MHS alum, wrestling hall-of-famer Larry Jackson celebrated

Wrestling hall-of-famer and Bobcat alum Larry Jackson speaks during a celebration of his successful career Thursday evening.

Four decades after graduating from Marshalltown High School, Class of 1981 alum Larry Jackson returned to the Roundhouse on Thursday evening as his remarkable wrestling and coaching career was celebrated.

Jackson was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Iowa Chapter last fall, and he joined fellow Bobcat legends in being named to the MHS Hall of Pride ahead of Thursday’s varsity wrestling meet against Ankeny.

“This award means so, so much to me,” Jackson said. “The people here at Marshalltown High School made a big difference in my life, and I can never, never thank them enough. Thank you all for celebrating this with me.”

The Bobcat alum said the love and care shown by his teachers and coaches at MHS were crucial in shaping him into the person he is today.

One of those key figures, Jackson’s high school wrestling coach Phil Henning, said he is incredibly proud of his former pupil. He said Jackson has done the Bobcats proud not only with his accomplishments on the mat, but also with his work as a coach and educator at Ballard-Huxley, Des Moines East High School, and Hammer Time Wrestling Academy.

“You’ve represented us so well. Thank you,” Henning said.

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte – a fellow Class of 1981 MHS graduate – said the accolades Jackson has earned have been well-deserved, adding Jackson is an inspiring person, educator, and mentor.

“Larry, welcome home. It’s an honor and a privilege to have you back,” Dr. Schutte said. “We couldn’t be prouder of you.”

Larry Jackson (right) is joined by his wife, Tonia Jackson (center) and Marshalltown Schools Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte (left) during Thursday’s tribute to Jackson’s accomplishments as a wrestler and mentor.

Jackson has earned numerous accolades since he first stepped onto the mat as a Bobcat wrestler. Those accomplishments include:

Student-athlete accolades

  • MHS Wrestling Team Captain and Most Outstanding Wrestler – 1981
  • Fifth-place finish at State Wrestling in the 155 lb. weight class – 1981
  • NJCAA National Runner Up (33-2) – 1982
  • Selected to the 1982 All-Iowa Team
  • NJCAA National Team Qualifier-Third Place – 1983
  • 1983 Outstanding Wrestler – District Tournament
  • 1983 NJCAA National Champion (37-0) – first ever National Champion from Ellsworth 
  • 1983 Pan American Champion – Cali, Colombia
  • 2X NJCAA All American (1982 & 1983) and 
  • ISU Varsity Wrestling Letter earner – 1985 & 1986
  • Third-place finish in the Big 8 Wrestling Tournament in the 150 lb. weight class – 1985
  • NCAA Wrestling Championship Tournament qualifier – 1985

Coaching accolades

  • Coached 21 state qualifiers, four state place-winners, and one state champion in nine years at Ballard-Huxley
  • Coached 33 state qualifiers and eight state place-winners in 16 years at Des Moines East High School
  • Conference Coach of the Year – 2007

Career honors

  • Inducted into the Community College Hall of Fame – 1997
  • Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Iowa Chapter – 2020
  • Inducted into the MHS Hall of Pride – 2021

Congratulations to Larry Jackson – you are a great role model for Bobcat students and we are proud to call you a Bobcat!

Larry Jackson’s family joins him in celebration at the Roundhouse Thursday evening. Pictured, from left: Alyonna Busch (daughter), Chelsea Jackson (daughter), Larry Jackson, Malachi Jackson (grandson), Tonia Jackson (wife), and Alexa Jackson (daughter).
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Woodbury student interviews pilots, learns about aviation

Woodbury third-grader Theo Lewis sits in the pilot’s seat of a Meyer Agri-Air, Inc. crop duster.

Woodbury Elementary third-grader Theo Lewis has a deep interest in airplanes – from crop dusters to supersonic jets – and he has applied his interest through research projects this semester. 

Theo said his first experience flying in an airplane sparked his interest in aviation.

“The time that my interest really boosted was when I first went in an airplane to Atlanta,” he said. “I liked it … I felt like I was in the air.” 

