Thank You, Mr. Kersten, Waunakee High School Principal

My friend Jen, who writes a wonderful blog called More Than Words about her family and their struggles with mental health conditions.  Jen and her daughters were one third of an ABC 20/20 story last year about childhood onset mental illness:

Jen posted on her Facebook page today that she had a great conversation with Mr. Brian Kersten, Principal of Waunakee High School, who’s dance team performed the dance many of us have been writing about.  

Jen says, ” Just got off the phone with the Waunakee High School Principal – they are working with NAMI Wisconsin to create a mental health awareness campaign and outreach in their school, and they’re going to use part of our 20/20 story to help illustrate. Hopefully we’ve turned a negative into a positive and give kids the courage to step forward and get help.  He actually was really receptive, and said he has learned so much, and has worked really hard to reach out to everyone who has contacted him, and has learned a lot about his own student body that he didn’t realize. I think this has changed their school for the better.”

If you’ve heard form Principal Kersten, please comment.  

This is great news, and so wonderful that this negative can be turned into something positive for the entire student body and staff.  

But we’re only half done.  This story would never have gotten the national press it got if Rick Chandler from NBC Sports hadn’t opened his predjudiced, uneducated mouth.  Please – keep contacting NBC.  My hope is NBC will respond in a similar manner as Principal Kersten has.  

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  • mommylebron February 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    I'm glad to hear that! You're doing such a great job keeping the information n this current Christa, thank you!

  • Jessa February 12, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I'm glad they are at the very least trying to do something. Unfortunately it's probably a bit too late and they have furthered the issue of stigma anyway.

  • picklesprincess February 12, 2011 at 4:07 am

    That is great news, and great progress. Baby steps but steps none the less. Makes me think of this puppet presentation that used to be out there, "Kids On The Black". It would bring these puppets to schools and each puppet represented a child with a particular disability. They were good puppets, like Jim Henson quality. It's be great to have something similar with kids with various MI. Educate early maybe?

  • Amy Kiel February 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    This is such great news. I am so happy to hear that the school is taking a proactive approach to learning from this experience. I feel like it is definitely an opportunity for more awareness, compassion and ultimately understanding.

  • Erika February 12, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I e-mailed Principal Kersten thanking him. As I have said for a long time now, if we only contact them when they're in the wrong, we won't get very far. We have to let them know we see them doing good.

    I will let you know if I hear back from him.

    This is the text of the letter: