Our mission is to engage all of our students in rigorous and relevant learning to maximize their unique talents and abilities, and to prepare them for the challenges of the future.
April 2018
Best wishes to WHS's Academic Decathlon Team as they compete at Nationals April 19-21.
Dear Parents, Students, Community Members and Friends of Education,

We are proud to announce that Schurz and Lebanon Schools are being recognized for the second consecutive year by the state DPI as Title I Schools of Recognition. Congratulations to our school families, staff and students! We are very proud of our schools' continuous efforts for excellence for all.

The month of April through the end of our school year is filled with many exciting events for our students, staff and families. My favorite day of the year is Graduation, and this year it falls on  June 9. Please join me in congratulating the exceptional Class of 2018! They have been an outstanding class, and we are proud to celebrate their successes as they cross the stage in the WHS field house to receive their hard-earned diplomas.

This year we will hold our annual scholarship program on Monday, May 14 at 7:00 p.m. This event is a wonderful evening when we recognize many of our extraordinarily accomplished and hard-working students. Every year our generous and supportive community awards our WHS seniors more than $400,000 in scholarships. Without the support of our community, many of these young people would not be able to pursue their education – we appreciate and give thanks to our community for all you do to support our students. 

If you are looking for an opportunity to support student scholarships, please consider coming out to the second annual Rotary Wild Goose and Duck Chase on June 22. This event was started by Rotary to provide additional scholarships to our WHS students, and it promises to be a fun evening. Tickets will be available at the event and at the District office.

Budget overview
Many of you have been following the news regarding the WUSD’s budget deficit moving into the 2018-2019 school year of over $1 million. When people learn about our budget deficit, they typically ask: why are we facing this deficit? The most significant reason that the WUSD is facing this budget deficit has been the trend of declining enrollments over the past several years. In 2013-2014 the WUSD had a student population of 3,936 students, and in 2017-2018, we served 3,764 students. We project that in 2020-2021, the WUSD will serve approximately 3,652 students. People then frequently ask: why are our numbers declining? The District has not experienced a spike in our open enrollment out numbers, nor have we seen increased numbers of our students attending our parochial schools – in fact, our parochial schools are struggling with this same issue. The students are simply not in the community, and we are therefore not seeing them come through our schools. 

Compounding the financial implications of our declining enrollments is the fact that the WUSD has been a traditionally low spending District. The WUSD over the past 10 years has spent approximately $1,000 less per student than the average in the State of Wisconsin. Due to our enrollments, being a low spending district and having spent years making reductions, we find ourselves in a situation where we have lean staff and resources and few areas to look to make additional reductions. As a result, the Board of Education is looking at a potential referendum in November of 2018 to address our budget deficit now and in the future. 

Feedback welcome
If you are interested in learning more about our budget challenges, I encourage you to contact Brittany Altendorf, Director of Business Services, your building principal or me. Any of us would be happy to meet with you and/or provide information to you about the budget and our plan moving forward. Additionally, we would welcome your input and feedback. Our vision is excellence for all of our students and families – and while we know we need to work through these challenges, we are committed to continuing to offer an outstanding and comprehensive education to all the students and families we serve.

We are so fortunate in the WUSD to be surrounded by fantastic students, staff and families. The WUSD offers an outstanding education to our students every day while also offering diverse opportunities, a comprehensive curriculum, and a warm and welcoming environment. It is my honor and privilege to be a part of this great District, and thank you for the opportunity to work with your children!

While the school year is rapidly coming to a close, don’t forget that summer school will open its doors on June 19! May you all enjoy a wonderful end of the school year!

