Youth Frontiers to help build culture of respect at Phoenix Middle School

Youth Frontiers LogoDELAVAN – To help build a more respectful school culture, Youth Frontiers, the leading character education organization in the Upper Midwest, will partner with Delavan-Darien’s Phoenix Middle School on Tuesday, Dec. 1, to host a comprehensive courage retreat for the 7th grade class. Youth Frontiers delivers programs that build positive school communities and strengthen student character.

Founded in 1987, Youth Frontiers’ dynamic retreats inspire students to live out the values of kindness, courage, respect and responsibility in their personal and school lives. Youth Frontiers aims to change the way kids treat each other in every hallway, lunch line and classroom of every school in America. Last school year, the nationally renowned nonprofit held 766 retreats for 118,000 students and educators. Since its inception, Youth Frontiers has reached more than 1.4 million through their character development programs.

“It’s a very powerful program,” said Phoenix Principal Hank Schmelz. “I’ve used it before when I worked in Madison and there are a lot of great benefits.”

The courage program for the seventh graders will focus on bullying and improving the school climate, Schmelz said.

“It really helps shift the climate to that of kindness and being brave enough to not bully and to accept people for who they really are,” Schmelz said, noting that the seventh grade year is when middle schools across the country start to see a rise in bullying instances.

“It’s a continuing thing that middle schools all over have constantly struggled with for this age group,” Schmelz added. “We want to teach them how to be kind to each other and this program offers a powerful way for them to learn the impact of hurtful words and actions.”

Youth Frontiers staff clearly understand the challenges faced by schools and students every day.

“We teach values – unapologetically – because we want today’s young people to make tomorrow’s world better,” says Joe Cavanaugh, founder and CEO of Youth Frontiers.

As awareness and concern around the issue of bullying continue to grow nationwide, schools are looking for help. More than 7.1 percent of U.S. high school students skip school every month because they fear for their safety, according to the Center for Disease Control’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Schools understand that something needs to be done to change the way kids treat one another.

According to the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the best way to prevent bullying is to stop it before it starts. Moreover, the best prevention strategies engage the entire school community in building a culture of respect.

“At Youth Frontiers, we believe that every person matters, so we exist to create experiences that build community and inspire human connection,” Cavanaugh said. “In community, we treat one another better. We take ownership to make our school better. We hold each other accountable for our actions. In community, we rely on mutual respect, kindness and moral courage.”

Youth Frontiers offers engaging, high-energy retreats for schools using games, music, small-group discussions and inspiring stories that engage students’ hearts and break down walls between young people. Throughout the retreat day, students begin to exhibit traits of true character – mending relationships, stating acts of courage and respecting themselves and others. Comprehensive follow-up materials also provide a way for educators and students to extend the impact of the retreat.

Youth Frontiers offers five grade-specific retreats – each offering a developmentally-appropriate theme. In fourth and fifth grade, students learn about the importance of kindness and are given tools to build empathy. In middle school, students learn how to find the moral courage to stand up for others. In high school, Youth Frontiers helps students understand the importance of respecting others and inspires students to take ownership to make their school better.

The middle school retreat will 28 DDHS student volunteers who are coming in to help three Youth Frontiers facilitators. Those kids will bring the ideas they learned at the middle school back to DDHS and hopefully improve the climate there, Schmelz said.

“I’m having a cross section of students come and volunteer,” he said. “It will be a mix of all types of students. It won’t just be the best athletes or the cheerleader ‘rah, rah’ types of students because then this wouldn’t be an authentic exercise. I want everyone attending to get something worthwhile and long-lasting from this retreat.”

Schmelz also expects a few administrators from nearby districts to come and observe the retreat so they can hopefully bring a program to their own school districts.


About Youth Frontiers

Founded in 1987, Youth Frontiers ( partners with schools to build positive communities where students thrive socially, emotionally and academically. Based in the Twin Cities, the nonpartisan organization is funded through a partnership between schools and private foundations, corporations and individuals. Dedicated to building the character of young people, Youth Frontiers also provides online resources for parents to help foster their children’s positive peer interactions.

