Savvy Communicators

Whether they're on-air or working behind-the-scenes, these alumni credit WLHS as a springboard for their success.
Shannen Oesterreich (’11)
“Ridder, Scott and Shannen” Morning Show on FM 106.1
 
WLHS Experience: I transferred to Wisco my sophomore year and really enjoyed it. I liked the fact that it was bigger than my previous high school and it was diverse—that made it more like the real world. You weren’t closed off. You could mix and mingle with so many different people. It really was a great campus life with a lot of offerings. I was in plays, musicals, the track team and National Honor Society. You could almost do everything.

Preparation: When I got to Madison, I realized how well Wisco prepared me. I was ahead of my peers. In my writing class, they were reviewing things I already knew. I was in calc and it was easy because I had learned the material with Mr. Gottschalk. In a lecture class of a few hundred people, I got the third highest calc score. I was definitely prepared for college. I wouldn’t have traded my high school for the world.

Favorite Teachers: The relationships I had with my teachers were special. I still keep in touch with Mr. Bilitz and the Festerlings. The teachers made you feel like you were part of a family and created a bond, a sense of community. They were interested, wanted to know about your life and wanted to help you with anything. From the teachers, I learned to be a helping hand wherever I go. They were role models of Christian leadership and taught me important people skills.

Lifelong Friends: I think the religious connection keeps my WLHS friendships strong. I’m still close with my best friend from high school. There’s also a group of eight Wisco girls who, at the end of senior year, made a pact to be involved in each other’s weddings and we’ve kept that promise!
 

Scott Warras (’99)
Executive Producer, Newsradio 620 WTMJ; Radio Play-by-play Announcer, UW-Milwaukee Panthers Men’s Basketball
 
WLHS Difference: I always tell people Wisco got me started on my career. There were two moments that really made a difference. Freshman year I was on Pilot, Wisco’s student newspaper. The sports editor and I decided we wanted to do a Q&A with Jim Powell who called Brewers baseball with Bob Uecker. I’ll never forget interviewing him at County Stadium. From then on, I knew I wanted to work in sports broadcasting. The other significant event was a summer radio workshop at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., that Ms. Grzanna found for me. It was one of the most memorable weeks of my life and cemented my career choice.

Favorite Teachers: I enjoyed Mr. Lueck’s World History. He was so energetic and enthusiastic. He used different and innovative teaching techniques to get you involved and engaged with the subject.

Preparation: I had a smooth transition into college. There was never a moment when I felt like I was behind or not ready. Wisco has some of the best teachers and they did their job of preparing me. In American Government with Mr. Mark Leverence, we had to do presentations. I remember it was the first time where I gave a speech and wasn’t really nervous. From that point forward, I began to enjoy public speaking more and more.

Career Path: I’ve seen the Lord’s hand throughout my career. In a business that’s very transient and tumultuous, I feel blessed to have had stability and the opportunity to remain in the city where I grew up. I’ve been with WTMJ-AM for nearly nine years—eight as the producer for “Midday with Charlie Sykes.” At the same time, I’ve been able to pursue my love of sports through play-by-play announcing at UW-Milwaukee.


Ashley (Christophersen) Bakke (’07)
Assistant Vice President, PR Specialist Robert W. Baird
 
WLHS Advantage: During my freshman year at Marquette University, a professor pulled me aside to ask where I went to high school because she was so impressed with my writing skills. I give a ton of credit to Mr. Tatge and his Advanced Composition class. The class was challenging but it’s striking how much I learned. I believe that class and Mr. Tatge’s guidance were crucial to my college success and ultimately my future career.

Favorite Teachers: There were a lot of great teachers who I felt truly cared about you and were really invested in your future success. Mr. Bowe, Mr. Kren and Mr. Tatge were some of those teachers for me. They wanted you to get good grades but also see you grow as a young Christian adult.

Experience: I played volleyball all four years so I equate much of my high school experience with athletics. I loved my time as a Lady Viking and had tremendous friendships with my teammates. I really enjoyed traveling southeastern Wisconsin to play different conference teams and it was a privilege to be in the gym everyday playing a game I love.

Preparation: There’s really no substitute for a Christian education. I was surrounded by parents, teachers and coaches who were tremendous Christian examples. They demonstrated the value of a strong work ethic and taught me how to deal with challenges and setbacks in life. Those were powerful lessons as a young student and they carried well beyond high school into my career and my life.

Final Thoughts: I’m proud I went to Wisco. It’s sort of a family legacy. My grandparents attended Lutheran High School. My parents, Tracey (Kraklow) and Eric Christophersen, were high school sweethearts from the class of 1980 and my two brothers, Jon (’04) and Justin (’11) are also WLHS graduates.


Mike Westendorf (’92)
Director of Operations for University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee Innovative Weather, On-air Meteorologist for 89.7 WUWM-FM, Worship Leader at The Bridge at St. Paul Lutheran Church, Muskego

WLHS Experience: For me, it was a safe place to belong. My sophomore year two seniors took an interest in me and that really made my high school experience even better. They saw something in me. We’d hang out and joke around. My senior year, my friends and I tried to do the same thing—be welcoming and kind. We wanted to be the type of guys underclassmen would look up to.

Preparation: I knew in high school that I wanted to be a meteorologist. When I got to UW-Milwaukee, I felt I was well prepared from a math and study skills standpoint.

Favorite Teachers: Mr. Greschner, Coach Lemke, Pastor Becker and Mr. Thoms. Mr. Greschner’s physics class was difficult but he told you upfront that he was getting you ready for college. After high school, I had some conversations with him about faith and science. It was helpful to look a person with a science background in the eye and know that he loved Jesus AND science. It made some of the secular science less intimidating. It was really comforting to have a faith resource to go back to.

Next Generation: My wife and I knew we wanted our children to have a Wisco education. We prayed for months and months to find a way to Wisco and, because of the persistence of the admissions office, we got our Choice paperwork completed and were selected. It was a huge blessing for us. Our son, Adam, is a 2017 graduate and our daughter, Abby, is currently a junior.
WLHS Today: In 2017, I think you find the world at Wisco. I like that because my kids are interacting with different types of people and personalities. Early in life, they’re getting a really good foundation to be leaders. They’re learning how to apply Christian principles to different life situations and issues. The real world is knowing and using your faith during challenging times.
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