Cassandra Schug
Superintendent of Schools
Upcoming Events
  • April 21: Children's Day Fair, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., WHS
  • April 23: RMS Parent-Teacher Conferences, 5:15 to 7 p.m.
  • April 23: Induction Ceremony, 7-7:45 p.m., WHS
  • April 26: Douglas Grades 3-5 Learning Showcase
  • May 3: Lincoln Family STEM Night, 3:30-7 p.m.
  • May 5: Junior Prom, 8 to 12 p.m., WHS
  • May 12: Massed Band Concert, 7:30 p.m., WHS
  • May 19: Vocal "Pops" Concert, 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., WHS
  • May 24: RMS Band Concert, 6:30-8 p.m.
  • May 28: No School - Memorial Day
  • May 29: Art Walk Downtown
  • May 31: RMS Orchestra Concert, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • June 7: Last Day of School - Early Release at 11:30 a.m.
  • June 9: WHS Graduation, 10 a.m.
  • June 19: 1st day of Summer School
  • June 22: Rotary Wild Good and Duck Chase

See WUSD calendars to find spring concerts, school events and 2017-18 district annual calendar
Nominate a Distinguished Alumnus
It's time to submit nominations for our annual Distinguished Alumni Award! Nominations are due May 1. See our nomination criteria and fill out the nomination form. The award is presented during fall Homecoming festivities. The alumni award was created to provide role models for our current students and offer us a chance to celebrate the successes of those who have graduated from our school.
Enhancing Teaching and Learning for Every Child - Every Day
WUSD Talent Development Plan Challenges Advanced Learners
Did you know that the WUSD has a Talent Development Plan detailing how the WUSD meets the needs of our advanced learners? You can see the plan here.

Our K-12 staff members work diligently to meet the needs of every student. We recognize that all children learn and experience success, given time and opportunity. But the degree to which academic content standards are met and the time it takes to reach the standards will vary from student to student. The WUSD believes that all students, including advanced learners, should be challenged and supported to reach their full potential.

If you would like more information about the ways in which our schools meet the needs of advanced learners, please contact Kathy Kennon at kennonk@mywusd.org. Our next meeting to review updates to this plan will be Monday, April 16 at 5:30 p.m. in the LGI at Riverside Middle School. All families are invited to attend.
Dual Language Program Makes Strides in Curriculum and Staffing
Watertown continues to be a pioneer in the State of Wisconsin as one of only a small number of districts across the state offering a dual language program. Our dual language program is in its fifth year at Schurz School, and it remains a popular opportunity for our students and families.

So what is a dual language program? Dual language programs enroll a balanced number of native English-speaking students and students who come from, in the case of Watertown, Spanish-speaking homes. These two groups of students then learn together to become bi-literate – able to speak, read and write in both Spanish and English – by the end of the fifth grade. This program presents a fantastic opportunity for students who come from English-speaking homes and students who come from Spanish-speaking homes to incur all the benefits of being bi-literate in their futures.

Over the past year, the dual language team at Schurz has been hard at work updating the program’s mission, vision and goals:

The mission of the dual language program is to provide equity through rigorous and relevant educational opportunities in both the Spanish and the English language, promote bi-literacy and biculturalism, create positive relationships among students from different backgrounds and support students’ language development.”

The vision of the dual language program is that it extends from 4k through 12th grade and upon graduation students receive the Seal of Bi-literacy. The dual language model creates an additive bilingual environment, allowing students to acquire a second language while maintaining and developing their native language. 

The goal of the dual language program is to provide equity by closing the opportunity and achievement gap for students whose native language is not English. In addition, all of our dual language students, regardless of native language, will become bi-literate, bilingual and bicultural. The program fosters the development of globally minded citizens in a safe and engaging learning environment.

Biculturalism and Bi-literacy are Focuses
The team believed it was important to include biculturalism as a main focus, as well as becoming bi-literate. Ann Campanella explains why very simply by saying, “One of the benefits of being bi-cultural is simply the awareness that how you live is not the only way.”

Challenges Remain to Find Additional Staff, Materials
One challenge we are still trying to overcome is how to best meet the needs of students who are struggling academically in our program. Bilingual Title, Special Education and Speech and Language staff are hard to find. In addition, intervention materials that are normed on bilingual children are even more difficult to find. Our hope is that with such a strong movement across our country for dual language education, bilingual assessments and interventions will become available. 

