Bullen is about to celebrate 50 years of serving children and families of Kenosha.

This equates to the northside middle school having been the catalyst for success of thousands of students as they continue on their educational journey toward high school.

You’d be hard pressed to speak to someone in Kenosha that doesn’t have a connection to Bullen in one way or another.

“To me, being a Bullen alumni means a legacy of friendship, mentorship and memories,” said Kara Kraus, parent of four former students. “My children made lifelong friendships and met some amazing teachers that will be role models to them for years to come.”

Because middle school can sometimes be a challenging time for students, teachers like Jackie Meteyard are determined to provide events that ensure students feel like they belong.

These opportunities to play, referee and mentor continue to be cherished as students move on to become Bullen alumni.

The concept of being a middle school alumni was something that Andy Baumgart, sixth-year principal at Bullen, noticed immediately upon taking the position in 2012; students recognize and claim to be “Bullen alumni” in the community.

As present 12th-grader and former Bullen student Jacob Hoening said, “Being an alumni from Bullen holds a special place in my heart because of all the opportunities I was gifted while being a student there.”

Though it is not a formal program, students return to help tutor others, be recognized in the sports assemblies, mentor other students and play in Friday night tournaments for things like badminton, mat ball and dodgeball.

The former students will give up their time to help out in any way they can and to be role models to younger students.

“Being a Bullen alumni means the fun never ends,” 10th-grader and Bullen alumnae Marin Ovitt said. “Once you go to Bullen, you are always part of that school.

“We are continuously asked to go back; whether it’s to help out with a school event or be able to participate in a fun activity.

“It is a great way for us, especially being high schoolers, to get service hours or just go back to have fun like we never left.”

“Being a Bullen alumni also means that we have continuous support no matter what. If there is ever something I need, I know I can go to my teachers I had at Bullen and they are always there to help.”

These claims are echoed over and over by our past Bobcats. Every time a former student walks through the doors they are greeted as if it is a homecoming.

The true secret to our success is that we don’t welcome them back as Bullen alumni. We welcome them as Bullen family.

Plans are in the making for a 50th anniversary celebration and we encourage our current and past Bullen families to watch for information to be shared so you can join in the fun.

Andrew Baumgart is principal of Bullen Middle School.

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