Creativity abounds at Hoglan STEAM Night


Remote-controlled robots were among the biggest attractions at the Hoglan Elementary STEAM night Thursday.

The acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has become a common word in the Marshalltown community with efforts to increase education in those areas at Marshalltown Schools.

Adding art into the mix, making STEAM, opens the flow of creativity. That was the goal of this week’s STEAM Night at Hoglan Elementary School. A team of teachers and staff coordinated the event.

“They had a lot of integration of technology throughout the event, which the kids loved,” said Hoglan Principal Amy Williams. “Any time we’re able to host a family event at our neighborhood school, it’s an opportunity for our families and students to interact with our staff in a different way.”

Students and their families explored many activities which combined science and art. In one, students drew freehand paths on paper with special markers. Small robots called Ozobots were coded to follow the markers’ paths, sometimes with special moves and tricks.

“I’m coloring and then I’m going to put a robot on it,” said Hoglan second grader Richard Ritter, Jr. of his Ozobot drawing. “I want to do the turbos and the tornado.”

Fellow Hoglan student Londyn Senethavysouk said she is interested in science and enjoyed STEAM Night.

“I think robots are cool. They help you do tons of things that should be impossible,” the third grader said.

Another activity where hard science met creativity was in Hoglan’s new Makers Space. There, students built houses out of newspapers and tested the structures’ integrity against the “big bad wolf” hairdryer, which tried to blow the houses down.

In another area, students were provided cardboard and some duct tape – they were free to create and design with those simple materials.

Williams said events like STEAM Night not only bring great joy to students and their families, but also allow students to practice key skills.

“It’s really giving them exposure and preparing them for the future that’s in front of us,” she said.

STEAM night 3 WEB

The arts and sciences combined in this activity, where students drew out a path using special markers. They watched gleefully as small robots followed the paths they drew.

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Marshalltown Community School District celebrates Kindness Day

Kindness day WEB

Staff across Marshalltown Community School District dressed in cardigans Wednesday to recognize Kindness Day. The cardigans paid homage to the late Fred Rogers, creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Pictured here are more than two dozen Hoglan Elementary staff members celebrating Kindness Day.

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Georgia educators impressed by Marshalltown Schools programs

Marshalltown High School and Miller Middle School played host to a group of educators from the country of Georgia Tuesday.

The group of 13 from the Eurasian country included school administrators and educators seeking to learn about MCSD’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs, as well as career and technical education opportunities for district students.

“I think it’s a way we can share, globally, what we are doing here in Marshalltown, Iowa, with career and technical education and Project Lead the Way,” said district Curriculum and Professional Development leader Dee Burt.

Burt said Tuesday’s visit was the second time MCSD has hosted a group from Georgia. The visit was facilitated by the Kalona, Iowa-based nonprofit World Link and funded by a U.S. Department of State grant.

World Link Regional Program Manager Karen King-Fitzgerald said the Marshalltown experience  will spark ideas for the Georgian educators to bring back to their own schools.

The visitors were able to check out Miller Middle School’s Modular Technology program and talk to seventh graders about class projects.

“Everything is very impressive – the attitudes, the atmosphere here in the classrooms,” said English teacher Leila Berishvili, one of Tuesday’s visitors.

She said she enjoyed talking to students and found the teachers to be kind and welcoming.

Davit Tepnadze of Georgia Aviation University said he learned a lot from visiting the Modular Tech program, as well as the computer science and biomedical sciences Project Lead the Way programs at Marshalltown High School.

He said he enjoyed hearing about the dual-credit college courses Marshalltown students can take.

“The middle school, high school and community college have a very good relationship with each other,” Tepnadze said.

He said he plans to use Marshalltown’s programs to help enhance the educational curriculum at Georgia Aviation University.

“We have vocational programs. We are trying to create curriculum where the high school program will be with the vocational program,” Tepnadze said. “The system you have here is very interesting to us and we want to adapt this same system.”

The visitors also learned about advanced placement courses, teacher requirements, student clubs and the district’s strong relationships with community stakeholders.

Georgia visitors WEB

Miller Middle School students McKenna Coleman, left, and Lesley Rios, center, talk to Leila Berishvili, one of the educators visiting MCSD from the country of Georgia on Tuesday. The students were working on t-shirt design at Miller’s Modular Technology classroom.

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Marshalltown Area Health Care Club to hold Asian Food fundraiser

Fried rice, lo mein noodles and samosas will all be on the menu Friday during the Marshalltown Area Health Care Club Asian Food Fundraiser.

