Alumni

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, and professional athletes, 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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Kevin Oppermann

    Posted January 27, 2017

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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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Dr. Robert O. Marold

    Posted January 6, 2017

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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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Hasan Nadeem

    Posted December 16, 2016

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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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Ben Farley

    Posted December 1, 2016

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    Brookfield East Class of 2003

    As the head coach behind this year’s state champion Spartan football team, Brookfield East grad, Ben Farley, has been honored to give back to the district and community that raised him.

    Farley began his lifelong journey in education at Dixon Elementary before moving on to Pilgrim Park Middle School and ultimately becoming a Brookfield East Spartan. “I received a really great education,” stated Farley. “Each level of my Elmbrook education prepared me for the next and ultimately for the post-secondary level. I’m incredibly thankful for all the individuals, educators, and coaches that have come into my life as a result of the district.” During his time as a Spartan, Farley was involved in a number of activities including football, basketball, baseball, and the National Honor Society.

    Following his East graduation, Ben continued on to the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater where he received his Bachelor’s (2007) and Master’s (2008) of the Arts in Business Administration. Over the years following, Farley was able to put his studies to practice as a program coordinator for Froedtert Hospital & The Medical College of Wisconsin.

    His passion for helping kids drove him to earn a Master of Science degree in School Counseling from Concordia University in 2014; after earning his third degree, Farley practiced as a school counselor for Menomonee Falls High School. In 2016, Farley married his girlfriend, Lisa, and returned to Elmbrook as the district’s Training and Development Coordinator. During this same time, Farley began as the head coach for the Spartan football team. His leadership helped to take the team to a Division 2 State victory for the first time in school history with a 12-2 overall season. Ben was recently named the All-Freeman Football Coach of the Year by the Waukesha Freeman. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to coach this team,” said Farley. “This has been a truly special year as a coach and the team has made a profound impact on my life.”

    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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Jay Varkey, MD

    Posted November 10, 2016

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    Brookfield Central Class of 1994

    Dr. Jay B. Varkey, M.D. is one of the leading minds in the medical field of infectious diseases and was one of the doctors on the frontline during the 2015 U.S. Ebola outbreak.

    While attending Central, Varkey was involved in a number of clubs and athletic activities. He played tennis for the Lancers and was involved in shaping the course of Central and positively influencing his fellow students through Student and Class Councils, NHS, Principal’s Cabinet, Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD), and the Elmbrook Youth Leadership Council (EYLC). His passion for making a difference in his community and impacting his peers through his involvement at Central drove him to pursue a career where he could continue to help others.

    After graduating from Central, Varkey continued on to Marquette University to earn his Bachelor’s degree in 1998, followed by his graduate degree from Milwaukee’s Medical College of Wisconsin in 2002. Varkey did both his residency and fellowship at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC and he began practicing medicine in 2005. Varkey has two certifications from the American Board of Medical Specialities in both internal medicine (2005) and infectious diseases (2009). He received the Department of Medicine Quality Achievement Award in 2012 from the Emory University School of Medicine.

    In 2015, Varkey was a key player in treatment during the U.S. Ebola outbreak, having treated multiple patients at the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, GA. During the outbreak, Varkey and his team treated Kent Brantley, an American doctor who contracted ebola while treating patients in Africa. “We are going above and beyond what is necessary to contain this virus,” said Varkey during the treatment of Brantley, who later survived the virus.

    On January 14, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak over, however, it came to be the deadliest ebola outbreak of all time. In light of the news of the virus’s end, Varkey and his team urge everyone to be vigilant of flare-ups in the future.

    Jay currently works at Emory University School of Medicine as an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. His passion for helping others and positively influencing his peers has taken him from Brookfield to a global level where he is making an impact and saving lives.

    To learn more about infectious diseases and keep up with Jay, you can follow him on twitter @jaybvarkey.

    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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Michael Aprahamian

    Posted November 3, 2016

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    Brookfield East Class of 1985

    The Honorable Michael Aprahamian is a 1985 Brookfield East graduate, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge (Branch 9), and current President of Vision Forward.

    During Aprahamian’s time at East, he was involved in Spartan football and wrestling, highlighted by a 1984 conference football championship during his senior season. Following graduation from East, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison with his high school sweetheart, Michelle Wenzel. “My Elmbrook experience prepared me well for higher education,” stated Aprahamian. “I had engaging teachers that really cared about me, and the rigor and high standards helped to prep me for law school later in life.”

