Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School
For many decades, many thousands of children and youth from Sun Prairie and our neighboring areas have been educated on this small hill. These heights therefore represent not just a geographic feature, but a place invested by the community with their highest hopes for their children’s future. That is what public education is about, individually and collectively investing our time, talents, and taxes to propel our children to new heights, empowering the upward spiral of progress across generations.
Today we commemorate not just the re-naming of a familiar building now renovated for another century of service. We also mark a historic turning point in how our schools will better educate our children. We have made the commitment to provide a better education than ever before possible for our students in their 10th (soon to be 11th) year of formal education - - the “9th grade.” We did not invest in re-purposing this building solely to build a new high school. We equally invested in re-creating the instructional program for students. One can easily see physical evidence of refurbishments to the school; however even though less visible, please never forget that hundreds of thousands of hours went into re-thinking and re-programming the educational model. Even more importantly, what happens inside beginning September 1st between each team of teachers and their students will be the ultimate return on all that has been invested in dollars, labor, energy, and commitment.
We owe much to every member of this community for these investments. We applaud you all. However, I would like to share some special appreciations to some groups and individuals who made contributions above and beyond in this historic change over the past eight years:
- Community Involvement: Three task forces; Survey participants; the Community Response Team; attending informational meetings; coming out to vote in four referendums. Your many involvements have been the base upon which all this has happened,
- School Board and former school board members: Jill Camber-Davidson, Caren Diedrich, Jim McCourt, Terry Shimek, David Stackhouse, John Welke, and John Whalen. Service on the School Board is the ultimate level of community involvement. Being willing to bravely step forward into a highly important, highly charged, “always a target on your back” governance role – providing community stewardship and leadership in difficult, thoughtful decision-making have guided the course to this outcome.
- Planning Facilitator, Steve Havens. A community member who stepped up at a critical point in time and truly gave of his time and talents leading us in a final process to achieve this outcome based on objectivity and rationality.
- School Administrators Ryan Ruggles, Jason Widiker, and Liz Merrick. These instructional leaders have been doing three jobs for the past two years: overseeing the building process as well as creating this new school, in addition to their regular duties.
- Cardinal Heights teachers and support staff. These are the ones who have come together to carry out the most important building yet to happen…our kids. We appreciate your involvement and passion to always do what is right for our children, your students.
- District administrators Phil Frei and Tom Brooks. For the fourth time the distinct administrative team has brought in school building projects on time and under budget. A remarkable feat, given the political nature of public projects. They too have been doing multiple jobs over the past years maintaining our schools while shepherding this massive 2 site building project
- The City of Sun Prairie. The city has been a tremendous partner in so many ways all along these this 8 year journey. Various city officials, administrators and departments have participated in various task forces, helped locate school sites, assisted in the permitting and planning process and making these facilities as safe as possible.
- Bray Associates Architects. For the fourth time they have delivered excellence in design. For 8 years they have listened and responded and stood with us till this day when deigns become real.
- J.H. Findorff and Son Inc. We could not have a better construction partner, or community members, for that matter. I have appreciated the tremendous focus on skillful craftsmanship, caring and commitment they have invested in our schools. They have delivered service above and beyond what I would expect. The most recent example: yesterday everyone pitching in to make sure the refurbished alumni photos were hung yesterday at the new high school. That is just one small symbolic example of their hard work and support in creating this school for our community.
Our student representatives come from Patrick Marsh Middle School, Prairie View Middle School, and Sacred Hearts School. Please welcome: Hannah Helstad, Leah Kelley, Mitchel McCloskey, Kaitlyn Schmidt, Joseph Sveda, and Alex Lloyd.
Finally, to symbolically represent the spirit of Sun Prairie we thought it most appropriate to invite Curt the Cardinal to join and help lead us the countdown to unveiling your new school.
Sun Prairie High School
Eight years ago, we knew that as rapidly as our community was growing we would need more space for our students in grades 9 -12. What we did not know was the challenging journey it would take to get to this place of excellence in education we celebrate today. Over these years, hundreds of people invested thousands upon thousand of hours in creating and processing various ideas which were presented to tens of thousands of voters in a total of four referendums (3 successful, 1 not), finally investing millions of our collective dollars for the sake of our children’s future. You may remember the journey was hard and at times we seemed hopelessly divided. But the amazing thing was the perseverance of this community in finally coming together around a vision of what they wanted for their youth. This building now stands as physical testimony to the value our community places on the education of our children. I could not be prouder than to be associated with a community like you. Thank you so much.
What we have created here is a place that may be one of the finest school facilities in the state of Wisconsin. But it will only become the finest place of learning if we match the facility with equally excellent processes of teaching and learning. Having talked with Principal Lisa Heipp and many teachers and other staff these past years, I firmly believe they are dedicated to just that. So today we dedicate not a building, but a place of learning.
For, it is not really about the building itself, nice as it seems. It’s truly about the lives and futures to be built inside this facility. The lasting monuments will be the young people who learn and grow and leave here prepared to take on whatever future they choose. The permanent accomplishment will be graduates inspired to compose new music, cure old illnesses, create the next Facebook, build green homes, or launch the next business venture possibly with Brazil, Russia, India, or China.
We have chosen to commemorate this historic day with the act of “ribbon-cutting” to symbolically open the doors of this place of learning. The building doors officially opened today represent the doors to future opportunities we are opening for our children. To help us, we are going to ask representatives of the various parties who were involved to help:
- School Board: Jill Camber-Davidson, Caren Diedrich, Jim McCourt, Terry Shimek, David Stackhouse, John Welke, and John Whalen
- SPHS Students: Brandon Bevel, Kyra Silbernagel, Tayler Studinski, and Zachary Henderson
- SPHS Support Staff: Elizabeth Brassfield
- SPHS Teacher: Jennifer Joseph
- Administration: Lisa Heipp, Phil Frei, Tom Brooks
- Architect: Steve Kuhnen of Bray and Associates
- Contractor: Jeff Tubbs and Mark Schneider of J.H. Findorff and Son Inc.
- City of Sun Prairie: Mayor Joe Chase
- Planning Facilitator: Steve Havens
- Curt the Cardinal
You stand at the portal of our new school. You represent all of us in an act that officially opens our new place of learning. Let’s say this together: “Open that school!