First Lady Tonette Walker

Another honor for Schara: Now she’s officially a hero

By Kim Lamoreaux of the Reedsburg Times Press
Thursday, September 20, 2012

In the last two years, Reedsburg Area High School senior Jordyn Schara has been inundated with press coverage after being widely known as the teenager who initiated a program that puts prescription drug drop-off receptacles in public places.

But none of that was as shocking as when Wisconsin first lady Tonette Walker waltzed into Schara’s classroom Wednesday around noon with an entourage of local media, school officials and her mother.

Walker stood at the front of Tracy Chambas’ journalism class and the Student Voice newspaper staff and introduced herself.

“Sometimes people recognize me,” Walker said to the class, “and sometimes they don’t. But I’m first lady Tonette Walker and we’re here today to honor Wisconsin Hero Jordyn Schara.”

Schara sat in her seat quietly listening while a somewhat embarrassed smile grew on her face as Walker read from Schara’s nomination form.

“Jordyn discovered that when we throw our medicines away,” Walker said, “they contaminate our groundwater. She created Wisconsin P2D2, which stands for Wisconsin Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal … and has helped collect over 600,000 pounds of drugs.”

Walker’s office names a Wisconsin Hero each month based upon a subcommittee’s recommendation. The subcommittee reviews numerous nomination forms and chooses one to recommend to the first lady.

“I was so totally surprised,” Schara said after Walker presented her with her Wisconsin Heroes plaque and certificate. “No one told me about this.”

Walker’s chief of staff, Annie Andres-Nolan, said Walker accepts the subcommittee’s recommendation, which is almost always a unanimous one.

“The award recognizes a Wisconsin resident who has gone above and beyond voluntarily to make the state a better place,” Andres-Nolan said.

It’s one more accolade on Schara’s already impressive list of honors, some of which are on the national scale.

The P2D2 program Schara initiated as a 16-year-old has been recognized by Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. She has been invited to the White House to meet Vice President Joe Biden. She was honored with an award from former first lady Laura Bush. And she has received at least a dozen additional awards from international and national organizations.

But Schara doesn’t talk much about her program while she’s in school. She is her own spokeswoman in media interviews and public service announcements and appears at each installation of the drop-off receptacles.

“Some may say, ‘That’s so two years ago,’ but she’s still living it and doing it,” Chambas said. “She may be getting a lot of mileage out of one program she’s worked on, but it’s ongoing. She’s constantly working to better it. I admire her, and I think she will succeed because she’s determined and she perseveres.

“She’s a veteran reporter in the class,” Chambas said. “We know the genuine, true Jordyn.”

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