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Holmen School District unveils new Memorial Wall, changes policy for future memorials

Kaitlyn Riley

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The School District of Holmen invited families, the Board of Education, and committee members to an unveiling of the new Holmen High School Memorial Wall Wednesday evening that recognized students who passed away.

District Administrator Dr. Kristin Mueller stated, “This evening is about remembering those who hold a special place in our hearts. As we say in Holmen, ‘Once a Viking, always a Viking.’”

The ceremony came nearly eight months after there was controversy in the community because the school district initially decided to remove the entire wall during a renovation project. Families spoke out after being asked to pick up pictures or plaques honoring their loved ones. After community protests and a petition, the school board created a committee to review the future of the Memorial Wall.

The board approved the committee’s policy recommendation which included relocating the memorial wall at the school. Existing memorials will remain intact, but no future memorials will be added to the wall. Future individuals who pass away while a student in the School District of Holmen will be recognized in yearbooks, at graduation, and will be included in the graduate class collage.

“The group that came together to discuss the memorial wall did so out of love for their family members, our community, and our schools,” Board of Education President Cheryl Hancock said. “The policy that resulted is a testimony of Holmen’s tradition of bringing stakeholders together to find meaningful solutions.”

The district said Wednesday’s ceremony gave families an opportunity to view the new location in a more private setting.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.

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