    In 1989, he graduated from UW with a Bachelor’s in Political Science. Shortly after graduation, he and Michelle married before continuing his education at Connecticut's Yale University Law School. Mike graduated in 1992 with a Juris Doctorate in Law and clerked for a judge before joining the Milwaukee law firm of Foley & Lardner in 1993.

    In 1994, Mike’s close-family ties to blindness led him to join the board at Milwaukee’s Center for Blind & Visually Impaired Children in order to give back to his community. In early 2010, Aprahamian was instrumental in the merger of the Center for Blind & Visually Impaired Children and the Badger Association of the Blind & Visually Impaired. The two organizations formed Vision Forward Association of Wisconsin, where he is currently President of the Board of Directors. Vision Forward is an organization that helps visually impaired individuals of all ages achieve important developmental milestones and reach their personal, educational, and professional goals.

    Mike practiced law with Foley & Lardner for 20 years. In October 2014, he was appointed as a judge of the Waukesha County Circuit Court by Governor Scott Walker where he currently serves in the criminal division. “What I enjoy most about my judicial position is positively influencing those that come before me,” said Aprahamian. “Everybody makes mistakes and I believe in practicing restorative justice. I try to apply the law in a way that helps give people a second chance.”

    Today, Mike and Michelle have two sons and a daughter together who have all graduated from Elmbrook. He loves going back to visit Brookfield East and is appreciative of the lasting friendships and rigorous work ethic that was instilled in him through his Elmbrook education.

    To learn more about Vision Forward Association, visit it’s website at vision-forward.org.

    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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Alexandra Wehrley

    Posted October 28, 2016

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    Brookfield East Class of 2005

    Alexandra Wehrley is a leader in the world of female empowerment, as well as an experienced talk show host and 2009’s Miss Wisconsin USA.

    Beginning her modeling career at nine years old, Alex Wehrley worked on photo shoots for Kohl’s Department Store, as well as taking part in competitive dancing. Several years later during her time at Brookfield East, she was involved in the Spartanettes dance team and women’s chamber choir, where she was able to continue to hone her stage presence and performance skills.

    In 2005, Wehrley graduated from East and continued on to the University of Wisconsin where she earned her Bachelor’s in Communication Arts in 2009. She began her television career in 2008 as a college intern at NBC 15 in Madison where she gained anchoring experience. Her career got a jumpstart in 2009 when she was named Miss Wisconsin USA and competed in the Live Miss USA pageant.

    “I am so grateful for pageants, they often get a bad rap because all that people see is what is on the telecast,” said Wehrley. “Leading up to a pageant is a long period of really coming to an understanding of who you are and what you believe in and it can take a great deal of mental focus and communication confidence. It’s an incredibly empowering experience.”

    As well as hosting several morning news shows, she has hosted multiple entertainment news shows, such as the nationally-syndicated morning show Eye Opener, E! News Now, Oklahoma LIVE, and even the 2014 CMA Awards Red Carpet Pre-Show. Alex landed her first big screen gig as a reporter in William H. Macy’s film Rudderless.

    In 2014, Wehrley founded #Empowerista, an online movement and program that seeks to empower young women through mentorship and celebration of individuality. Wehrley describes the movement as a “tribe of bold, ambitious women building each other up.”

    Alex returned to the pageant world in 2015 to co-host the Miss USA Pageant. Her work and mission to empower women has been brought from her Elm Grove roots to a global scale in strides to make the world a better, more driven place.

    To learn more about Alex and her #Empowerista movement, visit her website at www.alexwehrley.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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Ayad Akhtar

    Posted October 21, 2016

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    Brookfield Central Class of 1988

    1988 Brookfield Central graduate and playwright, Ayad Akhtar has written, staged, and acted in plays all over the world, starred in the HBO film Too Big To Fail, and has even received a Tony Award nomination for his theatrical work.

    During his time at Central, Akhtar’s passion for becoming a writer was sparked by his World Literature teacher. "She gave me a passion for European modernism, the Existentialists. I wanted to write as a universal writer," said Akhtar. After his graduation from Elmbrook, Akhtar attended Brown University in Rhode Island where he majored in theatre. He later moved to Italy to study acting with Polish innovative theatre director and theorist, Jerzy Grotowski, to whom he later became an assistant.

    After returning to the United States, Akhtar taught classes in acting and eventually received his MFA in film directing from Columbia University School of the Arts. After several projects in different artistic mediums, Akhtar published his first novel, entitled American Dervish in 2012. His novel marked the beginning of a seven-work cycle Akhtar is penning on the Muslim-American experience- the works will include a total of three plays, three novels, and one film.

