Kropuenske balances teaching from home while being a mom

Noah Ralofsky - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

Middle school science teacher Kimberly Kropuenske has had to learn how to teach from home while caring for her one and two-year-old daughters when online learning was implemented after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kropuenske said that e-Learning has come to her quite easily for the most part. She said that there are some technical difficulties every now and again, but “if that happens we just go with the flow.” Kropuenske’s favorite part about e-Learning is the flexibility she has. With her daughters at home, she can easily tend to their needs and then get right back to her class. Kropuenske said that her students are also on a flexible time table so she can make time for both her students and children.

Kropuenske admits that at times, though, two-year-old Kensington and one-year-old Raegan have been “a handful.” During her videos she sends to her classes, her daughters occasionally interrupt her lectures. While Kropuenske said she used to edit the interruptions out of the videos, she now leaves them in because it was too much work to edit them out. In addition, Kropuenske said her students like to see her children.

“Kensington thinks we are Facetiming someone, so she likes to show her shirts or what she is doing. There is one video where she is at the table eating a donut, and she comes over to show everyone in the video,” Kropuenske said.

Kropuenske said it took her about three weeks to get a routine down for her teaching and family under these new online learning conditions. She said it would have probably been sooner but her husband started a new job during the pandemic, so it was a little more difficult to get a routine set into place. Kropuenske now thinks that on most days their routine is functional. On other days, however, Kropeunske said, “We can have a great routine going but then the girls have a bad day and that throws a wrench in the routine.”

According to Kropuenske, the typical day runs as follows. “I brew a cup of coffee while my girls watch some Disney Junior or Spongebob,” Kropuenske said. After breakfast, Kropuenske said she jumps onto her computer and starts answering students’ questions and gets assignments prepared for the next few days.

“My husband is also working from home, so we team up and see which one needs to get work done ASAP. If one of us is not in a hurry for something, that one takes the kids.”

Kropuenske takes a break from teaching online to take a selfie with one-year-old Raegan.

Two-year-old Kensington finds time to play outside during e-Learning.

Dogs of all ages bring happiness to Loures staff during quarantine

By Regan Kraus - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

Covid-19 may have forced the world to go into a mandatory quarantine, but middle school teachers at Lourdes Academy are taking advantage of the stay-at-home orders.

During hard times, one must find ways to stay positive and entertained. There’s no better way to stay happy than spending time with a new puppy. Dogs are known to relieve stress and make a person feel comforted, but it can be hard to take care of a dog if the owner is gone all the time. Training a puppy takes a lot of time and patience, and since the nation is shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic, time is pretty much unlimited right now. Realizing this, several middle school teachers and Lourdes staff decided to take on the challenge of welcoming new pets into their homes.

Fifth grade teachers Maddie Van Vreede and Kris Cater, enrollment coordinator Jody Ruark, and sixth grade language arts teacher Kathy Horejs have recently adopted furry friends who have helped them stay happy during these hard times.

Van Vreede originally planned on getting her puppy during the summer because she would be able to spend time training him, but quarantine allowed her to get a dog early. She and her family adopted a golden retriever to keep their three year old dog, Ron, company. Cater helped Van Vreede with the adoption process because she already knew of a breeder that had adoptable puppies.

So far, Van Vreede said that her new puppy has been doing wonderfully in his new home. They decided to name him Lars, and he loves playing with his big brother Ron. Lars is already potty trained and since Van Vreede and her husband are stuck at home, they have lots of time to take the dogs for walks. Overall, she says the experience has been a huge success.

Horejs has not yet welcomed her puppy home, but he will be joining the family very soon. She and her husband have not decided what to call him yet but they are letting their grandchildren make a list of names.

