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Pecatonica

Alumni

Welcome to PECATONICA'S PRIDE: SPOTLIGHT ON PEC ALUMNI. We are proud of our graduates, their accomplishments, and the interesting and productive lives they are leading. We invite you to read the stories of how their experiences at Pecatonica have influenced their lives and careers.

If you are a Pec graduate and have not received an alumni survey but would like to share your story, please contact Irene Middlemas at imiddlemas@pecatonica.k12.wi.us  or follow this link to complete the survey online. Please also email a photo to Irene Middlemas to use with the profile. The photo does not need to be a head and shoulders shot, we can crop and resize any photo that clearly shows your face.

Enjoy!


Lakyn (Norton) Crist
Class of 2006

Post high school education: Bachelor of Science: and Doctor of Chiropractic: Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, IA

Current Job: : Chiropractor at Crist Chiropractic Center, New Mexico.

The best part of my job is: Working with kids and families, helping them to reach their innate potential.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? Sledding on the hill at recess in Hollandale.

Activities you were part of in High School? Forensics, FFA, Volleyball, Wrestling, Softball, Future Problem Solving, National Honor Society.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life? Met some wonderful friends.

Justin Leonard
Class of 2001

Post high school education: I attended the University of Wisconsin-Platteville where I earned a degree in physical education and health in 2006. While earning my degree I was a member of the football team. After completing my undergrad I was a graduate assistant coach for UWP's football team and earning my masters in secondary education in 2008. I recently earned a license in cross-categorical special education in the spring of 2012.

Current Job: : I am currently a special education teacher for Cuba City High School. I also am an assistant coach for the football team.

The best part of my job is: The positive influence that I can have on a young persons life.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? The teachers were very personable and always wanted to see you succeed. As a student, I felt that failure in the classroom and in extra-curriculars was not an option. I learned from many teachers that hard work and dedication will take you anywhere you want to go.

Activities you were part of in High School? Football, Track , Basketball

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life? I was influenced by many of my teachers and coaches. They shaped my life into what it is today. I want to thank them for the success that I have experienced. Thank You

Cher (Chandler) Schliem
Class of 1985

Post high school education: UW Platteville K-12 Physical Education/Health, Edgewood College 7-12 Special Education

Current Job: : Exceptional Education Needs teacher at Pecatonica grades 6-12. Middle School Student Council Advisor
Middle School Musical/Play Director

The best part of my job is: .....working with a wide variety of students who have individual strengths/challenges and helping them understand and embrace both. Watching kids learn and grow is an awesome, daily adventure.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? I have always felt so fortunate to grow up in this small community and attend school at Pec. Being with the same small group of friends and classmates can form some pretty special bonds. There were endless extra curricular opportunities at my feet. The teachers not only challenged me, but also really cared. Our school has been blessed with good people, great traditions, and a unique sense of pride. For all of these reasons and more, I feel grateful to spend my past, present, and future days closely connected to Pecatonica Schools.

Activities you were part of in High School? Band/Chorus, Forensics, Volleyball, Softball, Drama, Cheerleading, Basketball

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life? First, try and find the positive in every experience. Embrace opportunities as they come along. End results may not be as predicted, but the main thing is that you tried. Some of the most challenging things in life often teach the best lessons. Good people let their actions do the talking. Who you are has a lot to do with where you are from. Family and friends should be treasured forever. And finally, be proud of your journey!

Kathy (Dammen) Thronson
Class of 1988

Post high school education: BS Elementary Education UW Whitewater; MS Curriculum and Instruction National Louis University

Current Job: Currently, I am a 5th grade teacher in Mt. Horeb, WI. I teach in a self contained classroom, which means I teach all subjects. I have been in Mt. Horeb since I graduated from college. It is a great community and school!