We are continually working to improve our program. As we look ahead to next year, we plan to continue working on our scope and sequence, integrating thematic units using GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) strategies and collaborating with the monolingual classes on how they can incorporate these strategies to benefit the ELL students in their rooms. We truly appreciate all of the support from staff and administration!

We continue to be excited to offer this dual language program in Watertown for our students and families. We are thrilled to have experience successes, and are always targeting the next steps to continuous improve and refine our program.

If you have questions or are interested in enrolling in the dual language program at Schurz School, please contact Schurz Principal, Andy Bare at 920-262-1485.
WHS Academic Decathlon Team Advances to Nationals
Athletes who compete in the Olympics Decathlon's 10 track and field events are highly renowned for their endurance and perseverance. Those same traits were displayed by WHS’s Academic Decathlon team members as they prepared for competitions this year. 

United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) is a national academic program that centers around one theme for the entire year. Decathletes compete in the following 10 categories: science, social science, math, literature/novel, art, music, essay, economics, prepared speech and impromptu speech, as well as an interview. In recent years the topics of study have been Russia, India, World War II and this year, Africa. 

Decathletes Study Intensive Curriculum
All 10 categories of testing center around the given theme and USAD publishes an official, extensive curriculum that consists of well over 1,000 pages of reading material. Example questions on this year’s tests have included knowing the origin legend of the African kente cloth, the number of genes in Ebola’s RNA, and why Amadou Bamba founded a new Sufi group in Senegal.

We are proud and honored to coach this group of truly special kids as they are now on their way to Texas for the National Academic Decathlon competition. The team includes Michaela Suski, Maddy Zingler, and Cora Roost in the “Honors” category; Billy Kitzhaber is the alternate for that group.  Laurence Byrne, Solomon Vana, and Jared Wehking make up the “Scholastic” category; and Jared Elias, Nic Heiden, and Alex Thompson compete in the “Varsity” category, with Aubrey Kuehl as the alternate. (Categories are determined by GPA.)

Decathlon Club Becomes a Class
Nine years ago Academic Decathlon came to Watertown High School as an extracurricular group. As we continued to work and word spread that it was highly competitive and interesting, it became so popular that we made it a class. This gave us more time to work with the kids, to help them study the mountain of material they need to learn for the tests, as well as help them prepare for the public speaking events and the essay writing. 

Three years ago Kris Meloy and Pam Suski joined me ( Chris Kemp) to round out the teaching/coaching staff. This year 32 students competed for those coveted nine spots on the competition team. 

A total of 108 teams representing 57 schools compete at local and regional tourneys, with 20 teams earning a spot to compete at State. WHS has made it to state six times but has never been able to clinch a state title outright. Prior to this year, only one school from each state could move on to Nationals - the overall highest scoring school. The USAD recently changed the rules to allow high-scoring states to take a second team to Nationals, if that team is in a different division than the overall highest team. 

Record Scores at State Despite Narrow Loss to Wilmot
Last year’s WHS team narrowly lost to Wilmot at the state competition. This year’s team wanted redemption. At State the team members won 25 separate medals as the top scorers in different categories, as well as earning first place team awards in Speech and Mathematics and a second place team award in Super Quiz. Michaela Suski was the overall top scorer in the entire state, setting a new record for the highest score ever earned. Maddy Zingler placed fourth and Cora Roost was the seventh place overall, which rounded out their dominance in the “Honors” category. Jared Ellias was the third highest and Nic Heiden was the fifth highest scorer in the state in the “Varsity” category. Overall, Wilmot placed first in the state, but WHS narrowly lost by only 497 points, with a final score of 47,221. 

Wilmot and Watertown Advance to Nationals
Due to the change in rules, Watertown will now also advance to the National Competition April 19-21 in Texas. While this may seem daunting, Watertown has a good shot of placing high at Nationals. Considering the high scores students have already earned, and that Wilmot has placed first or second in D2 at Nationals in the last three years, Watertown is certainly a top competitor. 

