WAUPUN — Envision Greater Fond du Lac held a business connections conference Tuesday evening at the Warrior Innovation Center which featured speeches from six Waupun area high school students explaining how much the Innovation Center improved their education.
The business connections event was attended by several local officials including Mayor Rohn Bishop and City Administrator Kathy Schlieve, as well as countless local business and organization leaders. Also in attendance were Congressman Glenn Grothman and State Senator Dan Feyen.
The presentation was started by Joe Venhuizen, Vice President of Membership and Resource Development at Envision Greater Fond du Lac, who welcomed the audience and thanked the elected officials for attending. Venhuizen was followed by Doug and Dawn Disch, who explained the background behind the Warrior Innovation Center and its importance to the school.
The Warrior Innovation Center, also known as Warrior Fabrication, started as an idea in 2016 when the school applied for a grant that was designated for manufacturing education. They were able to secure the funds and built the new Innovation Center building in 2018. The building was built detached from the rest of the school, replacing the outdoor climbing structures at the southwest corner of the high school.
The six students who presented were TJ Haddy, Payson Landaal, Dakota Stephens, Audrey Lewis, Ava Bille, and Tyler Bronson. All of the students who presented are seniors save one sophomore.
“Working at the Warrior Innovation Center has really changed my attitude to coming to school,” Payson Landaal said. “I can’t say I was ever a super big fan of school, but before the Innovation Center I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, or what really interested me. But after I started here I come to school every day excited to work on a new project or continuing a project, either way it’s just fun.”
The students focused on the influence that the Innovation Center had on their education, including several students who credit it with giving them a career to strive towards after college. They each also touched on more general life skills gained from taking classes in the facility, such as planning, teamwork, and work ethic.
Following the presentations a raffle drawing was held where several attendees won Innovation Center t-shirts and one attendee won a cribbage board made at Warrior Fabrication in association with Envision.