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Craig High School's Elevate program challenges students with real business projects


About 20 Craig High School students spread throughout the school’s library Friday, some of them sporting blazers and white button-down shirts and others in dress sweaters and khakis.

The students were participating in a peer case study over Zoom with students from Pewaukee High School as part of Craig’s Elevate program, which pairs upperclassmen with an area business to gain real-world skills through projects and mentorship.

Students were preparing to deliver their findings from a case study competition with the Pewaukee students.

Anthony Wahl 

Craig High School student Maddie Viles goes over a PowerPoint presentation virtually with her teammates from Pewaukee High School during a competition Friday. The Elevate program at Craig offers high school juniors and seniors an immersive work experience with nonprofits, entrepreneurs and businesses.

Elevate is Craig’s business capstone program. Students fill three of their eight class periods for the year with courses in business communications, business finance and global business.

“The whole focus is really to be transdisciplinary,” Assistant Principal Shawn Kane said of the program, now in its third semester.

“I think our teachers are really innovative in terms of how they approach the curriculum, and much of it is to prepare kids for the business projects and the mentorship experience.”

Students examine multiple Harvard Business School case studies on different business scenarios and work in small groups to help an actual business solve real issues.

Last year, students worked with Zorro to develop a human resources process for onboarding new employees over the course of 30, 60 and 90 days. Students interviewed employees, reviewed company data and implemented changes.

Students also worked to simplify Downtown Janesville’s gift card system through a vendor in California, which is now used by Downtown Janesville.

Tim Lindau, chair of Forward Janesville, is a mentor in the Elevate program. He said the students have impressed him.

“As you get older, you kind of find it amazing how from generation to generation, the older generation always looks negatively on the younger generation. And I don’t think we’re any different, our generation. I sit down and talk with them (students), and it’s like, ‘Man, these guys are great,’” Lindau said.

“And I learn about what their interests are in school, about what they do in their free time, what their goals and objectives are and how they line up their strategy for their career already in middle or high school, and the trajectory is set. I mean, it’s impressive,” he said. ”These kids are really, really impressive. And it’s fun, to really get to know them and know what’s going on in their world. I found that to be invaluable.”

Business education teacher Brandon Miles teaches some Elevate courses and oversaw Friday’s competition. He said Elevate has brought new value to student-led education.

Anthony Wahl 

Teammates Joseph Richardson, left, and Enrique Casique of Craig High School work virtually with their Pewaukee High School counterparts during a competition involving each school’s Elevate program on Friday at Craig.

“As educators, I think we’ve always seen that high school students can bring a lot to the world outside of these walls, and it’s nice through Elevate that we’re able to do that. And I think the businesses that partner with us, they definitely see that value, too, which then makes the kids feel good about it, too,” Miles said.

More than 30 businesses participate in Elevate in various ways. The program is geared mostly toward businesses, but mentors represent many career fields.

“I always tell them there’s a business side to every type of career field. ... So even if these kids tell me they want to be a nurse or a physician or something like that, there’s a business side to it,” Kane said.

Elevate offers students a chance to get a taste of the field they hope to study in college. For some, it validates their interests; for others, it prompts them to look elsewhere.

”It’s good for a junior to find out he doesn’t want to be an accountant as a junior rather than as a sophomore in college,” he said. “If you find out in high school that accounting isn’t your pathway, but you always thought it was, it’s better not to pay $50,000 in tuition before you find that out.”

For junior Melvin Garcia, the program solidified his interest in the trades.

“I for once felt like it was an opportunity for me to experience a career that I might want to pursue,” Garcia said. “And it felt like for the first time, it was something that I was actually going to use, like real-life experience, because sometimes in school I’ll be learning stuff that I just don’t know if I’ll need.”

Garcia said his Elevate mentor got him interested in real estate and is the first person who persuaded him to read a book from cover to cover. Garcia hopes to be an electrician and property owner someday, so the real estate perspective has broadened his interests.

Anthony Wahl 

Craig High School student Emery Martine reviews a PowerPoint presentation virtually with his teammates from Pewaukee High School during a competition Friday.

When Elevate first began, Craig teachers borrowed ideas from Pewaukee High School to get the project up and running. The two schools continue to work together.

Kane said the program has moved the concept of education past textbooks and white boards.

