Friday, December 6, 2013

Day 62 - Setting a Good Example and Making Us Proud

Today's post is from parent Sandy Gooley

We moved into the Westonka School District just four years ago and enrolled our son into 7th grade at Grandview Middle School without him knowing a single soul. That's a difficult time to come into an unknown school but, wow, what a welcoming bunch! 

Mitchell is now in 10th grade and still very happy. What made us both very proud of all the students at this school, happened on Wednesday. A large group of high school boys gathered near the stop light on Sunnyfield Road in the snowstorm and assisted by pushing car after car up the slippery hill. They laughed and waved and ran up and down the hill helping car after car to make it safely to the top. That is character, that is coming together, that is caring about other people. Thank you for setting a good example and making us so proud.

Some of the boys helping push cars on Wednesday

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Day 61 - Representing Our School on an International Stage

Today's post is from 2013 graduates Brenna & Callie Mack

Hearing “And in first place…Brenna and Callie Mack from Mound, Minnesota” announced over the loudspeaker at the International DECA award ceremony in 2012 was not only our greatest academic accomplishment, it was also a moment in which we were overcome with school pride. Most are familiar with Herb Brooks’ famous words, “the name on the front of your jersey is a hell of a lot more important than the name on the back.” Standing on the podium, this statement hit home for us. We were representing our school on an international stage, and honored to do so.

It still brings tears to our eyes watching a video clip that a fellow DECA student filmed when we took the stage. The clip embodies school pride at its best. We wouldn’t have been so successful without the incredible support system and resources that we had available to us through our school. The DECA advisors challenged us to reach our potential and excel beyond it. They genuinely cared about us and were willing to do anything and everything to help us reach our goals. Not only this, but the other members of our DECA chapter created a competitive environment that forced us to work harder.

Ultimately, winning first place at DECA Internationals was not an individual triumph that we can accredit to ourselves; rather, it was a reflection of the passionate students and staff at Mound Westonka High School that stood behind us every step of the way.

Brenna & Callie Mack

Video link to the girls winning first place at the International DECA competition shot by fellow DECA members. 

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Day 60 - Proud MWHS Alum

Today's post is from 2012 graduate Kaitlyn Tierney

After graduating from Mound Westonka High School in a class of fewer than 200 students, I now attend the University of Wisconsin Madison. Moving to a metropolitan area to be apart of a student body of over 30,000 may have been intimidating, but it wasn’t. I was excited for my new experience in college because of what I learned from my time at MWHS. My fellow classmates of 2012, my teachers, and my DECA advisors all taught me that I am capable of accomplishing what I set my mind to.

I am incredibly proud to be apart of the class of 2012; because of the way we genuinely respected and supported one another. A time of encouragement that stands out to me was fall of our senior year. One of our classmates needed to have brain surgery. His teammates and friends rallied around him and shaved their heads to match his. My classmates moved me because they helped our friend feel a little more at ease before facing a very daunting situation. Whether it was moments like this or the times we spent cheering under the Friday night-lights or giving standing ovations at DECA state or just a simple congrats as we passed one another in the hallway, our class believed in one another. This spirit among us helped me learn to believe in myself. My peers at MWHS are driven, wonderful people and I am proud to be 2012 alum.

MWHS has an outstanding faculty that is invested in their students. I was very involved in DECA during my time at MWHS, and the time I devoted to that program was worth every second. Although, I did not always accomplish what I set out to in DECA, my advisors taught me that failure does not define you, but it is how you deal with and learn from that failure that truly shapes character. They inspire me still today, to be the best version of myself.

As proud as I am to be a Badger, I will always cherish the days I proudly proclaimed, “It’s a great day to be a White Hawk!”

Val & Kaitlyn

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 59 - Memories to Last a Lifetime

Today's post is from 2012 graduate Maya Reinholdz

If there is one thing that I am starting to learn in life more than anything is that the saying “time flies” is more real than I ever imagined. As a now sophomore in college it astounds me, and more than anything saddens me that I only have two more years left of being a student. Two more years until I have to, as they say, “join the real world”. It is common to say that the greatest memories in life will happen in college. As I am two years into being a business student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison I can say that yes, I have made some amazing memories here. But the memories I have made in college still don’t over shadow those that I had during my years at MWHS.

