If there was ever a rival for the energy of a pack of huskies, it might be a hitch of fourth-graders.
The baseball diamond outside Parkview Elementary School was inundated Friday afternoon with students running, screaming and barking in anticipation of the first annual “Ikidarod.”
Why barking? Most of the 42 students were “dogs” for the Ikidarod race—a play on Iditarod, the annual 1,000-mile-long sled dog race that spans Alaska.
Fourth-grade teacher Nikki Lutzke led Parkview’s first Ikidarod, which includes a two-week lesson on the Iditarod, Alaskan geography, science and geometry, she said.
The students used STEM skills to build their own sleds from recycled materials with help from family, friends and high school tech-ed students, Lutzke said.
Students drew designs for the sleds then met with mentors, who helped refine the designs and build the sleds out of materials such as PVC pipe, wood, rope, plastics and pool noodles, Lutzke said.
The Ikidarod curriculum ties together social studies, science, math and physical education, Lutzke said.
Six teams of seven kids lined up their homemade sleds across the outfield Friday. The teams pushed off one by one every couple minutes, similarly to how the professionals begin the race in Alaska.
Six kids in each team pulled one student on the sled to each station along the diamond. At the first station, students picked cards that included obstacles that might be seen in the Iditarod, such as a moose standing in front of the path.
The second station was a mandatory stop, like the ones mushers have to take in the big Alaska race.
Some kicked off the race strong while other stumbled, literally, into the mud.
Traditionally, sled races are held on snow, but the Ikidarod happened after almost all the snow had melted. The kids didn’t seem to care.
The cold, however, had not gone away, and most of the students had beet-red cheeks from wind by the end of the race.
Lutzke started teaching Ikidarod when she was a teacher at Abraham Lincoln Accelerated Learning Academy in Monroe. Students in Monroe now use kits to build sleds, which the Parkview students were “disgusted” at, Lutzke said.
The students enjoyed making the sleds in the school’s makerspace as much as they loved running around outside, Lutzke said.
The students whooped and hollered through the race Friday. The loudest yells came from the students riding in the sleds. It appeared to be much easier to be a motivator when you’re not hitched for pulling.
The state’s largest business lobbying group is recommending a wide-ranging strategy to boost Wisconsin’s economy and draw more workers here.
A report released Friday by the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Foundation shows the group is taking a mostly pragmatic approach at a time of divided government. Its recommendations include expanding youth apprenticeship programs and making transportation and housing more widely available so lower-income workers have a shot at getting better jobs.
But some of the group’s ideas could have trouble gaining traction. For instance, it wants taxpayers to continue to fund ads in other states to attract workers to Wisconsin. That program drew opposition from Democrats when it was started last year when Scott Walker was governor.
The $50,000 report, prepared for WMC’s foundation by consultant Economic Leadership of North Carolina, notes the national economy has been expanding for years but warns a worker shortage is looming in Wisconsin.
“Business leaders understand that the tight labor market and workplace skill gaps will stifle future economic growth unless these issues are addressed in an aggressive manner and addressed soon,” the report says.
Kurt Bauer, the president and CEO of WMC and chairman of its foundation, said making sure the state has enough properly trained workers is a pressing issue.
“My members say what we need more than anything, what’s critical for the economy, is workforce development,” he said Thursday.
“The joke is it’s hard to get people to move here, but once they’re here it’s hard to get them to leave,” he said. “So if we just get them here, I think we can hold them.”
The group wants state officials to consider providing financial incentives for high-demand workers.
Those could come in the form of tax credits or programs aimed at reducing college debt, Bauer said.
The report comes as Republicans who control the Legislature consider the state budget introduced last month by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Lawmakers have said they plan to throw out much of Evers’ budget.
Evers said during last year’s campaign he wanted to replace the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. with a traditional state agency, but he didn’t include such an overhaul in his budget.
The two parties have also clashed over the Walker-era deal to provide up to $4 billion in public funding to Foxconn Technology Group for a proposed plant in Racine County.
WMC’s report doesn’t focus on those issues and instead identifies areas where there could be bipartisan agreement.
But the current political dynamic wasn’t the main driver of why the report was written as it was, Bauer said. He noted work on the report started well before the outcome of last year’s election was known.
“We just think that’s a smart approach to this,” he said.
Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff noted WMC’s report backs some of the issues the governor has made a priority.
“The governor’s budget makes a $1.4 billion investment in K-12 public education, as well as substantial investments in higher education, transportation infrastructure, and economic development,” she said in a statement.
“It’s great to hear that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce also supports so many of these good, bipartisan solutions. We hope Republicans in the Legislature will work with us to pass a bipartisan budget informed by the will of the people.”
The report recommends:
Karen L. Campbell
Joie Noel Giese
George Albert Gilbert
Donna Marie Haakenson
Rafael J. Hernandez, Sr.