Students in the club will prepare the vegetables, noodles, meats and other ingredients for cooking later this week. Club member Sher Wah and her family will make the cuisine at the high school Friday.

Club members will set up at the circle drive at the west entrance of Marshalltown High School – along South 2nd Street – from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday to take drive-through and delivery orders. The food will be prepared and sent out to customers.

Funds will go toward the MAHCC field experience at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. at the end of the school year.

A full list of the cuisine and ingredients, as well as an order form, is available here. For more information or questions, contact MHS Dean of Students Daniel Terrones at or Sher Wah at

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Winter weather information

Hello all!

Below is more information about how decisions are made when it comes to weather-related closings, delays or early outs, as well as how to sign up for text updates.


How decisions are made regarding weather-related school closings, delays and early dismissals

(Información en español abajo)

As we enter the winter season, I’d like to inform you as to how decisions are made regarding whether to have school or not due to inclement weather. Our District staff understands that our decision to open or close schools in bad weather has a big effect on families. We also understand that our students are better served – both academically and socially – by being in school. But, as always, our top priority is the safety of our students.

How Do We Make Our Decisions?

Please understand that we make the decision to open or close the schools in bad weather based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, such as:
– Information on road conditions from our transportation staff and the City of Marshalltown. Amount of snow and ice accumulated.
– Forecast – whether precipitation is continuing. We pay particular attention to information coming directly out of the National Weather Service office.
– Building conditions (such as whether we have electricity and heat)
– Parking lot and sidewalk conditions. Administrators talk to maintenance and custodial staff members who are responsible for clearing and treating school parking lots and sidewalks.
– Temperature and wind chill. This is an extremely important consideration as some of our students walk to school and some must wait outside for the bus. Once wind chills reach -25 degrees and/or raw temperatures approach -15 degrees we begin to have serious consideration as to whether a late start or early dismissal may be advisable or whether or not school should be held.
– Weather predictions. We prefer not making our decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate. Sometimes this is unavoidable and in doing so we’d rather error on the side of safety.
– What other area school districts are doing. We share information and consult with other local school districts and check whether they are opening or closing. As most are aware, the Marshalltown Community School District is much more urban (city) than rural. This is significantly different than all of our neighboring school districts that are comprised of mostly rural residences and roads. For this reason, there is the possibility that our schools may be in session when other surrounding districts are not.

Who Makes the Decision?

As superintendent of schools, I am responsible for the final decision, based on the above factors and recommendations from our Directors of Transportation and Buildings & Grounds.

How Is The Public Notified?

Immediately when a decision is made, we notify the public in several different ways. Notifications are posted on the MCSD website,, on the District Facebook and Twitter pages, emails are sent to all parents through Infinite Campus (Campus Portal) and local media also receive notifications to post. Parents can also sign up for text notifications through their Infinite Campus account  here. When there is an early dismissal, we will also use phone call notifications.

When Is The Decision Made?

My goal is to have a decision made no later than 5:30 a.m. so we can notify parents through our District messaging system, media through radio and television, and post the decision on our website. If I wait longer to announce a closing, some parents may have already left for work, leaving their children unsupervised.

Will We Close School If Conditions Worsen?

Keep in mind that, even if conditions worsen, we cannot reverse our decision in the morning without endangering students. Once we make the decision to open the schools, many parents rely on it and leave for work. If we then send students right back home, many will return to unsupervised bus stops and empty houses. If conditions get worse during the school day, we may need to have an early dismissal, but we will give adequate notice to all parents first.
Although my staff and I do our absolute best in this process, we know that often no perfect decision exists. If you do not feel as though it is safe for your child to attend school, use your best judgment on whether he or she should attend. Also, discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.
I hope that this explanation helps everyone understand the process that our district staff use to make the best possible decision for all in our District.

Dr. Theron J. Schutte, Superintendent
Marshalltown Community School District


El invierno ha llegado a Marshalltown, y me gustaría informarle sobre cómo se toman las decisiones con respecto a tener o no escuela debido al mal tiempo. . Nuestro personal de distrito entiende que nuestra decisión de abrir o cerrar la escuela en mal tiempo tiene un gran efecto en las familias. También entendemos que nuestros estudiantes son servidos mejor – académicamente y social – estando en la escuela. Pero, como siempre nuestra primera prioridad es la seguridad de nuestros estudiantes.
¿Cómo hacemos nuestras decisiones?
Por favor entienda que hacemos nuestras decisiones de abrir o cerrar la escuela en mal tiempo basado en un análisis de todos factores relevantes, así como:

–  Información sobre la condición de la carretera de nuestro personal de transporte y de la ciudad de Marshalltown. Cantidad de nieve o hielo acumulado.
– Pronóstico – si la precipitación del clima continúa. Nosotros ponemos atención particular en información que viene de la oficina del servicio meteorológico nacional.
– Condiciones del edificio (si tenemos electricidad y
– Condiciones del estacionamiento. Los administradores hablan con mantenimiento y personal que son responsables de limpiar y atender el estacionamiento y las banquetas.
– Temperatura y viento. Esto es una consideración extremadamente importante ya que algunos de nuestros estudiantes caminan a la escuela y algunos tiene que esperar el autobús afuera. Una vez que la temperatura del viento alcance grados de -25 y/o temperaturas alcancen grados  de -15 empezamos a tener serias consideraciones de empezar clases tarde o tener salida temprana o sostener clases.
– Predicciones del tiempo. Preferimos no hacer nuestras decisiones basadas en predicciones del tiempo, que no siempre son correctas. En ocasiones esto no se puede evadir y preferimos estar al lado de la seguridad.
– Lo que otras escuelas en el área están haciendo.  Nosotros compartimos información y consultamos con otros distritos escolares locales y revisamos si ellos van a abrir o cerrar. Ya que muchos están consiente que el distrito escolar de Marshalltown es más urbano (ciudad) que rural. Esto es significativamente diferente a nuestros vecinos de otros distritos escuelas que son compuestos de residencia rural y carreteras. Por esta razón hay la posibilidad de que nuestras escuelas estén en sesión mientras otros distritos no.

¿Quién hace la decisión?

Como superintendente de las escuelas soy responsable de tomar la última decisión, basado en los factores mencionados y recomendaciones de los directores de transportación y el mantenimiento de la propiedad.

¿Cómo es el público notificado?

En cuanto la decisión es hecha, inmediatamente notificamos al público en diferentes maneras. Notificaciones son puestas en el sitio de web,, en la página de Facebook y Twitter del distrito, correo electrónicos son enviados a padres mediante Infinite Campus (Campus Portal) y los medios de comunicación locales también reciben notificación de publicar. Padres pueden registrase para recibir notificaciones de texto por medio de su cuenta de Infinite Campus  aqui.   Cuando tengamos salida temprana también notificamos por llamadas.

¿Cuándo es la decisión hecha?

Mi meta es de hacer una decisión no más tarde le las 5:30 am para notificar padres mediante nuestro sistema del distrito, comunicación mediante el radio o televisión y publicar la decisión en nuestro sitio de web. Si esperamos más tiempo para anunciar, habrá la posibilidad que algunos padres ya se hayan ido a trabajar dejando a sus niños sin supervisión.

¿Cerraremos la escuela si el clima empeora?

Tengan en mente que si el clima empeora, no podemos hacer lo contrario de nuestra decisión en la mañana sin poner los estudiantes en riesgo.  Una vez que hagamos la decisión de abrir la escuela muchos padres confían en ella y se van al trabajo. Si mandamos a los estudiantes a casa, muchos regresaran a paradas de camión sin supervisión y a casas vacías.  Si las condiciones empeoran durante el día escolar habrá la posibilidad de tener salida temprana, pero daremos notificación a todos los padres primero.
Aunque mi personal y yo hacemos lo mejor que podemos en este proceso sabemos que muy seguido no existe una decisión perfecta. Si usted siente que no es seguro que asista a la escuela su hijo use su mejor criterio si el o ella debe asistir. También desanime que manejen sus adolescentes en malas condiciones y ofrezca alternativas si el clima empeora.
Espero que esta explicación ayude a todos entender el procedimiento que nuestro personal del distrito usa para hacer la mejor decisión para todo nuestro distrito.
Superintendente, Dr. Theron J. Schutte
Distrito Escolar de la Comunidad de Marshalltown

Steps to sign up for text messages from the Marshalltown Community School District

The Marshalltown Community School District now has the ability to send text messages to parents from our Infinite Campus (Campus Portal) system to their phones. We plan to utilize this feature for weather notifications or other important notifications. For steps on how to set up to receive these messages,  click here.


El Distrito Escolar de la Comunidad de Marshalltown ahora tiene la habilidad de mandar mensajes de texto a padres de nuestro sistema Infinite Campus (Campus Portal) a sus teléfonos. Planeamos utilizar esta función para hacer notificaciones del clima u otra información. Para pasos en como instalar y recibir mensajes haga  clic aquí.

