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home : letters : letters
December 17, 2017

11/28/2017 7:29:00 AM
Mercer student speaks out against harsh comment

To the Editor:

On Oct. 30, I sat through a School Board Meeting at Mercer School, the school I am proud to be a part of. At this meeting, the members of the board were bombarded with taxpayers who want nothing but for the school to be shut down, that seem to spread false information left and right. There seem to be many people who dislike this school, but there is one occurrence that stuck with me the most, and with that, I'd like to thank Mr. Rick Dooley, for giving me the inspiration to write this letter: by calling us pathetic.

This is to all the people who think that our school, my school, Mercer School, is dying. To all the people who want to shut this school down, because your very definition of us as students, is an ACT score. To all the people who think we are pathetic, solely based off a test. To all these people, as a student at this school, I encourage you to consider something right here. Do you recall the last time you visited this building during a school day? Did you walk around, and notice every student with a smile on their face, sharing laughs and fun with their fellow classmates? Did you notice the strong, adaptive, and cooperative working connections between students and teachers unlike any other school you can think of? Did you happen to pick up on the level of respect that is carried on throughout the hallways every single day? Were you able to recognize the hard working students in the classrooms, most of which are successful student athletes? What about all the sporting events at night, where we prove time and time again why our school spirit is second to none? If you haven't, I strongly encourage you to do so. We may become more than just an ACT score to you.

You think that we are not thriving, but I see us thriving every day. I don't see students going to the same school together, I see a family, sharing their lives with each other as they grow to become adults; kids blessed with the ability to create the most powerful bonds in life. If all these things that I just asked you about don't put a definition to the word thriving, then I don't know what will. The community thrives around the school, and the school thrives around the community. If you think otherwise, than you need to open your eyes.

I go back to the question again: How much time have you spent inside this building, recognizing all the great things going on around? You have spent only several hours of your life in the school that I have spent 13 years of mine in. And for that I say, on behalf of every single student, staff member, and community member that supports this school, how dare you. How dare you tell me that my school is dying, when I see it living in full vibrancy every day. How dare you call me and my ACT scores pathetic, when I have a class dedicated to ACT practice every day. And most importantly, how dare you encourage this school to be shut down, the school that I have lived my entire childhood in, the school that I have made lifelong friends in, the school that helped shape me into the man I am today.

To all those people, please show me what I have not yet seen, some decency at heart for all the kids living their childhood within the rooms of this school, for all the teachers dedicating their 100 percent effort to making sure each student is learning properly and getting the resources to do so, for all the community members who love and depend on this school so deeply, and lastly, to me - the student just trying to get good grades, wanting to be a successful student athlete, making lifelong friends as he goes along, working as hard as he can to be prepared for the open world.

For once, do something good for the school that does so much for the community you live in. It is not we who are pathetic due to some ACT scores; it is you who is pathetic for thinking we are.

Thank you.

Your hard working student,



Tristin Woolf

Mercer School student



Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, December 4, 2017
Article comment by: Tim Behselich

Mr. Kemplin:

The statement was the tests scores were pathetic. Let me ask....who took the tests? The students. It follows that if he feels the scores were pathetic, then he must feel that those produced them are also pathetic. The logic is quite simple.

You are attempting to split hairs to cover for an ill-advised statement. Let your cohort defend himself. He may need to next election, anyway......


Posted: Sunday, December 3, 2017
Article comment by: Kim Woolf

Mr. Kemplin, I do not know you, and you do not know me or my family, so how is it that you think you have a right to judge a students perception of what Mr. Duley said? Tristin attended the meeting and heard first hand the comments made by Mr. Duley and made the decision on his own to express his feelings into words. Tristin was truly offended by Mr. Duleys comments and he has every right to express that. You and your “concerned citizens” claim that you want better for the students at Mercer??? I find that hard to believe when you try to undermine a 3.9 gpa student athlete of Mercer School for standing up for what he believes in and expressing his hurt and anger. Instead, you should be commending Tristin for his strength and leadership, and telling him that he is going to do great things in life.

Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Article comment by: Richard Kemplin

DDIDN’T ANYONE HEAR, READ OR UNDERSTAND WHAT DULEY REALLY SAID. HE DID NOT SAY THAT THE STUDENTS WERE PATHETIC, BUT THAT THE ACT SCORES WERE, WHICH THEY ACTUALLY ARE. ON BEHALF OF THE STUDENTS, HE WANTED TO SCHOOL BOARD TO WORK TO GET THE SCORES UP. SOUNDS TO ME LIKE A REASONABLE REQUEST.

