MCSD employee Chris Blanchard builds plexiglass dividers for schools

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MCSD employee Chris Blanchard has personally built dozens of plexiglass dividers. The dividers are part of a district-wide strategy to ensure safety in the coming school year.

Marshalltown Schools Buildings and Grounds employee Chris Blanchard is using his carpentry skills on a project to help ensure student and staff safety in the coming school year. 

Blanchard has recently built more than dozen plexiglass dividers, aiding a District-wide effort to provide dividers, face coverings, ample hand sanitizer, and other significant safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the 2020-21 school year. 

“I just knew we needed dividers,” he said, adding he started by measuring and cutting sheets of plexiglass. “I went and measured everything, and just went off of that.” 

With each new divider, Blanchard said the building process became easier and more efficient. He said he was careful to customize the dividers to fit each desk properly.  

For more information on the multitude of safety measures being taken at all MCSD school buildings in the coming school year, visit the District Return to Learn webpage

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Bobcat University offers high-quality virtual summer learning

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Bobcat University third graders count on their fingers during a fractions lesson.

This year’s Bobcat University program continues to bring summer learning to hundreds of MCSD students, despite challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the past five weeks, Bobcat U students in grades K-8 have been learning in a virtual setting through video conferencing with teachers. While teachers and students may not meet face-to-face, crucial learning is still happening every day.

“The Bobcat U teachers have done a great job implementing classroom routines, engaging students in content, and exploring new technology resources,” said Hoglan fourth grade teacher Clare Wing, one of this year’s Bobcat U elementary coordinators. “While Bobcat U is different from previous years, this opportunity has allowed us to engage with students and provide meaningful learning opportunities.”

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Bobcat University students get some practice with the Whiteboard.fi digital education tool during class this week.

She said students focus on several areas of learning each day in class. For example, elementary students focus on essential math standards, hone their reading skills with Really Great Reading lessons, and advance their literary prowess with Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) exercises.

In previous summers, Bobcat U students came to in-person learning at District school buildings for four weeks, with academic learning in the morning and educational enrichment activities with several community partners in the afternoon.

Students not enrolled in Bobcat University can still access high-quality summer learning resources through the MCSD Learn from Home website, where new PK-8 lessons will continue to be uploaded  weekly until July 31.

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MCSD offers school registration support

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MCSD staff helped families and students register for the 2020-21 school year Wednesday at the Miller Middle School gym. In-person registration support will continue Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Summer is well underway in Marshalltown, and now is the time for parents to be registering their children for school this fall.

While online registration for the 2020-21 school year has been ongoing since July 1, MCSD is holding in-person school registration at the Miller Middle School gymnasium this week in order to support all Bobcat families in getting their children registered.

In-person registration will continue today – Wednesday, July 15 – from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Miller gym, and will continue Thursday, July 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

All parents/guardians and students who come to in-person registration must wear a face-mask for safety, and all MCSD staff will wear face-masks. Surfaces in the gym will be cleaned throughout the day. Students and families should also prepare for the day’s weather before coming to in-person registration.

For more information on online and in-person school registration for the 2020-21 school year, please visit the MCSD School Registration web page.

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Students and families who come to in-person registration at the Miller gym should dress for the day’s weather and be prepared to wait in their vehicle until their turn comes to enter the building. Once inside, MCSD staff will offer registration support, answer questions, ensure surfaces are clean, and more.

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Goulding named interim MCSD Buildings and Grounds director

Todd Goulding was named the interim District Buildings and Grounds director at this week’s special Marshalltown School Board meeting.

Goulding will bring his extensive experience working in the Buildings and Grounds Department as the District Electrician with him to his new role. The school board approved his hire as interim director for one year.

Goulding takes the place of former B&G Director Chuck Springer. Springer retired in June after three years at MCSD, during which he oversaw several successful construction projects and facilities improvements, including Phase II of the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse project.

 

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Peschong named new volleyball head coach

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Kaylee Peschong will bring years of on-the-court coaching and playing experience to the Bobcat volleyball program.

Kaylee (Smith) Peschong has accepted the top volleyball coaching position for the Marshalltown Bobcats. Peschong is set replace Chris Brees, who stepped down last month, and she will join assistant coaches Scott Ranck and Adam Edgington to lead the Bobcats. The hire is pending official school board approval. 

“We’re extremely excited about Kaylee taking over the helm of our volleyball program. Her past playing and coaching experiences, as well as her vision of team culture and leadership, will fit perfectly at MHS,” said MHS Activities Director Ryan Isgrig.

Peschong wants to use her past experience to grow the sport of volleyball in Marshalltown. It is her goal to develop and maintain a high cultural standard that promotes dedication, hard work, pride and respect. Her experience, combined with her dedication to mentorship will help shape young women to be confident young athletes of integrity on – and off – the court.

“I believe it is my responsibility to help shape the young women in my program…shape them into great athletes, great teammates, and great leaders,” Peschong said. 