“The popular opinion out there is kids are falling behind, and this is another way to show that our kids aren’t falling behind,” he said. “They’re accelerating ahead.And I think our students are going to take whatever circumstances they’re in, and they’re going to make it work.

Junior Aubrey Haworth is set to graduate early this year, so she wanted a view of the real world before heading to college. She hopes to become a doctor.

“I want to go into the medical field, but I also wanted to experience the business side of things just in case I decide to change or if I want to go into a management position in the medical field. So I think it’s really helping me with that view of things,” she said.

Haworth said the program has prepared her for college next year.

”I think I’ve learned a lot in finance, economics, the culture of all of it. We also have an English portion, so I’ve learned a lot about speeches and public speaking, and I think it all can kind of tie into any job I want to go into one day,” she said.

Another 31 students are signed up to participate in Elevate next year. Miles said the program will continue to evolve as it exposes students to all sorts of real-world skills.

“I would just say confidence as well, where they’ve worked with real-world, successful business people and have a mentor that they’ve grown a relationship with,” Miles said. “And they have this interpersonal experience now that a lot of students their age don’t have on top of that. I think they’re better prepared for not only the real world, but college, too.”

Support grows for Capitol riot inquiry after Trump acquittal


After what one called a “heartbreaking” verdict, House prosecutors who argued for Donald Trump’s conviction of inciting the U.S. Capitol riot said Sunday they had proved their case and railed against the Senate’s Republican leader and most of his colleagues for “trying to have it both ways” in acquitting the former president.

A day after Trump won his second Senate impeachment trial in two years, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent Sept. 11-style commission to make sure that such a horrific assault could never happen again.

The end of the quick trial hardly put to rest the debate about Trump’s culpability for the Jan. 6 insurrection as the political, legal and emotional fallout unfolded.

More investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also has asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to lead an immediate review of the Capitol’s security process.

Lawmakers from both parties signaled Sunday that even more inquiries were likely.

“There should be a complete investigation about what happened,” said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump. “What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again.”

Cassidy said he was “attempting to hold President Trump accountable,” and added that as Americans hear all the facts, “more folks will move to where I was.” He was censured by his state’s Republican Party after the vote, which was 57-43 to convict but 10 votes short of the two-thirds required.

A close Trump ally, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said he looked forward to campaigning with Trump in the 2022 election, when Republicans hope to regain the congressional majority. But Graham acknowledged that Trump had some culpability for the siege at the Capitol that killed five people, including a police officer, and disrupted lawmakers’ certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s White House victory.

“His behavior after the election was over the top,” Graham said. “We need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

The Senate acquitted Trump of a charge of “incitement of insurrection” after House prosecutors laid out a case that he was an “inciter in chief” who unleashed a mob by stoking a monthslong campaign of spreading debunked conspiracy theories and false violent rhetoric that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Trump’s lawyers countered that Trump’s words were not intended to incite the violence and that impeachment was nothing but a “witch hunt” designed to prevent him from serving in office again.

The conviction tally was the most bipartisan in American history but left Trump to declare victory and signal a political revival while a bitterly divided GOP bickered over its direction and his place in the party.

The Republicans who joined Cassidy in voting to convict were Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

“It’s frustrating, but the founders knew what they were doing and so we live with the system that we have,” Delegate Stacey Plaskett, a House prosecutor who represents the Virgin Islands, said of the verdict, describing it as “heartbreaking.” She added: “But, listen, we didn’t need more witnesses. We needed more senators with spines.”

On Sunday, several House impeachment managers sharply criticized McConnell, who told Republican senators shortly before the vote that he would acquit Trump. In a blistering speech after the vote, McConnell said the president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day” but that the Senate’s hands were tied to do anything about it because Trump was out of office. But the Senate, in an earlier vote, had deemed the trial constitutional.

“It was powerful to hear the 57 guilties and then it was puzzling to hear and see Mitch McConnell stand and say not guilty and then minutes later stand again and say he was guilty of everything,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa. “History will remember that statement of speaking out of two sides of his mouth,” she said.

Dean backed the idea of an impartial investigative commission “not guided by politics but filled with people who would stand up to the courage of their conviction.”

