Welcome, Elmbrook Alumni!

Steven OlikaraBrookfield East Class of 2008

2008 Brookfield East graduate, Steven Olikara, was recently named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Law & Policy!

Olikara began his Elmbrook career at Burleigh Elementary before moving on to Pilgrim Park Middle School and Brookfield East High School. During his time as a Spartan, he served in a number of leadership roles - as President of the National Honor Society, Section Leader in Symphonic Band, and Editor-in-Chief for the Spartan Banner. At 17, he was recognized as an "18 Under 18" winner by OnMilwaukee.com for his musicianship and activism while at Brookfield East.

"There is a lot that stands out from my high school experience at East," said Olikara. "From the dedication of the teachers, the chance to explore and perform music, the entrepreneurial experience of starting an organization, and the friends who have remained close over the years - Elmbrook seamlessly builds a strong sense of community." Steven's gratitude to his teachers includes Ms. Leupold who empowered her students as health activists, Mrs. Kossoris for her teaching of effective writing, Mr. Harder for activating his science interest, and Mr. Crandall for helping to develop a capacity to quickly solve problems.

Following graduation from East, Steven continued on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he double-majored in Political Science and Environmental Studies with a minor in Global Health, and was elected Senior Class President. Olikara currently serves on the Board of UW-Madison's International Division. After graduating from UW in 2012 as a Truman Scholar and Udall Scholar, he went on to found the Millennial Action Project (MAP), a nonpartisan organization of millennial policymakers working to bridge the partisan divide and unite our country. "We believe that the young [adult] generation can be the antidote to partisanship and can lead our nation out of gridlock," states Steven.

In 2013 in the wake of the government shutdown, MAP organized the first-ever millennial-focused caucus in Congress, named Future Caucus and made up of the youngest Congressional members in both parties. Since then, MAP has expanded into 15 state legislatures and has become the largest nonpartisan organization of millennial policymakers in the country. Says Olikara, "our group has pioneered some of the most innovative legislation on entrepreneurship, the sharing economy, student loans, clean energy, veterans employment, and more."

Steven has often mentioned that millennials have a disillusionment regarding politics and MAP aims to connect his generation to the vast leadership opportunities that are within their reach.

In January 2017, Steven was named as one of Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30, celebrating his work as a young entrepreneur, activist, and game-changer in the field of Law & Policy. Steven has been named the Millennial of the Year, an Aspen Institute Ideas Scholar, and one of the Most Influential Leaders Under 40 by Washington Life magazine.

Learn more about the Millennial Action Project at millennialaction.org, and for more alumni stories, district updates, and to connect with fellow alumni, follow Elmbrook Schools on LinkedIn. To recommend an alum for our series, please click here.

Steven Olikara

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Leslie KirchhoffBrookfield Central Class of 2009

Leslie Kirchhoff is a former Lancer whose career as a photographer and disc jockey (DJ) has been getting a great deal of exposure.

Kirchhoff began her Elmbrook journey at Dixon Elementary before moving on to Wisconsin Hills and Brookfield Central. During her time as a Lancer, she was involved in a number of school activities including yearbook, photo club, track and field, cross country, art club, and chess club; and it was during this time that she discovered her artistic passion. "I am so appreciative of the many great opportunities afforded to me in Elmbrook. My yearbook and photo classes contributed greatly the success I have had in my career. Mr. Tom Juran was such an important teacher and mentor in my life, I can't thank him enough for everything he did to nurture my creativity. Even in elementary school at Dixon, the staff did a lot to help me find my talents and help me grow."

Following her 2009 graduation, Kirchhoff continued her education at New York University in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study and focused on photography, media, film, fashion, and journalism. It was here that she got her first internship, at Vogue.com, in the spring of her sophomore year. "I started shooting for them a few months later and quickly became one of their go-to photographers for the website, shooting everything from parties to runway shows to portraits and more," stated Kirchhoff.

Leslie continued working for Vogue.com as a freelancer and travelled to Paris to study abroad, where she learned to DJ. After finishing her degree, Kirchoff made the decision to make a career of her freelance photography and disc jockeying. Today, Leslie is living in Brooklyn and has an extensive portfolio of work, including shoots with Aubrey Plaza and Pharrell Williams – to name a few. She shoots for a number of different high-profile photo and publication clients, and loves the opportunity to travel for work. In her free time, Leslie is developing a new product, Disco Cubes, craft luxury ice cubes for parties and events. You can see and hear her work at lesliekirchhoff.com.

