by Charles Collier, The Denmark News
DENMARK — Not often is one greeted by a 365-person standing ovation, but the collection of Northeast Wisconsin students, instructors, and their families at Denmark High School offered just that on Saturday afternoon when one of Wisconsin’s most recognizable names entered the auditorium-turned-banquet hall.
Herb Kohl, former four-term U.S. Senator, businessman, and philanthropist, was in Denmark for the last of five luncheons presenting the 29th installment of Herb Kohl Educational Foundation scholarships.
“It’s a recognition about how important education is. It’s an opportunity to honor those who are doing very well—children, young people, high school graduates, teachers, principals. It’s a wonderful program. I’m very, very pleased. It’s done a lot of good things,” Kohl told The Denmark News upon his arrival here.
Since 1990, the Foundation has distributed more than $14 million to Wisconsin students and educators. Recipients are selected not by a board of directors or quantified system of ranking, but instead by the education professionals with which they work directly and members of the state’s twelve Cooperative Educational Service Agency district.
“I’m proud of that concept of the program; that the educational establishment in Wisconsin is heavily involved in making these decisions,” Kohl said. “It’s [done] by people who know what education is all about and what it is to reward to right people.”
Saturday’s 69 honorees hailed from CESAs 5-9, which constitute Northeast and parts of Central Wisconsin.
State Superintendent Tony Evers said in remarks ahead of the presentation that the awards recognize, “teachers whose careers are built on kindling the spark of enthusiasm and engagement for every child, students whose hard work has made them stellar examples of academic achievement in Wisconsin, and principals who set high standards and create a climate that is best for staff and students.”
Among the crowd were two Denmark seniors accepting separate $10,000 awards through the Initiative Scholarship. Designed for students that have overcome personal barriers and have received no other forms of auxiliary tuition assistance, the Initiative Scholarship seeks to reward hard work that may otherwise go unnoticed.
We sat down with Denmark’s winners Samantha George of Denmark High School and Gregory Evans of the Denmark Community School, and can attest that their educational initiative easily fits the bill for recognition.