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Outpouring of support saves St. Joseph School in Big Bend

Jan. 29, 2013

Village of Big Bend - St. Joseph School, S89 W22650 Milwaukee Ave.,

will remain open after an announcement last week that it was to close.

Around since 1955, St. Joseph's is one of few remaining Catholic schools serving the Mukwonago area and maintains an enrollment of about 125 students per year in K4 through eighth grade.

St. Joseph's School announced Jan. 22 that it would close after this school year. According to Milwaukee Archdiocese Communications Director Julie Wolf, the school had been looking at advanced projections of budgets and did not see how it could continue to fund the school.

On Thursday, Jan. 24, the school and parish gave families an opportunity to discuss the news at a forum attended by nearly 175 people.

"There was just a huge swell of support from not only current students, but from members of the community and former trustees of the parish," Wolf said.

In what parent Shelly Wohler called "powerful, heartfelt testimony," parents, grandparents and others expressed the meaning of the school to their loved ones, many asking what could be done to save it.

"I believe the thought behind it was 'Give us a chance, and we will make it work!'," Wolf said.

The Rev. Dick Robinson of St. Joseph's Parish said it was heartening to see such energy and passion behind keeping the school going.

Robinson announced at the all-school Mass on Friday, Jan. 25, that the decision had been reversed, and the school would remain open.

"We are committed to the school to remain open. Like a marriage, this commitment is significant and requires work to flourish," Robinson said in a letter home to parents. "The school parents, with guidance from the Parish Council, will be expected to prepare a strategic plan with measurable goals to keep the school viable."

Catholic School's Week kicked off Sunday, and St. Joseph's proceeded with its open house. A followup meeting will be held for parents from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 31 in the parish hall to develop a strategic plan for the future of the school. A second open house will be from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 1, for parents and guests to observe live classroom activities. The school hopes these events will help to promote the value of the education they provide.

"It's the easy decision to keep the school open," Robinson said. "It's the hard part to sustain that decision."

Wolf said the archdiocese also plans to play a roll in helping the school move forward.

"We'll be doing everything we can to help market the value of a Catholic education in the area," Wolf said. "As a community we will work together to help the school be successful."

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Spring Seedling Sale & Greenhouse Open House: 10 a.m. May 23, NuGenesis Farm, N68 W33208 County Road K, Oconomowoc. A variety of organic veggie and herb seedlings to plant in your home or community garden this spring will be for sale. All plant sale profits will benefit the Giving Garden initiative.

Memorial Honor Celebration: 8 a.m. May 23, Wisconsin Harley-Davidson, 1280 Blue Ribbon Drive, Oconomowoc. Daylong event begins with reveille and breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by color guard and the national anthem. The event also includes military and veterans organizations, interactive displays and vehicles, food and beverages and entertainment. Evening showing of “Honor Flight: One Last Mission.” on a big, outdoor screen.

"Small Space Container Gardens" Seminar: 11 a.m. May 23, Ebert’s Greenhouse Village, W1795 Fox Road, Ixonia. Free educational seminar by gardening expert Melinda Myers. Melinda, who will also be available to answer gardening questions. Enter to win a $500 Ebert’s shopping spree with Melinda.

Tyke Hike: 10 a.m. May 23, Lapham Peak State Park, W329 N846, Delafield. Children and their families will hike with a guide and a representative of the Delafield Library will share books, songs and a craft to enhance the experience. Meet at the Lapham Peak Tower. State park sticker is required.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

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