This is what spring looked like on the morning of Monday, April 16, 2018. Photo by Paul J. Seeling
This is what spring looked like on the morning of Monday, April 16, 2018. Photo by Paul J. Seeling

SPRING VALLEY AND ELMWOOD, WI – 2019 is here and 2018 has passed into history, but before those past 12 months fade away completely from our collective memories let’s continue this opportunity to look back at 2018 with the “Year in Review Part II” of the news from the pages of the Sun-Argus newspapers starting with last April.

It was in the April 5, 2018 Sun-Argus that reported that, “Easter Bunny hops into Elmwood - Annual holiday celebration delights area children.” The Easter Bunny hopped into the historic Elmwood Auditorium Saturday afternoon, March 31 to the delight of 75 area children. E. Bunny had to hop past Butternut Park again this year due to the snowfall that arrived overnight in Elmwood.

That didn’t seem to bother the kids a bit as they arrived with their empty Easter baskets that soon were filled with candy and small toys and trinkets.

Each child put their name in an age appropriate basket for the prize drawings for bikes and some awesome door prizes.

There were games to play and pictures to color and pictures to get taken with Bunny (Josh Bleskacek). The Easter Bunny was assisted by the lovely Miss Elmwood Kendra Kern and First Princess Sophia Tiffany and Jr. Miss Elmwood Veronica Awsumb. The event was also cared for by Jessie Bleskacek and other helpful volunteers.

The Easter Bunny is looking forward to hopping into Elmwood again next year, hopefully back outside for the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Butternut Park.

Moving to the April 19, 2018 edition of the Sun-Argus it was reported, “Recap of historic winter storm- Weekend blizzard had us all hunkered down”

Cleanup continued Tuesday, April 17, 2018, following a major historic winter storm that hit much of Wisconsin (Minnesota and the Midwest) over the weekend.   Several locations set all-time records for snow amounts.  That included Eau Claire with 12.1” reported at 8 p.m. on Sunday and snow still falling. Our neighbors to the west in Minnesota reported total snowfall of 15.8” at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. In Spring Valley out in the country where the winds really pushed the snow around there were drifts more than 2 and ½ feet deep to contend with. The weekend blizzard had us all hunkered down.

In the May 3, 2018 Sun-Argus we began a three-part series of articles on the retirement of Mr. Jim Herold, “Award-winning teacher Jim Herold to retire after 37 years at Spring Valley - ‘I’ve had a real fun ride here and was treated well!’

Yes, it’s true Mr. Herold was retiring after teaching for 37 years at Spring Valley Middle/High School.

“I’ve had a good ride here and I was treated well!” said award-winning art teacher Jim Herold…

Jim Herold grew up in Hopkins, Minnesota and graduated from then Eisenhower High School (now combined with Hopkins Senior High). He went to college at St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minnesota to study pre-medicine, as his plan was to be a trauma surgeon.

“Everyone in my family was an artist and I was not going to be one,” Mr. Herold said emphatically. He graduated from college with a degree in biology and began teaching 10th grade biology in St. Cloud.

Mr. Herold took a position as the Assistant Director of St. Cloud University in Denmark for one year. Where coincidentally he met his future wife, the lovely Audrey Alwell.

When he returned from Denmark Mr. Herold got his degree in art and started to look for a teaching job. He applied for openings in Hopkins and Spring Valley, Wisconsin. They both offered him a position on the same day and fortunately for us he chose Spring Valley.

…Jim and Audrey were married in 1983 after dating for five years. Audrey is the Communications Director at Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) based in Spring Valley.

They have two beautiful daughters, Caitlin and Brienna. Caitlin graduated from Spring Valley High School in 2007 before graduating from college in Montana with honors. Brienna graduated from Metro Deaf School in the Twin Cities in 2010 at the top of her class as Valedictorian. She then graduated with top honors from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and is now in a graduate program for computer sciences in New York State.

Now that you know a bit more about Jim Herold’s background, here are some things you may not be aware of but are fascinating as well as quite impressive about our local art teacher. He also taught Earth Sciences and coached the State Champion Girl’s Cross Country racing team and top runners at State from Spring Valley High School.

Jim Herold became known in the State of Wisconsin, nationally and internationally through his published writings in numerous science and art publications that fostered a large web of numerous contacts among creative thinkers. He has worked with the United Nations on the conflict between development and the global environment. He was honored as the Wisconsin Environmental Educator of the Year.

Mr. Herold has worked with world-renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau and national pollster George Gallop Jr.

Mr. Herold worked with the International Joint Commission, a bi-national product of the United States and Canada where he taught on Isle Royale representing the U.S. presenting ideas there.

He has worked with various Pacific Rim nations such Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, India, Nigeria and others.

Jim Herold worked with the Getty Foundation/Ohio State University to write their high school art education curriculum.

Mr. Herold is a Kohl Fellowship award winning teacher as well as being named the State of Wisconsin High School Art Teacher of the Year in 2005. He was also invited to co-present with Howard Gardener at the Regional Arts Conference.

All of these things he carried into the Spring Valley Science and Art curriculums.

The three-part series ended with this…Mr. Herold discussed Cross County (X-C) running, coaching the Girls State Championship Team and top runner and his future.

He started the X-C team at Spring Valley when his daughter Caitlyn was interested. The team started with one and grew to 30.

He reported that some of the sophomore girls on the Spring Valley X-C team went down to watch the State Meet with Wendy Arneson and decided they wanted to go to State and be a Championship team.

“Riley Bowman said she wanted one of these things (pointing to the First Place Championship trophy)…it brought up the girls to be a stronger team,” said Coach Herold.

“We had 10 powerhouse runners,” he recalled with a wide grin and a twinkle in his eye.

That team did indeed have 10 powerhouse runners and one of them would go on to be a UMD Team Captain for the Women’s Track and Field Team competing in the NCAA Division II Indoor and Outdoor Championships. She was an eight-time All American. She was a three-time NCAA DII National Champion Runner-Up, including the 2017 steeplechase second place finisher. She graduated in 2017 with a degree in Physical Education.

“I saw it in ‘Beanner,’ Brianna Colbenson the first day she ran in 7th grade. I checked her pulse and there were no elevated levels,” Coach Herold stated.

“That’s our future, our Champ,” he exclaimed at the time.

Understanding the biology and what would be best for ‘Beanner’ Coach Herold didn’t push her and didn’t allow her to overextend, which she might have done.

Brianna Colbinson is now Mrs. Sieracki a professional runner for Team USA in Minnesota who teaches PhyEd.

Mr. Jim Herold is confident he is leaving his position and the art department at Spring Valley in good hands to Mrs. Becky (Wood) Leland a former student and associate who has been teaching art at Spring Valley Elementary School and will now move up to the Middle/High School and heading the Art Department Mr Herold is leaving behind.

When asked what he planned to do now Mr. Herold paused a moment and smiled and said, “I like freedom and will do what I want to do like when I was 21. Now I will have family time, walk the dog. I will continue to teach American Sign Language one night a week at UW-Stout and work on my pottery. I will have time to be there for my daughter Caitlyn.”

That takes us through the months of April and May of last year in the Sun-Argus and next week we will continue with the Spring Valley/Elmwood 2018 Year in Review.