For information about Youth Frontiers and its retreats, contact Ali Sipkins, Director of External Relations, at 952.697.2660 or Media may contact Jessica Larson, Communications and Marketing Manager, at 952.697.2669 or


Posted in Delavan-Darien High School, Delavan-Darien School District, News Releases, Phoenix Middle School | Leave a comment

District to discuss ‘center schools’ idea Dec. 7, Dec. 9


DELAVAN — Delavan-Darien School District parents and community members are invited to provide input and learn about a proposal to change the district’s elementary building grade configuration structures.

The school board is considering moving to an Elementary ‘Center’ School concept to both save money and improve the educational opportunities for all students.

The Center School concept and its benefits will be explained at two public information meetings—

  • 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7,
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9,
  • both held at the School Administration Center, 324 Beloit St., Delavan.

Center schools have all sections of certain grades at a particular school for the entire district. For example, all kindergarten students (currently in three different buildings) would be all together in one building. Likewise for preschool, first grade, second grade, and so on.

“The concept is educationally sound and can reduce our operating costs,” Superintendent Robert Crist, Ed.D., said. “It is a way to hopefully avoid more future referendums and still provide for quality learning. The drawback typically is student transportation.”

Through attrition, staff could be reduced between approximately four and nine teachers, saving upward of $750,000 in salaries and benefits on the high end, Crist said. If bussing transportation costs increased under the proposal, there would still be a net savings, even if staffing were reduced by four positions.

The model would allow for the reductions because class sizes could be balanced equally across all classrooms. Currently, with inter-district boundary lines for elementary schools, some teachers have greater numbers of students in their classrooms than colleagues teaching the same grade at another school.

  • Crist sees other benefits to the switch such as:
  • gaining efficiencies with staff and material resources,
  • the ability to balance classes in number and by student needs (language, special education, etc.),
  • the ability to have greater teacher collaboration among grade level teams,
  • having all members of a graduating class together in one building for all schooling years (4K-12),
  • the ability to nurture all students by pairing them with a teacher best suited for students’ needs,
  • and more.

“We’ve looked at this idea in the recent past and saw the benefits then,” Crist said. “The major hurdles were student transportation and finding financial savings. Now, with the class sizes we’re currently seeing, we can significantly reduce costs and balance classes under this proposal. The financial savings only help to support the academic benefits I feel this schooling structure offers.

“I welcome all families and community members to our public information sessions to learn more and share their own ideas for improving our schools.”

Posted in Darien Elementary School, Delavan-Darien High School, Delavan-Darien School District, News Releases, Phoenix Middle School, Turtle Creek Elementary School, Wileman Elementary School | Leave a comment

DDHS senior launches winter clothing drive project

Delavan-Darien High School senior Michelle Johnson has launched a winter clothing drive for youth and adults in our area.

Michelle Johnson

Michelle Johnson

She is collecting winter gear from now through December 2nd. There will be Collection Boxes in the high school, middle school, and the three elementary schools. She is also seeking to place boxes at the the Aram Public Library, the Delavan Post Office, and several local churches.

The items she is collecting include new or gently used winter boots, hats, gloves, scarves, coats, and snow pants.

The donated items will be distributed at the Town Bank Community Center (next to ACE Hardware), Saturday and Sunday, December 5th and 6th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Anybody in need is welcome to come. She is hopeful lots of kids come out because of their great need for snow pants, winter coats and boots for recess (children often cannot have recess outside in winter if they come to school without proper attire to keep them safe in the cold).

If supplies remain after Dec. 6, Johnson said she may extend the distribution days to include December 12th and/or the 13th at the same location during the same times. Stay tuned to our blog for updates.

Johnson’s project was made possible through a grant from the new DAYS Foundation in Delavan, which encourages community service by youth in our area. DAYS takes applications for projects and awards—on a case-by-case basis—start-up funding so projects are successful.

DAYS also connects youth to service opportunities in our area by hosting a database  of such projects.

For more information visit:

Posted in Community Service, Darien Elementary School, Delavan-Darien High School, Delavan-Darien School District, Phoenix Middle School, Turtle Creek Elementary School, Wileman Elementary School | Leave a comment

Phoenix Middle School 2015 First Quarter Honors

honor_rollPlenty of names on the Phoenix Middle School first quarter Honors and High Honors lists.

High honors is a grade point average of 3.50 or above. Honors students have a GPA of 3.0-3.49.

