Thank you Founders and Donors to the Wausaukee Alumni Education Foundation for reminding we alumni of our WHS years.
Since 1975, my name has been Mary Lynn Bennett, but I was born Mary Lynn Orlando. I lived in Wausaukee with my parents Frank and Pauline Orlando on our farm, on the corner of Hwy 180 and 141 from 1950-1968.
I clicked on the Wausaukee Alumni Education Foundation website after Rosie Figas ( WHS ’67) talked to her classmate Marty Messar (WHS ’67), who then called his cousin, me ( WHS ’68). No matter where you go in life, the networking of small towns still works.
What did Wausaukee give me that determined my life’s path?
A love of languages and respect for people’s differences.
My generation, all 49 WHS graduates of the class of the 1968 spoke English. But some of my friends’ parents and grandparents spoke German, Polish, Italian, or Russian, in addition to English. My mom spoke Slovenian to Grandma Messar. Eddie Kokozka’s mom taught us Silent Night in German and Polish in second grade.
Why is that important? Because Wausaukee taught me to understand accented English and love the sound of languages, my life has come full circle, beginning and ending with immigrants. Love of languages has taken me to Spain and Mexico, into high school classrooms, onto manufacturing floors with my own business, Bilingual Skills Services, finally into founding a nonprofit, Casa Guadalupe Education Center. Thank you Wausaukee High School. WAEF, please accept my donation of to this nonprofit, Wausaukee Alumni Education Foundation (www.waefi.org).
Alumni, I would ask you to remember Wausaukee High School by sharing your stories, visiting the alumni association webpage and then making a donation. (www.waefi.org)
Thank you Wausaukee and WHS.
Mary Lynn (Orlando) Bennett Class of 1968
Mary Lynn Bennett '68
Mary Lynn (Orlando) Bennett, WHS Class of 1968, earned her BS degree in education at UW-Stevens Point (1972). Majoring in English and Spanish, she studied at La Escuela Diplomatica, the University of Madrid, Spain (1970) and continued her post graduate studies in Puebla, Mexico (1974) and Cuernavaca, Mexico (1993, 1997). Mary Lynn taught Spanish and English from 1972-1978 at Campbellsport High School.
She later completed the 2008 Latino Nonprofit Leadership Program offered by the Roberto Hernandez Center, University of Milwaukee, Milwaukee WI.
Ms. Bennett founded Bilingual Skills Services in 1996. She worked on the floor of manufacturing for the next ten years, creating and training customized Workplace Productivity English, designed to increase the manufacturing productivity of the multilingual workforce. She spoke at seminars on Cross Cultural Team Building to manufacturers and spoke at various state conferences, speaking on the need for community cross cultural competency.
In 1996, Ms. Bennett began to advocate for the emerging Mexican immigrant community creating The Washington County Hispanic Outreach, a coalition of native Spanish and English speaking community leaders. In 2006, this group created a new nonprofit, Casa Guadalupe Education Center of West Bend WI. Its mission was to be a bridge of integration through education and Catholic Faith Formation. Ms. Bennett was appointed Executive Director, but the Latino Community called her ‘La Maestra” (The Teacher).
Ms. Bennett retired from Casa Guadalupe Education Center in 2011. She served on the Board of United Way of Washington County, She is an active board member of the Kettle Moraine YMCA since 2012, receiving the YMCA Leadership Award of Excellence in 2020 from Wisconsin/UP. Michigan State YMCAs.
Mary Lynn, married Dan Bennett in 1975. They had three children: Thomas, Erica and Christine. Mary Lynn’s husband Dan died unexpectedly, of pancreatic cancer in 2012. She has 5 grandchildren.