WEM E-Newsletter
At WEM we practice BUCS PRIDE. 
We are a Respectful, Responsible learning community dedicated to a
Safe and Positive learning environment for all individuals.
Welcome to the inaugural e-newsletter of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (WEM) School District #2143! Some of you may think this has been a long time coming, and others may worry this signals the end of the Buccaneer Connection sent to all postal patrons in the district. Never fear. The Buccaneer Connection is scheduled to be published and distributed twice per year. The most recent one was mailed in December 2020, and the next one should be in your mailboxes in June 2021 tentatively. Current and past issues of Buccaneer Connection are also available in pdf on WEM's website.

You are receiving this message because you are either a WEM staff member, student, or parent/guardian of a student, or you opted into the referendum-related emails from a few years ago, or you have recently requested to be added to this list. Please spread the word to others you think might like to be added by forwarding this email and/or directing them to the e-newsletter subscription sign-up page on WEM's website. Alternatively, If you do not wish to receive this newsletter, please click the "unsubscribe" button at the bottom of this message.
If you have questions or feedback about this newsletter, use the "reply" button. Your input is welcome and appreciated. Let me know what kind of content you'd like to see. Thank you, and enjoy!

Margo Kulseth, MLIS
Communications Coordinator
February School Board Meeting
On Monday, February 22, 2021, the WEM school board met virtually for our regular monthly meeting. As per the agenda, we approved the meeting minutes from January 25, 2021, and the work session meeting minutes from February 11, 2021.
There were no visitor comments. This is always one of my favorite agenda items; however, we rarely get community feedback through this avenue. I would encourage all community members to utilize this venue to have your voice heard on school board matters. Unfortunately, we are not permitted to respond at the meeting, but we take into consideration every comment provided. If you have a comment that you want to be read during visitor comment time, please submit it before 5:00 p.m. on meeting day by sending an email to visitorcomments@wem.k12.mn.us.
The Board recognized several donations, including $100 from Partners in Education for the elementary and $250 from Elysian Bank for the “Elysian Bank Scholarship.” We also recognized a donation of kolacky and coffee from the Woratschka family, Frosty Bingo prizes from several donors, and a donation of masks from the LeSueur County Health Department. Thank you for all the donations this past month! We are a community first and a school second. When we have donations or involvement from our community, everyone benefits!
We approved the February Finance Report and the February Donation Report from Business Manager, Margaret Jewison. We heard the Joint Principal Report from Bobbie Jo Bastian, PreK-6 Principal, and Dr. Jennifer Wilson, 7-12 Principal, as well as a report from Jeff Boran, Community Education & Activities Director.
A couple of highlights from these reports include the first annual Snow Week and National FFA week activities that the high school is conducting. These kids have been through so much this past year. It is good to see them take time to enjoy a school spirit-type week with their friends.
The other highlight was from Jeff Boran and his shout-out to Alex Heuss. Alex was selected by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) as a State ExCEL Award Winner! The ExCEL Award – Excellence in Community, Education, and Leadership – is a unique recognition program designed exclusively for Minnesota high school juniors who are active in school activities, leaders in their schools, and who demonstrate a strong commitment to community service. THIS IS A BIG DEAL! If these are the kids that are coming out of our community, then we (and Alex and her parents) are succeeding by raising future leaders in whatever they choose to do. If you get the chance, please congratulate Alex on her amazing achievement.
We heard board member reports and board committee reports. Jeff Stangler provided an update on the progress towards a new contract with the paraprofessionals. We heard a report from Joel Whitehurst, Superintendent.
There was an update regarding Rice County Police Service in Morristown, an update regarding agricultural land, and an update regarding the school board vacancy special election. This special election has been postponed to August, but this allows more people to express interest. We do have some interest currently.
If you have any interest in filling the vacant board position, please contact Joel Whitehurst. If you want to get a feel for what it might be like to be a school board member, attend a meeting, or contact a board member. My personal message to those considering putting their name in the hat is do not do it because you have one issue you want to “fix” or address. Do it because you want what is best for the kids in our community, and you are able to commit the time and effort to work towards that overarching goal. If you have one issue of concern you would like addressed, contact a board member to bring it forward or address the board via visitor comments.
We discussed the 2020-21 / 2021-22 financial considerations presented by Superintendent Joel Whitehurst. A few documents were presented as budget options for the board to consider.
If you have strong feelings about how the board should address our financial considerations, essentially budget reductions, please contact a board member. We will be having a work session on this very topic on March 11. This meeting is open to the public. Please attend if you are interested. Meeting announcements can be found on the school calendar on the WEM website and on the WEM Facebook page under “events.”
We approved the agreement with Socrates Telecom Services for FY 2022 through 2026.
In personnel issues, we approved the resignation of Kortney McKenna, Paraprofessional. We approved the hiring of Matthew Van Houdt, Paraprofessional, and Maurice McCabe, Secondary Math Teacher. According to Dr. Wilson, Mr. McCabe is a Minnesota native who has years of experience teaching in Minnesota and Iowa. He is coming back to his roots in our area and is excited to join the mathematics department at the high school. Mr. McCabe can teach CollegeNow math courses as well. We are excited to have him join the WEM staff in the fall.
We also approved the 2019-2021 agreement with clerical employees with a salary and benefit increase of 3.50% in 2019-20 and 3.50% in 2021-21.
Gary Michael, Chairperson
Note: WEM School Board meetings can be viewed live via Zoom video conferencing, and the recordings for past meetings are available on the website. The agendas and accompanying documents are also available online. 