The students are so excited to compete at the larger level. It has been truly rewarding for all three coaches to learn with these highly-talented students. We have never been more proud of a group of students and would like to express our belief that these kids are products of the entire Watertown Unified School District. They arrived in our class already well-rounded, eager scholars based upon the work of district personnel from the 4K level to WHS.

The entire school district and community should be immensely proud of these kids. We can think of no better representatives of our community.
Developing People and Partnerships
Alumni Spotlight on Leah Klotz
Webster 1st Grade Teacher, 1998 WHS Alumnus

I was born and raised in Watertown and had countless outstanding teachers in my schooling. I graduated from WHS in 1998. (How can that be 20 years ago already?!?!) I planned to have a career in culinary arts but changed my major to elementary education after realizing I wanted to impact students the way my teachers had positively influenced me.

Why did you come back to Watertown/the school district?
I came back to Watertown after getting my undergraduate degree at UW-Whitewater because I’ve always loved living here and feel connected to the community. When I was offered a kindergarten teaching position in the very classroom I was once a kindergartener, I felt like I won the lottery! My eight years as a kindergarten teacher at Lincoln felt natural and exciting. During that time I earned my master’s degree in reading from UW-Stout. When Webster had a first grade teacher position available, I was ready for a new challenge. This is my sixth year in first grade. 

My students continue to amazing me with their tremendous growth socially and academically. I have added a math focus in the last few years, and am qualified to train other districts in the Everyday Math program. I also became the K-2 math curriculum coordinator so I can teach teachers in the district about math instruction.  

What’s most different from then and now? 
The thing that has changed the most since I was in school is the expectation we have for young learners. What I learned in first grade and what first graders learn now is vastly different. There was more time for creative projects and play when I was a student. I appreciate that our students are capable of amazing things, but I also long for flexibility to give kids time to be kids.     

What is your favorite memory from your school days?
One of my favorite memories from school is performing in holiday programs. I remember being involved as an early elementary student at Lincoln, singing “Blue Christmas” in a trio at Schurz, playing the tuba at Riverside, and singing in the Carolers at the St. Bernard’s concert. Being in front of an audience is something I’ll never forget! Now I get to enjoy watching students perform in their holiday programs. 

Advice for anyone wanting to become a teacher or get into the field of education?
My advice for anyone who wants to become a teacher is to begin by forming relationships with students. The content that educators teach over the years may change, but the one thing that will stay the same is the need to be connected to our learners. Relationships are everything in this line of work. 

Tell us something about yourself - family, kids, hobbies
My husband Brad is an instrumental music teacher at the middle school in Lake Mills and he did his student teaching with the excellent music department in Watertown. We both benefitted from the expertise of the educators in the WUSD. He is also the drummer in a band and I enjoy watching him perform on weekends and in the summer. I also like to work out at the YMCA, read, bake and spend time with my parents. My husband and I also enjoy traveling whenever we get the chance. 

Anything else you might like to share?
I enjoy working with some of the same people I had as teachers during my years in the Watertown schools. It’s nice to be able to give back to a community that has given me so much.
Certified Staff Spotlight on Hillary Lobenstein
Language Arts Teacher at WHS

I grew up in Watertown, and I attended Lincoln, Schurz, Riverside Middle School, and the old Watertown High School. I graduated from WHS in 1994. When the bell rang on my last exam, I was helping Lee Buescher pack up chemistry equipment to ship it to the new high school. Little did I know that I was headed for the new high school myself!

I attended UW-Madison and graduated in 1999. I had many opportunities when I was at UW. The most important lesson I learned when I was there: advocate for yourself. I landed my first job in Boca Raton, Florida at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy. I learned a lot about Judaism as well as teaching middle school English. I returned to Watertown after attending the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in the winter of 2001. From then on, I was a substitute teacher in the district. In May of 2002, there was a position open in the high school English department, and I landed the job.

