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'What Lights Up Sparks': Conversation With a Rhodes Scholar

Colin Higgins, a University of Wisconsin-Madison student and Middleton native, was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in November and will go on to Oxford University in the fall to continue his studies. 

Despite an outstanding collegiate career, triple majoring with comprehensive honors in environmental studies, geography and history and pursuing a Master of Public Affairs degree at the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, Higgins says he wasn’t the greatest student or even very interested in school until a few key teachers and courses at Middleton High School (MHS) changed his perspective.  

Higgins says it wasn’t until the end of his sophomore year at MHS that “things sort of flipped.”  He recalls his tenth grade English class with Ryan Haugen reading classics such as 1984, Brave New World, and Catcher in the Rye sparking an interest in literature. 

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The Natural: MHS Grad Launches Natural Care Products Line To Honor Grandfather

From his fourth generation family farm, American Provenance founder Kyle LaFond ambitiously formulates his unique line of all-natural men’s personal care products.

His inspiration is his grandfather, who was a hardworking traditional Wisconsin dairy farmer. His grandfather loved being on the farm and had a deep appreciation for nature. LaFond describes him as a person who always looked and smelled wonderful.

“He was one of those guys who I remember had a jar of pomade and I think it lasted his entire life,” LaFond, a Middleton High School graduate, said with a smile. “It was just always there.”

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Governor visits


Third- and fourth-graders at Elm Lawn had a special visitor last month. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stopped by and talked to approximately 200 students about state government for more than 45 minutes. Local elementary schools complete a unit on local and state government each year in the spring, and Elm Lawn has always tried to find someone to visit and address students when the unit is completed. Among those who attended were Superintendent Don Johnson and Board of Education members Bob Green and Anne Bauer.
“The governor did a great job,” said Perry Hibner, the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District’s media relations specialist. “He even said afterwards how impressed he was with the level of knowledge our students had about local and state government.’’
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Boys tennis team falls in finals

Middleton’s boys tennis team has been the class of the Madison area for quite some time now.

This year, the Cardinals would like to challenge the Milwaukee-area schools for state supremacy.

But as Middleton found out last weekend, that won’t be easy.

The Cardinals performed admirably at the Madison Memorial Invite, but settled for second place. Middleton fell in the title match, 4-3, to Mequon Homestead.

“We played pretty well, but we are still make tweaks and adjustments to our lineup to find the combination that gives us the best chance to win,” Middleton coach Deke Bradley said. “We were fairly happy with the results, but we were really hoping to beat Homestead.”

Middleton freshman Jake Van Emburgh notched a 6-3, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles over Homestead’s Will Kamnerait. Cardinals senior Ben Luskin also earned a 7-5, 6-4 win at No. 2 singles.

Middleton seniors Evan Stone and Joey Niesen also posted a 6-4, 7-6 (7) win at No. 1 doubles.

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Governor, Hacktivist Latest To Weigh In On Teacher 'Porn' Controversy

Because of weather cancellations on Monday and Tuesday of last week, teacher Andrew Harris did not actually start his new job teaching science at Kromrey Middle School until Wednesday morning. That didn’t stop a series of events surrounding his controversial return to the classroom from unfolding, however.

Four years ago Harris was fired for having opened e-mails containing adult images on his school computer. The ensuing investigation revealed other staffers had viewed adult images on school computers as well, but they received suspensions, and were not fired. At no time were any students exposed to any of the e-mails in question, school officials determined.

The local teachers’ union took Harris’ case to arbitration and won. Subsequent court appeals upheld the arbitrator’s decision, and last week, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District officials finally agreed to abide by the ruling. Harris has been rehired.

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Andrew Harris, the teacher whose return to the classroom after being fired for pornographic emails ignited a firestorm of controversy, speaks

Last week, as he prepared to re-enter a seventh grade classroom after a tumultuous four-year absence from teaching, science teacher Andrew Harris said he understands the concerns many parents have about his return.

“If I were a parent in this situation, I would want to know what’s going on,” said Harris, who will take part in a teacher work day at Kromrey Middle School on Friday and then begin teaching students there on Monday. “I made a mistake, and I’m sorry for the mistake I made. I’d like to rebuild the trust, show people that I’m a good teacher.”

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Cheating Allegations at MHS

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District re-administered a math test and plans to delve into some of its policies and procedures following allegations that students cheated on recent exams.

In a message sent to parents and guardians late last week, Middleton High School principal Denise Herrmann said the district recently discovered a calculus exam was “compromised.”

That exam, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, was re-administered after the district learned of the allegations.

“In response, we launched an investigation that included interviews with staff and students as well as a review of video footage,” wrote Herrmann. “We also received several letters from students and parents which provided additional information to the scope and severity of cheating on tests in courses across the curriculum.”

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Want To Run For School Board?

Residents interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District Board of Education are invited to attend one of two orientation sessions to be held in the next month.

The sessions will be held on Monday, Dec. 2 and Monday, Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the District Administrative Center, 7106 South Ave., Middleton, before the regular meeting. Superintendent Don Johnson, Board president Ellen Lindgren and other BOE members will be available to answer your questions and provide more information.

There are nine members who make up the Board of Education and each year three seats are up for election. Citizens residing in the areas are invited to run for the Board of Education for a three-year term.

This year’s seats up for election are:

* Area II, currently held by treasurer Bob Green.

* Area IV, currently held by clerk Annette Ashley.

* Area IV, currently held by Bob Hesselbein.

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Celebrating Homecoming... and Equality

Middleton High School’s homecoming parade took place on October 11.  The procession featured an array of clubs and organizations, as well as plenty of school spirit. Pictured here are Sharon Buchholz (with sign) and other members of the Sexuality and Gender Equality (SAGE) club. 

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Speakers at Performing Arts Center Event Take Jabs At State's Education Plans

The title – “How Many Kids Left Behind? An Interactive Community Conversation on the Future of our Public Schools” – said it all. 

The Middleton School Board hosted a meeting Sept. 5 in the Performing Arts Center featuring a panel of public figures who spoke about school funding. Among them were state senators Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), and Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center), Julie Underwood, the Dean of Education at UW-Madison, Jeff Pertl, a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) policy advisor, and Joe Quick, the government relations specialist with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

The meeting discussed the current state of the state’s education budget and the “shadow” school system involving vouchers, various charters and private school reimbursement. The panel discussed the financial impact of these relatively recent developments, especially on rural districts with shrinking enrollment.


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