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Back to school tour brings Gov. Evers to Superior

Talking to students, he said, keeps him grounded.

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers smiles while talking to students at Northern Lights Elementary School on Thursday, Sept. 8. Evers and State Superintendent Jill Underly visited Superior as part of a statewide back to school tour.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers visited Northern Lights Elementary School Thursday, Sept. 8, to read a book to fourth graders and serve lunch to students as part of a statewide back to school tour with State Superintendent Jill Underly. He also sat down to talk with students at their lunch tables.

“Keeps me sharp for sure,” Evers told reporters at the end of the visit. “They ask me questions; I ask them questions.”

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers reads "Creepy Crayon!" to Megan Erickson's fourth grade class Thursday, Sept. 8. The book is so new, principal Danielle Perich said that it hasn't been placed on the library shelf yet.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Principal Danielle Perich said the book that was selected for Evers to read to Megan Erickson’s fourth grade class, “Creepy Crayon!” by Aaron Reynolds, is so new it has yet to be placed on the school library shelves.

“It’s highly anticipated by the kids,” Perich said. “This is the only copy that’s been taken out of the box.”

The strange tale followed the connection between a rabbit and a purple crayon that seemed perfect, but really wasn’t. The story made Evers chuckle before he handed the book off to Underly to finish. Students seated on the floor leaned forward to see how the book would end, and gave the reading positive reviews. Fourth grader Avalyn Olson said both the book and the governor were “good.”

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“It was good,” said her classmate Grayson Csee. “He was nice.”

Evers then traveled to the cafeteria, where he doffed his suit coat, washed his hands and served up chicken and pancakes to third grade students.

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, back left, serves lunch to students at Northern Lights Elementary School with assistant cook Brenda Bodin, back center, on Thursday, Sept. 8. Evers and State Superintendent Jill Underly visited the school as part of a statewide back to school tour.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

A 10-year-old, Connor Hamilton, walked up to give Evers a gift — a small pack of gummy worms the fifth grader had saved for the governor.

“Because I’d like to give it to him because he’s nice. I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a nice person,” Hamilton said.

The annual tour was a chance to welcome teachers, students and staff back for the school year.

“Obviously, reading the kids a really bizarre book, that was a real highlight, but just individually talking to children as they interact with each other, that really helps me, keeps me grounded,” said Evers, a former educator and state superintendent.

“It keeps us close to what’s really going on and how we can help,” Underly said.

Two of the key points they stressed were a return to normalcy and the need for mental health resources.

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“I’m just really excited for the school year, hoping to return to some sort of normalcy and just return to the excitement that we all felt and the newness and the joy in learning,” Underly said.

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Students in Megan Erickson's fourth grade class at Northern Lights Elementary School lean close as Sate Superintendent Jill Underly reads the final pages of "Creepy Crayon!" on Thursday, Sept. 8.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Evers on Aug. 30 announced a $90 million investment into K-12 education statewide to address staffing challenges, provide direct classroom support and expand mental health services in schools.

“There’s no question that the pandemic has laid bare the fact that a lot of kids are suffering, mentally and behaviorally, and we have to have the skills and knowledge in order to take that … it’s not just a pandemic thing and we’re going to be fine in two years. This is a long-term thing; this is across the state,” Evers said.

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Gov. Tony Evers talks with administrators in the hall of Northern Lights Elementary School prior to visiting a fourth grade classroom on Thursday, Sept. 8. Superior was one of three stops for Evers and State Superintendent Jill Underly Thursday as they wrapped up a statewide back to school tour.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

The $90 million investment, which includes $15 million to double the governor’s “Get Kids Ahead” initiative to provide mental health services, is funded by federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars, according to an Aug. 30 news release. The “Get Kids Ahead” funding will provide roughly $68,000 to the Superior School District, $26,000 to the Maple School District and $14,000 to the Solon Springs School district, according to the release.

The other $75 million, distributed on a per-pupil basis and providing nearly $100 per student, is designed to give districts flexibility to meet staffing needs, keep classroom sizes small, and provide other direct classroom support. The additional per-pupil funding is expected to provide more than $400,000 to the Superior School District, a little more than $113,000 to the Maple School District and almost $29,000 to the Solon Springs School District.

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Northern Lights Elementary School students speak with Gov. Tony Evers during lunch on Thursday, Sept. 8. Evers visited Superior as part of a statewide back to school tour.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Northern Lights Elementary School students in Megan Erickson's fourth grade class and State Superintendent Jill Underly, seated back right, listen to Gov. Tony Evers read "Creepy Crayon!" by Aaron Reynolds on Thursday, Sept. 8.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signs autographs for students in the cafeteria of Northern Lights Elementary School during a back to school visit on Thursday, Aug. 8.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Fourth grade students in Megan Erickson's class at Northern Lights Elementary School raise their hands to ask Gov. Tony Evers, seated left, a question on Thursday, Sept. 8. Evers and State Superintendent Jill Underly, seated right, visited Superior as part of a statewide back to school tour.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram
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Gov. Tony Evers, standing center, talks with third grade students from Jess Brozic's class in the Northern Light Elementary School cafeteria on Thursday, Sept. 8. The governor visited the Superior school as part of a statewide back to school tour.
Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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