Although Horejs has not received her dog yet, she explained how she helped another Lourdes staff member bring a furry friend home during the pandemic. Horejs said a family member asked her to adopt an elderly dog due to a death in the family, but since Horejs already had a puppy on the way, and her husband thought it would be difficult to raise two dogs at once. Horejs decided to email the entire Lourdes staff to see if anyone was looking for a new addition to the family. Enrollment coordinator Jody Ruark and her son decided to adopt Misty an elderly golden retriever. Both Misty and the Ruark family are closely bonded, giving Misty a chance at a fulfilled life.

Unlike Horejs, Kris Cater already welcomed her puppy into the family on April 9. Her dog is a saint berdoodle which is a mix between a saint bernard and a poodle. Cater named him Yogi and said so far he has been getting along with her other dogs Boo and Lucy.

Cater said that adopting Yogi during quarantine has allowed them to spend lots of time training him. She loves being able to stay home and play with him, and she cannot wait to start teaching him how to walk on a leash. Her new addition to the family is adorable and friendly, showing that there are some positive outcomes to arise out of these difficult times.

Van Vreede's puppy Lars comes inside after an exciting adventure.

New brothers Lars and Ron have bonded despite their age difference.

Cater's new puppy Yogi has been a bright spot for the family during safer at home orders.

Van Vreede's puppy Lars enjoys his new home.

Big bro Ron teaches Lars how to walk on a leash.

Middle schoolers capture history through quarantine journals

By James Gross - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

Middle school language arts teacher Mary Ann Saiyed’s students are writing personal journals about the historical Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 has impacted many people and has changed nearly everyone’s lifestyles. Among these changes include schools switching to online learning. This change has affected students in different ways.

Some students are thriving in this environment and are enjoying wearing pajamas all day. On the other hand, other students are struggling with e-Learning. Saiyed said she assigned the journal writing project so her students can write down these struggles. In addition, she said the students will have a written document to share their experiences with their families in the future.

Saiyed said that she wants the students to write more personally so she can communicate with them and respond to their journals. Saiyed said, “I usually hear about what my students are doing in class talking to each other. Now, however, I don’t know anything that is happening with the students. When I read their journals, I can connect with them and get to know how they are doing. I respond to them and write individual comments to each student.”

Saiyed said that most students are creating their journals using Google docs; however, some of the students are copying what they type into paper journals. Saiyed said the students create three entries per week by answering three questions.

"The journals are a great way for students to share their feelings, struggles, and accomplishments and are important because they are a part of history,” Saiyed said.

The students are not the only ones who have work to complete. Saiyed said that she is working even harder now than she was when she was in the physical classroom because of all of the individual questions she receives which require her help. She said that multiple students will ask the same question, and if she was in a regular classroom, she would be able to answer them all at once. Now, however, she can’t because of online learning.


Like Saiyed, many others are working very hard to create the best learning experiences they can.

I personally would like to thank all the teachers who are making online school possible and all other staff members for helping in various ways to keep the school system running.

Also, I would like to remind people to send prayers and thanks to everyone working on the front lines to fight Covid-19, especially the doctors and nurses..

Thank you all, and God bless.

Lourdes Academy takes on e-Learning

Annalise Schraa - Knight Writer

Student Journalist - Lourdes Academy

The Lourdes Academy school system has formed a new type of learning for students after the cancellation of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

High school principal Dave Mikesell has worked to organize and lead the teachers through the e-Learning process. He said the most important aspect of this new way of teaching is focusing on a few simple tasks at a time so the teachers do not feel overwhelmed during this process. Mikesell said the teachers know what materials need to be taught and how to teach them in a physical classroom, but teaching students through an online platform can be difficult. He said he focuses on guiding the teachers on how to bring a lesson to life through an online environment.

Mikesell holds weekly staff meetings to check in on the teachers and to see what they may need from him in order to enhance their way of teaching. He also sends weekly check-in surveys to students and parents to get feedback on the e-Learning process. Mikesell explained that he thinks some students learn better in a physical classroom rather than an online classroom but feels that the majority of the students have learned better responsibility and self-advocacy techniques through e-Learning.

