McLean Bennett column: Distant schools show they're close at heart

McLean Bennett column: Distant schools show they're close at heart

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McLean Bennett column: Distant schools show they're close at heart

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New Holstein and Kiel, communities linked by just a short stretch of highway straddling the Manitowoc-Calumet County border, are anything but neighbors to farther-away Campbellsport.

But Campbellsport’s high school, though separated by a somewhat vast expanse of Kettle Moraine territory — and with no straight-shot route connecting it to either Kiel or New Holstein — shares something of a valuable bond that belies its geographical isolation.

How valuable? About $1,700 worth.

That’s roughly the amount of money a fundraiser netted last week when Kiel and New Holstein girls soccer teams squared off in a special effort to collect scholarship money for their distant neighbors in southeastern Fond du Lac County. Those scholarships will end up going to Campbellsport students to memorialize their classmates — Sabrina Stahl, Katie Berg and Caitlin Scannell — who died last February when the SUV they were in rolled over.

“It’s incredible,” Kristen Langer, the junior high and high school principal in the Campbellsport school district, said Wednesday of the scholarship drive that has taken shape a county or two away. “… It’s just an incredible gift.”

Money for the scholarships poured in from several sources, and added up to a considerably bigger sum than the fundraiser’s organizers had expected.

When the Huskies’ and Raiders’ soccer teams played last Monday in New Holstein — the home team won 1-0 — spectators paid a $3 admission donation to help support the cause. Money came in from concession stand profits and sales of special bracelets commemorating the crash victims, who have come to be known as Campbellsport’s “three angels.” A raffle and sales of locally donated ice cream during the game helped fill the scholarships’ coffer, as did profits from a bake sale spearheaded by some of New Holstein’s students.

“We were hoping (to raise) $400 to $500, really,” said Patricia Preston, a teacher and soccer parent at New Holstein who helped orchestrate the fundraiser drive. The roughly $1,700 final tally came as a pleasant surprise, and is raising hopes the fundraiser will provide enough money to give more scholarships to Campbellsport students than originally expected, Preston said.

Plans for the scholarships aren’t well established yet, said Preston, who noted it isn’t clear how many scholarships will be awarded, or exactly how valuable they’ll be. Initial plans call for awarding some scholarship money to this year’s graduating class — the class to which both Berg and Scannell belonged, Preston said.

Langer said students from her school tend to be familiar with kids in New Holstein and Kiel, despite the physical distance between the schools. Sports teams from all three high schools compete in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference, meaning student-athletes have plenty of opportunities to meet one another.

But Langer said she wouldn’t have imagined the forceful show of financial support from communities located roughly 30 miles and nearly an hour’s drive away before last year’s crash — a tragedy that left sizable imprints on the conference’s student-athletes who knew the victims.

“I think for our students, it was the hardest thing that they ever should have to go through and a huge learning experience as well,” Langer said of the crash, which also injured six other people. “The big thing is that it taught kids that they might be from different schools, but that they’re all human and they all care for each other.”

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McLean Bennett column: Distant schools show they're close at heart
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