Great job to all students!



1st Quarter High Honor Roll

6th Grade High Honor Roll

Faith Allen, Alexander Andreoni, Sydney Aranda, Mariel Armenta Valle, Melynna Arreola, Acacia Butteris-Anderson, Isabel Calhoun, Estevan Colin, Cheyenne Corning, Eric Cortes, Naomi Delgado, Tija Eglite, Jaiden Elliott, James Finley, Diamond Garcia, Eliana Gluchman, Madison Gordon, Justin Graham, Katelynn Gums, Adrian Hernandez, Nathally Hernandez, Michael Kiem, Kylie Kummer, Brianna Lara, Dakota Mead, Jazmin Melendez, Bobbie Neal, Miguel Ocampo, Josue Ortega, Dia Patel, Kush Patel, Eleashah Petersen, Hallie Pollard, Adante Raby, Victor Ramirez Escobar, Elimarie Ramos, Yuniel Rodriguez, Elizabeth Sanchez, Sabrina Sandhu, Maria Shackett, Kennedy Shepard, Scott Sirkman, Jacob Solis, Eli Stickney, Marissa Torres Raby, Jaqueline Urias, Aiden Valadez Jr, Jason VanDeBogert, Marianna Vieyra, Julianna Wegleitner, Adrianna White, Alton Wimer, Pamela Zamorano.


7th Grade High Honor Roll

Gwendolyn Acheson, Lithzy Aleman, Paige Arnold, Katie Bradley, Sophia Brandt Reinhart, Emily Cameron, Amir Castillo Cano, Heather Charter, Michael Cobb, Christina Crawford, Xandria Dreksler, Davyn Elliott, Sylvia Elliott, Hadyn Emmerich, Adrian Fonseca, Alyssa Fonseca, Rosalba Hernandez, Alizon Hernandez-Espinoza, Eri Jaramillo, Molly Jedlicka, Caitlyn Karbash, Gracie Laue, America Lavdas, Morgan Lock, Myles Lockhart, Brianna Manriquez, Nayeli Mercado, Tanya Mollado Martinez, Jaxon Moore, Naitaly Napodano, Hannia Nevarez Martinez, Maria Oliveros, Kathryn Pehkonen, Alyssa Rakowski, Collette Riviere, Allison Rosencrans, Ariana Ruiz, Francheska Sandoval, Jose Soto, Perla Valadez, Rudolfo Villarreal, Breanna Yartey.


8th Grade High Honor Roll

Ivan Aranda, Jasmine Arias, Jocelyn Arreola, Cody Bliss, Alyssa Cardenas, Ronnell Fleming, Oscar Garcia, Joseph Gonzales, Oliver Hetzel, Brittney Huth, Joshua Johnson, Kaitlyn Kraayeveld, Frederick Krablean, Maira Leep Simental, Samuel Markling Jr, Gabriela Montelongo, Diego Nova, Liliana Nunez, Marcela Nunez, Judith Perez, Pablo Perez, Shannon Piecha, Jacob Prado, Dakota Quarzenski, Johanna Quintero, Heather Ream, Madeline Robertson, Samantha Romine, Karina Torres, Jordane Torres Raby, Audriana Valadez, Stephanie Vaughn, William Volmar, Nicholas Zikuda.



1st Quarter Honor Roll

6th Grade Honor Roll

Altin Ajruli, Ariadna Aranda-Villegas, Diego Arellano, Adrian Baca, Iella Barrera, Lucero Calixto Perez, Owen Chelminiak, Angel Duran, Maggie Dutton, Gavin Ebbert, Ryan Flitcroft, Hector Flores Jr, Gabriella Guzman, Christopher Hamell, Max Hennessey, Hector Hernandez, Barbara Honish, Alex Huerta, Erick Huerta, Giselle Huerta, Alisandra Hutchison, Samuel Jaramillo, Hunter Kastning, Dominick Kennedy, Melody Kilroy, Ryan Kritz, Hazerim Lechuga, Luke Lenz, Aracely Luque Quispe, Cora Malinek, Angel Malvaez, Sarai Manriquez, Alan Mendez Arjon, Moises Montelongo, Angeline Nolasco, Jose Perez, Timothy Rakowski, Kolby Schmuck, Sofia Seitz, Kenneth Shi, Marshall Shupe, Emilie Smith, Brian Sotelo, Cesar Soto, Zachary Swiatlowski, Brian Valdez Chavez, Luciano Villarreal, Lance Warrenburg.


