Growing Young Learners

A group of students work with adult master gardener in the Houlton greenhouse.

Houlton Elementary School and its partnership with area Master Gardeners, were highlighted in the May, 2018 edition of the Wisconsin Master Gardeners Association newsletter. Thank you to St. Croix Master Gardener, Sandy Madsen, for sharing our story!

A group of students work with adult master gardener in the Houlton greenhouse.

Growing Young Learners by Sandy Madsen

Houlton Elementary, a rural school of 226 K-5 children, in the Hudson School District sought out Master Gardeners to lead a student-based gardening program. The principal emailed the St. Croix Valley MasterGardener Association in search of a willing volunteer, and I responded. The school was already very conscious of environmental concerns and encouraged many sustainable activities. They were ready, willing and able to add more health and nutrition to their curriculum through gardening.

The program began in 2009 and grew slowly over the last 10 years. By creating additional learning experiences every year, the gardens now include a perennial flower garden, a 1-acre restored prairie, an 80’ x 12’ bed for corn, beans, squash, raspberries and asparagus, a 700sq ft rain garden, a butterfly garden and 5 raised beds for vegetables, fruits and seed trials. Just last year their dysfunctional, glass sun room was replaced through generous grants. We now have a beautiful 12’ x 20’ greenhouse!

This program thrives because of unwavering support from every person in the school as well as the St Croix Valley Master Gardeners Association (SCVMGA). The Principal and her Administrative Assistant are on the front lines fighting for many things that promote our program, such as applying for grants and recruiting families to volunteer during the summer. There is unlimited support from the custodians, who among many other activities, take a leadership role by assisting composting. The cafeteria cooks inspire us by preparing and serving whatever we grow and harvest, for example, kale chips, roasted brussel sprouts and pizza sauce, which are devoured by the students. The enthusiasm of the teachers and students often amazes each of the Master Gardener volunteers, as every student in every classroom is involved. The gardening curriculum often embellishes the academic curriculum. An example of this is the enrichment of the Native American Unit through planting a Three Sisters bed full of corn, beans and squash.

The SCVMGA supports the program both financially and physically. The Houlton gardening program has received a SCVMGA grant every year since its inception. Also, many Master Gardener Volunteers come when needed. Like the day the Rain Garden was planted, when 10 Master Gardener Volunteers helped 40 fifth (5th) graders plant over 400 plants. There are a few dedicated Master Gardener Volunteers that lead the students each and every week during the growing season. The school’s gardening program has 5 components that all work together: 1)

  1. Composting- cafeteria scraps as well as garden refuse enhance composting.
  2. Classroom planting projects- each of the 11 classrooms has two planting projects, one starting in the greenhouse and one outside.
  3. Garden Club- each classroom sends three different students each week during noon recess for garden maintenance.
  4. After School program- takes responsibility for the flower gardens.
  5. Summer Family Volunteers- each week, one or two families assist with harvesting and maintenance.

Houlton Elementary School was designated as a 2017 US Department of Education Green Ribbon School. The school has a superior level of accomplishment in all of the required qualities for this recognition. The award is given to schools that reduce environmental impact, improve health and wellness and provide effective environmental and sustainability education. The entire school is committed to all of these behaviors, which are also used as the foundation of their gardening program.

It is truly a delightful and rewarding Master Gardener project.

Learn more about the Master Gardener program at

River Crest Outdoor Classroom Construction

Digging footings for River Crest's outdoor classroom pavilion.

This past school year the River Crest Parent Group and the school’s Environmental Leadership Team worked together to make plans for an Outdoor Classroom at River Crest!  With financial help from our Parent Group and other donors, we secured funding for the construction of an outdoor pavilion on the south east side of the property. We are very excited to have this covered outdoor learning space for all the students at River Crest.  The pavilion is currently being built and we are planning to celebrate the completion of the project on September 20th at 5:30 PM.

Digging footings for River Crest's outdoor classroom pavilion.

Digging footings for River Crest's outdoor classroom pavilion.

Boundary Committee Gives Feedback on Options

A group of adults stand around a table with a map discussing attendance boundary areas.

On Tuesday, June 12th, the Elementary Attendance Boundary Committee reviewed two draft options for new attendance boundaries. Both draft options will be revised further based on the input from the Boundary Committee members. It is important to note that these draft options will change.

Draft Option #1

Draft Option #2

  1. Click here to read the powerpoint presentation associated with the above options and the committee’s feedback.
  2. The Boundary Committee is scheduled to meet on September 18th to work on the revised draft options developed by RSP and Associates.
    1. Community members are welcome to observe Boundary Committee meetings.
  3. Draft options #1 and #2 were developed by RSP and Associates based on the feedback gathered at the Community Forum on May 15th.
  4. Click here to view the Elementary Attendance Boundaries webpage with all documents.

If you have questions or comments related to the work of the Elementary Attendance Boundary Committee or attendance boundaries in general, please contact:


Elementary Attendance Boundary – Community Input

Elementary Attendance Boundary committee members gather around a table and map of the school's boundaries.

