Bobcats Basketball star Don Nelson’s #33 jersey officially retired

Jerry Gazaway (left) and Tom Kurth (right) were teammates of Don Nelson’s during the 1961 championship season.

A celebration more than 60 years in the making took place during halftime of Friday evening’s MHS Boys Basketball game vs. Waterloo East, as legendary Bobcats center Don Nelson’s #33 jersey was officially retired.

While Don and his wife, Janet, were unable to accept the honor in-person, several of his former teammates and peers gathered at the Roundhouse to publicly celebrate the Bobcat star’s illustrious high school basketball career. The event was recorded and live streamed so the Nelsons could enjoy the ceremony.

Nelson’s former teammates Jerry Gazaway and Tom Kurth (pictured, at right), as well as Regina Petersohn – wife of former teammate Mike Petersohn – were among those who accepted retirement of the #33 jersey. Former Bobcats Basketball cheerleaders Karen Davis and Jackie Bolar were also among the group, as was Ev Cochrane, Jr., son of Nelson’s former head coach Ev Cochrane.

Nelson was a key player in the Bobcats’ back-to-back state championships in 1960 and 1961. He also earned the following recognitions:

  • 1st Team All-State (1960 & 1961)
  • 1st Team All-CIC Conference (1960 & 1961)
  • Inducted into the Iowa High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Hall of Fame (1994)
  • Des Moines Register’s List of the 50 best Iowa High School Boys’ Basketball Stars of All Time (2018)

The framed jersey at the center of Friday evening’s ceremony is a replica of Nelson’s original jersey. It will be commemorated with a place in the MHS Trophy Room, and will feature engraved plates generously donated by Adland Engraving.

Congratulations to Don Nelson, and thank you to all of the Bobcats who helped us celebrate his accomplishments on Friday evening!

Former Bobcats Basketball teammates, cheerleaders, and their family members gather for the official retirement ceremony for Don Nelson’s #33 jersey.
The state-qualifying 2007-08 Bobcats Basketball team was also recognized at Friday evening’s game.
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Bobcat Baseball & Softball Coaches Announced

Marshalltown High School has announced the hiring of two new coaches that will be taking over this summer’s Bobcat athletic programs. Jason Bowers has been named head coach of the Bobcat softball program and Allen Mann has been named interim head coach of the Bobcat Baseball squad.


Coach Bowers
Jason Bowers has a long history of coaching softball in the Marshalltown area, specifically working within the East Marshall High School softball program. He has over ten years of head coaching experience, and served as the assistant varsity softball coach and junior varsity head coach at EM, posting a 25-3 record during the 2022 season. In addition, Bowers has been heavily involved in the Laurel Youth Softball Program and specializes in teaching the fundamentals of the game.

“Saying that I am thrilled would be an understatement. I’ve been entrusted to bring passion and excitement into the Bobcat Softball program, and I will work tirelessly at that,” Bowers said. “‘Patience’ probably best describes me as a coach. 

Bowers said his vision for the softball program’s involves engaging not only with student-athletes, but also with MCSD faculty & staff, assistant coaches, and parents. He said his goals are for the team to be respectful and relentless, to have a team-first mentality, and to effectively handle failure and adversity.

As he takes on this new role with the Bobcats, Bowers will continue to work at Emerson Automation Solutions as the Welding Department Manager. In addition, he has served in the United States Navy.

Coach Mann
Allen Mann will take the helm as interim leader of Bobcat Baseball for the 2023 season. The 2009 MHS graduate is in his sixth year as a strength and conditioning teacher and coach at MHS. In addition, he serves as a Bobcat assistant football coach, overseeing the running backs.


Mann’s previous coaching experience includes six years as an assistant baseball coach at MHS under Head Coach Steve Hanson. Prior to that, he was an assistant baseball coach in Johnston, Iowa. 

While a student at MHS, Mann was an outstanding athlete – he was named an All-State football player and was a state qualifier on the 2008 & 2009 Bobcat Baseball teams. He continued his athletic career at Central College, participating on the Dutch baseball team.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to coach a great group of kids, teaching the importance of hard work, intent, community pride, and accountability while playing a sport that I’ve always been passionate about.” Mann said. “I will work to the best of my abilities to help our Bobcat Baseball players develop and have a chance to reach their fullest potential.”