I married my husband in July of 2007. Grady was born in November of 2008, and Audra was born in June of 2010. Grady loves football, legos and American history. Audra loves basketball, crafts and Girl Scouts. My parents, Randy and Barb Phelps, are amazing individuals and dedicated community leaders; I admire them greatly for their work within the Watertown community.

What do you love most about your work at WUSD?
I love working with my colleagues. I enjoy working with my former teachers. I have so much respect for Pam Suski; she is a dynamic leader and teacher. Patty Jansen knows that I still need to improve my skills in throwing and catching a softball. Rusty Tiedemann taught me health when I was fifteen years old. Diane Schultz directed my high school plays, and she is now my classroom neighbor. Thank goodness we are both boisterous individuals. I appreciate the camaraderie with fellow colleagues. I enjoy being challenged by them intellectually, as well as in my teaching practice. They continue to help me grow as an educator. I am thankful for all of the additional opportunities I have been given within the Watertown Unified School District. I am the WHS forensics coach. In the past, I was one of the student council advisors. I have been fortunate to work alongside Jana Strobel to create the WHS Gosling Nest. I have attended incredible conferences that have changed my ideas about teaching.

Most importantly, I love working with all students. I love the challenging students, the questioning students, the struggling students and the academically motivated students. Everyday is an opportunity for learning to transform and grow as an educator. I enjoy laughing with students, as well as experiencing their up and downs with them. I enjoy working with parents and families to help their students grow as learners, as citizens and as young adults.

Share a favorite school success story.
One student struggled in school both academically and behaviorally when I had him as a freshman. Now, I have the student again as a junior, and he is making incredibly strides in both academics and as a mature young man. Just yesterday, he was volunteering answers and truly participating in an in-depth discussion on The Great Gatsby. He has come so far. He has grown into a polite and kind individual; I am so proud of how far he has come. I am certain his future is bright! I look forward to seeing how he continues to grow and mature into his senior year and beyond.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.
I was a whitewater raft guide in North Carolina and Tennessee for many summers. I guided on the Nantahala, French Broad and Pigeon Rivers. Teaching is much like guiding a raft. Your students or guests need to listen to you, follow directions and perform certain skills or actions. Otherwise, your classroom or raft may be flipped upside down in a Class IV rapid. Some guests need to be rescued if they swim, just as some students need extra support.

When your students and/or colleagues talk about you, what do you hope they would
I hope they would say that I’m a dedicated teacher and a relentless advocate for all students.

Any piece of advice?
First of all, stay focused on helping students grow and mature as learners and as individuals. Second, keep a sense of humor. One never knows what will happen next....
Support Staff Spotlight on Kim Putz
Clerical Students Services at Riverside Middle School

I grew up in Wausau Wisconsin (up north!) and have an Elementary Ed degree from Minnesota. I taught in Nebraska for a year, and then four years of Early Childhood Ed. After that, I married Todd and moved with him to Leesburg, Virginia. We've been back in Wisconsin since 1989 and have two children and their two spouses, five AFS children, and one grandchild! I've worked at Riverside Middle School in several different positions for quite a while now.

What do you love most about your work at WUSD? 
I love the people I work with: their dedication to their students and the caring that they try to provide their students warms my heart and gives me fresh energy every day.

Share a favorite school success story. 
I've loved how our RMS students read every day in so many ways and so many places; it is so much more focused and evident and celebrated than I remember, way back when I began working at WUSD.

Share a surprising fact about yourself. 
I'm actually a quiet person, unless something needs to get done or needs an advocate!

When your students and/or colleagues talk about you, what do you hope they would say?
I hope they would say that I'm someone to come to when they have a question. If I don't have the answer, I will find out who does.

Any piece of advice?
:-) Plan to be a lifelong learner! That way you'll always find new paths in the world and land on your feet.
Watertown Unified School District | 920-262-1460 |  www.watertown.k12.wi.us