January 2023
Findorff continues to make progress on the renovations. Over winter break we started on phase 4 of construction, which is the middle section of the third floor and the north locker rooms. Students should check their schedule in IC to see if any of their classrooms have changes so they know where they are going. Please reference these building maps for updated room numbers on renovated rooms and areas that are under construction.Phase 4 is projected to be completed just as we’re going into spring break. Our Business and World Language teachers are back in their classrooms- and they look amazing. Our scholars are adapting nicely to some extra noise, dust and construction vehicles in our space. The minor inconveniences will pay off once the building is completely renovated. 

As always, please let me know how we can support your scholar and if you have any questions. 

Mikki Smith
Staff Shoutout
Emily Sonnemann, Family & Consumer Science Teacher
Emily Sonnemann has become a well known teacher at East. She teaches the culinary classes, child development, and is the advisor of the Culinary Club and East's Mountain Bike Team. This is her 19th year as an educator and her 3rd year at East and in MMSD. She has made her mark at East by going beyond just teaching students how to measure ingredients or bake cookies. Ms. Sonnemann believes that food is a conduit for community, relationships and conversation. She incorporates guest speakers, safety, social justice, field trips to local restaurant kitchens, cultural awareness, using local resources, friendly competition, community conversation, and all-around fun into her teaching.

Below are highlights of two programs that took place at East over the past month that wouldn't have been possible without Ms. Sonnemann.
Snack Kitchen Open To All Students & Staff
Not only does Ms. Sonneman think it is important to teach students how to cook, but to address food insecurity in our community. "Schools are working really hard to normalize the fact that everybody deserves nutritious food and everybody needs it at different times. It doesn't matter what your socioeconomic status is or what's going on in your world—everyone is hungry sometimes and needs good food," said Ms. Sonneman. To bring this idea to fruition, this fall, in partnership with Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, Ms. Sonneman opened a free Snack Fridge in her room to provide snacks and groceries to students and staff throughout the day and to take home. This video features how Ms. Sonnemann is joining in the fight against hunger in our community!
Pictured are a couple of students from East's Food Equity Club helping make sandwiches and carrot sticks as snacks items for Ms. Sonnemann's refrigerated snack program. Food Equity Club, which maintains East High's Outdoor and Indoor Food Pantry in addition to preparing snacks for the snack fridge, meets on Tuesdays during lunch in room 2038 and is always looking for additional members.
Science and Culinary Arts Meet at 'The Great Biology Bake-off'
East recently partnered with UW-Madison’s Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program to host ‘The Great Biology Bake-off.’ The event expertly combined cooking and science from one part alternative educational delivery vehicle, one part mentorship opportunity, and two parts fun.

After school on Friday, December 16, in Ms. Sonnemann’s classroom, five East scholars competed in the inaugural event. Ahead of the competition, the scholars partnered with a UW graduate student-mentor to conceive, produce, and develop a presentation around a baked item that visually represented an idea or topic related to cell biology.

“I saw the poster in the halls and thought, ‘Hmm, that’s interesting,’” said sophomore LaMya Foy. “My grandma has her own catering business—I’ve been cooking with her since I was nine years old—and science is one of my favorite subjects, so I thought this would be fun. The first day I met my mentor, we started planning what to do, and the further along we got, the more I felt like, ‘Yeah, this is definitely for me.’”

Following each scholars’ presentation, the audience was invited to visually inspect and taste-test each baked item, which ran the gamut from cakes, to cake pops, to cupcakes. Judges from the University’s Biology Outreach Club, who helped to organize and stage the evening’s event, selected winners in the categories of Best Biological Illustration and Best Baking Project. About 30 guests and attendees scanned a QR code to place anonymous votes for the Audience Favorites. The results were as follows:

  • First Place, Best Biological Illustration/Best Baking Project: Dante Alvarado (junior), Habitat of Marzipan Mushroom
  • Second Place, Best Biological Illustration/Best Baking Project: Megan Carpenter (freshman), The Shroom Log 
  • Audience Favorite: TJ Tjardes (junior), Mitosis 
  • Audience Favorite Runner-up: LaMya Foy (sophomore), Rhinoceros
  • Audience Favorite Runner-up: Miriam Santos (sophomore), flour-essence

Songeun Kim, the UW student-leader who spearheaded the Bake-off’s organization, worked with East’s Sonnemann to make the evening a reality. To fund the event, Kim applied for a grant with the American Society for Cell Biology, and then set about matching the East scholars with student-mentors. The entire production came together in a very short amount of time.

“I met Emily in mid-September, and we received the grant on October 11, with the stipulation that we use the funds by the end of the year,” explained Kim. “By the first week of November, we had all of our high school participants lined up, and shortly before Thanksgiving we paired them with their mentors. Last Monday, they started baking during the lunch hour, and by Friday, they were ready to present their creations.”

Despite the accelerated timeline, Kim hopes the event will serve as a precedent for future collaboration between her club and the district. She sees opportunities like this one as mutually beneficial, with participants from both institutions all the better for having taken part.

“For the graduate student-mentors, it was good for them to sharpen their public-speaking abilities and practice explaining their research topic and ideas using language that everyone could understand,” she said. “For the high-schoolers, they got to learn more about science, while also expressing themselves creatively. I’m really happy with how everything turned out, and the feedback I got from everyone—mentors, competitors, and judges alike—was all extremely positive.”

East freshman Megan Carpenter agreed. “I’ve been baking for four years now, so I was very interested in being involved in this,” she said. “I was happy to be able to take part and learn more about mushrooms. We worked really hard, and I’m very proud of what we created.”
Featured Program
East Students Learn From Findorff Trades Panels
The referendum renovation process is offering opportunities for East students to experience immersion-type learning in the field of construction management. Students’ interest in architecture, construction management, and the construction trades was supported through collaboration with Findorff, the district’s construction manager, which hosted a series of informational career panels in East's Career Center this Fall. The sessions featured a number of Findorff staff and professional partners, providing a forum for discussion on the progress of the construction project at East, and featured unique perspective into careers in the building sciences. Each of the speakers walked scholars through their typical day, outlined the responsibilities of their role, discussed the path they traveled to arrive where they are, and shared what they most enjoy about the work they do.

“At East, we have a number of scholars interested in exploring the construction trades, and it is important to nurture their curiosity by providing opportunities for them to research various career options,” said Tyler Kastner, East High School Academic and Career Planning Coordinator. “By providing scholars access to companies like Findorff, they are able to learn directly from experts about the skills and knowledge necessary for this career track.”

One of the main goals of the panels was to shine a light on the myriad career paths the design and construction industries offer, and allow scholars to hear first-person perspectives from industry experts. Scholars in attendance found it both intriguing and surprising how many jobs in the construction trades require no prior experience, with opportunities available immediately upon graduation.

“A common theme among our panelists, particularly for the construction trades sessions, was that they enjoy working with their hands and not sitting behind a desk, and I think that hit home with a lot of scholars,” said Tony Shepherd, Findorff project manager. “Also, at East, we were fortunate to have someone who actually attended the school and is now a Findorff project engineer sit on the panel, explaining his path and what he loves about what he's doing now, and I think it was impactful for the students to see someone who was once in their shoes succeeding in this industry.”

The process for students to request courses for next school will begin next semester. Check out the 2023-2024 Course Catalog, specifically the "Technology & Engineering" category for opportunities to take courses like Engineering Design, Design and Drafting, and Wood Fabrication. Students can also take part in the Youth Apprenticeship Program which allows experiential learning in both the classroom and various fields.
Student Spotlight
SkillsUSA Club
“Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.” Last month, scholars in East High’s SkillsUSA club took this thought experiment—posed by arguably the world’s most well-loved neighbor, Fred Rogers—a step further. Students gave residents of the homes and businesses immediately surrounding the school a gift that they designed and produced themselves: laser-cut holiday ornaments.