7th Grade Honor Roll

Fernando Arredondo, Mario Barajas, Kelly Beckman, Abigail Beles, Travin Biging, Camrin Bosworth, Jessica Brandemuehl, Salma Cano, Tyler Conley, Devan Conrad, Erica Curbelo, Roberto DeAnda-Jaramillo, Cristal Duran Cruz, Haley Fischer, David Flores, Brisa Gamino, Desiree Green, Jared Greidanus, Dakota Hanson, Seth Helm, Mason Hennessey, Laura Hernandez, Mark Anthony Hernandez, Juliana Huerta, Jonathan Jaramillo, Brianna Jasso, Blake Johnson, Jovanni Lemus, Charlie Lopez, Lahzris Markling, Benjamin Petersen, Xochitl Prado, Diego Ramirez, Enrique Rizo, Jose Roman Cruz, Adrien Romero, Anna Sorg, Sophia Valadez, Hunter Warren, Avey Wilcheck, Shelby Wohlfiel, Britain Woloszyk, Joshua Ziolkowski.


8th Grade Honor Roll

Alicia Aguirre, Cristian Aranda, Lizbeth Aranda, Nicholas Armstrong, Benjamin Butke, Roberto Calixto Esquivel, Brian Camposano, Hope Childers, Nina Colunga, Kaylee Conboy, Alexis Contreras, Elizabeth Craig, Javier Cruz, Esbai De La Cruz, Silvia De La Cruz, Rahim Demir, Alexis Duran, Lillian Fessenden, Francisco Fonseca Soto, Yovany Fonseca, Haley Fuss-Mueller, Payton Gordon, Leah Hamell, Lisette Hernandez, Casey Huerta, Kimberly Huerta, Michelle Huerta, Yadira Huerta, Monica Huth, Alejandro Iniquez, Paige Johnson, Anthony Lopez, Samuel Medrano, Daniel Mick, Mateo Morales, Roberto Moreno, Samantha Nicholas, Patricia Nova-Sanchez, Jacob O’Brien, Dieonte Orth, Breanna Ostrander, Kody Parks, Yadira Rizo, Alyssa Sanders, Madelyn Santeler, Moses Solis, Jesse Soto, Kevin Valadez Olivares, Yasmin Valadez, Christopher Wanless, Alexis Washington.

Posted in Delavan-Darien School District, News Releases, Phoenix Middle School | Leave a comment

Friday is Youth Fun Night with DDHS Girls Basketball


Looking for some fun things to do with the kids on Friday night (Nov. 20)?

Come to the Delavan-Darien High School main gym where the DDHS girls basketball teams are hosting a Youth Fun Night!

The event is from 7-8:30 p.m. There are no WIAA competitive games, but the DDHS girls basketball athletes will be leading games and contests for kids. Varsity coach Joe Lopez says there will also be prizes, free refreshments, a chance to have pictures taken with the athletes and get their autographs. Free refreshments will also be provided and girls who attend will get a free T-shirt and poster!

Stop on out for this meet-and-greet night of fun with the DDHS girls basketball squads!

Posted in Delavan-Darien School District, Delavan-Darien High School, Phoenix Middle School, Turtle Creek Elementary School, Wileman Elementary School, Darien Elementary School, DDHS Sports | Leave a comment

Call A Comet gift cards available


Looking for the perfect holiday gift?

Call a Comet gift cards are available for purchase!

Give your loved one the gift of a clean house, a clean car, or any other service that they may need.

Call or e-mail Call A Comet coordinator Carri Brandt for details,, (262) 728-2642 ext. 4448 or visit

Posted in Delavan-Darien High School, Delavan-Darien School District | Leave a comment

REMINDER: Darien Soup and Story Night is NOv. 19


Darien Elementary School students and families are invited to the school’s upcoming Soup and Story Family Night this Thursday, Nov.  19, from 5:15 until 7 p.m.

Come out to the school for a soup dinner and fun reading activities!

