Lakeland Union High School wins statewide "Spirit of Excellence" awardSubmitted: 02/21/2017

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MINOCQUA - Kim Kargus-Myers knew she'd need to do some lifting Tuesday afternoon.  The Lakeland Union Student Council adviser raised a big trophy above her head.

"Very heavy, it's heavier than my children," Kargus-Myers laughed while speaking of the award.  "It felt great, I got my workout in for the day."

Kargus-Meyers stood proud in the LUHS field house, letting hundreds of students know that trophy is theirs.

"It was a special moment," Kargus-Meyers said.

Lakeland Union received its "Spirit of Excellence" award from the Wisconsin Association of School Councils (WASC) and the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators (AWSA). The Lakeland Union Student Council helped put together a highlight portfolio several months ago, then submitted their entry.

The school won its regional competition, beating out schools from 11 counties stretching from Vilas County down to Portage County. Two weeks ago, the school learned it won this statewide award, which is designed to be big.

"It actually is two inches taller and two inches wider than any state championship trophy," WASC Executive Director Michelle McGrath said. Students and advisors designed the black and gold trophy to stand out in a trophy case.

McGrath, who doesn't get to vote in the competition, says WASC looks for the school with the best all-around display of academics, athletics, and -- most importantly -- service in the state.

"It's not just what's happening on the court or on the field," McGrath said. "It really is what's happening in your classrooms and in your communities, and what's going on athletically."

Lakeland Union won regional competitions the last five years, but this was the school's first state win. Students say between math and science labs, strong arts programs, and sports programs that help others, it's high time the school of about 700 students won.

"It's almost assured that every student finds what makes them tick, what they enjoy at Lakeland Union," student council president Haley Fritsche said after the ceremony.

Lakeland needed to be picky: just five teams or groups from each category could go into a portfolio. But the committee decided Lakeland stood out compared to five other regional winners, mainly from southern Wisconsin, including two-time winner Adams-Friendship.

"[I've been in] every school in Wisconsin and nationally and you don't get a feel like [the school is one community] in a lot of schools, so they really do have something special here at Lakeland Union," McGrath said.

Now, this recognition will help the school build on something special Kim Kargus-Myers hopes other districts take notice of.

"This kind of lets the whole state know, like hey, Lakeland exists, we're here, and we're a force to be reckoned with," Kargus-Myers said.

Lakeland Union will get even more recognition in the next few weeks. A video showing the school's award will play during the WIAA state basketball tournament and LUHS reps will be honored at an upcoming Milwaukee Bucks game.

Story By: Lane Kimble

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