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: Bob Schenk

outstanding. read that kemplin and dooley. how often have you ever been in the school except to complain. how many fund raisers, athletic events, bake sales, concerts? How often have you volunteered to read to a student? The answer is the same number as one of our school board members in the last two years. ZERO. I am proud that my grandchildren go to Mercer. They are thriving.

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: Brent Wambold

As one of Tristin's instructors, I can honestly say that I am very proud of not only Tristin and his ability, work ethic and level of honesty, but that of many of his classmates. We are blessed with a very small student body, allowing us to get creative when solving the educational question, what does this student need and how can we fulfill that need. My parents died many years ago. My siblings are a distance away. Mercer has become my family. My colleagues are my local siblings, my students are my pseudo-family members. I care for them I educate them. Don't call them pathetic. Test scores go up and down, teachers and students may graduate. However, we're here for each other, always. I have students come back to visit and/or get help. I have even helped adults get promotions. Our school IS Mercer. Thank you, Tristin for pointing out that we are more than an ACT score. Congratulations! Happy Holidays!

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: Sara Towne

If I thought this was a failing school, I would never have open enrolled my kids nor would I continue to send them to Mercer. My kids have done so much better at Mercer than they did at their last school. Class sizes are smaller and the kids get more attention and help. The teachers care and want the students to do well or they would leave immediately after school but they stay and they stay for as long as possible. I love Mercer school for all that they have done for my kids!

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: Jeff Kadrlik

Those who call the school pathetic are the same ones who keep Mercer from growing. They vote down every good thing that tries to come to Mercer, so they can keep it their little retirement village and tourist destination. Great job Mr. Woolf. From a Mercer Alum, I applaud you.

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: Cathie Lakatos

I lived 15 years in Mercer and knew many of these youngsters through the grocery store I worked. Their Mom's and Dad's and the kids came through those doors daily. The bond that is in Mercer I haven't experienced anywhere else (although I'm sure it does exist). My personal experience of school was a different School every two years. The classes were approximately 30 kids per room. Teachers did not have the time to spend with each student. This left room for what happens to a lot of them like it did me: I was out sick the first two. Weeks of 8th grade. If anyone knew the curriculum ..... algebra. Long story short, I failed all 4 quarters both 8th and 9th grade. Ridiculously enough, I was passed on to 10th grade. Had this been a school like Mercer, K-12, this wouldn't have happened. There is much more individual attention given and is sooooooo needed....and not just in Mercer. This school is a super fine school. Let's focus on more opportunities for employment to intice more families to resid (and stay) in Mercer (area) . I am so disappointed in those that look down their nose at this wonderful school, it's staff and the students that attend. Shame on you all!!!

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: Nick Weisheipl

I had the privilege of spending several days in the school at Mercer in March of 2015 and was entirely impressed by not only the learning atmosphere created by the teachers, admins, and support staff, but by the emotional investment the students had/have in their school and community. I witnessed students interacting meaningfully with community members during a weekly luncheon, student athletes giving me, a complete stranger, their undivided attention and appreciation as I helped get the fledgling baseball program in motion, and admins, faculty, and staff extending themselves beyond expectation to make sure my experience was comfortable and worthwhile. In my 16 years working in collegiate athletics and interacting with HS and college aged students, the standard of personal excellence demanded and displayed by the students of the Mercer community and school is nothing short of remarkable and should be commended. An ACT score is a simple measurement of academic aptitude but holds no validity in the quantification or qualification of work ethic, character, integrity, personal responsibility, or basic pride in one's personal, academic, or professional environment. Mercer students have and will continue to selflessly achieve and thrive because of the standards and expectations they champion on a daily basis. I'm proud to talk about my experiences at Mercer and to wear my Tigers apparel out here in Philadelphia because the community made an indelible mark on me. From Philly to Mercer I give you all a standing ovation for not only who you are but what you are to each other. GO TIGERS!

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: Tim Stolar

Great article Tristin!

I did not go to Mercer School, nor have I ever lived in the district. But your article is quite impressive, and I congratulate you on your choice of words and standing up to a tyrant.


Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Article comment by: GARY SCHLAIS

READING TRISTIN'S LETTER TO THE EDITOR, I WAS PROUD AGAIN, AS I AM EVERY TIME I SEE OUR GREAT STUDENTS DOING GREAT THINGS FOR OUR SCHOOL AS THEY DO REGULARLY BOTH IN ACADEMIC'S, ATHLETIC'S, AND COMMUNITY WORK!!!! I AM PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN, WISCONSINITE, MERCERITE, AND A SPONSOR OF OUR GREAT K12 SCHOOL.



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