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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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The former McKinley School on 20th and Vliet looks like no other Milwaukee schoolhouse.
The former McKinley School on 20th and Vliet looks like no other Milwaukee schoolhouse.
The western portion is a classical addition from 1898.
The western portion is a classical addition from 1898.
The eastern portions are the oldest parts of this four-part complex.
The eastern portions are the oldest parts of this four-part complex.

Old McKinley School gets a hearing

In February, I wrote about the fact that the old McKinley School on 20th and Vliet is in danger of coming down. The details of that situation can be read here.

The school is an unusual one in Milwaukee and deserves to be saved. Ald. Bob Bauman, in whose district the old school is located, has petitioned the city's Historic Preservation Commission for historic designation.

The distinctive building, with broad, hipped roofs with cupolas and louvered lanterns, had been sold by MPS in the early 1980s to the private school and day care which ran it until a fire shut it down last year.

When I spoke to Ald. Bauman about the property in June he said he'd gone inside and found pipes had been looted and the building was in a poor state in general.

Carlen Hatala, of the city's historic preservation office, has been digging up history for the documentation of the building in preparation for the Sept. 8 hearing at City Hall.

Full details of the 3 p.m. hearing, including PDFs of the application for landmarking, letters to adjacent property owners, etc., can be found here. Check out the application for an extremely detailed description of the building's architecture.

For a time, I had thought the original building to be the work of Walter Holbrook, who designed the other District 15 school, nearby on 27th Street (now named for James Groppi). Sorting out the details of these old schools is often difficult due to quirky documentation and sometimes flat out erroneous info.

Last week, after I worked with Hatala -- who was diligently digging and who helped get to the bottom of what seems like the proper attribution -- she agreed that it's often challenging work.

"It is odd," she said, "(the Common Council) authorizes MPS to advertise for plans, etc.  Next thing they are approving the installation of a boiler.  The proceedings skip over the accepting of the plans, etc."

As for the fact that MPS' documentation suggested a different architect than Holbrook for 27th Street Scho…

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The Beatles played in Milwaukee one time, on Sept. 4, 1964.
The Beatles played in Milwaukee one time, on Sept. 4, 1964.

30 minutes that shook Milwaukee

As the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four's only Milwaukee appearance nears, Milwaukee Public Television launches a 30-minute documentary about the Beatles' half-hour performance at the Milwaukee Arena, Sept. 4, 1964.

"The Beatles Invade Milwaukee" -- written, directed and produced by Raul Galvan -- tells the story of the Fab Four's one day in Milwaukee that would reverberate for a half a century.

Though there isn't a wealth of footage of the Beatles' appearance here, Galvan does a fine job of collecting film of John, Paul, George and Ringo at the airport, onstage at the Arena and, sans John -- who was suffering from laryngitis -- at a press conference held on the second floor of the Coach House hotel, where the band was staying.

He interweaves this footage with memorabilia, still photos and interviews with the well-known -- like former WOKY DJ Bob Barry, and chart historian Joel Whitburn -- to the fans, as well as cultural historian Dr. Diana Belscamper and two of the daughters of the late Nick Topping, who promoted the Milwaukee concert.

 Though their visit was brief, the Beatles arrived in Milwaukee at the height of Beatlemania, just months after the landmark appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

As Belscamper notes, "they were part of Milwaukee, if only for one day."

But it was a day that would live in the memories of fans for decades. One of the half-dozen or so fans interviewed says, "to this day it's a really big deal. One of the best days of my life."

You can get a peek at "The Beatles Invade Milwaukee" on Wednesday, Aug. 27. There will be two screenings, at 6 and 7 p.m. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so arrive early. After each screening, Barry, Galvan and others will take part in an audience Q&A.

The documentary will debut on channel 10 at 9 p.m., Monday, Sept. 1. It airs again at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4 on channel 10 and Saturday, Sept. 6 at 10 p.m. on channel 36. 

