Hamilton students win awards in regional art contest

Five Hamilton High School students will earn Gold or Silver Key Awards Jan. 31in the 77th Annual Scholastic Art Awards Competition. Students who earned awards were:

  • Kristin Loberg, senior, a Gold Key for stained glass ;
  • Melanie Napholz, senior, a Gold Key for stained glass;
  • Anna Bradford, junior, a Silver Key for painting;
  • Kyle Emrich, senior, a Silver Key for stained glass; and
  • Hannah Johnson, junior, a Silver Key for drawing.

The works of these Hamilton students are among 125 Gold Key and 247 Silver Key awardwinning pieces on display until Feb. 28 at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Students from 117 Wisconsin schools submitted 1,695 entries into the competition which is juried by 23 artists, educators and other art professionals.

The Scholastic Art Award program is the regional section of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards National program conducted by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. The Gold Key-winning artwork of Loberg and Napholz will advance to the National Scholastic Art Awards competition, with the national awards ceremony to be held at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The Milwaukee Art Museum, Suzanne and Richard Pieper Family Foundation and Avis and Jim Heller sponsor the state competition and exhibit. For information about Milwaukee Art Museum hours, admission and location, please call (414) 224-3220.

Maple Avenue students build igloo

Wisconsin’s cold winter weather is no comparison for the conditions that Maple Avenue Elementary School kindergartners are learning about in Mary Kuriga’s classroom. As part of their studies about life at the North and South Poles, students created an almost-life-size igloo made out of 200-plus milk cartons.

The igloo project was a joint effort between the classroom and families. Students were asked to bring in one-gallon milk jugs to create a cozy structure where students read books about Artic animals and life. Students also go “ice fishing” to practice reading skills.

The kindergartners are studying about animal life in the Antarctica and Arctic Circle. In addition, they have learned about the cold weather at the poles. Animal and human adaptations in the Arctic was the focus of a special presentation by artist Mary Toolie.

Students will listen to the story “Snow Bear” Jan. 29 from 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and complete an art project depicting themselves dressed in parkas, ready to take on the Arctic weather.

They will design their own igloos using white paper rectangles on a dark background from 11 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. on Jan. 30. The children’s paper igloos will be displayed near the big classroom igloo.

Project Bridge offers Maple Avenue students hands-on environmental education experiences

Maple Avenue Elementary School fifth-graders and their teachers will make connections from their classrooms to the environment Feb. 12 and 13 as they participate in Project Bridge. The twoday, one-night program at Camp Whitcomb-Mason in Hartland includes many hands-on activities that integrate the fifth grade curriculum into an environmental education unit. Students also will discover the elements of team-building by participating in the Low Ropes Challenge, facilitated by Camp Whitcomb Mason staff.

In its fifth year, this rich learning experience will be enjoyed by 127 individuals including 71 students, 45 parent chaperones, 10 teachers and the principal. Participants will start the program with camp orientation, a two-mile hike through three habitat areas and the Low Ropes Challenge. Recreational activities include snowshoeing, tobogganing and broom ball hockey.

Schlitz Audubon Society representatives will present “Owls – Silent Hunters” after dinner. Live owls and artifacts will be part of the presentation that culminates in a lab where children dissect owl pellets. “Owl Moon” will be read followed by a night hike in which students and parents observe the winter environment and listen to the signs of the great horned owl. The hike will end when children, parents and staff join for fellowship and songs around the campfire.

The children will separate into groups on the second day rotating between environmental art, the TELLS deer-tracking and signs program, snowshoeing and tracking, and building of their own bird feeders. The participants will keep journals and make numerous entries throughout the trip. Project Bridge is sponsored by the Hamilton Education Foundation, Maple Avenue Home & School Association and fifth grade parents. Teachers Michael Fraundorf and Terry L. Fojtik wrote the grant for the project.

Each participant will be given a special T-shirt designed and printed by Hamilton High School students in Byron Olson’s graphic arts class. The shirt includes a Project Bridge design on the front. On the back are names of camp participants and acknowledgement to the Maple Avenue Home & School Association and the Hamilton Education Foundation for making the experience possible.

Lannon plans Family Math Night

Do you know what a pentomino is? Have you ever seen a mira?

Lannon Elementary School students staff and parents will have the opportunity to experience both Jan. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. during Family Math Night.

The school gymnasium will transform into a big mathematics lab with activities available for students in grades kindergarten through fifth. Participants can expect math projects, games and other fun math activities that families can do together. Parents will go home with lots of ideas and children will leave with a great feeling about math.

Lannon Elementary School is located at 7145 N. Lannon Rd., Lannon.

Templeton hosts District Spelling Bee

Templeton Middle School will be the site Feb. 17 for the District Spelling Bee that draws qualifying students from Hamilton School District middle and elementary schools as well as area private schools. Students from the following schools will participate in the District Spelling Bee: Templeton, Lannon, Maple Avenue, Marcy, Woodside, St. Agnes, St. John’s Evangelical and Peace Lutheran Academy.