Now, Theo can name several of the instruments a pilot must know to successfully fly a plane, as well as the various types of planes and how they are used. He even has a picture of a Cessna 172 cockpit on a wall at home. 

“Theo absorbs everything he can about things he’s passionate about and I’m just so impressed with all the work he’s done to expand his experience in this area,” said Woodbury Extended Learning Program teacher Nicole Holman Lankelma.

One recent research project saw Theo interview several pilots from different areas of the aviation industry. Through their firsthand experiences, Theo learned about commercial piloting, military flying, airshows, and flight school. 

In addition to reading up on aviation and interviewing pilots, Theo recently had the opportunity to sit in the pilot’s seat of a crop duster plane owned by Meyer Agri-Air at the Marshalltown Municipal Airport. He said the experience was fun and educational.

The Woodbury student said he currently plans to pursue a career as a private or commercial pilot, adding he will continue to learn more about the aviation industry. 

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U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley visits MHS government students

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley answers a student’s question during a visit to Marshalltown High School Wednesday.

Government students at Marshalltown High School met longtime U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley as part of the senator’s tour of the Iowa’s 99 counties Wednesday. 

Grassley – the President Pro-Tempore of the U.S. Senate – shared information about lawmaking at the federal level. The students were able to ask him several thoughtful questions, with topics ranging from taxation to the presidential transition and immigration to special education funding. 

One topic Grassley noted several times was bipartisanship at the federal level, including with fellow senators and with incoming President-elect Joe Biden. 

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, right, discusses meeting with Sen. Grassley in Washington, D.C. along with fellow superintendents

“As a senator, I found [Biden] very easy to work with. He’s a Democrat, I’m a Republican, but we can work together,” Grassley said.

Marshalltown Schools Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said he and fellow Iowa superintendents have met with Grassley in Washington, D.C. several times to discuss important topics in public education.

“[Grassley] always makes the time to sit down and talk to us about what he would like to see and feels like education needs to provide you with the best education possible,” Dr. Schutte said.

He also thanked Grassley for the federal aid given to public schools last spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as for the upcoming aid package passed by Congress.

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Marshalltown Schools Health Services staff receive COVID-19 vaccine

Miller Middle School nurse Christina Malcom receives a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday at McFarland Clinic.

All over the country, healthcare personnel are receiving the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations, and Marshalltown Schools Health Services staff joined those ranks on Thursday.  

School nurses and health aides received their first dose of the vaccine at McFarland Clinic, and all will get a second dose after four weeks. As the vaccine becomes available to more people in the future, the Health Services staff said they encourage those who are able to get vaccinated

MHS health aide Rocio Villagomez smiles in a selfie as she gets her first COVID-19 vaccine dose.

“It’s important for us to not only protect ourselves, but to protect the people around us,” said Miller Middle School nurse Christina Malcom.

Health aide Katy Stonner, who works alongside Malcom at Miller, agreed that getting vaccinated will not only keep her safe, but will help keep her loved ones safe as well.

“It’s about safety and helping others,” she said.

Malcom, Stonner, and other MCSD Health Services staff members said their vaccination experiences on Thursday were quick and smooth.

“I feel like this shot went even better than the flu shot,” Malcom said. “This one was easy!”

Health aide Katy Stonner said getting vaccinated was quick and easy.

Iowa and the rest of the country are still in the early phases of distributing the vaccine; current vaccination efforts are focused on health care personnel and long-term care residents. Marshalltown Schools will share updates as vaccine distribution expands to include other groups within the District.

We thank our community for continuing to wear face masks, practice social distancing, and follow other important safety rules and guidelines. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines, visit

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Rogers Elementary students add to Caring Project efforts

Bobcat students have completed another great Caring Project this holiday season, this time focusing on the hospital employees who have worked tirelessly to keep Marshalltown residents healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students at Rogers Elementary School have created kind “Thank You” cards for local doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff members. Rogers staff delivered the cards to the health care staff on Wednesday.