Upcoming Meetings:
March 11, 2021 6:00 p.m. Work Session
March 22, 2021 6:00 p.m. Regular Meeting
School Board Recognition Week
February 22-26, 2021 is Minnesota School Board Recognition Week sponsored by the Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA). At WEM, we truly appreciate our school board members. Our students benefit every day from their leadership and vision, and we recognize their commitment to giving our students the best education. Please take time to thank these dedicated leaders.

  • Gary Michael, Chairperson
  • Jon Velishek, Vice-Chairperson
  • Travis Bowman, Treasurer
  • Jay Schneider, Clerk
  • Jeff Stangler, Director
  • June Rezac, Director
  • Open, Director (A special election will be held in August 2021 to fill this position.)

Meetings are held via video conference and are open to the public. Check the website to learn more about WEM's school board, including board members' positions, terms, and contact information, upcoming meeting dates, recordings of past meetings, and board policies. See the BoardBook website for meeting agendas and minutes, and links to other documents. 
Snow Week Royalty
On Friday, February 19, WEM crowned a king and queen from the senior class as well as princes and princesses from the junior, sophomore, and freshman classes as part of the inaugural WEM Snow Week, which is February 20-27, 2021 to coincide with National FFA Week. The court was made up of three male and three female candidates from each grade level. They were selected by the teaching staff based on BUCS Pride traits. Each class level’s student body cast ballots for their grade’s royalty.

Congratulations to Snow Week royalty!
  • King Kolin Rients, Queen Lindsay Condon
  • Junior Prince Kyle Schmitz, Princess Paige Atherton
  • Sophomore Prince Gavin Krantz, Princess Jessica Hilpipre
  • Freshman Prince Ahmad Alladin, Princess Lindy Caldwell

Student Recognition
Congratulations to Emma Kuball on her State Degree and being selected as Region VII President 2021-2022 in FFA
Congratulations to Taylor Landrum on his State Degree and 2nd place proficiency in FFA.

Congratulations to Alex Heuss, daughter of Shawn and Brenda Heuss, who has been selected by the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) as a State ExCEL Award Winner. She is one of only 36 students across the state of Minnesota to be chosen for this award. She will be honored during the State Boys and Girls Basketball Tournaments April 6-10, 2021 on 45TV, on MSHSL social media sites beginning mid-March, and on the MSHSL website and publications this spring. Alex is the 4th WEM student ever selected for this honor. The others were Meghan Houlihan in 2008, Jared Pavek in 2018, and Allison Rients in 2020.
Congratulations to Toryn Richards, daughter of Mike and Carrie Richards, who was selected as the recipient of the Subsection 5 Region 2A Triple A Award. After high school, Toryn plans to attend MSU-Mankato to play volleyball and run track & field.
Construction and remodeling projects are ongoing at our schools. Shown here is what will be the new locker rooms looking in from the hallway in Waterville. Several photos were shared in the Winter 2020 issue of Buccaneer Connection, which came out in December. Many more photos were recently shared on WEM's Facebook page. Be sure to follow us to keep up with all the latest news and information.
Early Childhood Screening
Early childhood screening is for children ages 3, 4, and 5 and is required before kindergarten. To sign up, parents should call the elementary office at 507-362-4439. The next event was originally scheduled for March 2 but has been rescheduled to March 3, 2021. There will be another one on April 16, 2021.
I Love to Read Month
February is I Love to Read Month. WEM students celebrated with theme days like "Author Day" (share a book from your favorite author), "Hats off to Reading Day" (wear hats), and "Beach it with Books Day" (wear your beachy style), as well as a day to wear clothes with words on them for others to read, and an all-school read day. There are many photos of these activities on our Facebook page. Shown above is Mrs. Bastian as a guest reader in the Kindergarten Connection class. The first week of March brings Dr. Seuss Week!
Partners in Education
Exciting things are happening with WEM Partners In Education (PIE)! At their recent meeting on Monday, February 22, 2021, attendees elected leaders as follows:
  • Patty Salmon, President
  • Samantha Schwartz, Vice President
  • Anna Johanson, Treasurer
  • Carrie Hackney, Secretary

Stay up-to-date by following the WEM PIE Facebook page. Meetings are held virtually the fourth Monday of the month at 5:00, one hour before the school board meeting. If you would like to get involved with PIE, contact Patty Salmon at psalmon@wem.k12.mn.us
Spring Sports
Registration is now open for all spring athletics. Please register online as soon as possible. All baseball, softball, and track & field practices are scheduled to officially begin on Monday, March 29.
Work with Us!
WEM has several job openings, including the following:

Applications are available on the website or by calling the district office at 507-362-4432.
COVID-19 Updates
At this time, students in all grades are receiving in-person instruction at our schools in Waterville and Morristown. WEM will continue to follow the guidance from Governor Walz, the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Department of Health, and local public health agencies regarding COVID-19 precautions. Student and staff safety is our top priority. Updates will be shared on the district website, social media, and via email. Parents are encouraged to check their email messages often as things may change quickly. Please contact your child's school office if you have any questions.

You may have heard people who work in education have been prioritized to get the COVID-19 vaccine, along with childcare workers and people age 65 and up. We are pleased to say our staff at WEM have been offered many opportunities to sign up, and many have been vaccinated or have received at least their first dose so far. If you want to learn more about vaccination data for our state, go to mn.gov/covid19/vaccine. To be notified when you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and connect to vaccine opportunities in your area, go to mn.gov/vaccineconnector and complete the form.
WEM SD #2143
500 East Paquin Street
Waterville, MN 56096
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