Exchange student from India gives back, gets involved at MHS


Unmesh Datar is pictured in the Marshalltown High School Library, where he volunteers an hour each morning. He is an exchange student at MHS from India.

Volunteering for an hour at the Marshalltown High School Library each school day is just one of the many ways Unmesh Datar gives back. Datar is an exchange student from India and is a junior at MHS.

Giving back comes natural for Datar, who also packed meals in West Des Moines as part of Meals from the Heartland and has volunteered with the Evening Lions Club. He said he loves to volunteer.

“If I get an opportunity to volunteer, I do, because I feel I owe something to the community,” Datar said.

The 16-year-old also likes to get involved in school activities. He had a major role on stage in the recent MHS fall play “Almost, Maine.” He also just started as manager of the Bobcat boys’ basketball team and is on the speech and debate team.

“It develops me in different types of skills, such as social skills,” he said of getting involved in activities.

Datar also participated in the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute last month in Des Moines. His research paper as part of the institute focused on food insecurity and water scarcity in India. He said following college he would like to find a career helping others.

“I really want to do something for other people,” he said.

As a result of all of his activities, Datar was recently named the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Student of the Month. His host mom here for the year is MHS teacher Janelle Hawk, who Datar said inspires him.

“She has helped me see myself in the future and shaped me,” he said.



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MHS students visit Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative


This group of Marshalltown High School students visited the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative in Des Moines on Nov. 10. Pictured are front row, at right, Unmesh Datar, Second row, from left, Madeline Jelken, Phoebe Osgood, Fatima Perez Negrete, David Wahl and Caleb Summers. Back row, Lucas Thiessen, Elliot Weidenaar, Dayana Carrera, Emily Sickles, Molly Bach, Hadley Wagner, Ryne Downey and Anna Carlson.

Fourteen MHS students traveled to Des Moines to visit the Ape Cognition and Conservation Initiative (ACCI) on Nov. 10.  The group, all members of the Literature Over Lunch group (LOL) at MHS recently read and discussed the book “Endangered” by Eliot Schrefer.

This novel tells the story of a girl trying to rescue herself and a baby Bonobo as she runs from invading rebels in worn-torn Congo.  LOL sponsor and youth librarian at the Marshalltown Public Library, Joa LaVille, arranged to have the LOL students visit the ACCI as it is the only research facility in North America to house and study Bonobos.

An endangered great ape species, Bonobos can be found only along a small stretch of the Congo River Basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa in the wild.

While visiting the center, students were able to observe the Bonobos through glass and communicate with them using hand signals as well as words.

LOL is advised by MHS Librarian Sue Inhelder and Extended Learning Program teacher Susan Fritzell. LOL operates in partnership with Marshalltown Public Library and funding for this trip came from the generous contributions of the Friends of the Marshalltown Public Library.

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MHS grad returns to school, talks about career in entertainment


Nick Johnson, a 2003 Marshalltown High School graduate, talks to a Film Analysis class at MHS on Nov. 12 about his work as a project manager building sets for Broadway shows and concerts.

Students in the Film Analysis classes at Marshalltown High School welcomed a special guest with real world experience to their classroom on Nov. 12.

Nick Johnson, a 2003 MHS graduate, talked about his experience working as a project manager who helps builds sets for Broadway shows and concerts.
Johnson has a theater degree from Drake University and also has a degree from the Yale University School of Drama.

He worked his way up to project manager and has been responsible for how the stage looks for grand scale shows and concerts through the years, especially in the New York City area.

“I never thought I would be working in Broadway, but I’m happy with what I’ve done,” Johnson said.

The Film Analysis class is taught by Kathi Hale at MHS. It’s a class Johnson took himself as a student at MHS.

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Rogers students deliver cards to veterans


Several students from an after school program at Rogers Elementary School delivered Veterans Day cards to veterans at the Iowa Veterans Home on Nov. 11.

Students in a Rogers Elementary School after school program took time to thank veterans as they delivered homemade Veterans Day cards at Iowa Veterans Home on Nov. 11.

Accompanied by Caleb Carver and Emily Goodall from Iowa State University Extension and Karina Hernandez from Mid-Iowa Community Action, the students visited dozens of veterans at IVH Wednesday.
Many veterans returned smiles and talked with the students about their service.

Most students were second graders at Rogers with one fourth grader also in attendance.

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Veteran stresses importance of serving others to Miller students


Miller Middle School teacher Brett Comegys talked about his military experience and the importance of serving others to seventh graders at the school on Nov. 10.

Conveying the message of service to others, Miller Middle School social studies teacher Brett Comegys presented his annual talk to seventh graders at Miller Middle School on Nov. 10 in advance of Veterans Day.

A veteran himself with 14 years of service in both the U.S. Marine Corps and Army National Guard, Comegys told students the importance of serving others in everyday life, not just in the military.

“Do something for somebody else,” Comegys said. “Just serve somebody, somewhere.”

Comegys told stories about military life and said through the ups and downs he knew he was doing something important.

“I always thought I was part of something special,” he said.

Comegys has presented annually to Miller seventh grade students the week of Veterans Day for the past several years with a focus on service, sacrifice and duty.

MHS honors veterans on staff

At Marshalltown High School, student David Blom took to the intercom on Nov. 11 to salute veterans on the MHS staff. The salute also featured a performance by the MHS National Anthem singers. For a video of this salute, click here.

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Science Extravaganza open to all on Nov. 17

Hands-on science activities will be served up in the Marshalltown High School cafeteria on Nov. 17 as part of a Science Extravaganza event.

The event is from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. with science workshops and activities starting after a free pizza dinner. All ages are welcome to this free event.

The event is sponsored by MHS along with the Iowa State University chapters of the Society of Hispanic Engineers and Latinos in Science and Engineering.

Mike Lazere, MHS teacher, said the event has two main goals – to get students excited about science and engineering and to inform parents about the college application process and financial aid.

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School grading expert to present on Nov. 17


Ken O’Connor, who is known as “The Grade Doctor” will speak at 6 p.m. Nov. 17 in the Marshalltown High School Library

An educational consultant and author known as “The Grade Doctor” will speak during a presentation on Nov. 17 in Marshalltown.

Ken O’Connor will present from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Marshalltown High School Library at the invite of the Marshalltown Community School District.

O’Connor specializes in issues related to the communication of student achievement, especially grading and reporting. He will speak about what it means to grade for learning and how the Marshalltown Community School District can create a system for reporting student progress that is beneficial to students.

“As a district, we are focused on student-centered learning,” said Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, Associate Superintendent of Student Achievement with Marshalltown Schools. “The primary goal is for students to have grades that are accurate, meaningful and consistent.”

Community members and parents are invited to attend to learn more about this subject. His presentation is free and open to the public.

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