Marie A. Holmes
Malcolm G. Kruckenberg
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand
At least 49 people were shot to death at two mosques during midday prayers Friday—most if not all of them gunned down by an immigrant-hating white supremacist who apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter on Facebook.
One man was arrested and charged with murder. Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared in court Saturday morning amid strict security and showed no emotion when the judge read him one murder charge. The judge said “it was reasonable to assume” more such charges would follow.
Two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role, if any, they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand, a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.
It was by far the deadliest shooting in modern New Zealand history.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.
She pronounced it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
Tarrant, who police say carried out at least one of the shootings, posted a jumbled, 74-page manifesto on social media in which he identified himself as a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
The gunman also livestreamed in graphic detail 17 minutes of his rampage at the Al Noor Mosque, where, armed with at least two assault rifles and a shotgun, he sprayed worshippers with bullets over and over, killing at least 41 people. Several more people were killed in an attack on a second mosque in the city a short time later.
At least 48 people were wounded, some critically. Police also defused explosive devices in a car.
Police did not say whether the same person was responsible for both shootings. They gave no details about those taken into custody except to say that none had been on any watch list. During the Saturday morning hearing, a man who was not in court was charged with using writings to incite hatred against a race or ethnicity, but it was not clear if his case was related to Tarrant’s.
Tarrant’s relatives in the Australian town of Grafton, in New South Wales, contacted police after learning of the shooting and were helping with the investigation, local authorities said. Tarrant has spent little time in Australia in the past four years and only had minor traffic infractions on his record.
On Saturday, outside one of the two mosques, 32-year-old Ash Mohammed pushed through police barricades in hopes of finding out what happened to his father and two brothers, whose cellphones rang unanswered. An officer stopped him.
“We just want to know if they are dead or alive,” Mohammed told the officer.
In the aftermath, the country’s threat level was raised from low to high, police warned Muslims against going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand, and the national airline canceled several flights in and out of Christchurch, a city of nearly 400,000.
World leaders condemned the violence and offered condolences, with President Donald Trump tweeting, “We stand in solidarity with New Zealand.” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and other Islamic leaders pointed to the bloodbath and other such attacks as evidence of rising hostility toward Muslims since 9/11.
New Zealand, with a population of 5 million, has relatively loose gun laws and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, or roughly one for every three people. But it has one of the lowest gun homicide rates in the world. In 2015, it had just eight gun homicides.
Before Friday’s attack, New Zealand’s deadliest shooting in modern history took place in 1990 in the small town of Aramoana, where a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbor.
The prime minister said today that the “primary perpetrator” in the shootings was a licensed gun owner and legally acquired the five guns used. Ardern said the country’s gun laws will change as a result of the carnage, but she did not specify how.
New Zealand is also generally considered to be welcoming to migrants and refugees. On Saturday, people across the country were reaching out to Muslims in their communities on social media to volunteer acts of kindness—offering rides to the grocery store or volunteering to walk with them if they felt unsafe. In other forums, people discussed Muslim food restrictions as they prepared to drop off meals for those affected.
The prime minister said the attack reflected “extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
Immigrants “have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home,” Ardern said. “They are us.”
At the White House, Trump called the bloodshed “a terrible thing” but rejected any suggestion the white nationalist movement is a rising threat around the world, saying it is “a small group of people that have very, very serious problems.”
Tarrant, in his rambling manifesto, deemed Trump “a symbol of renewed white identity.”
At the Al Noor mosque, witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black and wearing a helmet with some kind of device on top enter the house of worship and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running out in terror.
Peneha, who lives next door, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway and fled. Peneha then went into the mosque to help the victims.
“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said. “I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”
Facebook, Twitter and Google scrambled to take down the gunman’s video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the bloodbath.
In the video, the killer spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshippers with gunfire. He then walks outside, where he shoots at people on the sidewalk. Children’s screams can be heard in the distance as he returns to his car to get another rifle. He walks back into the mosque, where there are at least two dozen people lying on the ground.
After going back outside and shooting a woman there, he gets back in his car, where a song can be heard blasting. The singer bellows, “I am the god of hellfire!” and the gunman drives off before police even arrive.
The second attack took place at the Linwood mosque about 3 miles away. Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald that he heard about five gunshots and that a worshipper returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.
The footage showed the killer was carrying a shotgun and two fully automatic military assault rifles, with an extra magazine taped to one of the weapons so that he could reload quickly. He also had more assault weapons in the trunk of his car, along with what appeared to be explosives.
His manifesto was a welter of often politically contradictory views, touching on many of the most combustible issues of the day, among them the Second Amendment right to own guns, Muslim immigration, terrorist attacks and the wealthiest 1 percent.
He portrayed himself as a racist and a fascist and raged against non-Westerners, but he said China is the nation that most aligns with his political and social values. The gunman said he was not a member of any organization, acted alone and chose New Zealand to show that even the most remote parts of the world are not free of “mass immigration.”