The District Spelling Bee begins at 8 a.m. in the large group area. Five students will advance in March to the Regional Spelling Bee in Cedarburg. One winner will qualify for the State Spelling Bee in April. The state champion will then move on to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in June.

Templeton Middle School is located at N59 W22490 Silver Spring Dr., Sussex.

Interest rates lower due to Moody’s rating

Moody’s Investor Services evaluated the Hamilton School District’s financial status and judged it to be in strong fiscal health. That evaluation led to a MIG-1 rating — the highest possible for a short-term borrow. The high quality rating allowed the district to secure a short-term loan for 1.35 percent, saving the district an initial $25,000 over projections based on higher interest rates.

More important, Moody’s also affirmed the district’s strong Aa2 rating for long-term debt that will continue to provide significant interest savings over time. Ultimately, school officials hope to save $8.9 million by reducing the interest rate on a $4.23 million debt from 8 percent to 5.25 percent.

Higher financial ratings have a positive impact for taxpayers, according to Brian Hink, the Robert W. Baird financial analyst who handles Hamilton’s account.

“Because the district has strong financial ratings, overall debt payments will definitely be lower,” Hink said. “Higher ratings lead to lower interest rates on bonds.”

The debt is the district’s obligation for unfunded pension liability. School districts and municipalities were assessed the unfunded retirement liability in 1982 when three retirement systems merged. The School Board recently approved paying off the debt to the state with an interim short-term loan that will be refinanced into a 20-year loan. A special annual meeting in February or March may be held to authorize long-term refinancing of the debt that is expected to be at about 5.25 percent, according to Hamilton Business Services Director Bryan Ruud.

By taking out the interim short-term loan, the district avoided 2004 interest charges at the 8 percent rate, saving $337,000 in the first year alone.

In its evaluation, Moody’s Investor Services cited the district’s “strong financial position, continued tax base growth due to an advantageous location and moderate debt burden.”

“Moody’s believes the district’s financial position will remain strong due to prudent fiscal management and steady, enrollment growth,” the report stated.

Among positive aspects, the financial researcher noted a stable fund balance which allows the district to avoid cash flow borrowing to meet bill payments.

Hamilton FIRST team learns robotics game

Hamilton High School Robotics team members have begun working on their robots for the 2004 Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics Competition. Team members learned details of this year’s game at the nationally televised kickoff.

The object of the game, “FIRST Frenzy: Raising the Bar,” is for the robot to trigger balls, then collect and feed them to a human player who will throw them in two goals. The robot will attempt to cap the goals with larger balls to double the point value. The robot will then hang from a center pull-up bar. Each match will feature 2-team alliances playing from opposite ends of the field in what organizers refer to as “coopetition.”

The Hamilton team is one of 16 from Wisconsin that will design, create a prototype, build and test a robot to compete in regional and national competitions. Regionals will be March 11-13 in St. Louis and March 25-27 at Northwestern University in Evanstan, Ill. National competition is April 10-12 for what is billed as the “NASCAR of Robotics” at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Kozlowski named TMS Geography Bee champion

Eighth-grader Zachary Kozlowski was named school champion Jan. 13 in the final round of the Templeton Middle School National Geographic Bee. Kozlowski edged out seven other student finalists who made successful showing at Templeton’s Jan. 8 semi-final round. In addition to Kozlowski, finalists from the preliminary rounds competing for the top spot were Michael Bernarde, Emmanuel Eliades, Daniel Fourness, John Liedtke, Christian Macleod, Alyssa Olson and John Pucillo. Olson took second place and Bernarde took third place.

All Templeton students participated in the preliminary round of the 16th Annual National Geographic Bee by taking a 25-question written test. The highest-scoring students advanced to the semi-final round. As a school winner, Kozlowski will take a written test to determine the top 100 students who will advance April 2 to the State Geography Bee.

The National Geographic Society provides an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for state champions and teacher-escorts to participate in the April National Geographic Bee National Championship. The first-place national winner will receive a $25,000 college scholarship and a lifetime membership in the Society.

The National Geographic Society is the world’s largest nonprofit, scientific and educational organization. The 116-year-old Society reflects the world through magazines, books, maps, television and interactive media. National Geographic magazine is the official journal of the Society. The Society has funded more than 7,000 scientific research projects and supports an education program combating geographic illiteracy.

January 19, 2004

Interest rates lower due to Moody’s high ratings

Moody’s Investor Services evaluated the Hamilton School District’s financial status and judged it to be in strong fiscal health. That evaluation led to a MIG-1 rating — the highest possible for a short-term borrow. School Board members learned at their Jan. 19 meeting that the high quality rating allowed the district to secure a short-term loan for 1.35 percent, saving the district an initial $25,000 over projections based on higher interest rates.

More important, Moody’s also affirmed the districts strong Aa2 rating for long-term debt that will continue to provide significant interest savings over time. Ultimately, school officials hope to save $8.9 million by reducing the interest rate on a $4.23 million debt from 8 percent to 5.25 percent.

