The Highground welcomed over 800 students from 16 schools throughout Central Wisconsin to the Park October 3-6 for their annual Education Days. This event offers students and the public the opportunity to learn more about the history and sacrifices of our military members and families as well as The Highground and its various tributes that honor those who served our country in the 20th and 21st centuries.
This in-depth event requires the dedication of many volunteer presenters and staff. During the “5th Grade Days” part of the event (October 3 and 4), students received a 10-minute presentation at each of The Highground tributes. The presenters gave their 10-minute talks continuously throughout the day as groups of approximately 25 students moved from tribute to tribute. Local presenters were Mary Cichosz, Scott Schultz, Henry Smith, Gabe Yurkovich, Bonnie Pettis, Betty Nemitz, Rhonda Miller, Pete Kern, Jim Henchen, Skip Klabon, Gary Weirauch, Billy Buss, Sharon Tollefson, Julie Diesing and Chris Pettis. Fifth grade students attended from these schools: Loyal, Pittsville, Thorp, Stanley – Boyd, Maple Grove, Athens, Osseo-Fairchild, Colby, Red Creek (Black River Falls), Lincoln (Alma Center, Merrillan, Humbird), Auburndale, Neillsville, Greenwood, and Owen-Withee. There were also a number of home-schooled students who attended the 5th Grade Days portion of Education Days.
Many schools make The Highground Education Days an annual event on their calendar. One teacher stated, “Our students loved the field trip. They learned so much and were given a new perspective on sacrifice.”
The final day of the event was set up differently on Friday, October 6, when The Highground welcomed Middle and High School students from Marathon Venture Academy, Auburndale and Neillsville. That day’s presentations were 30 minutes each. Presenters: Pete Kern spoke to the students about the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and included his personal experiences while serving in these conflicts; UW-Superior Professor Dr. Khalil Dokhanchi gave an interactive presentation on the international refugee experience; Skip Klabon offered a photographic presentation about his service in-country during the Vietnam War; Command Historian of the 88th Readiness Division at Fort McCoy Ward Zischke gave one hour presentations on the Korean War that included a great deal of artifacts; Billy Buss led the students through The Highground Museum to explain the current Vietnam War Exhibit ‘Wisconsin Remembers: A Face for Every Name”; and Troy & Brad Buddenhagen gave a presentation on D-Day during WWII as a Living History—complete with a WWII Jeep.
Although the weather took a turn for the worse during the last two hours of the Friday presentations, the students, teachers and outdoor presenters all persevered through the cold wind and rain to close out a very successful event. The Highground staff, volunteers and schools are all looking forward to the completion of The Highground Expansion project which will create indoor meeting areas for Education Days, other educational offerings and Veteran support programs to be held year-round. More information about The Highground expansion can be found online at campaign.thehighground.us.
The Highground Education Days is made possible through the dedication of volunteers, presenters and financial support. This year’s event was sponsored by John & Donna Koutre and Virginia Stubblefield.