When thinking back to my four years at MWHS I can’t help but laugh, smile, and sometimes cry at all of the amazing memories I made. Now attending a college of more than 40,000 students, I appreciate more than ever having a high school class of only 180, where I could walk down the halls and recognize every face I passed by. Being a part of a small school meant making connections and relationships that are hard to experience once you get to college. My teachers were not only mentors; they were role models, whom I formed life-long connections with. I will never forget the endless hours I spent in Mrs. Lolich’s room working on DECA, where at times it almost seemed like that was my second home. Or where Mrs. Simonson’s accounting class was more fun than accounting ever should be, and where hockey games meant sprinting from your car, signs in hand, to make sure you got the front row.

MWHS is more than just a high school; it is a community, and one that I am so proud to have been a part of. It is easy to say that some of my greatest memories were made during those four years, as well as relationships and experiences that I will forever cherish. When I was younger I never realized how fast time passes by you. But no matter where I am in life I know that I can always be proud that the connections and memories I made at MWHS will truly last a lifetime!

2012 Grads Maya and Kennedy

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Day 58 - Pride in a 2003 Choir trip through Europe

Today's post is from Carol Shukle, district employee and parent of four MWHS grads

This week the blog posts are stories from MWHS alumni!

After 27 years as a resident of this community, including 17 years as an MWHS parent, it’s hard to choose just one example of Mound Westonka pride – but something that does remain a very special memory is the Concert Choir tour of southern Germany, Austria and Venice, Italy in 2003.

Our first child entered MWHS in the fall of 1996 and our youngest graduated last spring with the Class of 2013. All four of our kids were members of Concert Choir and either Pop Singers or Madd Jazz or both. I’ve thrilled to hear them perform in our community; on stage at Orchestra Hall and the Ordway; at the top of the Empire State building; on a street in New Orleans; and in some of the most famous and beautiful cathedrals and town squares in Europe. Along the way my husband changed jobs and we considered moving to cut his commute, but one of the things that kept us here was Mound Westonka High School. Our kids were happy and we quickly realized the advantage of having private school graduating class sizes in a public school setting, and a first-class music education.

But of all those music experiences, that 2003 Choir tour is one I will never forget. We were scheduled to leave around April 4 and the U.S. went to war in Iraq on March 20. Suddenly Americans were being warned against travelling abroad and the trip for which the students and their families had worked and planned for nearly a year was in jeopardy. During the first two weeks of the fighting several large Twin Cities school districts canceled similar trips. As our departure date and the third week of the war approached there had been no significant incidents involving Americans in Europe. The pros and cons of going ahead with the tour were discussed at length and the decision was made that the danger was not so great that the group of more than 70 students and parents could leave as planned. That took some courage and some MWHS Pride for those making the trip, but even more, for the district and high school administration who gave permission and the families who remained behind.

We were sent on our way by the administration with a cell phone with International service (a big deal even 10 years ago) and State Department advice to try to not appear too “American” – no jeans and sneakers – and to try to pass as Canadian if anyone asked?! Well, we didn’t fool anyone, but except for witnessing one anti-war, anti-American demonstration in Munich and being the object of some anti-American slurs at, of all places, Dachau, we were welcomed warmly and never felt unsafe. The students were wonderful ambassadors for MWHS whether singing in cathedrals or nursing homes, and we saw incredible sights.

A highlight of the trip was the evening that, after returning from a day trip to Salzburg, Madd Jazz was scheduled to perform before the main act at the top jazz club in Innsbruck. Madd Jazz is always good but that night they were sensational. They left the jazz club so excited they just couldn’t stop singing. Out in the parking lot Madd Jazz continued to sing everything they knew. Eventually they were joined by the rest of the Concert Choir who caught the enthusiasm and the students sang through the streets of Innsbruck all the way back to the hotel. Eventually they ran through the entire Concert Choir repertoire from that year and turned to singing music from the year before. Finally gathered in the hotel lobby, and unwilling to stop, they began singing their four-part arrangements of Christmas Carols – possibly inspired by the snow that was falling that unseasonably cold April evening. When we all sang “Silent Night” in both English and German, our Austrian tour guide, who was still with us in the lobby, was moved to tears.
Two days later we were on our way home. Our flight from Germany landed in Detroit where we went through customs. The friendly customs agents asked the students about their trip and instructed the group to stay together to one side. When everyone was processed, the agents surprised the students by requesting a performance. Back home and with feet once again safely planted on U.S. soil, choir director Jane Brambilla directed the choir a capella in our National Anthem. That was a genuine “goosebumps” moment and still a great source of MWHS pride.

Madd Jazz in front of the Triebhaus Jazz Club in Innsbruck, Austria

Concert Choir at the Monastery Church in Wiblingen, Germany

Andy and Carol Shukle

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