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MPS will roll out the first day of school carpet for kindergarteners on a staggered schedule next week.
MPS will roll out the first day of school carpet for kindergarteners on a staggered schedule next week.

MPS staggers start of school to help youngest students feel at home

Taking something of a page from the book of the district’s successful public Montessori schools, all MPS schools this year will use a staggered start to help introduce primary-aged children to their schools.

In the past, the Montessori schools -- whose K3, K4 and K5 kids share classrooms -- welcomed K5 students on the first day of school and every few days, over the course of a week and a half, phased in a few more K3 and K4 students until all students were together in their classrooms.

The idea of the staggered start is that it allows teachers to focus more on a smaller group of kids to help get them accustomed to their classrooms, schools and procedures. It also helps teachers and children to get acquainted more quickly.

This year, all MPS 3-, 4- and 5-year-old kindergarteners will begin on one of three days: the first day of school for programs on the standard academic calendar, Tuesday, Sept 2; Wednesday, Sept. 3; or Thursday, Sept. 4.

But they’re not phasing in. Instead, these students -- including Head Start and special needs students -- will have their second day of school on Friday, Sept. 5. That means some will start on Sept. 2 and have two days off before returning. Others will begin on Wednesday with a break on Thursday before heading back to school Friday.

That's an important fact for parents, who will have to be sure to arrange child care for a day or two they may have expected their kids to be in school.

The district's six public Montessori schools are still allowed to use the phase-in method, but must complete it by Friday, Sept. 5, rather than taking a week and a half to do it, as in the past.

"It's critical for our youngest students to experience a positive transition from home to school and staggered start is one way we are committed to making that happen," MPS Acting Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver said in a statement released today.

Schools are communicating the staggered start procedure to families and it is important to note that…

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They prefer to describe their duties as "logistics" rather than "gophers."
They prefer to describe their duties as "logistics" rather than "gophers."
Right?!
Right?!
Painting the third floor gym.
Painting the third floor gym.
Fresh coat for the basement, too.
Fresh coat for the basement, too.
Prettying up the wall around the Gettysburg Address plaque.
Prettying up the wall around the Gettysburg Address plaque.
City Year in the house!
City Year in the house!
An old mural passes into history.
An old mural passes into history.
A color that's as much an MPS icon as the mock chicken leg.
A color that's as much an MPS icon as the mock chicken leg.

Mitchell is among area schools getting a primp from GE volunteers today

Today, more than 2,500 current and retired GE employees, plus about 150 other volunteers, are walking into 16 Milwaukee Public Schools and four Waukesha Public Schools (as well as Greenfield High School) to paint, clean, organize and landscape to help the schools plan for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 2.

From 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. the volunteers will take part in the largest single-day GE volunteer event -- one that this year turns 20.

The non-GE volunteers come from groups like Milwaukee Bucks, City Year Milwaukee, Junior Achievement of Wisconsin and area PTO groups.

"GE is a true community partner. To have such a large group of employee volunteers help at our schools is proof of that commitment," MPS acting superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver said. "When children return to school and see all the work that has been done, it shows them that their community cares. We are grateful for all of the volunteers."

At Victory School on the far South Side, volunteers are building and installing library shelving and at Allen-Field on the near South Side, the library is getting a new story area. At Grantosa Drive School they're painting a giant U.S. map on the playground. In Waukesha, Les Paul Middle School is getting a new brick patio and benches.

Back in Milwaukee, there's activity nearly everywhere at Alexander Mitchell Integrated Arts School, a South Side K3-8 school with an enrollment around 750.

On the first floor, I found City Year employees helping to paint slogans and murals, as well as beautifying bulletin boards. A plumber was replacing a sink. The office was buzzing with activity.

Donning shirts celebrating service day, workers were the second floor and third floors painting, assembling desks and doing other jobs. Some were painting classrooms that iconic MPS seafoam green. Others were doing murals and trim in the third floor gym.

In one classroom in this gorgeous 1894 schoolhouse, eighth grade teacher Melissa Millard was marveling over …

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