The best part of my job is: I love working with kids. The best part of my job is seeing a student understand and learn new things. I love the light bulb moments! I also love that some former students still will say hello or come in to visit me long after 5th grade is complete! 5th graders are great because they are young enough to still like their teacher and old enough to follow more than one direction, and they usually get my jokes! I've always wanted to make a difference.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? Some of the best things about going to PEC was the great teachers. Mrs. Syse made me want to be a teacher! I also enjoyed knowing everyone in the school (a unique part of a small school) and the friendships that I made. Since it was a small school, I was involved in many activiities, as well. Mr. Weimiller's classes were always great. Show me your pencils! My favorite subject to teach is math! Thanks, Mr. Weimiller!

Activities you were part of in High School: Band/Chorus, Volleyball, Softball, Drama, Cheerleading

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life? Because of my school experience, I have the career that I do! I was inspired by many teachers at PEC. I feel that I learned how to work hard to reach my goals. I also learned how to be a true friend.

 

Becky Johnson
Class of 1987

Post high school education: BS in Accounting from UW - Platteville

Current Job: Owner of Johnson Accounting, Blanchardville

The best part of my job is: Being able to do what I love with the flexibility of being my own boss

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? The camaraderie between students and staff that comes with a small school, Mr. Wiemiller's Math classes and Mrs. Bacon's Accounting classes

Activities you were part of in High School: Band/Chorus, Forensics, Drama, Solo & Ensemble

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life? The option to be involved in many different things, be it classes or extra curricular activities, broadened my views and made it easier to try new things once outside the school walls. Forensics was also a big part in learning not only how to speak comfortably in front of people, but also how to compose speeches. That has been invaluable as my career has me presenting information to boards of directors and clients.

Stacy (Jackson) Smits
Class of 1998

Post high school education: BS in Business Education from Winona State University; Master of Education - Professional Development from UW-La Crosse

Current Job: Business Education teacher (grades 7-12) at Randolph High School

The best part of my job is: Every day is something different when you work with teenagers. We have great students in Randolph which really makes my job very enjoyable. I absolutely loved my high school experience so being able to help students enjoy theirs is very rewarding. Seeing students learn, mature, and succeed makes my job extremely satisfying. I also love the social aspect of being in a school setting. I am constantly learning from my students and learning as a means to keep up with changing technology as well as new trends/topics in education.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? I have so many wonderful memories of school. So many great elementary teachers – especially Mrs. Krutza. I loved sliding down the big hill during the snowy winter months and still remember getting to recite Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech. I remember the new high school being built and having to walk around the construction to go from one side of the building to the other. I learned so much from Mr. Wiemiller's math classes, Ms. Tarrell's Spanish classes, and so much more. I loved our Spanish class trip to Mexico the summer before my senior year. I remember the packed gyms for sporting events and the success of so many teams while I was there. Great friendships that were established there and continue today.

Activities you were part of in High School: Volleyball, Basketball, Softball, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Math Club, yearbook

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life? There are so many great things about growing up in a small town. Seeing how people band together in times of need, times of tragedy, and times of success has been so beneficial to be a part of. I think the work ethic I have today is because of where I grew up – we were always held accountable both in sports and in the classroom. I teach in a small school now so I know the benefits of small class sizes that we had at Pec and the great things that come from knowing all of the teachers and all of the students. I learned the value of respect for both my peers and my teachers and that definitely carries true through today as well. I loved my school experience at Pec and am very thankful for all that I learned from it.

 

Cassie Colson
Class of 2005

Post high school education: B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from UW-Madison

Current Job: Reporter at the Jackson County Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Black River Falls , Wisconsin

The best part of my job is: The best part of my job is informing the public and being part of an American institution that is an integral part of our democracy. Another great part of my job is meeting so many different people each week and learning new things every day. Working at a weekly paper and covering everything from city council meetings to sports, I get to become an “expert” in new topics and trends all the time.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? Many of my school highlights and memories come from high school extra-curricular activities, like Forensics meets, performing at solo and ensemble festivals, volunteering and being a member of the cross country team. I built many friendships and relationships with our teammates, fellow group members and teachers/coaches through these activities, and I learned a lot about public speaking and leadership, too.