MHS Activities Director Ryan Isgrig said Bowers and Mann will provide high-quality leadership to their respective programs

“The MHS Activities Department is very excited about these two coaches.” Isgrig said. “They both exemplify what Bobcat Pride is about – hard work and dedication, passion for the game, and developing students to be successful on and off the field.”

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Miller FIRST Lego League Robotics team qualifies for state competition

The FIRST Lego League Robotics regional champions, the Waterboys, will compete at the Jan. 28 state championship! Pictured, from left: Aiden Holmgren, Gavin Freiberg, Jaden Schwartz, James Marquess, Garrett Thede, Aidan Boozell, Oliver Young, and Miller XLP teacher Ann Jackson. Not pictured: Logan Bailey.

The Miller Middle School Waterboys FIRST Lego League Robotics team were crowned champions at their regional competition earlier this month. Now they set their sights on the state-level contest, which is set for Saturday, Jan. 28 at Iowa State University in Ames.

The Waterboys, true to their name, chose to tackle hydroelectric power generation as their area of focus for this year’s project. We look forward to cheering them on at state!

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Four earn Employee of the Quarter honors

Four exemplary Marshalltown CSD staff members have been recognized with an Employee of the Quarter award for the First Quarter of 2022-23. The honorees include:

The Employee of the Quarter honorees for the first quarter of the 2022-23 school year are, from left: Nivath Baccam, Sierra Ferneau, Brad Rahmiller, and Jocelyn Schmidt.
  • Nivath Baccam – Marshalltown High School 10-month secretary
  • Sierra Ferneau – Hoglan Elementary paraeducator
  • Brad Rahmiller – Marshalltown High School government teacher
  • Jocelyn Schmidt – Anson Elementary fourth grade teacher

All four were nominated by their peers for their dedication to student success, positivity with peers, and for going above and beyond in their respective roles.

“Nivath seeks to ensure staff, students, parents and community members feel welcomed when coming to the main office at MHS – she greets them joy in her voice and a smile in her eyes,” said MHS Principal Jacque Wyant, who nominated Baccam. “It is hard to keep having a bad day after interacting with Nivath.”

Employee of the Quarter honoree Nivath Baccam, second from right, is joined by Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, left, MHS Principal Jacque Wyant, second from left, and MHS Associate Principal Michael Dale, right.

At Hoglan Elementary, Sierra Ferneau regularly goes the extra mile to serve students and is an excellent collaborator with special education teacher Sara Nichols, who nominated Ferneau for the first quarter award.

“[Ferneau] knows students’ abilities and does a great job helping me find ways to include them in the lessons that are appropriate for their abilities.” Nichols said.

Dr. Schutte, left, Hoglan special education teacher Sara Nichols, second from left, and Hoglan Principal Amy Williams, right, celebrate with Employee of the Quarter honoree Sierra Ferneau, second from right.

MHS government teacher Brad Rahmiller was commended for his ability to successfully engage students in class lessons. Rahmiller was also praised for supporting his fellow teachers.

“In my experience as a new teacher, Brad is always willing to lend a hand,” said MHS social studies teacher KayLeigh Behounek, who joined fellow teachers Alex Abbe and Aaron Benscoter in nominating Rahmiller. “The projects and assignments [Rahmiller] creates cater toward all students.”

Pictured, from left: Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte; MHS teachers KayLeigh Behounek, Alex Abbe, Brad Rahmiller, and Aaron Benscoter; MHS Principal Jacque Wyant, and Director of Instruction Shauna Smith celebrate Rahmiller’s Employee of the Quarter honor.

Anson fourth grade teacher Jocelyn Schmidt goes out of her way to find creative ways to meet her students’ needs. Anson Instructional Coach Jennifer Nelson said she nominated Schmidt for doing an excellent job of collaborating with her students and fellow staff members.

“Jocelyn sets students up to be leaders and gives them the space to be responsible for their own learning,” Nelson said. “It is evident that students feel they belong in their classroom.”