Peschong is a 2017 graduate of the M.J. Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University at Fort Worth, Texas. Volleyball has been at the center of her life for as long as she can remember. Peschong – a native of Indianola – grew up on the court with her mother, who coached volleyball for 30 years at the high school and collegiate level. 

Coach Peschong brings an impressive cache of volleyball experience both as a player and a coach to Marshalltown High School. In 2020, she was inducted into the Indianola High School Hall of Fame for her illustrious volleyball prep career. Her collegiate experience began at the University of Iowa where she started as a setter. When the Hawkeye coach that recruited her moved away, she transferred to TCU.

Kaylee served up three more years of NCAA Division success for the TCU program. As the starting setter, she led her team to one of the most successful three-year stretches in TCU history. With positive energy, inclusivity, and on-court success, Kaylee marshaled her teammates to the NCAA tournament in 2015 and 2016. She was also named Academic All Big-12 every year at TCU and facilitated youth camps for more than 500 girls ages 5-18. 

Since January of 2018, she has been the head coach for Nebraska Elite Volleyball Club and helped train and develop 13 Division-1 scholarship athletes. That position has given her coaching experience at the highest club level. Her team has won the national qualifier gold medal (Boston) and qualified for nationals every season. 

She may be from Indianola, but Kaylee is no stranger to Marshalltown. Her husband, Tyler, is a proud 2008 MHS graduate. They are excited to raise their young family in this community. 

Volleyball practices officially start on Monday, August 10. If you are interested in participating in the Bobcat volleyball program please contact the MHS Activities office at 641-754-1142. For more information, visit https://marshalltownhsia.rschoolteams.com/.

The tentative 2020 volleyball season game schedule  can be found here.

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Class of 2020 Bobcat graduates celebrated

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Proud moments like this one were a common scene at Sunday’s MCSD Class of 2020 graduation ceremony. Graduates walked across the stage to pick up their diploma while families got an unimpeded view of the significant moment.

MCSD Class of 2020 graduates and their families celebrated a major stepping stone in life Sunday at the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse. This year’s unique graduation ceremony allowed families a front-and-center view of their graduate walking across the stage to pick up their diploma.

Sunday’s ceremony was quite different from celebrations past, with social distancing measures in place and free face-masks made available to graduates, families and school staff. Upon arrival in the Roundhouse gym, graduates stepped up to the stage to pick up their diplomas one-by-one; at the same time, graduates’ families stood directly in front of the stage to cheer, clap, and get a clear photo or video of the proud moment.

“On behalf of the Marshalltown Community School District, I want to congratulate the Class of 2020 because I know the diploma you’re receiving today represents years of hard work completing rigorous assignments, papers, and tests, and likely a few nights staying up late to do so,” said MCSD Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte in his virtual commencement address. “It also represents numerous individual, group, and team accomplishments while persevering through personal as well as collective struggles, challenges, and adversity faced along the way.”

He said graduates can feel confident that they have a strong educational foundation from which to launch into their future.

“I am confident that you are leaving Marshalltown High School ‘Bobcat Ready’ – well-equipped with the knowledge, skills, creativity and confidence to successfully pursue your dreams and aspirations,” Dr. Schutte said. “As you go forward today, I encourage you to be passionate about pursuing your dreams, be purposeful in pursuing excellence in whatever life path you choose, and most importantly, take great pride in who you are, where you come from, what you have accomplished and what you have set out to accomplish in the future.

MCSD School Board President Bea Niblock also said students should look confidently toward their future after walking across the stage.

“None of us participating in this graduation ceremony have ever participated in a virtual graduation, nor have we ever been faced with the challenges that a global pandemic presents,” she said, adding three pieces of advice for the young men and women to follow. “One – Be responsible, attitude and behaviors that you choose will pave the way to success; Two – do what’s right, err in the direction of kindness; Three – find something to be thankful for every day, no matter what happens in your life.”

Congratulations to all Class of 2020 Bobcat graduates! We know you are equipped to do great things wherever you go in life!

Check out the photos below for scenes from Sunday’s ceremony.

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JBS donates thousands of face-masks for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony

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JBS Marshalltown Human Resources Director Niko Aguirre, center, delivers 4,000 disposable masks for use at this weekend’s Class of 2020 graduation ceremony. Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, left, and MHS Principal Jacque Wyant, right, accepted the generous donation Thursday.

In a generous show of support for Marshalltown Schools and the Class of 2020 Bobcat graduates, JBS Marshalltown donated 4,000 disposable face masks for use during this Sunday’s modified graduation ceremony. 

MCSD Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said the face masks are necessary to maintain safety as graduates and their families attend the ceremony at the MHS Roundhouse. He said he was impressed by the safety measures the company has taken in response to the current public health situation during a recent facility tour.

“I reached out to see if we could purchase enough disposable face masks to accommodate the needs of our graduate’s families who may arrive without their own mask,” Dr. Schutte said. “Being the great community partner they are, JBS has donated 4,000 disposable face masks to MHS for use in Sunday’s modified graduation ceremony.”

JBS Marshalltown Human Resources Director Nicolas “Niko” Aguirre said Bobcat Pride was at the heart of the decision to donate masks.

