District invites public to celebrate school’s history

The Burlington Area School District invites the public to take a nostalgic walk-through of Karcher Middle School May 7 before the building, which formerly housed Burlington High School is demolished. (file photo)

Alumni walkthrough events planned at Karcher prior to demolition

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

The Burlington Area School District is counting down the final days of the existing Karcher Middle School and has invited the public to “Celebrate Memories at 225 Robert St.” next month.

Karcher Middle School, slated for replacement with a new building in 2021-22, bears the name of Burlington native and Racine County’s first female attorney Nettie Elizabeth Karcher.

The nostalgic walkthrough, district officials said, will occur from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 1, as well as 5 until 7 p.m. Friday, May 7.

“Attendees will have the opportunity take a self-guided tour and can stay for a few minutes or the full two hours,” the district states in its website. “Signage will share some historical highlights from the school’s nearly 100 years.”

The walkthrough, however, isn’t the only event planned for Karcher Middle School with the district presenting an opportunity for community members to claim select mementos from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The district, which is still working to determine what items will be available, states items such as light fixtures will be repurposed.

“The district anticipates the public may want lockers, doors, and clocks,” the website states. “Bricks will be available after demolition begins on June 14. The district is also collecting, as possible, special items that have been donated over the years to honor people and classes.”


Historical reflection

Since voters approved the referendum in November 2018, which included the Karcher Middle School replacement, the district maintained its plan to retain the Karcher name for the new school after demolition of the current building.

The current building, with portions dating to 1924, served as the district’s high school until 1999 and was named in honor of Karcher the following year when the district opened the new high school on McCanna Parkway.

The Burlington Historical Society, which has highlighted area women during Women’s History Month, called Karcher a long-respected community leader and touted her many achievements.

Karcher, born in 1882 to Albert and Minnie Karcher in the town of Burlington, attended Burlington area schools, graduated from the high school in 1910 before receiving her law degree at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

“After graduation, Nettie opened her own law practice at the urging of George Waller, a Burlington attorney for whom she had done some work,” the Historical Society wrote on its Facebook page. “She was the first woman attorney in Racine County and practiced in Burlington from 1915 until her death in March 1969.”

Karcher, in addition to her achievements as an attorney, also served on the Burlington’s grade school board for 32 years and on the high school board for five years.

“She was an ardent BHS sports fan, rarely missing a football or basketball game,” the Historical Society states.

The Historical Society noted Karcher earned a lifetime pass to all BHS activities in the late 1950s.

She would often take a carload of students to out-of-town games and treat teams to ice cream and cake at the end of their seasons.

“Nettie was a long-respected leader in Burlington and her standards of achievement left a legacy and a challenge not only for women, but for all,” the Historical Society states.



Meanwhile, the district said alumni interested in assisting with the walkthrough event can volunteer through a form on its website at basd.k12.wi.us.

Responsibilities include informing others of the event, attending one or both walkthroughs, and sharing stories of the school.

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