Activities you were part of in High School: Forensics, band, Future Problem Solvers, cross country, basketball, class officer, Viking Volunteers, student blood drive coordinator.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life? Small class sizes and Pec's extra-curricular activities allowed me to develop close relationships with teachers and classmates and develop leadership and interpersonal skills that carried with me into my college education and current career. Because Pecatonica is small, I had many opportunities to take on leadership roles that would have been more difficult to acquire at larger schools. It's important to take advantage of those opportunities because it helps develop skills and confidence necessary for success at larger post-secondary institutions, like UW-Madison.

 

Jaime Hegland
Class of 1994

Post high school education: BS in Elementary Education from UW-Stevens Point; MS in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University

Current Job: Elementary School Principal - River Valley School District

The best part of my job is: Walking into a kindergarten classroom on a daily basis...

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC?: Lots of great memories of the wonderful teachers I had in elementary school, going to Wyalusing in sixth grade, being in Mr. Sebranek's homeroom, having Mr. Wiemiller as a math teacher, putting a real football helmet on for the first time, homecoming festivities, watching the girl's basketball and softball teams win State Championships, the friendships established and maintained, the pride in our school, the list goes on and on...

Activities you were part of in High School: Football, wrestling, track, National Honor Society, student council, drama.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life?: A few things I learned from family, friends, school, and community growing up in Pecatonica...

I learned to love and value family, friends, and good neighbors.
I learned the value of a good education and how to apply it.
I learned what it means to work hard, the value of it, and that it's a difference maker.
I learned respect.
I learned that failure is a powerful learning opportunity.
I learned to listen.
I learned to be honest.
I learned to take pride in the things I choose to do and the people I associate with.
I learned responsibility and accountability.
I learned to what it means to be a friend.
I learned to dream big.
I learned to believe in others.
I learned to be resourceful.

 

Dustin Krahenbuhl
Class of 2000

Post high school education: UW-LaCrosse (BS - Computer Science, minors: Art, Math)

Current Job: Software Development Manager, I'm currently working for ClosingCorp, a data technology company located in La Jolla, CA. I'm responsible for the development, architecture, and maintenance of our services and the developers that build them.

The best part of my job is: I get to work with a variety of clients and technologies in a fast-paced start-up environment. I am able to be challenged daily on new products and up-coming technologies. My responsibility over the entire system gives me the feeling of ownership and makes it really easy to care about what I do.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC?: Recess was great, too bad that didn't continue throughout high school!

Activities you were part of in High School: Football, wrestling, track, National Honor Society, student council, drama.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life?: I think that being from a small town and tight community/school was great to help shape my career.It was difficult to do anything without somebody knowing, so I've taken a lot of pride in my work to make sure that most everything I do is quality and accepted well.


Samantha Ovadal
Class of 2006

 

Post high school education: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls with a bachelor's degree in Sociology.

Current Job : I am currently an education assistant and member of the crisis team at the Alternative Learning Program at John Glenn Elementary, a part of the Northeast Metro Intermediate School District 916 in the St. Paul, MN. In less words, I work with special education students, mostly kiddos with autism and emotional/behavioral disorders. All of my students have very high, intense and often violent behaviors. My job is to assist teachers in their classrooms with anything and everything. Also, as a member of the crisis team, I assist in crisis intervention when a child is unable to remain in their classroom because of their behavioral disruptions.

I also work part-time as a Resident Counselor at Positive Alternatives, a group home for at-risk youth in River Falls, WI.

The best part of my job is: I love the kids I work with. I love helping them learn academically, socially and emotionally. Seeing successes is probably the best part of both of my jobs because it means I helped make a difference in that child's life and that is so rewarding!

