Edgewood, Whitnall Schools Earn Chamber of Commerce's Top Honors

Edgewood Elementary will be honored three times at the chamber's banquet this week, and the Wisconsin Athletic Club will be named business of the year.

 A school recognized by the state last summer for its efforts to promote positive and respectful relationships and experiences earned a clean sweep of the district’s portion of the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 awards.

Edgewood Elementary School principal Sue Sterner was named the district’s educator of the year; fifth-grader Allison Mech was named student of the year and Linda Vopal is the volunteer of the year. All three will be among those honored by the chamber at its annual awards banquet Thursday

Sterner, who was nominated by her entire staff, has been principal for three years after teaching fourth grade at the school. She initiated the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports two years ago, a program that emphasizes the “ready, respectful and responsible” Edgewood motto, and is visible to students, parents and staff.

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Mech was the driving force behind the school’s Box Tops for Education committee, often giving up her recess to process the submitted Box Tops and helping raise more than $5,000 the school used to help purchase a SmartBoard and 50 playground balls.

Mech recently spoke in front of the student body about collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House, brought in containers and spearheaded that process.  She is also on the Edgewood School Safety Patrol and plays fast-pitch softball.

The third Edgewood winner is Vopal, who donates her time to support students and faculty by correcting papers, setting up classrooms for the new school year, working with small groups in the classroom and participating in other school activities.

More school awards

Most of this year’s Chamber of Commerce banquet, to be held Feb. 28, at the Knights of Columbus, 3200 S. 103rd St., will have a school theme as all but one of the award winners – Wisconsin Athletic Club, the business of the year – have school ties.

Whitnall High School representatives hauled in a pair of awards.

Senior Leah Jenk was named the district’s student of the year. Over the past two years, she has served as the unofficial school photographer, covering dozens of events. When she’s not shooting photos, she participates in three sports – swimming, powerlifting and softball – is a member of the National Honor Society, AFS and Mu Alpha Theta (math honor society), and created videos for various groups and the new high school stadium scoreboard.

In addition, the art department of second-year teachers Joe Bruns, Lucy Derickson and Jessica Breske were chosen as the district’s educators of the year for not only raising the expectations of art students to go beyond the creation of art and truly understand the history and methods of art but also for tying all three school levels together.

Among the initiatives the trio has implemented are:

  • High school students have created painted sculptures inspired by drawings done by second-gradcrs. Once the sculptures were completed, the high school students visited the elementary school to exchange artwork and visit over ice cream. This year, the middle school participated by providing painting collages of the sculptures.
  • High school creative writing students wrote children’s books that were then illustrated by art students. The books were professionally printed and are now available for elementary students to check out.

There were two other Whitnall winners. Groundskeeper James Frami won the public employee of the year award, given annually to a school district or city employee. Frami has been with the Whitnall School District for 32 years.

And Gilbert Frenn, of Frenn Photography in West Allis, was the district’s volunteer of the year for opening his business to district art students and donating thousands of professional quality photos.

The business of the year is ...

The chamber’s business of the year award will go to the Wisconsin Athletic Club and general manager Molly Anderson. Those who nominated WAC lauded its commitment to family fitness, its community outreach and its commitment to making a difference through fundraisers that benefited the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Hunger Task Force and many other organizations.


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