An independent 9/11-style commission, which probably would require legislation to create, would elevate the investigation a step higher, offering a definitive government-backed accounting of events. Pelosi has expressed support for such a commission while stressing that the members who sit on it would be key. Still, such a panel would pose risks of sharpening partisan divisions or overshadowing Biden’s legislative agenda.

“There’s still more evidence that the American people need and deserve to hear, and a 9/11 commission is a way to make sure that we secure the Capitol going forward,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and a Biden ally. “And that we lay bare the record of just how responsible and how abjectly violating of his constitutional oath President Trump really was.”

The lead House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., called the trial a “dramatic success in historical terms” by winning unprecedented support from senators in the president’s party. He said the verdict didn’t match the reality of the strength of evidence.

“We successfully prosecuted him and convicted him in the court of public opinion and the court of history,” he said. Pointing to McConnell and other Republican senators critical of Trump but voting to acquit, Raskin said, “They’re trying to have it both ways.”

Raskin and Plaskett defended the House team’s last-minute reversal not to call a witness, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. They acknowledged they were aware they might lose some GOP votes for conviction if they extended the trial much longer.

Beutler’s statement late Friday that Trump rebuffed a plea from House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to call off the rioters was ultimately entered into the trial record.

“I think what we did was, we got what we wanted, which was her statement, which was what she said, and had it put into the record,” Plaskett said.

Cassidy and Dean spoke on ABC’s “This Week,” Graham appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” Raskin was on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and Plaskett appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sun Prairie’s Jazzanay Seymore is called for a foul as Janesville Craig’s Lily Campbell attempts a layup during their regional final game on Saturday, Feb. 13.

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Frigid February: Temperatures to rise but stay below average


Spring isn’t here quite yet, but a National Weather Service meteorologist says southern Wisconsin can expect a slight bump in temperatures this week after a colder-than-normal first half of February.

“When we start looking a week or two out, it does look like things might be trending a little bit more toward normal,” meteorologist Kevin Wagner said. “It will still be a little on the cold side … but things are looking like they should at least creep back up closer to normal by the middle of (this) week with highs in the 20s.”

Highs in the 20s are still below average for February, which usually features highs in the 30s, according to Gazette records.

This month, Janesville has recorded several days in the single digits to near zero.

Wagner said one reason for the cold spell is a stalled weather system.

However, that soon will get kicked out by new weather systems, which will bring higher temperatures to the Midwest.

“One of the big things is there really hasn’t been too much of a pattern change,” Wagner said. “We just kind of had this same pattern just kind of sitting over us. There’s an upper-level low kind of sitting over Canada, and then we have high pressure sitting at the surface across pretty much all of the central part of the United States.

“And with those two patterns sitting there, it’s just able to bring down that arctic air and just kind of continue. So really, we just needed something to kind of kick that system moving east and to kind of shift us out of that pattern.”

Wagner said the cold weather isn’t quite in the rear-view mirror though.

”It’s going to get pretty chilly again Saturday night through Monday morning with wind chills in the negative 20 to negative 30 range,” he said, “so definitely stay warm this weekend.”

Janesville Utility Director Dave Botts said the city hasn’t had issues keeping its water utility running during the cold snap.

“We’ve been monitoring the water temperatures in the system, and they are in the 40s. So it’s cooler than normal, but it hasn’t caused any issues for us,” Botts said last week.

“When it gets into any of these cold temperature ranges like this for a period of time, that’s when we start watching the water temperatures because it does have an impact on the water tower,” he said. “So we want to move the water around more so it doesn’t start freezing in there.”

He said deep frost has a more negative effect on grounded water pipes than low temperatures.

Botts said people should make sure their water meters are in a safe place in their houses and that their house temperature isn’t so cold that their water pipes freeze and burst.

“Typically, there’s potential for more water main breaks, which would require us to come out, dig up pavement and repair the water mains, which causes us to have people’s water off in the areas where the breaks occur,” Botts said. “... Fortunately, we haven’t had much going on with this cold streak.”

There’s a reason for that. About eight years ago, the city increased the number of streets it resurfaced each year. That allowed water utility crews to evaluate water lines and replace those that needed it, Botts said, which improved the water delivery system.

Spring isn’t officially due to arrive for at least a month, but Wagner said slightly higher temperatures will be a welcome change.

“It should feel nice compared to everything we’ve had these last few weeks,” he said.