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Merrill Charter Serves Students StatewideSubmitted: 04/03/2013
Merrill Charter Serves Students Statewide
Story By Lex Gray

MERRILL - As odd as it may sound, hundreds of kids are enrolled in the Merill School District without actually living anywhere near Merrill.

That's the new reality of virtual school.

Bridges Virtual Academy opened this year.

Administrator John Hagemeister expected about 100 kids to enroll. Instead, he got 500 from all over the state.

That's because Hagemeister's idea is unique. Before Bridges, he homeschooled his own kids.

He wanted to combine the freedom of homeschooling with the resources of public school.

The Reimer family of Arbor Vitae made the switch to Bridges this year.

"We do our schooling at home, but we're not technically homeschooling anymore," says Kathy Reimer.

As a homeschooler, Reimer wasn't allowed to take part in public school classes.

But Bridges Virtual Academy gives her more options.

"We did art lessons at the Campanile Center, piano lessons, and dance lessons for the girls," she said. "We probably could've provided one lesson for them, but this allows us to give them opportunities to do things we wouldn't normally be able to do."


John Hagemeister started the academy with more opportunities in mind.

"These are taxpayers and if you homeschool, they don't get anything in return. Some people like it that way, because there's no entanglement, there's no extras," he said. "But if there's a way we can partner, why shouldn't we try? They're taxpayers, they're community members, they're looking for some kind of educational service through us, so let's try and do it."

Taxpayers - including the Reimers - bought a computer for each of her kids. They also share an iPad and have access to teachers.

There is a trade-off for that support. As a homeschooler, Reimer didn't have to evaluate her kids at all. Now, she has to administer school and state tests.

But that doesn't bother her.

"The testing only confirms what I already know," she said. "Because you're homeschooling, you know your kids' strengths and you know your kids' weaknesses."

But beyond the testing, Reimer still gets to do things her way. That's different from most virtual schools.

"A typical virtual school is like taking this and putting it online, the brick and mortar and putting it online, and that's not what they're looking for," Hagemeister said. "They're looking for something that's flexible, time wise, curriculum wise."

"That opens up our ability to do things for our kids, and give them opportunities that we couldn't give them," Reimer said. "So that is a really great thing."

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 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 06/21/2018

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

The Prentice School District recently received an $81 thousand grant to be used to improve the school's security systems. We talk to the superintendent about how some of that money will be spent.

You'll hear a U.P. mother tell her frightening story about how she and her partner were able to get each family member safely out of the house before it was destroyed during last weekend's storm.

And we'll take you to Ascension St. Mary's Hospital in Rhinelander where they're celebrating 125 years of service to the community.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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MADISON - A judge has sentenced a former University of Wisconsin-Madison student who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three female students and choking or stalking two others to three years behind bars.

WKOW-TV reports Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke sentenced 22-year-old Alec Cook of Edina, Minnesota, on Thursday to three years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

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CONOVER -
June Dairy Month isn't just for the cows; it's for goats, too!

Hillbilly Hollow in Conover specializes in goat milk products, especially all types of cheese.

Kathy Martin makes around 35 flavors of soft goat cheese, along with other artisan cheese.

She says the calories are much less than regular cow milk cheese.

"I've had goat cheese that was absolutely horrible. Had it been my first try I would never try it again. BUT they're not all created equal. It's just like with cheddars or anything, sometimes you don't get one as good as another one. Just keep trying."

Hillbilly Hollow just opened a brand new store in Eagle River with all of its goat products.

Click below for more info.

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MADISON - Two Marathon County men face federal methamphetamine charges.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for western Wisconsin, a federal grand jury has issued indictments against 33 year old Antron Allen of Mosinee and 32 year old Nathaniel Drow of Schofield.

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MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee is on the short list to host the Democratic National Convention in 2020.

Wisconsin's largest city was among four cities to make the cut Wednesday by the DNC site selection committee. But the Denver Post is reporting that city, which also made the cut, is planning to withdraw its application.

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LAKE TOMAHAWK -
A U.S. Marine wanted a special cabin where veterans and their families could grieve the loss of others.

Matt Raimer never got to see that cabin built.  He lived until he was 25.  Now, Raimer's family is teaming with Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk to build Matt's dream.

Work started on a project at Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk Wednesday.

The project offers families of America's fallen service members a place to heal and grieve away from the noise of daily life.

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PRICE COUNTY - Sitting on a bike is where Tessa Otto finds her freedom. 

"Riding on a Harley is unlike any feeling you're ever going to have," said Tessa as she stood beside her 2018 Street Glide Special.

"This is probably the coolest thing I'll ever do in my life. I'm peaking now at 20," said Tessa with a laugh. 

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