For more alumni stories, district updates, and to connect with fellow alumni, follow Elmbrook Schools on LinkedIn. To recommend an alum for our series, please click here.

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Brookfield East Class of 2002

2002 East graduate, Kevin Oppermann has been following his passion and is transforming the farming industry through his belief in the Farm To Table movement.

Oppermann began his Elmbrook journey at Dixon Elementary before moving on to Elmbrook Middle School and Pilgrim Park Middle School and ultimately becoming a Brookfield East Spartan. During his time at East, he was involved in Boys Volleyball, helping his team go to state his junior year and taking on the role of team captain his senior year. “Elmbrook definitely prepared me for the next level of my education,” said Oppermann. “I was fortunate to have teachers that brought out my strengths and helped me work on my weaknesses to become a more well-rounded person. I find myself, to this day, thinking of Mrs. Kessler in fourth grade at Dixon reminding me to write down my to-do list in my assignment notebook and how I still use that in my current career.” Kevin also praised his teachers and administrators: Ms. Coyne, Mr. Coffey, Mr. Rose, Senora Dekker, and Dr. Schroeder for their impact on him throughout his Elmbrook career and beyond.

Following his East graduation, he attended Luther College in Decorah, IA where, in 2006, he earned his B.A. in Business Management with an Economics focus and a Mathematics minor. Kevin then applied to work at Epic in Verona, WI where he became a project manager and worked with hospital personnel and CFO’s around the country to implement leading electronic medical record software. Oppermann’s work over seven years with Epic affected hundreds of hospitals and millions of patients, and it was during this time that he met his wife.

While working at Epic, Oppermann became interested in the local food movement and having grown up with a family farm in Fitchburg, he developed a strong passion for agriculture. In 2012, he and his wife purchased land in Dunn, WI near downtown Madison and began Highland Spring Farm. They purchased Scottish Highland cattle for their land and, in 2013, his family's interest in pastured beef and eggs grew, driving Kevin to leave his career at Epic to farm full-time. Beginning with two cows and calves, the farm has since expanded to roughly 45 cows, as well as raising pork, chicken, and eggs.

Oppermann is a strong proponent of the Farm To Table Movement which stresses the customer getting to know those that grow and raise their food so they are able to have a better understanding of what they are consuming. This is a method that many restaurants are embracing as they continue to buy their goods from certain farms and farmers’ markets rather than purchasing wholesale.

“Today we also work with the Wisconsin DNR and UW graduate students researching the benefits of grazing to an ecosystem and how to use cattle to reduce costs in maintaining Wisconsin's grasslands,” stated Oppermann. Highland Spring Farm supplies products to a handful of restaurants and businesses in the Madison area (including several James Beard Foundation-nominated chefs). The Oppermann’s also sell directly off the farm and welcome people to come out and see the way they raise their animals.

Highland Spring Farm can be found in Madison at the Westside Community Market on Saturdays throughout the summer and Monona Farmers Market on Sundays. You can learn more about Highland Spring Farm at www.highlandspringfarm.com and on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

For more alumni stories, district updates, and to connect with fellow alumni, follow Elmbrook Schools on LinkedIn. To recommend an alum for our series, please click here.

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Brookfield Central Class of 1968

Dr. Robert Marold’s impact has transcended from his time at Brookfield Central to his work improving the lives of countless animals for the past 38 years.

During his time at Central, Bob Marold participated in track and field, Lancer football, Letterman’s Club, and was the first Swim Captain on Brookfield Central’s first ever Swim Team. “The basic sciences and math were very good at Elmbrook,” said Marold on the two subjects that would later drive his career. In 1968, Bob graduated from Elmbrook and continued his education at the University of Wisconsin. He studied at Madison for three years before transferring to Kansas State where he would receive his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees.

