Butch the Bobcat: Longtime announcer gives back to the school he loves

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Butch Baer is in his 25th year as public address announcer for several Marshalltown High School sports.  He is pictured holding a “Friend of the School” honor he received in the past and an autographed ball of former Bobcats Jeff Clement and Mike Mogard, who were 2002 state baseball champions.

Butch Baer was considered a fill-in public address announcer for the state high school baseball tournament in Marshalltown in 1993.

Little did he know then that the fill-in role would lead him toward his 25th year announcing multiple sports for Marshalltown High School.

For more than two decades Baer has announced varsity football, volleyball, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys track and baseball on a volunteer basis at MHS. Throw in his work at the state baseball tournament in Des Moines, and previously Marshalltown, and Baer has announced more than 1,000 athletic events.

The 67-year-old is a 1967 Marshalltown High School graduate.

“This is my way of giving back to not only my community, but also the high school I went to,” he said.

Butch and his wife Mary also had three daughters attend MHS.

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A professional approach
Baer works out of his home as a business consultant for a software company. He also takes a professional approach to his announcing. He will often call the opposing school days ahead of time so he can learn how to pronounce the names of the athletes before they arrive.

“The job that I do reflects on Marshalltown High School and my community,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for me to be a professional announcer.”

He often gets compliments that his voice suits the role of a public address announcer.

“Just recently when we played Ames a gentleman from Ames told me, ‘your voice is very good and you did a nice job,’” Baer said.

Marshalltown High School Athletic Director Rollie Ackerman said two words come to mind when he thinks of Butch – “professional” and “dedicated.”

“We are very fortunate to have somebody with that level of professionalism and dedication so many years here at Marshalltown,” Ackerman said. “He is a Bobcat through and through.”

Ackerman said Butch keeps fans “engaged in the game” no matter what the sport.

Part of the volunteer spirit
Baer said he is one of several community members who volunteer their time to help home Bobcat athletic events run smoothly. He said through the years many other volunteers such as Andy Burt, Stacy Galema, Brad Braga, Greg Baughman and Vic Hellberg have also played vital roles, among others.

“This school has a great number of people like that who volunteer,” Baer said. “They are wonderful people.”

Favorite announcing moment
Although he has plenty of great announcing memories, the one game that sticks out for Baer during his announcing days is the 2002 state baseball title game in Marshalltown. The Bobcat team, led by future major leaguer Jeff Clement and future Iowa Hawkeye Mike Mogard, won the Class 4A title over Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

“That was a big moment to me,” Baer said.

Front row seat
Baer said he loves that he has a front row seat to see high school athletes who have gone on to play in the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball.

“I’ve got the best seat in the house,” Baer said. “I’ve gotten to see some of the most phenomenal athletes compete at Marshalltown events.”

Being so close to the game has also forged longtime friendships with coaches, former players, umpires, officials and others.

Baer still remains dedicated to serve the school and has no plans to leave the microphone. He said he would like to continue to announce for a few more years as long as his voice holds up.

“The kids keep me young,” he said.

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Preschool open house set for February 1

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The Marshalltown Community School District will host a preschool open house at all six elementary schools in the district on Wednesday, February 1. Everyone is welcome to stop by and see what our preschool program is about.

The open house times are from 8:30 to 10 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at Anson, Fisher, Franklin, Hoglan, Rogers and Woodbury elementary schools.

Preschool is tuition free across the district and is for children this fall who will be 4 years old on or before September 15, 2017.

For more information contact Emily Banks at 641-754-1000 or ebanks@marshalltown.k12.ia.us.

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School board members talk about their professional roles during career chat

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Marshalltown School Board members Mike Miller, left, and Ross Harris talked about their careers at RACOM and Emerson/Fisher respectively as part of career chat at Lenihan Intermediate School on January 17.

Two Marshalltown School Board members gave students an inside glimpse to their professional lives during the latest Lenihan Intermediate School career chat held on January 17.

Mike Miller, president of RACOM, and Ross Harris, plant manager for Emerson/Fisher, presented to the group.

Miller, who has a finance degree from Iowa State University, runs RACOM, which is a Marshalltown-based integrator of technology for public safety communications.

“We help keep the public safe,” Miller said.

Miller is a 1986 Marshalltown High School graduate who has been involved in the community in several ways from serving on the YMCA-YWCA board to being a member of city council.

Harris, a self-proclaimed “adventure-seeker,” spent 8 years in the U.S. Army and loved jumping out of planes. His personality went well when Emerson/Fisher had him travelling throughout the world as part of its global business as a valve manufacturer. He said he loved learning about new cultures and trying new food.

Now he travels less in his role as plant manager, where he utilizes his background in logistics (also ISU graduate). Harris said his mother was mayor in the small Iowa town of Postville when he was growing up, so that instilled in him a passion to serve his community.

“I was always brought up that you’ve got to give back to the community,” Harris said.

Career chat is led by Lenihan Extended Learning Program teacher Vanessa Engel and regularly invites professionals in the community to talk to students.