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC?: I think senior year in general was my most memorable time at Pec, for many reasons! Volleyball, Homecoming court, and of course, graduation! I also enjoyed making friendships that will last a lifetime.

Activities you were part of in High School : Forensics, Volleyball, Softball, Future Problem Solving

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life?: Living in a big city like St. Paul and working in a large school district is very different than growing up in Blanchardville. I feel like the social aspect of growing up in a small town and going to a small school like Pecatonica has influenced me most of all. It's very easy to become disconnected from the people around you in a big city, but because of how I grew up knowing all my classmates names and maybe even being friends with most of them, I've learned how to build relationships with the people I meet and work with. I feel that is more important than the things that would have been available to me in a bigger school, like more electives or more extra-curricular activities to choose from.

 

Courtney Barnes
Class of 2006

Post high school education: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a B.S. Chemical Engineering and a certificate in Technical Communication.

Current Job : I currently work as Environmental Superintendent at Cargill, Beardstown, Illinois.

The best part of my job is : My company encourages change - which is excellent for engineers!When I question the current ways and bring new ideas to the table, it is considered a good thing and I am encouraged to explore how my idea could benefit the company. Also,Cargill is a huge company (142,000 people worldwide) with several locations.My location in one of their larger facilities at 2,300 employees.The size and variety that the company provides will give me a chance to change career paths as my career goals develop.I am starting with their Management Associate Program and hope to advance in the company structure.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC? : Plays and musicals, homecoming activities with my classmates, pep band, state FPS and forensics trips, band trip to Disney, forensics meets.

Activities you were part of in High School : Forensics, FPS, Band, National Honor Society, Viking Volunteers, drama, class officer, yearbook.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life?: Pecatonica provides the opportunity for everyone to be involved in a variety of ways.My extracurricular involvement has given me a firm foundation for developing myself as a leader in my college activities (student government, greek life, class projects) and in launching my career.

Kerry Middlemas
Class of 1998

Post high school education: B.S. Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, Northwestern University

Current Job : Director of Operations, Nautica, VF Corporation.

The best part of my job is : Working with people from all walks of life and corners of the globe.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC?: Lots of memories...band trip to Florida, trips to Rhode Island for FPS, running around the block for track practice, singing excellent math songs..."Domain, domain on the range".

Activities you were part of in High School : Band/Chorus, Forensics, Volleyball, Basketball, Track, Cross Country, Future Problem Solving, Drama, Math Club, National Honor Society, Student Government.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life?: PEC taught me about a lot of things. I learned about Pythagoras & Calculus. (Thanks, Mr. Wiemiller!) From countless science classes, I learned about creating hypotheses & negative feedback loops. I learned how to communicate effectively through writing. (Thanks, Mrs. Thompson!) But, I also learned how to feel comfortable speaking in public, how to play the flute, how to throw a spiral, and that I could run over 2 miles without dying. PEC taught me to be multi-faceted..

 

Jennifer (Middlemas) Erickson
Class of 1996

Post high school education: Associate Degree in Arts and Sciences – UW-Richland; Associate Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management – MATC.

Current Job : General Manager, Super 8 Darlington, WI

The best part of my job is : Working with a variety of people and meeting new people who are guests.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC?: Wyalusing in 6 th grade, especially Mrs. Parkinson's ghost stories. Social studies with Mrs. Pirkel. Going to state all four years in forensics. Participating in track for four years. Classes and FHA with Mrs. Everson. Cheering on our teams at the State basketball and softball championships.

Activities you were part of in High School : Forensics, track, FHA, band, drama, volleyball, yearbook.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life?: At a small school, teachers know all the students, so students are less likely to get lost or go unnoticed. I think that helped us all be more successful. At Pec it is possible for students to participate in any activity they are interested in because there are no cuts like there are in larger schools. Many of the skills I learned that have helped me in my life and career I learned by being involved in extra-curricular activities such as forensics, FHA, and track.