A Community Forum on Elementary Attendance Boundaries is scheduled for Tuesday, May 15 at 6:00 PM. The public forum will be held at River Crest Elementary School in their cafeteria/multipurpose room.

There will be a brief presentation by the consulting firm, RSP and Associates. The presentation will be followed by a community input activity to assist the committee in understanding the community’s thinking about how neighborhoods should be considered when assigning elementary attendance areas. Click here to view the presentation power point.
Work stations will be set up with committee members at each work station. Large maps, like the one below will used to collect information on neighborhood boundaries. Community members will be asked to reflect on the following statement, “My vision of a neighborhood as it would relate to a school attendance area is a place that has the following components…” Community members will also be asked to complete a survey worksheet. The map below identifies some of the areas the community will be asked to provide recommendations on neighborhood areas.
A map of the school district boundaries and areas of potential growth.
We hope you can join the conversation on Tuesday.
Questions or comments may be directed to:

Staff vs. Senior Football Game Supports Senior Scholarship

Hudson High School seniors posing for their winning lineup after Teachers vs. Seniors football game.

The first Staff vs. Senior – Class of 2018 football game was a great success; raising over $1,600 for the Senior Scholarship Award. The evening event included the football game, staff pep band,  and staff cheerleaders. The game was followed by a concert by Yam Haus, a Twin Cities band with HHS alumni. All proceeds from ticket sales and concession profits were contributed to the Senior Scholarship Award.

Elementary Attendance Boundary Committee Update

A group of committee members discuss the boundaries on a large map on their table.

The Elementary Attendance Boundary Committee had their first meeting on Tuesday, May 8th at River Crest Elementary School. The committee work was led by RSP and Associates. The first half of the meeting included an overview of the committee process, the role of the School Board, administration, the committee, and the community, and a look at the current elementary school attendance boundaries. (Click here to view the powerpoint presentation provided by RSP)

RSP also provided data on projected enrollments.

Committee Members agreed to the following guiding principles:

  • The School Board considers this work as part of the district plan. It’s one part of a whole.
  • The boundary should reflect providing better educational opportunities at each school for there to be an equitable student experience at each school.
  • The committee recognizes the power of an elementary school to create community.
  • The boundary can anticipate future growth of the neighborhood.
  • The boundary proposed should utilize all the available District resources.
  • Consider boundary lines that follow natural/manmade boundaries.
  • Grandfathering/transfers/student options are determined by Administration.
  • Decisions are not limited, but the School Board would prefer to not close a school.
  • New elementary could be an option starting after the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Elementary additions could be an option starting after the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Conversation must remain on elementary boundaries only.

Committee members spent the final portion of the meeting defining what “neighborhood” means. The following definitions were identified:

  • Neighborhoods are defined by natural and manmade boundaries. These need to be considered for transportation.
  • Geographic boundaries that include walkability between homes and roads that connect an area.
  • There are subdivisions that share amenities like parks.
  • There are some neighborhoods defined by housing styles and lot sizes.
  • Neighborhoods can be defined by their proximity to a school.

Community Forum – Tuesday, May 15, 6:00 PM at River Crest Elementary School

Join the Elementary Boundary Committee at the first of two Community Forums on Tuesday, May 15 at 6:00 PM. The group will be meeting in the River Crest Elementary cafeteria/multipurpose room. There will be a presentation on the elementary boundary resetting process and elementary enrollment projection data. Community members will be asked to provide feedback on how they would define neighborhoods.

If you have questions or feedback please email:

Elementary Attendance Boundary committee members are seated and table groups.

Elementary Attendance Boundary committee members gather around a table and map of the school's boundaries.

Elementary Attendance Boundary committee members gather around a table and map of the school's boundaries.

Elementary Attendance Boundary committee members gather around a table and map of the school's boundaries.


Congressman Duffy Tours HHS Construction & Talks About School Safety

Principal Peg Shoemaker stands with Congressman Duffy and Superintendent Ouellette in the High School's new classroom.

Congressman Duffy and Representative Shannon Zimmerman toured Hudson High School’s construction project on Tuesday, May 1st. Their visit centered around school safety and learning about the safety features that have been included in the High School’s addition and renovations. Joining the tour of the building and adding to the conversation regarding school safety were, St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson, Hudson Police Chief Geoff Willems, School Resource Officer Brent Ellwanger, School Board President Jamie Johnson, along with Superintendent Dr. Ouellette and Principal Peg Shoemaker.

Dr. Ouellette walks down one of the new hallways with Congressman Duffy.

Congressman Duffy stands with SRO Ellwanger and Principal Shoemaker

HHS Seniors vs. Staff Football Game

A group of high school faculty pose in football pads and jerseys.

Hudson High School will be hosting a Seniors vs. Staff football game on Wednesday, May 9th at 6:oo PM in the new Hudson High School Raider Stadium. Seniors from the class of 2018 are invited to play against the faculty. We invite you to join the festivities!