Following college graduation, Bob returned to Milwaukee to join his father’s veterinary practice at the State Street Dog and Cat Hospital, where he worked for five years. During this time, he also worked as a consultant for the Milwaukee County Zoo, where he acquired an interest in exotic animal medicine and he went on to specialize in birds and exotic animals for awhile. Then in 1983, he transitioned from his family’s practice to the Elmbrook Veterinary Clinic where he works today. “When I’m able to help an animal back to a normal life, it’s truly what drives my work and it’s the most rewarding aspect of what I do,” he stated.

Dr. Marold currently lives in Brookfield with his wife and has two stepchildren and four grandchildren. For the past two, going on three years, Bob has given back to his school district by generously volunteering his time helping to run off-season workouts in the Brookfield Central Baseball Program.

For more alumni stories, district updates, and to connect with fellow alumni, follow Elmbrook Schools on LinkedIn. To recommend an alum for our series, please click here.

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Brookfield Central Class of 2012

2012 Brookfield Central grad, Hasan Nadeem is a leader on the University of Wisconsin campus, serving as president of ‘We’re Better Than That’, an organization dedicated to encouraging men to take part in speaking against gender-based violence and sexual assault.

Hasan’s Elmbrook career traveled from Hillside Elementary and Wisconsin Hills to Brookfield Central, where he became very involved in school events that influenced his college experience. Taking part in Varsity Tennis, NHS, Key Club, Jazz Band, Tyro, and Science Olympiad, Nadeem was constantly pushing for excellence in academia and his co-curricular activities. “I really appreciate the opportunities that Elmbrook gave me to take challenging classes in various subject areas,” said Nadeem. “It was certainly a challenging experience, but nonetheless, the rewards validated the work and effort.”

Nadeem continued on to the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated in May of 2016 with a degree in Biology and Economics. During his junior year at UW, Nadeem and his roommates formed the organization ‘We’re Better Than That- Men Against Sexual Assault’ after struggling with seeing how some of the women in their community were being treated. The group originated with fraternity members and athletes coming together in the cause and later grew to include female members and other peers around campus. Today the organization consists of over 100 members and has gained the attention of the greater Madison and Milwaukee communities.

Since its formation, ‘We’re Better Than That’ has benefitted from a number of community donations, scholarships, and grants from UW. The group spends a great deal of time putting together content to spread awareness and educate the public. A few valuable techniques the organization utilizes are peer-to-peer discussions and bystander intervention trainings with fellow organizations and the general campus community, as well as heavily-educating incoming students in order to increase future awareness and subsequently decrease future assaults. “Now, given our strong base,” says Hasan, “our goal is to expand the reach of our organization to other institutions while simultaneously increasing our exposure and involvement at UW.”

Nadeem illustrates that bystander intervention is an important tool, but at the end of the day, the change has to come from the culture and institutions that reinforce unacceptable behaviors. He hopes that more people will realize that the issue pertains to everyone and that more individuals will be willing to have conversations about the issue of sexual assault, how to prevent it, and its foundation in gender inequality.

While Hasan is currently taking classes in preparation for applying to MD-PhD programs this coming summer, he will never forget those that helped set him on course in his academic career. “At Elmbrook, I learned the most content from passionate teachers,” he stated. “I’d especially like to recognize Senora Aslakson (Spanish), Mrs. Jakubowski (Hillside Elementary), and Mr. Perez (AP Literature) for their knowledge and guidance. Every teacher I had left a lasting impression on me, and I’ve carried those lessons and experiences with me in ever facet of life beyond Elmbrook.”

Learn more about ‘We’re Better Than That- Men Against Sexual Assault’, its efforts in UW and the Greater Madison Communities, and see how you can get involved at https://win.wisc.edu/organization/wbttmasa.

For more alumni stories, district updates, and to connect with fellow alumni, follow Elmbrook Schools on LinkedIn. To recommend an alum for our series, please click here.

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With Pride and Gratitude

The School District of Elmbrook is proud of its Brookfield Central and Brookfield East graduates! For over 50 years our students have made a significant and lasting impact on their local, state, national and international communities. From a Pulitzer Prize winner, to state legislators, business owners, professional athletes, and everything in-between, our graduates are prepared to succeed in whatever they choose to pursue beyond high school.

Connecting with our alumni is an important strategy to measure our long-term impact on our students. We are grateful to the alumni who responded to the 2013 survey and look forward to seeking input from others in the years ahead. To stay informed of reunions and general alumni information, follow us on Facebook.

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