The Flambeau School Board voted 6-1 at its May meeting to accept a bid for new bleachers from NorthStar in the amount of $97,279.

The new bleachers will increase safety and include a railing in the center and be handicap accessible.

Board member Mike Schuetz voiced concern for the cost of the project. In considering the costs of the recall election and an increase in health care premiums, said Schuetz, the bleachers were not a good idea at this time.

The school could save approximately $10,000 in the cost of the project if the school removed the old bleachers instead of NorthStar. Board member Ruth Opachan said doing this would “be a good way to get the community to pitch in and reduce the cost” adding that kids could earn community service hours for helping and being involved.

Also at the meeting, middle school teacher Todd Roehl presented to Flambeau School Board at its May meeting, a student spotlight of this year’s seventh grade students who completed legacy projects. Also, board members approved the purchasing of new gymnasium bleachers and a teacher spoke during the open forum about the urgency of improving teacher retention.

Seventh graders have been completing the legacy project for each of the last five years and is a good way, according to Roehl, to develop skills, build connections and becoming involved in the community. Unique to Flambeau, the project allows students to be paired up with a resident at Ladysmith Care Community and build the project around that resident’s life.

Students meet with their legacy partner twice, once at the beginning to interview their partner about their life, and once at the end to present their project.

After the first meeting, students work on writing a biography, which includes pictures; create a poster, poem, timeline and a family tree of their legacy partner. The project requires lots of editing and students work diligently to honor their legacy partner, said Roehl.

The legacy projects are presented to their partner and their partner’s family who genuinely appreciate the work and insight into the life of the individual. The projects are especially appreciated in the memory care ward where they are used a therapy to help the individual remember their own past.

While the social interaction is tough for some kids, the project is “one of the best things we do in middle school. It teaches the kids to give back,” said Roehl.

The legacy project is an opportunity to build connections with people in their community.

The legacy project also has high expectations are students are held accountable. Students earn either an A or an F for their effort. If a student fails to complete the project, they are expected to meet with their legacy partner and their family to explain why. Roehl said “this is how it works in real life.”

Roehl believes this project makes Flambeau Middle School unique. “We do things no one else does…the students learn that it’s not about them.”

Concerned about teacher retention, teacher Chris Schwaller spoke during the open forum and urgently asked for a plan to provide more incentive, support and compensation for teachers at Flambeau. Schwaller said there is no pay scale or schedule but consistency needs to be a priority.

Schwaller said his “intention is to make sure kids succeed” and that he does not intend to leave but there needs to be a willingness to make changes for the better.

The next Flambeau school board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 19.

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