Pictured, from left: Dr. Schutte, Anson Principal Ronnie Manis, Schmidt, Director of Instruction Shauna Smith, and Anson Instructional Coach Jennifer Nelson.

Congratulations to these four incredible school staff members!

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“One of Marshalltown’s finest” – Franklin Elementary teacher named among five Iowa Teacher of the Year finalists

Franklin Elementary kindergarten teacher and Iowa Teacher of the Year finalist Amy Phillips works with her class on a lesson.

Longtime Franklin Elementary kindergarten teacher Amy Phillips was among the five finalists for this year’s Iowa Teacher of the Year Award.

Franklin Principal Tim Holmgren, who nominated Phillips for the award last spring, called the 31-year educator “One of Marshalltown’s finest.”

After being named as a finalist, Phillips presented for several state-level leaders in education. Throughout the process, she said she received great support and feedback from her fellow Franklin staff members.

“I am the teacher I am because of the people I work with,” Phillips said, adding that she has adapted to many changes over her long teaching career at Franklin.

Prior to teaching kindergarten, Phillips started her teaching career in a Franklin preschool classroom. She said she enjoys working with young students and providing them with a strong foundation for academic success.

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte emphasized the magnitude of Phillips’ accomplishment.

“It is a huge honor just to be among the top five in the state,” he said. “We’re really proud and happy that you’re with us at the Marshalltown Community School District.”

Congratulations to Amy Phillips!

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Marshalltown School Board, superintendent earn major plaudits at IASB Annual Conference

All seven members of the Marshalltown CSD Board of Education, as well as Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, were recognized at the 2022 Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) Annual Conference.

Each school board member – President Sean Heitmann, Vice President Sara Faltys, Karina Hernandez, Bonnie Lowry, Jan McGinnis, Leah Stanley and Zach Wahl – earned an IASB Individual Achievement Award for their dedication to their own professional learning through a combination of participating in formal in-service programs, board service, and experience.

In earning the individual awards, each board member has shown their sincere commitment to Bobcat students, staff, parents and our entire community.

On top of their individual plaudits, the Marshalltown School Board was one of only 15 boards statewide to earn a 2021-22 IASB Team Achievement Award, which recognizes the board’s support and encouragement for individual board member development.

Additionally, Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte qualified for the 2021-22 Award of Honor in the Annual Board Awards program. He is one of just 17 superintendents and chief administrators statewide who will receive that award this year.

Montes-Melendez speaks at the 2022 IASB Conference

The Bobcats were further represented at this year’s IASB Annual Convention by Class of 2022 MHS alumna Andrea Montes-Melendez, who presented her state-recognized speech “The Mountain We Climb” at the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday, Nov. 16. As usual, Montez-Melendez was outstanding and was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of her speech.

Three of this year’s four Student School Board Representatives – Natalie Andrade, Abraham Madrigal Farias and Jaxson Eisenbarth – also enjoyed attending the Annual Conference.

Congratulations to the Marshalltown School Board and Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte for being recognized as statewide school district leaders!

Student School Board Representatives Abraham Madrigal Farias (left), Jaxson Eisenbarth (second from left) and Natalie Andrade (right) are pictured with Iowa Association of School Board’s Keynote Speaker Dr. Adolph Brown (second from right) at the IASB Annual Conference in Des Moines.
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ICTM President Shindelar sees virtual reality platform in action at MHS

ICTM President Angie Shindelar, left, joins MHS sophomore students in Friday’s virtual reality math activity using the PRISMS platform.
Shindelar, left, prepares to don a PRISMS headset, with help from MHS Instructional Coach Janelle Hawk.

Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) President Angie Shindelar got a first-hand look at the cutting-edge PRISMS virtual reality platform at Marshalltown High School on Friday.

Hosting Shindelar were MHS math teacher Justine Greig and a class of sophomore students, who have been exploring the newly-arrived PRISMS platform for the past several weeks.

For Friday’s lesson, students were tasked with using exponential functions to accurately track the spread of a fictional virus. They donned their VR headsets and got right to work – many students talked with their peers and collaborated on problem-solving.