 

Angela (Syse) Zych
Class
of 1997

Post High School Education : Bachelor's Degree in Human Relations/Marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Current Job : Senior Account Manager---Direct Supply Inc. I have a sales position in the Healthcare field.

The best part of my job is : I get to work from home with a very flexible schedule, minimal travel, with a great company.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC ? I loved being involved in athletics. I enjoyed every minute of practice, games, and the friendships that were created. I loved the competition and when successful, the community support and excitement were great! Being in a small district/league meant that you were often following other schools as well, with friends in other communities. I also loved Homecoming (then and now!): being on Court, football games, band, floats, etc… There was such community support for what happened at school and a real feeling of security.

Activities you were part of in High School : Band, Volleyball, Basketball, Softball, Class Officer

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life ? My life still revolves around friendships created at PEC. I believe a good, strong work ethic was instilled in me at Pecatonica, creating the opportunity for a successful career and family life today. I liked the small class sizes and knowing the teachers so well---and the teachers knowing us, too.

 

Teri (Kleppe) McSherry
Class
: 1981

Post High School Education : UW-Platteville/Edgewood College: Received a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. I have worked in various areas of nursing: Medical, Surgical, Oncology, Cardiology, Intensive Care. I traveled to Hawaii and to Florida for nursing jobs before we started our family.

Current Job : St. Mary's Madison: Cardiac Device Clinic Nurse. I care for patients who have pacemakers or defibrillators.

The best part of my job is : It is great to have an independent role in caring for patients. I have great benefits, hours and wonderful people to share my day with.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC ? Most of the memories are silly times at sporting events and in class. I sure made some great life-long friends.

Activities that you were involved with in High School : Band, chorus, cheerleading, math club.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life ? I felt like being part of a small school we had many opportunities. I felt like I believed in myself more and was willing to try new things more readily than if I'd attended a large school. The small class sizes were great. I learned so much from Mr.Wiemiller in Math.

 

Beth Thompson
Class
of 1995

Post High School Education : UW-School of Radiologic Technology. Stayed on at UW-Hospital for 10 years doing x-ray and CT.

Current Job : For the past 4 years I've worked for MEDRAD, a medical devices company for radiologic equipment in CT and MRI. I provide on-site training to CT and MRI techs when new equipment is purchased for their departments. I am the trainer for all of Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan, so I travel quite a bit, but am home on the weekends.

The best part of my job is : Every day is different! I've gotten to meet so many people.

What were some of the highlights and memorable times of your K-12 experience at Pecatonica? I enjoyed having Mr. Sebranek for Biology and Anatomy/Physiology. Another favorite class was Collegiate Writing with Ms. Rasmussen, and I've had many compliments during my career on my writing style. Mrs. Goetzke also offered an entirely different way of looking at Chemistry, which helped me to get into X-ray school. She truly challenged us as students. I also enjoyed being on the volleyball and basketball teams during high school.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life ? The small class sizes were great---it's good to not be ‘just another face in the crowd'. Some friends of mine were one of 500+ students in their class, but in a small school I think we have the ability to get to know the teachers better, and then felt we could go to them one-on-one for additional help.

Other comments : If Pecatonica continues to offer challenges to students each and every day in an effort to prepare them for the outside world, it doesn't matter if our school is large or small. The sports teams seem to have continued success, but to be able to show students that they can shine outside of athletics is equally important. To cultivate and challenge kids in the areas of math and science, in addition to English/writing, will show them that it's okay to be labeled as ‘smart'! I don't feel attending a small school defines who I am by any means. Our 15 year Class Reunion this past summer proved that I have very successful, happy classmates that reaped the benefits of our school. I guess it's what you make of life after the 12+ years of school and guidance that defines what that school did for you.

 


Stacy (Leonard) Sheahan
Class
of 1999

Post High School Education : UW-Platteville (BS in Animal Science) and UW-Madison (MS in Dairy Science)

Current Job : Assisted Reproductive Technologist (Embryologist/Andrology Objective). I work in a Fertility Clinic Laboratory with human eggs & sperm on microscopes.

