Take the fam to JB's!
Take the fam to JB's!

My, how bowling has changed!

For a long time, Milwaukee was considered the bowling capital of the nation. Our German founders brought the game with them, and we are home to some of our country's oldest bowling alleys. The Holler House on Lincoln Avenue, for example, was opened in 1908, and is the oldest certified bowling alley in the United States.
Despite this proud history, for many of us millennials who bowled mostly in the nineties, the mere mention of the sport brings to mind dimly lit alleys and the stale smell of smoke. 
So when I brought my family to JB's on 41 on a recent Saturday evening, and was greeted by their retro, funky sign out front, I expected to leave wanting to immediately wash all of our clothes. 
But I was pleasantly surprised to find a bright, modern facility complete with leather seats and contemporary decor. And there was no icky smoke smell, either!
Indeed, JB's on 41 (formerly Olympic Lanes) is one of the city's most innovative bowling alleys, situated on on the South Side of Milwaukee.
They recently completed a renovation of their luxury bowling section, Suite 41. Dare I use the term "chic" or "swanky" to describe a bowling alley? Suite 41 features 10 private lanes with customized cherry colored wood, leather couch seating, and colorful streaming lights.  
The huge flat screen televisions flipped between sports, "Thomas the Train" and other family favorites. The music was upbeat, energizing, and perfect for a party. The two birthday parties in Suite 41 that night were enjoying their pitchers of soda, pizza and appetizers, and one woman even sipped on a glass of rose wine.  
Most notably, the place was packed with families. Kids as young as two years old were actually bowling, with the help of portable ramps and bumpers.
But what my five year nephew and two year old son liked even more was the colorful game room with flashing lights and exciting noises. They raced on motorcycles, tried their luck at fishing out stuffe…
Organic apples are rare in Wisconsin.
Organic apples are rare in Wisconsin.

The organic alternative to Wisconsin apple picking

Peck and Bushel Fruit Company in Colgate doesn't just offer an organic alternative to your favorite apple varieties. Wisconsin's only organic apple orchard also offers a return to the old-fashioned fruit-picking experience. That is, they're focused more on making their apples taste delicious, and less on frills like bouncy houses and pony rides.

Apparently, it's no easy feat to grow organically in Wisconsin. The humidity here leads to pests and diseases, and persistence is necessary to learn through trial and error. 

After experimenting in his own backyard with organic growing methods for over 20 years, Joe Fahey and his wife Jennifer purchased over 70 acres of sun-kissed land with views of Holy Hill in 2009. They've been nurturing it the earth-friendly way ever since. 

They use no synthetically manufactured chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. Instead, they use plants like crabapple trees to attract bees to do their bidding. They use a trellis system, similar to a vineyard, that enhances air flow and allows more sun to get in. They use a clay and kale based spray that acts as a bug irritant and sunscreen. And they grow apples that are meant to be grown in the Midwest. 

To complement Joe's natural growing methods, his wife Jennifer packages it all up to reflect the farm-country atmosphere of their land. Everything from the rustic wooden signs in the orchard to the red and white checkered covers on their jars of applesauce is a testimony to her knack for marketing.

The result of their efforts is an orchard filled with 6,000 dwarf apple trees, boasting 800-foot rows of luscious red Honeycrisp apples and yellow Blondies with a sweet banana-like flavor. Of course, some varieties didn't turn out so well this year, like the stubborn McIntosh crop.

But Fahey doesn't seem bothered by the challenges that come with trying to accomplish what some believe is impossible, or at least too difficult to try. With his orchard in its infancy, he seems to enjoy perfecting th…

Sarah Berndt (fifth from left) collects her well-earned oversized novelty check Wednesday at MPS' Reagan IB High School.
Sarah Berndt (fifth from left) collects her well-earned oversized novelty check Wednesday at MPS' Reagan IB High School. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools)

MPS teacher awarded prestigious national educator prize

Having taught in Milwaukee Public Schools for five years, I get to see great teachers educate young minds every day. Ordinary days are filled with extraordinary moments in classrooms across the district. We usually don't hear much about these daily acts of dedication and compassion. As do most things in life, they go unnoticed, except perhaps by the students whose lives they touch.

But at Ronald Reagan IB High School, where I teach Spanish, Wednesday was a different kind of day for one teacher who stood out among educators across the nation.

Anticipation was building as every student at the school filed into the auditorium this morning for a surprise assembly. The jazz band played its upbeat tunes and television cameras surrounded the area. Dignitaries from around the city of Milwaukee sat on the stage happily chatting among themselves.

State superintendent Tony Evers was there. Our district superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton sat next to him. Mayor Tom Barrett joined them along with School Board Director Meagan Holman. School principal Mike Roemer was there, too, of course. We knew something was happening, but we didn’t know exactly what. Perhaps a visit from the Governor? Michelle Obama?

After some enthusiastic words from Dr. Thornton, a representative from the Milken Family Foundation in California announced that one teacher from our school had been selected for their prestigious national educator award.

The winner of one of the 2013 Milken Educator Awards, or the "Oscar" of the education world, would also win $25,000 that they could spend as they wish.

The honor ultimately went to my colleague Sarah Berndt, a Spanish teacher, technology teacher and school newspaper advisor at Reagan IB.

Berndt accepted the award to a standing ovation. She was composed enough to say a few words of gratitude to her students and comment on how she couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Those who work with Sarah witness her dedication to excellence every day, through her…