“Our kids appreciate all that the hospital workers have done during this time. We hope they stay healthy and have a great holiday!”said Rogers teacher Chris Melde.

See below for photos of the awesome cards Rogers students sent to local health care workers!

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MHS Astronomy class hosts viewing of space spectacle at Green Castle

Community members gather at Green Castle Recreation Area Monday evening to view The Great Conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn.

A rare astronomical event has been unfolding in the starry sky over Marshalltown this month, and the Marshalltown High School Astronomy class invited community members to view the spectacle through telescopes at Green Castle Recreation Area Monday evening.

The giant planets of Jupiter and Saturn have not aligned so closely in the Earth’s night sky for 800 years, and the community members who came to Green Castle on Monday saw the two planets at their maximum alignment. 

Jupiter and Saturn will continue to hold close together in the night sky this week – see the NASA webpage on The Great Conjunction to learn more about this spectacular event.

At left: MHS student Alessandra Biasolo – an exchange student from Italy – enjoys viewing the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn Monday. At right: A telescope points westward as the sun sets at Green Castle Recreation Area.
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Two MHS seniors selected to serve in Legislative Page program at Iowa Capitol

Mary Kate Gruening and Abbey Welden will both fulfill longtime goals of becoming legislative Pages at the Iowa Capitol beginning in January. [Iowa Capitol photo by David Mark]

Four years ago, an eighth grade trip to the State Capitol Building sparked an interest in students Abbey Welden and Mary Kate Gruening; starting in January, the MHS seniors will fulfill longtime goals by serving as legislative Pages.

A Page works to assist and support legislators and staff at the Iowa Capitol throughout the legislative session in Des Moines. The position offers high schoolers the opportunity to witness and play a role in the important work of creating state laws; Gruening and Welden have worked hard since that trip to Des Moines to earn the title of Page. 

“I made it a goal for myself to one day work at the State Capitol – I am ecstatic that it has worked out, to say the least,” Welden said. “Representative [Sue] Cahill was my kindergarten teacher at Woodbury Elementary. Working alongside her by assisting her with duties will be very nostalgic for me.” 

Gruening said she is excited to learn more about the inner workings of state government. 

“After taking a couple of government classes in high school, it will be exciting to see the legislative process work in action,” she said. 

Both students credited Miller Middle School Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson for introducing them to the world of state government and politics; Jackson organized the trip to the Capitol when Welden and Gruening  were in eighth grade.

The students said they hope working as Pages will prepare them for their future career interests. 

“At this moment, I am not sure if I’m interested in a career in government, but participating in the Page program will help me determine if it is a career I would like to pursue,” Gruening said. “Policymaking does interest me, as I plan to major in public policy and pursue further education through graduate or law school.”

Welden also said she has aspirations for a career working on important issues. 

“I am planning on studying international relations in college in hopes that I can one day work for various U.S. Embassies abroad, with a position focused on public diplomacy,” she said. 

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Elementary students, staff get creative with Caring Projects

Franklin students showed their creativity and caring as they designed holiday greeting cards for Iowa Veterans Home residents. Front row, from left: Vayda Pentz, Marshall Moo, and Fortine Ngolo; Back row, from left: Bior Chol, Simone Spitzli, and Emily De La Cruz
Franklin counselor Dani Minkel, left, & Betsy Randall, right, of the IVH, show a box of students’ cards for IVH residents. 

Each year, several Bobcat students and staff members take part in generous Caring Projects to support the Marshalltown community during the holiday season. 

One effort bringing smiles to many faces across Marshalltown took place at Franklin Elementary School this week, where students created bright, colorful holiday greeting cards for Iowa Veterans Home residents to enjoy.

Once all of the cards were prepared, they were packed into a large box and delivered the Iowa Veterans Home.

Another Caring Project spreading joy this winter came from Hoglan Elementary School, where staff and students created a video for local nursing home residents. The video features music, artwork, and kind messages – check out the full video here!

Hoglan Elementary students and staff created a heartwarming video for area nursing home residents to enjoy this holiday season.

