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Mike Olson, retiring ag teacher, is honored
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Antigo High School ag teacher and FFA adviser Mike Olson received a bit of gentle roasting and an overabundance of respect and well-wishes at his final FFA banquet Monday.

Olson is retiring at the end of the school year after 33 years with the Antigo school district, and 35 years in the teaching profession. His final awards banquet brought out hundreds of well-wishers, along with members of his family from as far away as Kentucky, who swelled the attendance numbers for the always popular event to the area of 300 people.

“Life is a journey,” Shalynn Brandt Domke, who moved through the FFA ranks as a student and is now an elementary teacher in the district, said. “Mr. Olson, everyone here tonight, you have been a part of their journey. You touched everyone in this room in some way or another and are leaving a legacy behind.”

Olson also received an honorary Antigo High School diploma from District Administrator Dr. Steven Smolek, an autographed Green Bay Packer football from the FFA Alumni, and a crystal bell from Bill Kelly of the Salvation Army, recognizing the work done by the FFA chapter and adviser in the holiday fund-raising program. All six members of the Lee and JoAnne Parsons family were on hand—Jeff, Kyle, Karl, Hope, Roby and Cody—with a collage representing their years in the FFA.

There were also two standing ovations for the man known affectionately as “Mr. O.”

Olson, 58, said he was humbled.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he said. “I value my friendships with the families and have had many cups of coffee in many homes. It was the best job in the world and I really mean that.”

The honors for Olson were part of an evening that showcased the best of agriculture in Langlade County.

Christine Brandt received the Honorary Chapter FFA Degree, joining a long list of past recipients that dates to former ag teacher Cyril Lyons in 1981. The Star Chapter FFA Award, sponsored by United FCS, went to Joe Markgraf and Cody Parsons.

Gary Kieper, who was instrumental with Olson in starting the FFA Alumni organization in 1983, was honored with the Blue and Gold Award.

Guest speakers included High School Principal Tom Zamzow, who reflected on the success created when the community and school work together for the betterment of students; and state FFA vice-president Aaron Zimmerman of Spencer, who reflected on service.

There were several touching moments as well, including when outgoing FFA officers acknowledged their parents. Joe Markgraf, the president, presented a rose to his grandmother, Annette Honzik, noting that she acted as a mother to him since the death of his mother, the former Mary Honzik, also a past FFA chapter president, who died in 1998 when he was just three years old.

A full list of awards follows:

— Dairy Production (Production): Jack Schuessler.

— Equine Science: Emily Mosher.

— Vegetable Production: Austin Grall.

— Agricultural Mechanics Design and Fabrication: Tyler Belott.

— Beef Production (Production): Molly Sprengler.

— Forest Management: Cameron Igl.

— Small Animal Production and Care: Sandra Solin.

— Agriculture Processing: Cody Kakes.

— Small Animal Production and Care (Entrepreneur): Kayzia Morales.

— Agricultural Sales: Whitney Hartman.

— Beef Production (Entrepreneur): Heidi Meverden.

— Agriculture Mechanics and Repair: Cody Parsons.

— Landscape Management: Levi Fernald.

— Turf Grass Management: Levi Fernald.

— Agriculture Education: Joe Markgraf.

— Sheep Production: Cody Parsons.

— Dairy Production (Entrepreneur): Tosha Schreiber.

— Specialty Crop Production: John Monk.

— FFA Alumni Student of the Year: Joe Markgraf.

— Star Greenhands: Jada Mach and Jack Schuessler.

— Job Interview: Heidi Meverden.

— Discussion: Joe Markgraf.

— Extemporaneous Speaking: Mickey Purdun.

— Senior with the Highest GPA: Joe Markgraf.

— Highest Agriculture Grades: Molly Sprengler.

— First Year FFA Members: Tim Marshall, John Monk, Corrin Smith, Jada Mach, Jack Schuessler, Brianna Eldridge, Ashley Schmid, Jake Rhode, Kendra Arrowood, Kayzia Morales.

Hannah Baginski, Emily Mosher, Charlie Husnick, Maddie Mosher, Chandi Welnetz, Erik Schielke, Tim Fisher, Paul Kakes, Courtlyn Gray, Megan Brown, Tucker Sullivan, Kevin Purdun.

— Outstanding Junior: Heidi Meverden.

— Outstanding Senior: Adam Basler.

— Senior Leadership: Joe Markgraf.

— Chrudimsky Family Scholarship: Joe Markgraf.

— Antigo FFA Alumni Scholarship: Joe Markgraf, Molly Sprengler, Cody Parsons, Savanna Mishler, Amber Bunn.

2012-13 FFA Officers: Joe Markgraf, president; Cody Parsons, vice president; Savanna Mishler, secretary; Cameron Igl, treasurer; Molly Sprengler, reporter; Marshall Sullivan, sentinel; Cody Kakes, chaplain; Britany Hackbarth, parliamentarian.

2013-14 FFA Officers: Cody Kakes, president; Marshall Sullivan, vice president; Maddie Matuszewski, secretary; Heidi Meverden, treasurer; Sandra Solin, reporter; Mikey Purdun, sentinel; Brandon Bastle, chaplain; Tosha Schreiber, parliamentarian.

An FFA Alumni fund-raising auction that closed the evening raised over $4,000, a new record.


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Antigo High School ag teacher and FFA adviser Mike Olson, left, receives an honorary AHS diploma from District Administrator Dr. Steve Smolek at Monday's annual FFA awards banquet. Olson is retiring after 33 years with the district.
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ANTIGO DAILY
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Mail to: Fred Berner
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