White House official's visit a thrill for MHS
The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District got a chance to show off on Sept. 27.
School district officials hosted Nancy Sutley, President Obama’s principal environmental advisor and Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Sutley toured Middleton High School and also met with three MHS students and environmental studies teacher Leah Williams.
MHS was recently selected as one of the first U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools. Green Ribbon Schools are recognized for reducing energy use, providing a healthy learning environment, and providing effective environmental education that prepares students to succeed in the 21st century.
“We really like to visit our Green Ribbon Schools whenever we can,’’ Sutley said.
Sutley, 50, was born in Argentina. She has degrees from Cornell and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Before joining the Obama administration, she worked in California as an energy adviser to Gov. Gray Davis, as a deputy secretary to the state’s Environmental Protection Agency and as a deputy Los Angeles mayor for energy and the environment.
Sutley started her morning with a tour of Madison College before arriving at MHS around 12:45 p.m. She left around 2 p.m. for an energy roundtable discussion at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Sutley took a tour of the entire high school with Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Tom Wohlleber, facilities services manager Bill Eberhardt, energy manager Neal Bickler and MHS associate principal Brian Morstad. She then talked with seniors Evan Bauch and Suzy Kim and junior Matthew Kim in Room 2055 for more than 30 minutes.
“It is a phenomenal experience for our students,’’ Wohlleber said. “Here is our future right here and we give them lots of opportunities.’’
All three students have been actively involved as members of the Envirothon Team for at least three years, Williams said. Suzy and Matt are also involved with the Ecology Club and are currently helping plan the organic dinner, while Bauch was excelled in Williams’ Advanced Placement Environmental Science class last year. He also excelled in the Energy Stewards Project and showed a deep interest in environmental topics beyond those presented in class.
“You are doing things that can make a lasting difference,’’ she told the students. “Your generation has an environment that still needs a lot of attention but in a different way.’’
The students shared with Sutley some of the projects they are doing. Williams said her are completing an Environmental Stewardship Service Learning Project where they develop their own goals and action plan in response to an identified local problem or need and collaborate with community members active in their area of interest.
Some students are choosing to work with Pheasant Branch Conservancy or the Growing Food and Sustainability gardening program, she said, while several are seeking out their own individual opportunities collaborating with other local organizations and businesses.
“For example, one student is planning to work with MG&E to investigate and learn about local energy consumption,’’ Williams said.
“I was very excited to hear that she was visiting, especially knowing that my students would have the opportunity to meet her,’’ Williams said. “I feel very honored to be the environmental science teacher at Middleton High School and am very motivated to continue building an already strong program started by Debra Weitzel.
“I think it is very important for students to meet individuals like Chairperson Sutley, because it is a motivating and inspiring experience for them.’’
To see more photos from the tour, please visit the district's Facebook page.
You can also read about the tour and watch a short clip on Ch. 27's website.