BELOIT - "Don't waste what you get here for free."
That was the message Beloit Memorial High School (BMHS) Hall of Fame inductee Charlotte M. Hall imparted to students during a ceremony Thursday morning at the school. From taking advantage of high school to the public library, Hall encouraged students to take advantage of all learning opportunities.
Although Hall said she wasn't "that big of a deal in high school" or growing up on Copeland Avenue, she said she learned a lot from the tutelage of teachers in Beloit and encouraged students to appreciate and learn from the talented staff.
"All you have to do is show up every day on time and ready to learn," she said.
On Thursday, Hall was given a warm welcome by BMHS Interim Principal Emily Pelz, Senior Class President Lakya Jackson, and an enthusiastic student body and community leaders as the BMHS jazz band and choir performed musical tributes. Director of Alumni Services Fran Fruzen bestowed a plaque and a purple T-shirt to Hall after her speech.
Hall told students Mr. Fruzen was her social studies teacher back when she was a bit of a talker in class. She said she learned about social studies during the time of the Vietnam War, with Fruzen teaching her how to be a critical thinker.
"All of these teachers taught me not only their content, but also taught me productive habits of mind," she said. "You've got teachers like that here. They just have different names."
Hall's five pieces of advice included the following: show up; figure out how you are smart; be the boss of you; never stop learning; and give back.
She told students to marry what they are talented at with a career to find true success. She encouraged students not to give away the responsibility of themselves to other people or habits.
"Do not submit to what I call 'the addictives,' excess drinking, gambling and drugs," she said.
Hall also encouraged students to take advantage of "the best deal in town," the Beloit Public Library. She told students to give back to neighbors including those who give their property taxes to support the great BMHS and younger kids who need help with their homework.
"Do an act of kindness, give what you can to your community, to your school and to your state," she said.
If every single one of the 1,600 students in the high school did one act of kindness for the next 12 months, she said it would equal 584,000 ways in which teenagers have been helpful in assisting Beloit.
"You people have the power to change the community," she said.
Hall was born in Beloit to Frank and Dorothy Hall. She attended Merrill Elementary School, Roosevelt Junior High School and is a 1968 graduate of Beloit Memorial High School.
Hall lives in Delafield, Wisconsin. She has spent her life building high achieving public schools and modeling service. She began in Genoa City where she raised achievement levels in reading and language arts.
In Oconomowoc, she served as a guidance counselor, was elected President of the Oconomowoc Education Association and served as the chief negotiator, as well as a member of the Wisconsin Education Association Council Board.
When she became an assistant principal at the junior high and then associate/acting principal at the high school, she added a commitment to community service. During her tenure, Oconomowoc High School was designated as a Blue Ribbon Secondary School of Excellence by the US Department of Education (1991).
The following year, Charlotte was selected principal of Kettle Moraine Middle School where she supervised a $6.5 million expansion and remodel project turning the school into one of the highest achieving middle schools in Wisconsin.
In 1999, Kettle Moraine Middle was designated as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the US Department of Education and in 2004, Charlotte Hall was named Wisconsin Middle School Principal of the Year. In retirement, she continues to serve both the community and education.
She has been called back into service as an interim principal for a year in both Oconomowoc and Swallow.
She was a staff person for five years for the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators. She has served on the board at Oconomowoc Hospital, the Operational Board for Pro-Health Care, the Board at the Delafield Public Library, the Board of the Friends of the Delafield Library, the Kettle Moraine Educational Foundation Board and Executive Committee, and serves as a lay minister at her church.