Activities include:

  • Contests for prizes.
  • Staff pep band and cheer team.
  • Live concert by the band Yam Haus following the football game.
  • Concessions, food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Cost is $5.00 per person with proceeds from admission and the concessions funding a scholarship for a senior student. The scholarship recipient will be chosen by the Hudson High School faculty.

Pictured above and ready to represent the HHS faculty are: (Back row, left to right) Neil Hatfield, Steve Sollom, Trevor Peck, Adam Kowles; (Front row, left to right) Suzi Robole and Jami Holum.

Yam Haus is a band that was formed after years of making music in high school. The Minneapolis-based pop band will release their debut album this summer. Produced by Mark Heimermann at Sevens-Gate Studio in Hudson, WI. The band’s love for punch pop, old school rock and roll, sensitive folk, and the beat of hip-hop inspire their first album. Hudson High School alumni, lead vocalist, Lars Pruitt, and Zach Beinlich, collaborate with Heimermann to write songs that reflect on the frontman’s past and tell the story of finding meaning in the midst of pain.

The musicians from the band Yam Haus are seated outside.

Yam Haus, Photo by Michael Becker

Raiders Start 2-0 in BRC Conference Tennis

Senior tennis captain, Isaac Young, prepares to hit his serve with doubles partner, Colin Pruzek, at the net.

Above: Senior Captain, Isaac Young, prepares to hit his serve with doubles partner, Colin Pruzek, at the net for the Hudson Raiders (near court) during their match vs. Chippewa Falls duo of Isaac Hein and Eli Marticorena.

After delays in getting tennis matches started because of the inclement spring weather, the Hudson Raider men’s tennis team remained undefeated in the young Big Rivers Conference (BRC) season; after trouncing the Chippewa Falls Cardinals 7-0 in Chippewa Falls on Thursday, April 26th. In two matches so far this season, the Raider men’s tennis team hasn’t dropped an individual match yet, with their 14-0 individual match record. They defeated River Falls 7-0 and the Cardinals of Chippewa Falls 7-0 in the first week of tennis in the BRC.

Coach John Knutson said, “With losing only one senior from last year’s team, and all the work the guys put in since the end of last year, we all thought we might have one of those special teams this year. We’re starting off as good as we possibly could; shutting out two teams, in the Wildcats of RF and Cardinals of Chippewa Falls, that are historically pretty good. While we’re happy with the two dominant wins, we still have a lot to learn at practice to be able to implement better strategies in points, games, and matches, if we are going to be the best our team can be. This team has had the goal of not only winning the BRC title this year, but also to compete at State as a team, something Hudson has never done. I’m always asking the players, ‘What are you willing to give, to get what you want?’ While they believe they can accomplish those goals, as a coach, I still need to see more of the “team first” mentality, and more mental toughness to get there.”

Match scores in the Raider’s 7-0 blanking of the Chippewa Falls Cardinals were as follows. In singles for the Raiders, Tyler Grosz won 6-2, 6-0 at #1; Andrew Bolles won in three sets by scores of 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 at #2; Lukas Johnson won 6-2, 6-0 at #3; and Brock Wimer defeated his opponent in three sets 2-6, 6-4, and 7-5.

Doubles scores included Luke Holmberg and Jacob Grosz winning 6-4, 6-2 at #1 doubles; Isaac Young and Colin Pruzek pulling out a win at #2 doubles in three sets by scores of 6-1, 0-6, and 6-1; and rounding out the top ten players in the seven matches for Varsity were Cole Peters and Jack Geurkink winning at #3 doubles in two sets 6-2 and 7-5.

In exhibition matches for Varsity, beyond the recordable top ten finishers, singles winners were Lewis Holmberg and Robbie Elsenpeter with Kade Nickerson falling to his Chippewa Falls counterpart. In extra doubles action, Tyler Schwab and Mitchell Drost won, along with Isaac Hennemann and Jackson Elworthy.

Coach Knutson went on to say, “Overall, it’s hard to nit pick with a 7-0 win for the Varsity top 10 and winning most of the additional exhibition matches as well. There are still a lot of things we need to do better to play efficient matches. Three of our Varsity matches went into third sets today. What I was most impressed with today is winning all three matches after our Raiders split sets with the opponents. You have to be mentally tough to pull out three set victories and we won them all today. I would say that we’re all pretty happy. Bolles at #2 singles and Wimer at #3 singles both lost their first sets but were determined to win their matches and in both cases they played much better and closed out the wins by winning the second and third sets for great team wins! Isaac Young and Colin Pruzek took a different path, winning their first set easily 6-1, but then with what they admitted was a loss of focus, they dropped the second set 6-0. What I appreciated most in this match is the determination and mental toughness to forget that 0-6 drubbing in the second set to come back and win the third set convincingly by the 6-1 score. Very impressive indeed, and another great match win for the Raiders!”

Next up for the Hudson Raiders will be BRC action vs. Menomonie Mustangs and Eau Claire North Huskies next week.