Higher financial ratings have a positive impact for taxpayers, according to Brian Hink, the Robert W. Baird financial analyst who handles Hamilton’s account.

“Because the district has strong financial ratings, overall debt payments will definitely be lower,” Hink said. “Higher ratings lead to lower interest rates on bonds.”

The debt is the district’s obligation for unfunded pension liability. School districts and municipalities were assessed the unfunded retirement liability in 1982 when three retirement systems merged. The School Board recently approved paying off the debt to the state with an interim short-term loan that will be refinanced into a 20-year loan. A special annual meeting in February or March may be held to authorize long-term refinancing of the debt that is expected to be at about 5.25 percent, according to Hamilton Business Services Director Bryan Ruud.

By taking out the interim short-term loan, the district avoided 2004 interest charges at the 8 percent rate, saving $337,000 in the first year alone.

In its evaluation, Moody’s cited the “district’s strong financial position, continued tax base growth due to an advantageous location and moderate debt burden.”

“Moody’s believes the district’s financial position will remain strong due to prudent fiscal management and steady, enrollment growth,” the report stated.

Among positive aspects, the financial researcher noted a stable fund balance which allows the district to avoid cash flow borrowing to meet bill payments.

Technology plan making progress

The district’s Instructional Technology Plan is making headway, according to Instructional Technology and Assessment Coordinator Katie Little. Little reported that the district’s 3-year plan that was approved last year has made progress in the the following areas.

  • An automatic virus update for all networked computers was implemented.
  • A recommendation to continue with the current student database program or switch to a new one will be made in the next few months.
  • The Technology Integration Committee is aligning technology standards across all content areas.
  • An Information Management Team is working to use software and other data to support student achievement.
  • Lab usage logs are in place across the district and data will be collected in the second semester.

Lannon Site Plan approved

Lannon Elementary School Principal Richard Ladd updated the School Board on progress toward the school’s new tactics that were identified last year. Ladd reported that the school’s tactics are to:

  • maintain and enhance a positive, nurturing culture so that Lannon students will continue to strive for excellence;
  • improve the building referral process to meet all students’ needs; and
  • enhance the schoolwide writing program, allowing each student to develop necessary skills to communicate effectively in writing.

School staff have focused on school culture by in-servicing staff on the motivational “Fish!” program. The Cardinal Cafe was launched in November for students to allow them to perform a skill or talent at lunch for their schoolmates. Spirit days are planned throughout the year. Staff will launch a “Notice Me!” program to help identified students next fall.

Students are being tracked through the Child Assistance Team (CAT) and a list of practical classroom interventions has been developed. Clarification of the CAT referral process and available resources will be disseminated to all staff.

To have an impact on student writing, all staff members were trained in the “Six Traits Writing Method.” Writing portfolios will be developed and student writing will be showcased in the school newsletter. “Six Traits” concepts will be highlighted on public address announcements.

Teachers’ contract approved

School Board members approved the 2003-05 contract with the United Lakewood Educators – Hamilton group, which represents district teachers and other certified staff members. The contract will provide a 4.5 percent salary and benefit package increase for each year of the contract. It includes insurance concessions for the prescription drug card, co-insurance charges, emergency room co-pay and capping of the insurance option plan amount. The agreement also allowed the district to move ahead with a plan to refinance unfunded liability for the Wisconsin Retirement System.

Course catalogs approved

School Board members approved the 2004-05 course catalogs that were submitted by Templeton Middle School Principal Patricia Polczynski and Hamilton High School Principal David Furrer. The catalogues contained various revisions to clarify, add or delete information that students use to select couses for the coming school year.

Open Enrollment policy modified

The district’s Open Enrollment policy was changed to allow establishing a waiting list for out-of-district students who request being enrolled in the district. The district was advised to make the policy change because state law now allows for waiting lists. Because of growth in the district, the district is not taking any new Open Enrollment applications.

Personnel matters approved

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved retirement requests of Hamilton and Templeton speech-language specialist Kathleen Keller-Weber, Maple Avenue kindergarten teacher Patricia Olberg and Hamilton science teacher John Alexander, all effective at the end of the school year;
  • accepted the resignation of Maple Avenue early childhood-special education teacher Kelly Gosse, effective at the end of the school year; and
  • appointed Janice Bauerle as Maple Avenue assistant cook effective Jan. 12.

Templeton plans book fair, reading night Jan. 27

Templeton Middle School will host the Scholastic Book Fair and Accelerated Reader Family Night Jan. 27 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. All Templeton students and families are invited.

The evening’s goal is for families to have fun and spend quality time together in an activity that promotes good reading habits. Parents, grandparents and siblings gather informally to select books, talk about what they’ve read and what they recommend, read together and prove their understanding with computerized quizzes.

A recent study of literature-based reading shows that students in general read only 7.1 minutes a day. The study also shows that reading practice helps to increase reading performance.

Participants are free to drop in for a few minutes or stay as long as they’d like. The Scholastic Book Fair will be open for browsing and purchases throughout the evening.

Templeton Middle School, N59 W22490 Silver Spring Drive in Sussex.