The altruistic idea, conceived entirely by the students, was borne of a desire to accomplish three main goals: celebrate the holiday season; commemorate the school’s centennial; and thank recipients for their patience in light of ongoing referendum construction work. The latter, which is expected to continue until the fall of 2024, has necessitated changing traffic patterns, and resulted in additional noise around the building’s exterior than usual, a fact not lost on the club’s members.

“I think it’s very important to show gratitude, and this is a way for us to give back to a community that’s been so supportive of our growth,” said freshman Daisy Canales. “We recognize that not everyone is able to receive something around this time of year, and we’re fortunate to be in a position to spread some positivity, so we’re excited to hopefully bring a little joy to the area.”

A nationwide organization, SkillsUSA provides students with career and technical education skills and opportunities. At East, the club includes students of all grade levels and competes annually in the State Leadership and Skills Conference, which typically takes place in April at the Alliant Energy Center.

At the outset of this endeavor, the challenge primarily lay in deciding on a suitable design. Given the tools and materials at their disposal (the group meets regularly in room 150, which houses the school’s woodworking capabilities), they determined that a wooden representation of a signature aspect of the main entrance facade—the gothic rose—was the ideal choice, with the school’s laser cutter serving as the ideal means of production.

Through the end of November and into mid-December, the students laser-cut the ornaments, affixed hanging string, and packaged their wares in bundles that included a letter explaining the gift. The area includes about 120 residential homes and businesses on E. Washington Avenue and N. 4th, E. Johnson, and N. 5th Streets.
Dear East Neighbor,

Please accept this gift from EHS students as a way of saying thank you for being a part of our community. As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Madison East High School, we reflect on how far we have come, the many things that we have experienced together, as well as new changes to our beautiful new building.

We want the people who live by our school to know they are appreciated for being with us through everything that happens both on and around the campus. We would like to thank you for being a neighbor of East High School and supporting us. With this note is a wooden ornament featuring a gothic rose that is a symbol of East. 

These small ornaments were made by the SkillsUSA Woods Club to celebrate our anniversary and your support. You have received one of these ornaments because you are an East neighbor, which is defined by your residence facing the high school. It shows that you are a member of our community and shows our gratitude that you have chosen our school.

Thank you for supporting our students, teachers, and staff.

East High Students
During the lunch hour on Monday, December 19, the club braved the 14-degree cold and took a divide-and-conquer approach to delivering the gifts, canvassing the streets in groups of two and affixing the packages to the doors of recipients.

“We hope this gives our neighbors a glimpse at just some of the good that happens here every day,” said junior Aidan Benton, who hopes to pursue engineering in the future. “This club gives us the opportunity to explore our interests and sharpen our making skills, and it’s been really fun to be able to put those skills to use for the benefit of our community.”

New students are always welcome in East's SkillsUSA Club which meets on Thursdays during lunch in Room 150 (the Woodworking Room) with Advisor, Mr. Mossholder.
Referendum Construction Updates
Exterior Construction Progresses Through The Winter
The construction at East High School forges on through the winter and heavy snow. On the cafeteria addition, the second floor of concrete masonry unit (CMU) walls are being constructed. The CMU walls are dual-purpose, providing structural load bearing support and delivering the interior architectural finish for the new addition. Last week the concrete slab for the cafeteria and commons expansion was also poured.

On the multipurpose addition, the exterior metal panels are nearly complete. The athletic resilient flooring and the rest of the finishes have been installed, bringing the new space to life.

Updates on current and upcoming work:
  • Starting demolition of the old locker rooms on the north end of the lower level renovation area
  • Installing the new elevator in the Welcome Center entry way, which will improve accessibility to classrooms on all floors
  • Moving the outdoor temporary hoist to the next phase of construction for the third-floor science classroom renovations