The fun will include a “book walk,” bookmark making, “parachute read,” reading with your family, and of eating course delicious soup and desserts!


Students should return the bottom portion of this sheet with their name and how many people will be attending.  

*All children must attend with an adult.

-Thank you,

Posted in Darien Elementary School, Delavan-Darien School District, News Releases | Leave a comment

Golden State Foods donates dozens of winter coats

Sonia Raderschadt. Wileman receieved a total of 39 coats and gloves. Back row (green/blue striped shirt) - Joesyah Gilbert - K From row (next to Mrs Pehkonen)- Ethan Baca - 4th, Jusiah Nelson - 4th

Golden State Foods donated 39 winter coats and pairs of gloves to Wileman Elementary School recently. Accepting the donation were (front row, from left): school psychologist Kori Pehkonen, Ethan Baca, Jusiah Nelson, Sonia Raderschadt (daughter of a Golden State Foods employee); back row Joesyah Gilbert and Interim Principal Deb Erdmann.

Special Thanks to Golden State Foods for their generous donation of 39 winter coats and gloves for our students in need.

Golden State Foods has often graciously given winter gear to our Delavan-Darien Students and our students, staff and families are thankful for the company’s support.

With approximately 70 percent of our students (district-wide) qualifying for the federal free and reduced lunch program, the coats and gloves are often needed.

If you have any winter gear—new or gently used hats, coats, gloves, scarves, boots, snow pants for students of any age—you can drop them off at our Comet Care Center at Phoenix Middle School or any school’s main office.

The Comet Care Center also accepts donations of regular clothes (shirts, pants, socks, underwear, T-shirts, sweaters, etc.), shoes, toiletries, toys/games, coat hangers, alarm clocks and school supplies. These items are distributed to students—for free—on an as-needed basis.

Having such supplies helps all students receive a better education and helps fulfill students’ physical, social and emotional needs, which improves overall health, too!

Posted in Darien Elementary School, Delavan-Darien High School, Delavan-Darien School District, News Releases, Phoenix Middle School, Turtle Creek Elementary School, Wileman Elementary School | Leave a comment

DDHS One-Acts are Nov. 20-21

theater-masksDon’t miss a night of Fairy Tale fun at the Delavan-Darien High School one-act plays, scheduled for Nov. 20-21.

Three plays are to be performed:

  • Rapunzel Uncut
    • The story of Rapunzel told by dueling narrators, with a misunderstood witch, an off-pitch Rapunzel, and an unimaginably stupid Prince.
  • OMG, It’s Another Play
    • A ridiculous behind-the-scenes look at what really happens at rehearsal, as an utterly pretentious director, a thoroughly disgruntled stage manager, and romantically entangled actors all prepare for a nonsensically generic play.
  • Law and Order: Fairytale Unit
    • In the fairy tale criminal justice system, the characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes are represented by two separate yet equally ridiculous groups: the fairy tale police who investigate fairy tale crime, and the fairy tale district attorneys who prosecute the fairy tale offenders. These are their stories.

Download flyer

Get tickets at the DDHS Auditorium Door, $3 for adults, $2 for students. The plays start at 7 p.m. both days, Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21.

This year’s plays are directed by Lisa Seitz.

Posted in Darien Elementary School, Delavan-Darien High School, Delavan-Darien School District, News Releases, Phoenix Middle School, Turtle Creek Elementary School, Wileman Elementary School | Leave a comment

Small fire reported at DDHS

Comet Logo TRANSPARENTAround 6 a.m. this morning (Nov. 14, 2015), the DDHS girls basketball team was at the high school preparing to leave for a scrimmage game.

Members of the team reported smelling smoke and the fire department was called.

A small fire was located in a towel cart in the school’s maintenance garage. All damage was isolated to the cart and towels.

There is a smell of smoke in some areas of the building, which is being ventilated.

Normal operations are expected to resume when the building opens on Monday for staff inservice meetings and on Tuesday when students return to school.

We are ‪#‎DDCometProud‬ of the basketball team for taking appropriate actions and ‪#‎DDCometThankful‬ for the emergency responders who located the fire and ensured it did not cause further damage beyond the towels and cart.

Posted in Delavan-Darien High School, Delavan-Darien School District, News Releases | Leave a comment