In watching the students and trying the new technology out for herself, Shindelar said she came away from Friday’s lesson impressed.

“What I love about it… is that it speaks so much about how, if we can get learning to be something that is experiential, something that students can connect with and relate to, they will be more interested and will engage more,” Shindelar said of PRISMS. “I think [virtual reality] is really something to make them more curious, something to make them want to keep exploring.”

She also said VR is a great tool for making clear to students the importance of math in everyday life, with Friday’s lesson on virus tracking as a great example.

Thank you to ICTM President Angie Shindelar for coming to Marshalltown to see PRISMS in action! We are proud to be pioneers among Iowa school districts in adopting this great platform.

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Miller teachers talk benefits of History with Doodles at 2022 ITEC Conference

Miller Middle School teachers Brett Comegys, left, and Angie Lovell, right, team up to present on their success engaging with students using History with Doodles.

Miller Middle School teachers Brett Comegys and Angie Lovell shared a unique, successful strategy they are using to help students engage with classroom content at the 2022 Iowa Technology & Education Conference (ITEC) Conference this week.

Comegys shares an overview of History with Doodles at the 2022 ITEC Conference

The duo demonstrated how History with Doodles – a hands-on learning strategy using Doodle Notes – has helped their students develop skills like making connections, organizing, and spatial reasoning. Those skills support students’ overall understanding of class content. 

In addition to demonstrating how History with Doodles works, Comegys and Lovell said they have seen an increase in student achievement using the strategy. Student testimonials further emphasized the benefits of History with Doodles – many students said the program has helped them learn and grow in their knowledge.

To support access to History with Doodles for students, classrooms, and schools, Comegys also produces YouTube videos of program notes – to learn more, check out his channel!

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Students present research at World Food Prize Global Youth Institute

Yessenia Alvarez Zamora, left, and Landon Stanley, right, presented their research on addressing food insecurity at this year’s World Food Prize Global Youth Institute.

Marshalltown High School students Yessenia Alvarez Zamora and Landon Stanley were selected to attend the 2022 World Food Prize Global Youth Institute, where they presented their research on addressing food insecurity.

In presenting her research, Alvarez Zamora suggested using biochar – a charcoal-like material made from agricultural waste products – as an alternative to commercial fertilizers on small farms in Mexico.

Stanley’s research focused on solar heating as a means of water disinfection in Angola. Solar water disinfection uses energy from the sun to destroy harmful microbes. The combination of heat and ultraviolet radiation works to help prevent water-borne illnesses.

Both students recently featured on Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa program – give them a listen here!

Thank you to Landon Stanley and Yessenia Alvarez Zamora for representing MHS at this year’s Global Youth Institute!

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New PRISMS virtual reality platform, MHS Esports program already showing positive impacts

Marshalltown School Board member Zach Wahl, left, Vice President Sara Faltys, second from left, and member Bonnie Lowry, center, talk to students about the new MHS Esports program.

Marshalltown High School students are already enjoying the benefits of two new, exciting opportunities available for the first time this school year. 

District leaders, including members of the Marshalltown School Board, explored the new Esports program and the cutting-edge PRISMS virtual reality (VR) learning platform on Tuesday afternoon.

Students in the Esports program showed their skills on console and PC gaming platforms, and staff provided information on the technology that makes the program possible. Interest in the Esports program and school club has grown quickly since the start of the year.

Participation in Esports competition can help students build skills such as teamwork, organization, and planning.

Students in Justine Greig’s MHS geometry class work on a transformations exercise using new PRISMS virtual reality headsets.

Bobcat students and staff have also shown great enthusiasm for the PRISMS platform, which supports math education through immersive, three-dimensional VR exercises. Freshman Ariana Campos said PRISMS has already helped her better understand math concepts from class.

“I think the VR experience is very helpful. If I’m actually seeing and watching what’s going on, I learn better,” she said. 

MHS math teacher Justine Greig said PRISMS has helped her students see practical applications for what they learn in the classroom. She said some students greatly benefit from the interactive VR exercises.

“Movement definitely helps them remember how equations work,” Greig said.

The PRISMS platform and Esports program are great examples of how new technologies can enhance students’ educational experiences!

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