The best part of my job is : Helping people get pregnant and/or preserve the fertility of cancer patients.

What were some of the highlights and memorable times of your K-12 experience at Pecatonica?
Field trips, hands-on learning, great teachers, and homecoming. I was involved in extra-curricular clubs and opportunities like FFA, Band, Drama, Forensics, and Track.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life ?
I think the most important part was all the individual attention from teachers. Small class sizes enabled future success by achieving small learning goals each day. There were also more opportunities to participate in a wide variety of sports and clubs. I still keep in touch with most classmates and take pride in telling people I came from a small school and community.

 

Lindsey Speer
Class of 2000

Post High School Education : B.S. in Communications/Psychology from Edgewood College, M.S. in Administration in Higher Education from Ball State University in Muncie, IN

Current Job : Senior Assistant Director of Admissions and Orientation at Ball State University. I recruit students to attend Ball State, meet prospective students and their families and run an 8 week orientation program.

The best part of my job is : Making college a reality for students. I love seeing their enthusiasm about starting college. The most REWARDING part is probably working with a student who doesn't think college could be possible for them and helping make it actually happen. That's when I realize I'm really making a difference in someone's life.

What were some of the highlights/memorable times in your K-12 years at PEC ?
Bus rides, learning to play the flute, music concerts, recess, lunch in the cafeteria with our cook Erna (love her!), earning autographed prizes with Ms. Helgeson, our 6 th grade trip to Wyalusing State Park, caroling with Mr. Wiemiller while he played the accordion, going to Disneyworld with the band, acting in plays, trips to the Field House and Kohl Center for Pec basketball championship games, going to State for Forensics, becoming friends with foreign exchange students, Homecoming, Prom, knowing every one of my teachers, as well as knowing all of the students in my entire school. I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

How have your experiences at PEC influenced your life ?
When I was in college in English or Statistics classes, the information covered in class, while new, was also familiar and when put to the test, I had the skills needed to do well. Some of my college classmates didn't fare as well. That's when I realized I had received a good, solid background in High School that fully prepared me for college and other challenges in the world. When some people argue that a small school doesn't offer the opportunities of a large school, I have to strongly disagree. The teachers were always willing to assist and offer help when needed. They valued their students, knew a lot about each of us, and prepared us to be the best we could be. The biggest influence would have to be the smaller class sizes, individual attention and the sincerely caring faculty and staff, as well as the community of Blanchardville. I always felt welcomed, like people cared about me. I never felt threatened or in danger. I did not have to walk through metal detectors before entering the school. The entire community was supportive of our school. Even now, when I come home, I still feel welcomed and people seem genuinely interested in what I am doing and how I am.

 

Kyle Sutter
Class of 2000

Post High School Education: MATC Electrical Apprenticeship

Current Job: Electrician, Foreman on Commercial Projects

What are some of the BEST parts of your job ? Building some of the biggest buildings in Madison. Renovation of Camp Randall Stadium. I'm the ‘On-Call' Electrician for all home Badger Football Games.

What were some highlights and memorable times of your K-12 years at Pecatonica ?
Meeting friends that I still am in contact with. Playing sports and being on successful teams.

What kinds of activities that you were part of in High School ?
Football, basketball, baseball, FFA

How have your experiences at Pecatonica influenced your life?
By being on successful sports teams, you find a way to become a leader in everything you do. The taste of success makes you want to be the best at whatever you decide to do with the rest of your life.

Attending a small school, I was close to all of my classmates. It seemed everyone was friends with everyone else in the school, regardless of their grade. It was also an advantage to be a part of sports teams without having to try out or be cut. I wouldn't trade my days at a small rural school for anything. I hope someday my own kids will be able to have the same opportunities that I did at Pec. All of the teachers were great and I felt like they really cared about me as a student.

 







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