Anson Elementary School staff members supported the Salvation Army of Marshalltown’s Adopt-a-Family program for the building’s Caring Project this year. Together, Anson staff members donated and delivered dozens of gifts to two local families. 

In addition to these great efforts, keep an eye out for updates on other schools’ Caring Projects as the holiday season continues. Happy holidays, Bobcats!

Anson Elementary staff provided dozens of gifts for two families for their Caring Project. The presents were gathered and given to the families on Friday.

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Bobcat students team up to provide live stream programming

All of the Bobcats Wrestling Senior Night action was captured by MHS students and streamed on the Bobcat News Network YouTube channel Thursday.

The MHS Bobcats worked as a school-wide team – from the wrestling mat to the swimming pool to the sidelines – during Senior Night events this week.

To ensure senior student-athletes felt seen by friends and family who could not attend this week’s MHS Boys Swimming and Wrestling competitions, a group of students worked hard to live stream the proceedings.

Senior Antony Miranda Gomez and junior Elisabeth Draisey – both dedicated video production students – volunteered their time Thursday night to live stream the action. Many other students, including seniors Anthony Sotelo and Eli Thiessen, lent a hand by providing commentary on the Bobcat News Network (BNN) broadcasts of the wrestling meet and the singing of the National Anthem. 

From managers to creators and athletes to artists, Bobcat students and staff continue to problem-solve in a time of restrictions and challenges due to COVID-19; the result has been incredible teamwork among the MHS academic, athletic, and art programs. Students have come together to support each other with caring, accountability, and critical thinking to help promote their school.

As the District continues to grow and explore live stream production, like and subscribe to the BNN YouTube channel and keep an eye out for new content!

The new Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel continues to grow – like and subscribe to BNN and look out for new Bobcats content!

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MHS students enjoy new Intro to Agriculture course

MHS junior Jose Martinez slices beef to make jerky for an Introduction to Agriculture project this week.

Agriculture is a leading industry in Iowa, and a new course at Marshalltown High School is bringing hands-on agricultural education to Bobcat students. 

MHS Introduction to Agriculture teacher Tara Leytham said students have enjoyed the coursework and activities, which focus on animal- and plant science. For one major project, student teams are using what they have learned this semester to prepare and sell homemade beef jerky.

“The whole point of this project is to teach entrepreneurship skills while hitting on the agricultural standards,” Leytham said.

Along with learning how to properly prepare beef, the students created marinade and seasoning recipes to give their jerky a unique flavor. The teams also planned which customer groups they would focus on to sell their product, created brand logos, and provided nutrition labels for product packaging. 

MHS junior Jose Martinez said he was interested in learning more about animals and agriculture when he signed up for the new course. 

“We learned more about the breeds and that there’s more than just ‘a cow,’” he said of the animal science unit. “I like it, it’s fun to learn about.” 

Sophomore April Wills said farming is important in her family. She is happy to have a course where she can learn more about agriculture.

 “I grew up on a farm, but I wasn’t able to get into agriculture because we moved … so this class really helps me to learn all of that stuff that I didn’t get to learn,” April said. “It’s a very fun class. You learn different things every day.” 

Introduction to Agriculture classmates Abriana Martinez, right, and Brecken Payne, left, prepare beef slices to be placed in their team’s homemade marinade.

Leytham said many students have expressed interest in careers working with animals; one of those students is freshman Abriana Martinez. 

“I saw that for the second semester we were doing animal science,” Abriana said. “I want to do something to do with animals, like a vet or something similar.” 

She said she has learned much about animal health and physiology this semester, and is excited for next semester’s animal science course, which will build upon the students concepts from Introduction to Agriculture.

As the agriculture curriculum grows, Leytham said she wants to have many course offerings which complement one another and provide several agriculture education pathways. Another agriculture program goal is to build business partnerships to create work-based learning opportunities for students.

The new MHS agriculture curriculum is off to a great start. Jose, April, and Abriana all said they would recommend the course to their friends and classmates.

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