O-W School Board Highlights: Prom Approved, COVID Updates & More

Nicole Rogers

O-W School Board Highlights: Prom Approved, COVID Updates & More

3 min.
April 13, 2021

Members of the Owen-Withee High School Junior Class gave a short presentation to the school board on Monday, April 12, 2021, to propose a plan for the Junior Prom in school. The group of four girls gave a slide presentation to the board which laid out the plan for the prom and all the COVID safety guidelines. The junior prom organizers did a thorough job of surveying how many would attend and what safety guidelines to apply.

They proposed the Prom be held in the high school gymnasium on May 1 from 7:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. All attendees are to wear masks and observe social distancing as much as possible. The prom would be open to Junior and Seniors of the Owen-Withee School District. Each junior would be allowed to invite four adults in for 45 minutes of picture taking. Tickets would have to be purchased ahead of time so that the school would have an accurate number of attendees. It was noted that if anyone at the prom would test positive for COVID that all at the dance would have to quarantine for two weeks.

After the very professional presentation to the school board members, the board approved the plan. The board did offer that the sophomore class could be invited as well if the junior class wishes to do so.

Revision of COVID Screening

The administration proposed that the school stop screening students and staff every morning. They felt it was a good practice for most of the year but since fevers or sickness has been caught during these screenings since Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to dispense with the daily questionnaire and temperature screenings. The board approved the motion to disband with the daily temperature and health screenings.

Mask Requirement Continues

A lengthy discussion on whether the mask mandate should be lifted in May, after many of the teachers and students 16 years and older would have the opportunity to be vaccinated. Dean Schmelzer proposed that the mask mandate be encouraged but not mandated to be worn after May 3, 2021. Angela Greschner made a suggestion to amend that motion to be able to mandate mask wearing if positive cases in the county reach 5% or there are 10 positive cases in the school. No second was made to this motion. 

Bob Houts estimated that about 58% of the staff has been vaccinated and there is a shortage of substitutes. Principal Van Ark added that many of the substitute teachers would not return if the mask mandate was lifted. 

Paul Heggemeier added “There is a reason why we are still in school.”

I have seen no problems with students wearing masks. I don’t think it’s a big deal for the students.” Bob Houts replied.

Charlie Milliren added his support for continuing with the mask mandate and made a motion to maintain the current mask wearing requirement. All but Angela Greschner approved the motion.


The board approved the resignation of Margery Monaghan-Wittenberg, Special Education and the retirement of District Secretary Sara Thorson. 

Jona Hatlestad was approved for the new Jr. High Track Coach. The board approved hiring Jayci Blume  - Physical Education/Health, Katherine Olejnichak  - MS/HS Science teacher and Brandy Pecha – Special Education. 

Graduation and Senior Banquet

High school graduation will be May 22 at 10 a.m. The ceremony will take place outside if weather permits. Each senior can bring six guests. The ceremony will be live streamed. 

The Senior Banquet will be held May 19 at 6 p.m. No food will be served. Each senior is allowed to invite two guests or four is parents are divorced.

Elementary News

Elementary Van Ark gave a gracious thank you to Nazareth Lutheran Church, the O-W Lions and Thrivent for the kind gifts given to the students and staff. Mrs. Susan Nelson did a great job organizing the Book Fair of which was very well attended. She thanked the Wood Grove Workers 4-H for donating $300 to the school to purchase books. 

Summer school packets will be going out soon. This year there will be transportation and swim lessons in Colby. They are also working on offering summer recreation classes this year.

Bringing Brighter Smiles will be coming next year. This is a mobile dental service which will offer free cleanings and exams to OW students. 

Thank you to Julie Wendler

This was OW School Board President Julie Wendler’s last board meeting. Todd Nelson will take her spot at the May meeting. 

“We would like to thank Julie for 10 years of service and eight years serving as president.” Bob Houts said with gratitude.

This article was orginally reported by
Nicole Rogers

Nicole Rogers, lives in Owen, WI, and is the co-editor for the Sentinel & Rural News.