LUHS Incoming Freshmen Behind on Math, ReadingSubmitted: 04/08/2013
Story By Lex Gray

MINOCQUA - How far do the effects of a bad economy go? All the way to the classroom, says one Northwoods superintendent.

Lakeland Union High School will get 169 new students this fall.

About half of those students tested behind in math, and at least 26 are also at least one grade level behind in reading.

Superintendent Todd Kleinhans says those numbers are consistent with last year.

He doesn't point to one single reason for the low scores, but says the economy hasn't helped.

"We are seeing more and more students coming from lower socioeconomic backgrounds," Kleinhans said. "One out of every two students entering Lakeland Union next year are living at or below the poverty line. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that good things don't always happen from an educational standpoint with those families and with kids who are living in poverty."

Lakeland is unique because its feeder schools are their own separate districts.

That's made it tougher to evaluate students.

But Kleinhans says the districts are doing a better job of working together.

"We recognize our shortcomings and we understand that because of the unique situation presented by five districts, that we are forced to collaborate more than ever before," he said. "So I think people can rest comfortably and sleep well at night knowing that we're making good progress."

This fall, students who are behind will double up on basic math and reading courses.

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MINOCQUA - Every year thousands of kids go hungry. 

On Saturday nearly 600 volunteers from the Northwoods decided to help feed some of those children. 

The "Food for Kidz" organization, invited people to Lakeland Union High School, to help package non- perishable goods.

 The packages will be donated worldwide and to nearby food pantries.

Within the past eight years volunteers have packaged one million meals.

 Last year was the first year the organization started donating to local food pantries. 

This year volunteers will give 30,000 meals to the Northwoods community.

"It's just the recurring exuberance of the people that come in and do the packing we have many, repeat people that come year after year," said "Food for Kidz" Co-chairman John Breiten. 

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BOULDER JUNCTION - Nearby Fire Departments often rely on each other when they need extra man power. 

On Saturday firefighters from around the Northwoods came together as one. 
"It's vital to have that community bond between the fire departments," said Arbor Vitae Fire and Rescue Chief Mike VanMeter.

The bond between local departments led to a rare training opportunity. 

"Being able to share an opportunity like this is vital," said Boulder Junction Fire Department Chief Matthew Reuss. 

A donated house in Boulder Junction was lit on fire so that the fire departments could practice structure training.  

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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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"You can't think too far ahead, at least that's the situation I find myself in," John said.

Convicted of drunk driving seven times, John -- who Newswatch 12 is only identifying by his first name -- faced a harsh reality when he ended up in prison after three arrests in just 13 months.

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