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It is a celebratory time of year. Seniors are graduating and summer is around the corner. By definition, celebration means “to observe with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.” Our schools are busy finalizing the year’s instruction and planning year-end celebrations.
On Monday, we celebrated the arrival of a delegation from our Sister City of Nasukarasuyama, Japan. Haruki Ohno, the Chief of School Education Section, and Okayasu Masahiro, Director of Instruction, accompanied fifteen middle school students to Menomonie.
One of the stops we made on Wednesday occurred during a school-wide celebration at Wakanda Elementary. The students were celebrating meeting some building-wide goals with an extra recess featuring games, hula-hoops, chalk drawing, bean bag tosses, and jumping rope. The children were all eager to give hugs, chalk-covered hands and all!
Mr. Ohno and Mr. Masahiro commented on the spacious buildings and the grassy lawns where the children were playing. In their region, playgrounds are covered with stones. The average class size in their city is 35 children.
The Japanese middle school students are all staying with host families and attending school with their American peers. They also had the opportunity to do some touring of the region, visit Oaklawn Elementary, and participated in a tea ceremony at MMS on Friday.
The Sister City visits have been an annual event, with a few exceptions, since 1999. When the visits began, their city was named Minami Nasu. On October 1, 2005, Minami Nasu was merged with the town of Karasuyama also from the Nasu District, to form the new city of Nasukarasuyama and Minami Nasu no longer exists as an independent municipality.
A delegation was not able to come last year due to the tsunami disaster. They shared that one of the challenges they now face is serving food that is not contaminated with radiation. Each building has a handheld device to check the fresh food when it arrives for school lunch. If the radiation is too high, the food is thrown out and they start over.
We were happy to see them return to Menomonie and wish them safe travels home! The visit will end with a final celebration on Sunday night. It is a very positive experience for our community!
Celebrations abound even without visitors.
We celebrated our district retirees on Wednesday night. They include Carol Bakke, Joy Bergstrand, Gail Fieber, Margie Holland, Jim Hulce, John Klatt, Marie Kruetzer, Kathi Lehman, Maria Poepping-Havlovic, Cindy Quilling, Kathy Stanton, and Robin Zelm. We will miss them all and certainly thank them for 231 years of service!
Each building also plans year-end celebrations. Many of our elementary schools will have a school-wide picnic and spend some time at the Wakanda Water Park. In addition, they are in the middle of planning ceremonies and class field trips.
The 8th grade will spend a day celebrating their transition to the high school and the senior class will have growing excitement over their transition to life without a bell schedule! Our high school parent volunteers are very busy planning the final details for the all-night senior party. The all-night event is held the evening of graduation and provides a safe way to celebrate together as a class!
We want all of the opportunities to celebrate to be safe. Each year, the senior students lament over the reasons why school officials cannot look the other way if they plan a senior skip day. Sometimes parents even think we should approve a skip day. The answer can be found in the state compulsory attendance law and common sense.
Sometimes students plan an “unofficial” skip day anyway. It is a worry for local law enforcement and school officials. Despite what most parents think, teens still value their advice. More than half of teens of all ages (57%) say that family, rather than friends or school, is the most important thing in their lives right now. As a result, they will also respect the advice not to make dumb decisions. We need parent support to keep our kids safe.
Some years ago, we had some students hurt during an unofficial skip day. Some of the students were also drinking and driving. Fortunately, no one died, but it could have easily been worse. What sometimes starts as good, clean fun can go wrong in an instant when the wrong choices are made.
Two of our students spent some time this week recording public service announcements for the radio. Their efforts were sponsored by the Partners for Resilience Coalition and the Menomonie Youth Resilience Leadership students. Their message to students is “do not get into a vehicle with someone who has been drinking.”
Their message to parents is a reminder that it is illegal to serve youth alcohol. It only takes one poor decision to lead to a tragedy in this community.
Please help us keep the celebrations happy ones!
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