Students adjust to AP English

For several years, Black River Falls High School has given students the opportunity to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes. One of the AP classes available for students is AP English, which is also a class that has gone through many changes in the past five years.

“To prepare for teaching this course, I went to a week-long conference for teachers, and that pointed me in the right direction and gave me a lot of good teaching ideas for the class,” said current AP English teacher Brad Lobenstein.

AP courses are meant to prepare students for college. The classes are challenging and require a big commitment from students.

“The class requires students to go further with their discussion and analysis of literature than they have in any of their other classes,” said Lobenstein. “They need to be motivated and dedicated to doing homework, which may include sizeable reading assignments at various points in the semester. Being just good enough doesn’t really work all that well in an AP class.”

There is a reason why AP classes are college-level classes: students have an opportunity to receive college credit for the class at the end of the year. Before they can receive the college credit, students have to take the Advanced Placement National Exam and earn a score of a three or higher on it.

“To prepare for the National Exam, I am having my students take practice exams. So far, they have taken the multiple choice practice test a couple times, and they have also done a lot of practice essay writing,’ said Lobenstein.

Students themselves prepare for the national exam outside of class as well as in class.

“I go over my practice tests that we did in class at home and then I read some of the poetry that we read in class,” said Lipke.

Throughout the year, students also read different types of literature to help prepare them for the essays that will appear on the National Exam.

“We’ve read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Invisible Man, and we’re going to start reading King Lear,” said senior Liz Lipke.

The reading list has changed with different teachers, however.

“Last year, we read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Heart of Darkness,” said senior Hanna Hodge.

Overall, students have responded well to the class and seem to enjoy it.

“I would recommend this class to other students because it’s very beneficial and you learn useful skills to have,” said Lipke.

Changes in store for Tiger’s Den

The Tiger Den at the Black River Falls is busy getting a lot of business, but will it change during school remodeling?

Tina Gilbertson and the employees have really worked hard with trying to get busy business.

Black River Falls Senior Hannah Shankey plays a role in keeping the school store in line.

“Some positive things about being a school store manager would be seeing the school, clubs, and some sports benefit from the profit of the store. The downside would be cleaning it, and having to make several trips to Burnstads for pick up,” said Shankey.

Hannah is the school manager of the store and is very helpful when she is needed.

Some advice she would give the future managers or workers would be: “Be ready to devote a lot of your time driving to Burnstads, and enjoy the new school store!”

Tina Gilbertson has seen a lot of change over the years with the Tiger Den.

“Since the opening of the Tiger’s Den the student managers and advisers have spent countless hours trying to assess the preferences of the customer while also optimizing the profit for the groups earning the profits from sales,” said Gilbertson.

The Black River Falls High School is going to be in the remodeling process coming up this March.

The school store will be in a new location due to the remodeling of the school.

“The Tiger’s Den will housed in the new Lunda Community Center. There will also be a smaller concessions/school store here at the high school. We are excited about both new locations, however, I’m sure we will run into a few “snags” in the process of re-establishing our set up,” said Gilbertson.

Tom Chambers the Black River Falls Principal states, “For the students that are involved in the running of the Tiger Den, I want them to learn business skills, learn management skills, and organization skills. Also for the students to benefit by having some nice snacks and apparel, t-shirts, hats things like that.”

Garvin wrestles at state

Black River Falls junior Gary Garvin traveled to Madison on February 26 to compete in the WIAA State wrestling meet.

Competition was difficult throughout the tournament, and Gary had a tough opponent right from the start.

“Gary lost to a very good wrestler from Wisconsin Lutheran. In heavy-weight matches things can go either way in a hurry. At one point Gary almost made it out on top, but hisopponent readjusted quickly and ended with the win,” said wrestling coach Steve Markee.

Although Gary’s wrestling season ended more quickly than he had hoped, he has no regrets from the tournament, and took away everything he could have from it.

“I can’t look at this as a loss. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about how I performed. I had a great time with my coaches and fellow teammates and it was an amazing experience that I can take from,” said Garvin.

Gary’s thanked his teammates for all the support throughout the season and also at the tournament.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate. He deserved everything he got this year with his successes. I can see Gary’s determination and work ethic during practice and competition and it motivates me. He makes me better,” said wrestling teammate Tyler Leadholm.

This isn’t the end for Garvin, either. He is taking this experience as motivation for his off-season and next year.

“This definitely fueled me to want to perform better in the future. I’m not satisfied until I’m at that state tournament again next year,” said Garvin. “I’m hungry for the win.”

FFA Chapter Celebrates 75 Years

This year marks the 75 year anniversary of FFA in Black River Falls. FFA held its yearly FFA week February 23-27, which included lots of dedication, hard work, and even some history.

“We do put a lot of work in, we start meeting about a month before, every so often to try to plan out all the activities that we’re going to do,” said Black River Falls FFA Chapter President Eric Markhardt.

Preparing for FFA week and all the activities holds many responsibilities and struggles.

“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into everything. We have to get supplies, we have to get permission, we have to organize with a lot of different individuals. There’s a lot of committee work, and a lot of individual FFA members do all the things like that,” said FFA adviser, Brad Markhardt.

Black River started an FFA organization in 1940 which was run by an ag teacher, Vernon Hanson, and his twenty-seven ag students. Names of those agriculture students were mentioned in PSAs that were aired on WWIS.

“The only thing that we really changed this year was the Public Service Announcements that we did. We changed the wording of those quite a bit because we wanted to highlight the 75 years. What we did was we made six radio PSA’s for WWIS and each of those six took like five or six of the original charter member names and put those into the PSAs,” said Brad Markhardt.

Quite a bit has changed over the past 75 years in our local FFA chapter.

BRF FFA Charter 1940“You’ll notice on the charter there’s all boy names. No girls. Girls weren’t officially a part of FFA until 1969. Also, I will guarantee you virtually all of these guys on the charter became farmers. It started out very focused on the farming side of agriculture. The business side of ag, engineering, science, marketing, those kinds of things have all changed.”

Even though a lot has changed throughout the local chapter’s history, some things didn’t change.

“In our PSA we talked about how some things still haven’t changed. We still learn by doing. That’s always been a hallmark of ag education. We learn stuff by doing. We still earn success, in other words a student has to work for what they receive and service is an important aspect. Back then they would do things to help people out, and we still do things to help people out,” said Brad Markhardt.

FFA week also withholds many great fundraisers for organizations such as Heifer International and The Great American Milk Drive.

“We’re raising money for Heifer International. It’s an organization that gives animals to people in third world countries. Also, a new organization that were donating to this year is called the Great American Milk Drive. What it does is it gives vouchers to food banks for needy families to be able to get milk,” said Brad Markhardt.

FFA week is the time for FFA members to shine. They use the time to promote themselves and hopefully bring in more members.

“There’s a lot of opportunity in FFA. I just hope that we can help more and more students see the neat opportunities that exist in FFA. Things that’ll help them be successful, right now and also in the future.” said Brad Markhardt.

This is the week for members raise awareness and put in lots of effort.

“FFA week is all about raising awareness for FFA. It’s kind of our week to really put forth a lot of effort into showing people who we are and all that we do,” said Eric Markhardt.

FFA week allows members to share who they are and what their mission is.

“It’s about sharing what we do with everyone. We want to let everyone know what we do, what our mission is, giving them information through trivia and sharing our beliefs,” said Vice President Jayden Gjerseth.

Black River Falls High School employees come home

What do teachers, Eli Youngthunder and Tina Gilbertson, and aide, Danielle O’Brien have in common?

Still wondering?

They are all BRFHS graduates.

“Mr. Wrobel, Mr. Boerger, and Mr. Rykken were here, so some good things don’t change. Everything is similar in that manner,” said Eli Youngthunder, who graduated in 1997.

In 1997 they had many of the same clubs and sports that are offered today, but school differed in other ways, too.

“It seems, at least compared to when I was in school, that kids are more accepting of other kids. Students now are more open to saying hello to somebody or lending an open-hand if needed, no matter how little or minor it may seem,” said Danielle O’Brien, who graduated in 1992.

To come back to work at a school where they once went to themselves was a hard transition.

“I have a really hard time calling Mr. Wrobel, Mr. Boerger, and Mr. Rykken by their first names. So every morning when they say ‘Good morning Eli’, I say, ‘Good morning …. Mr. Rykken, Good morning, Too… Mr. Boerger, Good morning, Krr… Mr. Wrobel.’ Old habits like that are kind of hard to get past,” said Youngthunder.

Coming back to work in the same school they grew up in was not something they ever thought would happen.

“I never planned on coming back to Black River Falls. I think most in high school think they are never going to come back to the place that they grew up in. After I graduated, I worked in Sparta for a while and a job opening popped up here and it worked out really well because I like the community. I like what it has to offer. Especially if you are going to have a family, and I actually think that once a tiger always a tiger,” said Tina Gilbertson, who graduated in 1995.

Growing up in a community as tight-knit as Black River can have its laughs.

“Sometimes it’s really funny having students of people I used to hang out with. There have been a couple of students who cracked me up. Once I was sitting in here and this young lady came up and started telling me that she had a picture of me on her fridge. She then went on to say that her mom is dating a high school friend and he’s got a picture of me on the fridge from our high school day, ponytail and all,” said Youngthunder.

Having those students in class can have a different effect.

“This is my 16th year, so I’m getting old enough where if my first students had a baby when I was their teacher I would actually be their student’s teacher. Which makes me have gray hair. That’s a little scary,” said Gilbertson.

All in all, whether they planned to come back or not, they have each made a difference.

“This has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I think feeling like you went home at the end of the day and made a little bit of a difference in someone’s life, whether it just be that hour of that day for one student is a really rewarding feeling,” said O’Brien.