    Recently, Ayad began a four-year relationship with the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre to stage four plays over that time. Ayad’s play The Invisible Hand ran in early 2016 and was the first of the four plays for Milwaukee, as well as one of the plays featured in his seven-work cycle. The Invisible Hand is a fierce, deceptive play set in Pakistan that takes a look at religion and global free market conflict that arises from the corruption of self-interest. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel praised Akhtar saying, “[he] challenges us to question the assumptions with which we approach the world and those in it.”

    In 2013, Akhtar’s play Disgraced won a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award nomination for its. Ayad’s plays have been performed from Broadway to St. Louis, and deal in the areas of the American-Muslim experience, culture, love, and economics. His career proves not only the power of art, determination and following your passions, but also the influence educators can have on helping to spark those passions.

    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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  • Alumni Spotlight - Jessica Tighe

    Posted October 11, 2016

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    Brookfield East Class of 1999

    After several years abroad, Jessica Tighe (East ‘99) was given the rare opportunity to come home to Milwaukee and share the news with her hometown each morning.

    Along with being a Brookfield East grad, Tighe is one of the morning news anchors for Milwaukee’s CBS 58! A career that began at East her senior year when she would read the televised school announcements. “I remember being incredibly nervous the first time I read the announcements, my legs were shaking under the desk. Needless to say, my legs don’t shake anymore,” joked Tighe. While at East, she was also actively involved in the yearbook and the Spartan Banner, including a year as Editor-In-Chief when she became the first to add color to the paper’s cover.

    Following her graduation from East, she attended Indiana University to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with a second concentration in Spanish. The day after graduation, Tighe left for West Virginia to work as a reporter, and after a few months, she was promoted to an anchor spot! After a year away, Tighe took a reporting job in La Crosse, WI that turned into a Weekend Anchor position.

    Her next goal was to anchor five days a week, and after a couple years Jessica did just that when she accepted a morning anchor position for KWQC TV-6 in the Quad Cities, covering eastern Iowa and western Illinois. During her six years in the Quad Cities, she turned from a ‘night owl’ to a ‘morning person’, waking up in the middle of the night to bring the viewers breaking news from while they were asleep.

    In January 2013, Jessica got a call that would make her dreams come true- she was offered the morning anchor position at Milwaukee’s CBS 58 News. “It’s rare in this business to work in your hometown,” said Tighe. “It’s where my passion for journalism first flourished and I love the culture here.”

    There’s never a typical morning in news and that is part of what Tighe loves so much about her job. Through all her travels, she hasn’t forgotten where her love for journalism first manifested. “Elmbrook has high standards with challenging courses,” Tighe reflected. “My education in Elmbrook provided the foundation for what I’m doing now- from my honors English classes to my time spent on the school newspaper, I was able to realize that I wanted to get into journalism.”

    For more alumni stories, district updates, and to connect with fellow alumi follow Elmbrook Schools on LinkedIn.

    To recommend an alum for our series, please click here.

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  • Alumni Spotlight - Kersti Niebruegge

    Posted September 30, 2016

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    Brookfield Central High School Class of 2000

    Kersti Niebruegge (Central ‘00) is an author and comedy writer whose Wisconsin roots have allowed her to create a fictional world all her own.

    During Kersti’s time at Brookfield Central, she was involved in a number of school plays and acted as an editor for both the school paper and yearbook. “I appreciate the diverse clubs and activities I was able to join in high school,” reflected Niebruegge. “My elementary school even had a drama club which was fantastic!”

    Niebruegge continued her education at the University of Wisconsin- Madison where she earned a degree in journalism. A couple years later, she studied comedy writing at Upright Citizens Brigade Training Center in New York City before working for Conan and Late Night with Seth Meyers where she conducted footage research and clip clearances.

    In late 2014, Niebruegge published her first novel, entitled Mistake, Wisconsin. The story was inspired by Niebruegge’s own perspective-shift after moving away from Wisconsin, and the book calls out the eccentricities of the state’s culture in a loving manner. “As a comedy writer, I like creating quirky, idiosyncratic worlds that are unique to specific settings,” said Niebruegge. “Revising is the best part of writing because that’s when I can make the story better. I love it when I get to the point where I’m punching up jokes because that means I’m almost finished.”

    The very next year Kersti released her second novel, The Zonderling, which drew from her experience of moving to New York City. “The stories exist within the same universe,” she stated, “none of my novels are directly related but I like the idea of a universe where goofy little towns and fictional companies carry over from one book to the next.”

    Ms. Niebruegge’s books The Zonderling and Mistake, Wisconsin are available in paperback and for Kindle at Amazon.com or on her website at www.kerstiniebruegge.com.

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

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