Mikesell said the personal benefits of e-Learning for him are watching the parents, students, and teachers come together as a community to find a way to make the process work. He said the most challenging aspect of this new educational method is time management and balancing all of the tasks he has to complete. He said it has been difficult at times to make sure the teachers, students, and parents, and his own family are all accommodated and receiving everything they need to be successful and happy.

Middle and high school religion teacher Abigail Mikesell said she has had to change some of her teaching techniques to better accommodate her students. She explained that a theology course is very discussion heavy, and she has had to find a natural way to incorporate these types of dialogues into her teaching. Abigail explained that she uses virtual discussion boards to initiate conversation between her students. She said she assigns a prompt to her students which allows them to give their personal input while also responding to answers from two fellow students. She said this gives her students the ability to bounce ideas and questions off of each other in an academic way.

Abigail explained that the benefits of e-Learning for her have been seeing students who are typically quiet in a physical classroom speak up more and give their feedback without that in-person environment. She said that the most challenging part of this process has been learning how to create the same type of flow in an online classroom that a physical classroom holds for students.

Band teacher Michelle Sorenson said that the most important aspect of performance-based music learning is building relationships through shared experiences and growing together as a team. Sorenson said e-Learning has made it difficult for this connection to take place. She said she now understands how important it is to be a cheerleader for each student as he/she keeps trying to master his/her instrument without her.

Sorenson explained that each student has a set number of minutes they need to log practice time using an online practice log. In addition, students must also complete four assignments that require the students to use a program that has many different practice tools which replace the end of year performances like concerts and parades. She also holds a weekly Google Hangout meeting for students who would like to receive extra credit and ask questions about assignments or tasks.

Sorenson believes technology has been a fantastic tool for teachers and students to use during this time, but she feels that the most valuable educational experience is human interaction. E-Learning, Sorenson believes, has made that aspect of education difficult. She also explained that the most difficult part of e-Learning has been not being able to make music with her students. She said she misses bringing all the instrumental sounds together and watching the students when they realize what they can all accomplish together as a team.

Sorenson said the most beneficial aspect of online learning for her is having to learn different technology tools that she felt she should have learned and implemented earlier. She said she plans on using these beneficial tools in her classroom experience when face-to-face school resumes. She also said that e-Learning has reminded her how much she loves her job as she feels "absence makes the heart grow fonder." She said she has had the opportunity to realize her love of teaching music and her excitement of sharing fun lessons and techniques to her students. Sorenson said a blended learning experience is required for future education.

English teacher Sue Dolan said that the e-Learning experience has changed her type of delivery when it comes to teaching. She said a crucial part of her English courses consists of daily interactions with the students which have changed drastically. Dolan explained that she grades assessments early in the morning because she discovered that most students are productive between 9 am to 3 pm and wants to be online and available to her students during that time.

Students virtually compete at spelling bee and math competition

By Raechel Russo - Knight Writer

Lourdes Academy - Student Journalist

During March, the Knights of Columbus offered a virtual spelling bee and math competition to middle school students during the students' e-learning experience.

During the online school day, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders were eligible to compete in the 2019-2020 Knights of Columbus spelling bee and math competition. The students communicated through Google Classroom during e-learning and competed by grade level.

Each grade level has its own competition for both the spelling bee and math competition, with first and second place ribbons awarded. Principal Dave Mikesell said, “Sadly, we don’t know when the winners will receive their ribbons” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s first place winners will advance to the district competition in De Pere the first weekend of March. From there, the winner or winners will then qualify for the state competition which is held during the last week of March. If a winner unfortunately cannot attend the competition the next runner up will take his or her place.

This year’s math competition winners are listed in order from fifth grade to eighth grade: Addison Ludwig, Kaden Krueger, Claire Kollat, and Jack Kriege This year’s spelling bee winners are the listed in order from fifth grade to eighth grade: Lila Geffers, Cameron Crandall, Cathleen O’Connor, and Sophie Lillibridge.