“An opportunity presented itself where we could directly show our support and pride for the graduates,” Aguirre said. “We are happy to support our community. Congratulations to the 2020 high school graduates!” 

Dr. Schutte said the show of support from JBS is deeply appreciated. 

“This significant gesture of partnership is just another example of how (JBS Marshalltown Plant Manager) Todd Carl, Niko Aguirre, and the JBS Team are committed to supporting our students, families, school district and community. We are very fortunate and appreciative of their ongoing partnership and support!” he said. 

For more information on the Sunday, June 28 MCSD Class of 2020 graduation ceremony, click here.

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MCSD, community partners collaborate on Return to Learn plan

R2L logoMarshalltown Schools is working with several community partners to ensure high-quality education continues when classes begin this fall, no matter what challenges are brought by the current public health situation. 

“The Marshalltown Return to Learn Team is composed of 73 people,” said District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson. “We are writing our plan with equity at the forefront of all of six of our teams.”

School districts statewide are working on Return to Learn plans in accordance with Iowa Department of Education requirements.

The MCSD Return to Learn team includes district administrators, teacher leaders, counselors, and nursing staff, as well as community organizations such as Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA), the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA, St. Francis Catholic School, Bobcat Academy, Marshalltown Community College, and Central Rivers Area Education Agency. 

Each of the six Return to Learn teams – including Data, Infrastructure, Health and Safety, Special Education/English language learner education, Academic Standards, and Social-Emotional-Behavioral Health – has met weekly this month to plan for multiple education delivery scenarios this fall. 

Those possible scenarios include fully in-person student learning, fully digital or online student learning, and a hybrid model in which both online and in-person learning take place.

The Return to Learn work in June has included the creation and delivery of several surveys for district employees, students, and families, as well as planning the best ways to deliver education safely next school year amid ongoing public health concerns. We greatly value survey feedback, and all MCSD parents and students in grades 6-12 who have not yet taken their survey are encouraged to do so; survey links can be found here

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Leaders from Marshalltown Schools and several community organizations work together during a weekly Return to Learn planning session.

Going forward
On July 1, Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte will affirm with the Iowa Department of Education that the district’s Return to Learn teams are creating plans and gathering key data. Additionally, the district will confirm the 2020-21 school calendar with the Department of Education; that calendar, approved by the Marshalltown School Board earlier this year, includes an Aug. 25, 2020 start date.

No final decision will be made on the district’s Return to Learn plan on July 1, but planning and data collection will continue as the district awaits further state guidance. The Marshalltown School Board will be responsible for making a final decision on the district’s Return to Learn plan.

“Ultimately, our plans need to allow for our District and its schools to be able to seamlessly transition from in-person teaching and learning to remote learning based on the health and safety needs of our students and staff,” Dr. Schutte said.

For more information, visit the Iowa Department of Education’s Return to Learn web page.

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Bobcat summer Band activities return

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MHS Band students (from left) Drew King, KyLynn Glass, Kenton Niehouse, and Emily Diggins practice their percussion skills.

The usual summer sounds of Bobcat Band students practicing their musical skills have returned to the Marshalltown High School grounds.

MHS Instrumental Music Director Brett Umthun said the students had been taking online lessons prior to last week’s reopening. Several precautions are being taken with the reopening, including social distancing rules, requiring students exposed to or showing symptoms of COVID-19 to stay home, and more.

“Individual lessons are held in the morning and run until noon. Each student receives 30 minutes of private instruction,” Umthun said. “Sectionals are held in the afternoon from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and are broken down into color guard, woodwind, brass, marching percussion, and frontline groups.”

For more information on Bobcat Band summer activities, including safety measures being taken, click here.

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MHS Band students Jordan May (left) and Joshua Reynolds (right) keep their rhythm during practice this week.

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Miller Middle School selected for U of I College of Engineering Femineers STEM program

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The U of I College of Engineering Femineers Adopt-a-School program will bring new, high-quality STEM learning to Miller Middle School students over the next three years. 

Miller Middle School is one of just six schools statewide to be selected as part of the University of Iowa College of Engineering Femineers Adopt-a-School Program, which will bring new STEM learning opportunities to middle school students over the next three years.

Miller Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson said she applied for the Femineer program to bring another high-quality STEM educational opportunity to the middle school. She said the program will provide teacher training, and there will be a focus on increasing participation in STEM educational activities among female students.

“It is our goal with the Femineer program to expose our female students to STEM areas and help them discover that they are as capable of success in STEM areas as their male counterparts,” Jackson said. “The program will be implemented next year for Miller’s XLP students, but we are actively looking for ways to bring the curriculum to all of Miller’s female students.”

Each year of the program’s three-year implementation will have a unique area of focus. Creative Robotics will be the theme in the first year, followed by Wearable Technology in year two, and Pi Robotics in year three. 

For each of the three themes, students will work on a project to be presented at the Femineer Summit in the spring. 

The Femineer program is a teacher training program that was created and funded by Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering in 2013 to inspire young women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). For more information on the U of I College of Engineering Femineers Adopt-a-School Program, click here

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