPASD) Weekend Food Program, through Sept. 20. The program free to all students in the district's six elementary schools and this year will expand to Glacier Creek and the Middleton Youth Center, which Kromrey students can attend after school.

The program provides healthy snacks and some small, easy to prepare, meals for children on Fridays during much of the school year. Food is sent home with children in bags. The first day for the 2019-20 school year is Oct. 3 because there is no school for students on Oct. 4.

More than 140 MCPASD elementary students participated last year and approximately 160 students participated in 2017-18. The program is voluntary and participation information is confidential. To be eligible, families must complete a form and return it to the social worker at their child's school by Sept. 20.

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New Superintendent Lays Out Vision and Goals for Board

MIDDLETON–In her first school board meeting since starting the job as the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Superintendent Dana Monogue laid out her vision and goals for the first semester.  

“Well 23 days officially on the job and it feels great to be here,” Monogue said. “Everyone has been terrifically welcoming throughout my entire transition process, from the time I was hired, to today.”

Monogue said that all of her time spent transitioning into the district has been guided by four overarching goals: To listen and learn about the strengths challenges and opportunities for positive change; gain understanding about of district goals, initiatives, protocols and processes; make meaningful initial connections with stakeholders; and gain understanding of expectations, values, norms and needs of greater community.

She said she felt compelled to share the highlights from meetings she’s had with teachers and parents.

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District Breaks Ground on New Elementary

MIDDLETON – Ground was broken last week for this first new elementary school in the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) in 23 years.

Located adjacent to the 102-acre Pope Farm Conservancy on Old Sauk Rd., the new Pope Farm Elementary is scheduled to open to grades K-4 in September 2020.

The school building will be located near the crest of a glacial moraine putting students in the middle of the natural laboratory while preserving views from the conservancy of the State Capitol and Lake Mendota to the east.

The town of Middleton purchased the Pope family farm in 1999, reserving the right to later sell 40 acres to the school district to help defray the cost of the purchase. Placing a school next to the conservancy enhances both parties, said Mel Pope, family spokesman

“The family was very much behind this because…we’d rather see kids use the conservancy instead of having a housing development here,” Pope said.

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Superintendent George Mavroulis Reflects on 27 Years in District

After completing grad school at UW Madison in 1991 while working as a teacher McFarlane George Mavroulis says there was only one job listing that he cared to apply to.

“One came across for Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, even then the reputation of this district was off the charts,” Mavroulis says. “I figured I’d just send a resume to that one and then three interviews later I ended up getting hired.”

Mavroulis was hired as the principal of Elm Lawn Elementary in the summer of 1992 and worked there for 10 years which he considers the highlight of his life and his career. 

“It was fabulous, it was from 1992 to 2002,” he says. “That’s where my relationships began with students and family and staff.”

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7 O’clock Jazz Band Members Receive Awards at Essentially Ellington

NEW YORK, NY–The 7 O’clock Jazz Band was honored to be one of only 15 high school jazz bands in the country who earned a spot at this year’s Essentially Ellington competition in New York City. During their time there, the band performed for and learned from Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra members. 

Of this year’s competition, Wynton Marsalis, Managing and Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, said, “We’re fortunate to play Duke Ellington’s music, and we realize that the Duke Ellington legacy is about creativity–we heard and saw that in our young people. You lifted our spirits and it’s been our honor.”


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