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March 5, 2012

On Madeline Island, a Tiny School Stands Worlds Apart

Mike Nichols:

But for the often tumultuous waters of Chequamegon Bay, LaPointe Elementary would have long ago been shuttered and forgotten, its students shuttled off to other schools in other places.

LaPointe is one of the tiniest little grade schools in Wisconsin, perhaps because it is barely even in Wisconsin. It sits on Madeline Island, 2.5 miles by ferry - or even wind sled in years colder than this one - across Superior from Bayfield.

"For safety reasons, the school stays open," said Carol Sowl, who describes herself as the K-5 school's sole teacher, janitor and nurse. Crossing the bay can be a treacherous business in some of the colder months when the waters heave and the ice shifts, and makes for too risky a ride for six- and seven-year-olds. In addition, the Bayfield School District that LaPointe is part of receives a lot of tax revenue from the island residents and summer-home owners, many of whom want the school to remain open.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at March 5, 2012 2:50 AM
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