In late August, Sharon Batkiewicz, owner of Bread and Bean restaurant in Sheboygan Falls, said she was caught off guard by an email she received from a journalist who works for NBC Nightly News. The journalist asked whether her family would like to be part of a segment reporting on how students were dealing with the pandemic. Sharon’s son, Erik, is a senior at Kohler High School.
The journalist explained that Kohler was one of the schools NBC was looking at for a news segment. Apparently a search of websites for area businesses led NBC to a Facebook post by Sharon thanking her son for his support at their restaurant, and encouraging him to go enjoy his senior year at Kohler High School. She had posted on her personal page how Erik had been “a constant fixture” in their restaurant since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“We had to let 90% of our work staff go back in March. Erik stepped up, helping in the family business. He would do his schoolwork virtually, then come and help us every lunch hour and dinner hour and kept his grades up. He never complained (or hardly ever). Sometimes he even had to be the mediator. He has made some great friends with our customers, knowing their cars for the curbside pick-up and always greeting them with a smile on his face. We could never have done it without him,” Sharon wrote on Facebook.
Many more email exchanges and Zoom meetings with NBC Nightly News followed. Erik was asked to video record himself virtually learning. Sharon and Erik’s father, Warren, also appear in the video. In all, 20 students from around the nation appear in the segment, talking about their virtual learning experiences. The broadcast aired on October 13. You can watch the segment on YouTube below.