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Miller Lego team receives award at state contest

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The Miller Middle School Lego League team received an honorable mention award at the state contest on January 15. Pictured are, from left, coach Ann Jackson, Lilly Duff, Marcus Barker, Marek Jablonski, Maggie Stansberry, Ethan Benscoter, Derek Peng,  Isaac B. Lopez and Jacob Swartz.

Miller Middle School’s Lego League team, the Robocats, travelled to Iowa State University to compete against 60 other teams from across Iowa at the State Lego League Championships on January 15.

The Robocats brought home an honorable mention award in robot design for their unique innovation and impressive strategy executed in the robot game. The team includes Lilly Duff, Marcus Barker, Marek Jablonski, Maggie Stansberry, Ethan Benscoter, Derek Peng, Isaac B. Lopez and Jacob Swartz.

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The team is coached by Miller Extended Learning Program teacher Ann Jackson.

A parent-led team made up of Miller and Lenihan Intermerdiate School students also competed at state. That team, known as Medieval Gamer Puppies, was coached by Amanda and Travis Bloomquist and featured team members Quinton Lacey (Miller), Kaiden McWilliams (Lenihan), Taylor Vaughn (Lenihan) and Locke Bloomquist (Lenihan).
“The state championship was a great experience for the team,” Amanda Blomquist said.  “They were able to show off the progress they made since the regional tournament and had a fun time.”

FIRST Lego League is a competition in which students design, build, and program an autonomous robot to compete on a table-top playing field. In addition, students research a real-world problem, this year animal and human interaction, and are challenged to develop a solution. Along their journey, they develop critical thinking and team-building skills, basic STEM applications, and even presentation skills. Students also learn about and apply the program’s core values, which emphasize discovery, teamwork and good sportsmanship. There are over 32,000 First Lego League teams in 88 countries in the world.

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Medieval Gamer Puppies at State Lego included, from left, Kaiden McWilliams, Quinton Lacey, Locke Bloomquist and Taylor Vaughn.

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Top spellers compete at Miller bee

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Rebekah Stone, left, won the Miller Middle School spelling bee on January 13. Also pictured is second place finisher Brenna Hempy.

The top 30 spellers at Miller Middle School competed in the annual Miller spelling bee on January 13. Taking first place and advancing to the state bee was seventh grader Rebekah Stone. Placing runner up was seventh grader Brenna Hempy.

A total of 133 Miller students competed in the qualifying rounds on January 12. The top 30 then took the stage at the auditorium and competed in nine rounds of spelling.

Stone correctly spelled words such estuary, gargantuan and turpitude on her way to victory. Wesley Kodis and Derek Peng were two others who placed in the top four of the finals. The event was hosted by teacher Lucas Johnson, who organized the bee along with teacher Christine Gilbertson.

“It was a great competition,” Gilbertson said. “I’m proud of the work of all of the students.”

Judges for the event were Miller staff Sammi Jo Luse, Shea Hill and Sarah Benscoter. Stone advances to the state spelling bee, which will be at Iowa State University in March.

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Lenihan student leads Pledge of Allegiance at Iowa House chamber

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Lenihan Intermediate School fifth grader Jay Helton is seated in the Iowa House chamber at the Iowa State Capitol on January 12. Also pictured are, from left, State Representative Mark Smith, Jason Helton (Jay’s dad), Nancy Mercer (Jay’s grandmother), Miki Helton (Jay’s mother) and Reverend Bill Spangler-Dunning of a church in Newton, who led the opening prayer. Jay was selected by Smith to lead the Pledge of Allegiance in the Iowa House that day.

Lenihan Intermediate School fifth grader Jay Helton led the Pledge of Allegiance to start the day in the Iowa House chamber at the Iowa State Capitol on January 12.

Jay was invited by State Representative Mark Smith of Marshalltown to lead the pledge. Representative Smith, the Democratic leader of the House, stood by Jay as he recited the pledge.

“It was very exciting, but I was a little nervous,” Jay said.

Jay said he is interested in politics to see how he can improve the world. There to support Jay at the statehouse were his parents, Jason and Miki Helton and grandmother, Nancy Mercer. Miki said she had a “proud mom” moment when Jay led the pledge.

“It was a really cool experience and it was so nice of Mark to invite him,” Miki said.

The group also received a tour of the Capitol from Smith and a staff member.

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Jay Helton leads the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Did the eggs crack? Collision lesson held in Miller science class

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Jovanny Tellez, left, and Max McLain show the car they made as part of a study on collisions in an eighth grade science class at Miller Middle School. The goal of the project was to have the egg inside the car not crack after a collision.

Miller Middle School eighth grade science classes taught by Shan Mooney designed and built their own cars as part of a project on collisions this week.

Students were given limited supplies such as padding, tape and popsicle sticks with a goal to build a car which would protect an egg from cracking after going down a ramp and colliding with a wall.

Mooney said the project led the students to learn about action, reaction and momentum. Most of the students were able to see their egg survive the collision with the classroom wall.

“They are really excited about the project,” Mooney said.

For a brief video of this project, click here.

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