Milton McPike Memorial Scholarship Fund
A Continuing Impact
Milt McPike (l-r) and Juan José López in 2006
on to say “you have my support and let me know what you need, but remember you have to put the needs and concerns of children first.” He
always put kids first and he not only loved them, but he also respected them greatly. He said “Don’t forget to listen and learn from young
people, they will help you, guide you and give you an occasionally nudge when you get off course.” He attended my first ever fundraiser and
spoke with so much passion and thoughtfulness telling the audience why he was supporting me for a seat on the school board. I will never
forget this moment for the rest of my life.”
Especially as a school board member, López crossed paths with McPike often in conducting school business. What impressed López the
most about McPike was his ability to connect with all people.
“He transcended cultural, social and class lines with everyone he dealt with,” López said. “Because of him not only was East High School a
better school, but the community, our city and state were also better off. He not only served as Assistant Principal at West High School and
Principal of East High School but he also served on the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. I vividly remember a
conversation he and I had about Mr. Jesus Salas, a colleague on the Board of Regents, saying to me that he enjoyed serving with him and
respected him greatly. I told him that they were my two favorite Regents and we were fortunate to have them both serving the state of
McPike’s reach was broad, even with students who didn’t come in contact with him every day.
“One of the nearly universal themes that I have heard, that I have read and I remember is everyone remembers Milt’s smile and his
laughter,” said Craig Karlen, a member of the East Class of 1995. “I read a quote recently where he said, ‘If students don’t see me smiling,
then they know something is wrong.’ Everyone remembers his big smile and his big laugh. I didn’t know Mr. McPike very closely. But over
the course of my teaching career, I’ve come to realize that when a big school like that is run really well, the leadership and the energy and
the example start at the top. My experience as a student at East allowed me to do everything I needed to do. And even though I didn’t know
Mr. McPike socially, I know many people who did. And I’ve come to realize — and many of my friends have shared this opinion — essentially
we all found a place where we were allowed to do whatever we needed to do to succeed.”
Karlen and countless others remember the impact that McPike’s leadership had on their lives and so, as their 20-year class reunion
approached, Karlen and other classmates wanted to do something special for East High. They decided to set up the Milton McPike
“As we started talking to friends and other alumni, the idea quickly spread,” Karlen said. “Within a few days of this idea coming up, it turned
out we found two other graduating classes that had a similar idea. In fact, one of them had already started fundraising. That was the Class of
1998. I would say this idea quickly went from the Class of 1995 project to an overall alumni project and it grew from there into what we hope
is a community project.”
The scholarship fund has been set up at the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools. The group hopes to grow the fund to $100,000 so that
East High graduating seniors can benefit from Milt McPike’s legacy for years to come. There are three ways that people can contribute.
“The simplest way is to go to our website, www.mcpikescholarship.org,” Karlen said. “At the website, there is a link to donate. From there,
they can donate online with a credit card or through Pay Pal straight to the Foundation for Madison Public Schools. People can also send in a
check and the address for the Foundation for Madison Public Schools is 101 Nob Hill Drive Suite 300, Madison, WI 53713. The check should
be made out to the Foundation for Madison Public Schools and a note should earmark it for the Milt McPike Memorial Scholarship Fund. The
third option is the foundation is partnering with an organization called Mobile Cause. Through Mobile Cause, if people are interested in texting,
they can text the word ‘Milt’ to the number 41444. If they do that, they will be texted a link which they can then click on to donate directly to the
Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools. That would be a credit card transaction as well. The nice feature with this is if a person doesn’t
donate right away, Mobile Cause will send them text message reminders for the next several weeks. We’re eager to give this a whirl and see
how this works.”
López feels that the scholarship is just one way that the community should remember McPike.
“Although I think East should be renamed Milton L. McPike East High School, this scholarship fund is something that I know Milt would feel is
the best way for him to be remembered,” López said. “Milt impacted my life and made a difference in my life. The Milt McPike Scholarship
Fund will allow Milt to have a continued impact on generations of students from East High School.”
What a wonderful legacy.
By Jonathan Gramling
Milton “Milt” McPike was an educator and humanitarian who left a big
mark on the Madison area.
While he played professional football for the San Francisco 49ers out of
college, his most indelible mark was left as the principal of Madison East
High School and later as a member of the UW Board of Regents.
Juan José López, former MMSD school board member, had lots of
dealings with McPike as a youth worker and later as a school board
member. McPike’s support of what López did was important to López.
“I still fondly remember when I went to meet with him in his office at East
High School to discuss my running for the Madison Board of Education,”
López said. “I was the Director of Project Opportunity, and he stood up
from behind his table in his office and he said “are you crazy” and went