Thank you for the opportunity to share my post high school experiences with you.
I really didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I was going to do after graduation from high school. My parents had always expected that my three brothers and I would go on to college, and we all did, and all graduated, me from Northland College in Ashland; Mike from Ojibwa College in Minnesota, (he also speaks fluent Ojibwa and Spanish); Butch from UW LaCrosse, (he also was a medic in Vietnam for two years); and Jeff from UWGB. Jeff received a master’s degree in Nonprofits, from Case Western in Cleveland, Ohio; also. (No pride, there, of course!)
Besides this “push” from my parents, a teacher who had attended Northland College in Ashland decided that it would also be a good fit for me. I didn’t apply to any other schools…just Northland, and was accepted, with an academic scholarship!!! I was on my way and very happy about it.
Now you’d think that that would be the end of it, but it was only the beginning of very much of a culture shock. Growing up in Amberg, attending high school in Wausaukee, only traveling as far as Chicago on one of the few trips my family ever took, did not prepare me for life at Northland. I would guess that at least 80 per cent of the student body was from out of state, most of them from the east coast. Most of them from very affluent families, and of course, that did not include me. And from the very first day I had to adapt to and assimilate myself into this “new normal.” These are things you do not expect, these new social norms, but they are at least as important to learn as what you get in the classroom, perhaps even more. Most of my friends had beautiful wardrobes, and the boys had money to spend, but not me. I remember that my mother sent me five dollars a week in spending money, but it’s not as bad as it seems, as the cheeseburgers in the student union only cost 35 cents, and taps at the bar at Cabbies downtown were only a nickel. Once comfortable with the new friends I’d made, and after joining the Delta Zeta sorority and having sorority sisters, I was able to settle in and enjoy my experiences there. The man I eventually married taught me how to ski and sail, which created more friends. At that time Northland had only about 400 students, so I knew pretty much who everyone was and I think everyone knew me. It was almost like a very big high school.
Perhaps kids today know much more about the world, and have more opportunities, but back in 1965, except for knowing I was going to college, not much thought had been given as to how exactly I would support myself after my four years. I had some fuzzy notion of being a poet. (Not kidding!!)
Naturally the five dollars a week was not going to pay for skis and clothes, so I had to work, as well as go to school full time. My varied jobs included secretarial work for the French professor, work in the French language lab, and assistant teacher at the public school, all of which I loved. It wasn’t hard to find time to do all of this, as my dorm was female only (I met my roommate, Melanie Huempfner there), and we had to be in by 10:30 pm Sunday through Thursday nights, and 12:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays. (Again, not kidding). We had a live-in “dorm mother” who made sure we were at curfew and tucked in, and who sewed on buttons for us!
After two years at Northland, my soon to be husband transferred to the University of Miami in Miami, Florida where he studied oceanography. For the first semester of our junior years, I attended UW Stevens Point, and then moved to Miami and worked for an attorney. We both transferred back to Northland for our senior years. By this time I had settled on education as a profession, but didn’t have enough credits for that, so I got my bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in French. I had to take a few courses after I was married, and my husband got a master’s in marine geology from Hofstra University.
Fast forward to 1980, after a marriage, a baby, and a divorce. I had been living on Long Island, and moved back to Amberg with my son, Henry. I worked for another attorney for about a year, then at the Courthouse in Marinette in the Emergency Government and 4-H departments, all while taking education courses at UWGB. I finally had enough credits to be certified to teach. I talked to Henry about it one day and he said, “Well, Mom, you’d better start teaching because you’re no spring chicken.” That hit me hard, and within two weeks I had submitted my resignation to the County, and started substituting. That was in May, and by August I had a job teaching fifth grade at Pembine, where I taught for 20 years before retiring in 2012. I was 47 before I had my first teaching assignment!!!!
Now that I’m retired, I realize that all those years spent being a mother and teaching left me little time for hobbies. So as of today, I am not much of a hobby person, although I do like to make gifts for friends over Christmas, especially. I teach French at the public library once a week, and I babysit. Oh, I LOVE to give tea parties and dinner parties for friends! I am KNOWN for my tea parties!
Traveling is probably my favorite thing to do, besides being with children. I have been to: France (once with my Pembine French class), Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the Bahamas, some of them several times. In the US I’ve been to as far north as Maine, as far south as Florida, as far east as the Atlantic Ocean, and this summer I’ll be going as far west as I can remember because my “teacher friends” and I are going to go to South Dakota. I really want to see the buffalo!!
Lastly, a bit about high school. My favorite subject was math, especially Algebra. That may have been because of a very favorite teacher, Mr. Roberts, who was so patient and encouraging, and when you got to the point where you just couldn’t come up with an answer, he would tell you what it was and show you how to get it, even on a test!! I was an introvert, but joined the French Club and sang in the chorus, just to be sociable. And I had one line in the senior class play!!!! Some people talked me into being a majorette one year even though I constantly dropped my baton during parades. I’m convinced that the only reason I was plucked was because I was the only girl who could squeeze into the uniform!!!I had a very sweet, understanding, and protective boyfriend who took me to all the proms and Homecomings, and out every single Saturday night, and for that I am very grateful. A group of girlfriends still meet every few months for lunch: Barb Perry McClellan, Maryanne Biernasz LaViolette, Jill Wright Leslie, Gloria Vertz Kafka, Jane Sebro Buchholtz, Maralyn Lundberg Heim, and Lin Jenson Wittman. Outside of school I helped out at my parents’ grocery store in Amberg and babysat, but spent a lot of time by myself, dreaming and reflecting, which I feel children to not do enough of these days.
Growing up in a small town, knowing the same people most of my life, molded by values that have always stayed with me, have made me the person I am today, and have given me the impetus to give back in any way that presents itself to me.
About WAEF Alumni Connections
Wausaukee Alumni Education Foundation (WAEF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that was founded in 2019 by a caring group of WHS Alumni and School Administration. We believe Rangers helping Rangers will enrich the K-12 student experience at the School District of Wausaukee.
Alumni Connections spotlight the diversified paths Ranger Alumni have taken after HS graduation. We belong to an engaging and impactful community! If you're willing to share your story or a school memory, please email email@example.com.