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On Martin Luther King Day, Thomas Thibodeau channeled the great orator, speaking of the power of community and justice.

He provided the keynote Monday for the annual La Crosse Public Education Foundation grants award luncheon, titled "Strong Schools, Strong Community." Thibodeau is a distinguished professor of servant leadership at Viterbo University, and focused on the topic of service.

"Why is it that we have a strong community?" he said. "Because we have a community full of servants."

Service was honored at the luncheon, with awards given to The Insurance Center of Onalaska, Central High School Principal Jeff Fleig and retired La Crosse superintendent Jerry Kember for their support, leadership and service to public education. Foundation leaders also honored educators Barb Kroner and Susan Houlihan for their nearly seven decades of teaching students.

The event celebrated $30,000 in grants given to 22 recipients in the School District of La Crosse this past fall in the first of two rounds of grants this school year. Festival Foods sponsored the luncheon, which was held at the Cargill Room of the Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern, and also sponsored a grant to provide collaborative desks at Logan High School.

During his remarks, Thibodeau spoke of the strength of the La Crosse community, as well as how the community's support did more than just educate: It was also a force for justice.

Thibodeau said La Crosse has a strong community because the city is full of servants. And with the luncheon taking place on MLK Day, Thibodeau brought up the August shooting that left 17-year-old Central student George Miller dead.

That death was a tragic injustice, he said. Thibodeau was one of 42 members of the community who came together on short notice when Superintendent Randy Nelson called them in for support in the wake of the shooting, an act he said showed educators the citizens of La Crosse love them and support them.

There are three qualities in justice and love, he said, which are abundant in La Crosse. The first is hospitality, showing that all are welcome. Public education is part of that hospitality, turning no one away.

Second is generosity, the ability of people to give their time and treasure. The $170,000 in grants and other funding the education foundation plans to provide this year is evidence of the community's generosity as are the volunteers who helped secure donations of canned foods by working on the annual Rotary Lights display or help out in other ways throughout the year.

The third quality is gratitude, understanding that you can't be generous unless you realize what you are giving or receiving is a gift. Education is a gift, he said, more than just teaching a child to read and write. It also teaches them to speak publicly, to be a leader and how to gain the technical skills needed to follow a passion or a career.

"Look at our community and the generous people in this room," Thibodeau said. "We come to know each other through our generosity."

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Nathan Hansen has been the Education Reporter for the Tribune since 2014. Prior to that, he covered education, agriculture and business topics for the Winona Daily News. He is always on the lookout for news tips and can be contacted at 608-791-8234.

(3) comments

Machiavelli

Re: "And with the luncheon taking place on MLK Day, Thibodeau brought up the August shooting that left 17-year-old Central student George Miller dead....That death was a tragic injustice, he said. Thibodeau was one of 42 members of the community who came together on short notice when Superintendent Randy Nelson called them in for support in the wake of the shooting, an act he said showed educators the citizens of La Crosse love them and support them."

...yet our school officials do next to nothing to prevent these tragedies from happening. All they do is pay lip service after the fact. All summer long, I saw La Crosse miscreant teens running around the streets at all hours of the night. No books in their hands, surely!

An ounce of prevention is worth of pound of lip service at the swank Waterfront Restaurant.

“If you can't be real and firm with others about who you are, you will be doomed to a phony, plastic bullshit existence, where you only live for others.”
― Bryant McGill

shameless

Just wondering what steps the school officials should have taken to prevent the death of this young man?

Machiavelli

Recent indications are that Wisconsin student performance is far worse than is commonly realized:

"Is Wisconsin's ACT Rank Inflated?"

"But are we really doing that well? A close look at the ACT test data offers some reason for caution. Yes, Wisconsin’s average score of 22.3 was high compared to the national average of 21.2 (with scores ranging from 18.9 for Mississippi to 23.5 for Massachusetts), but the percentage of students taking the test here is lower than in 15 states. While 70 percent of Wisconsin students take the test, the percentage is 100 in Illinois and Colorado, 96 in Tennessee and Mississippi, and ranges from 71 to 82 percent for another 11 states."

http://www.schoolinfosystem.org/archives/2007/08/is_wisconsins_a.php

"Assignment: Education - Wisconsin ACT Scores Dip"

http://www.news8000.com/schools/Assignment-Education-Wisconsin-ACT-Scores-Dip/37423500

"Friedel-Crafts Acylation Reaction"

youtube.com/watch?v=pu0klu9lryw

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