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Passion for helping people leads MHS graduate into cardiology


Dr. Emily Backes, right, is a 2003 Marshalltown High School graduate who is a pediatric cardiologist in Houston, Texas. She is pictured looking over an electrocardiogram  (ECG) with colleague Dr. Vince Gonzalez.

Story written by volunteer writer Samantha Edwards

Dr. Emily Backes is a post-doctoral clinical fellow in pediatric cardiology or, more simply, a pediatric cardiologist at Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. She is a 2003 Marshalltown High School graduate.

“I am a physician who specializes in congenital heart disease. I take care of babies, children, and even adults who were born with heart defects,” Backes said.  “Some are as simple as a small hole between two chambers of the heart, and some are as complex as being born with half of a heart. I take care of these patients before their heart surgery and then for the rest of their lives.”

She said she chose this career field due to her passion for helping people.

“I have always been passionate about helping people, I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of math and science in school, and I love working with children,” Backes said. “Pediatric Cardiology was a perfect blend of those interests, while also giving me the opportunity to care for the sickest patients in the hospital.”

She credits Marshalltown High School’s many different classes available as a great start to her success in more than one career.

“I enrolled in every dual credit college course and AP class that was offered. I think the rigor of the courses in addition to the variety and volume of classes available were the things that helped me get where I am today,” Backes said.

The diversity of people and cultures at MHS increased her worldview, which helped in a previous job. Emily explained that before going into the medical field, she was a high school science teacher in inner-city Baltimore, Maryland.  During that time, Emily took part in the Teach for America program.

“One of the things we learn about and try to overcome is the educational achievement gap in our country,” she said.

She said the diversity at MHS is something to be proud of.

“MHS is a very diverse place, and you are exposed to many different cultures just by going to high school,” she said. “What I loved most about MHS is the pervasive belief that any student, from any background, can achieve whatever they set their mind to.”

She was involved in several aspects of the high school and mentioned the more extracurricular activities you are involved in, the more well-rounded you become.

“One of the things I am most proud of is being heavily involved in as many extracurricular activities as I could,” she said.

Emily’s favorite class was journalism. She wrote for the newspaper for all four years. Other highlights at MHS were running cross country, going to the Fiesta Bowl with the marching band, and traveling to Mexico with the Rotary Club.

“Always take advantage of organized school trips,” she said.

Emily said she always felt supported by teachers in the Marshalltown Community School District and advises future students to have confidence.

“Never let anyone tell you that you aren’t capable of doing something you are passionate about,” she said.

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MHS to present the fall musical Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” on November 2 & 3


The cast is pictured for the MHS fall musical “The Little Mermaid” which is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 2 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 3.

Marshalltown High School will present the fall musical Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 2 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 3 in the MHS/Community Auditorium.

The musical is based on the movie which centers around Ariel, a mermaid who falls in love with a human. She rebels against her father and seeks comfort and support from her underwater friends.

Olivia Adams-Zmolek plays the lead role of Ariel in the musical. She said guests can expect bright, colorful costumes, big music and just “a real treat” of a show.

“I’ve wanted to be Ariel since I was 4 watching the movie,” she said.

The musical is led by drama director Peter Grady, musical director Amy Ose and pit orchestra director Brett Umthun.

Admission is at the door prior to the shows (no pre-sale tickets) and the cost is $5 per person. Activity passes will be honored.


Olivia Adams-Zmolek as Ariel and Eli Thiessen as Prince Eric


Pit Orchestra


Mersisters sing with Flounder – pictured from left Elizabeth Lang, Amanda Hoffman, Freddy Ross, Lydia Hayes, Averi Bolar and Alyson Christen.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Cast (in order of appearance)
Ariel – Olivia Adams-Zmolek
Pilot – Colin Jensen
Prince Eric – Eli Thiessen
Grimsby – Trace Markle
Sailors – Jack Elsberry, Taeviss Fite,
Dmitrii Kozlov, Garrett McKibbin
Flounder – Freddy Ross
Scuttle – Pietro Stocchi
King Triton – Aaron Seberger
Windward – Trixie Cantrell
Leeward – Taylor Hoffma
Sebastian – Jason Strand
Aquata (Mersister)-  Elizabeth Lang
Andrina (Mersister) – Averi Bolar
Arista (Mersister) – Ali Zamora
Atina (Mersister) – Lydia Hayes
Adella (Mersister) – Amanda Hoffman
Allana (Mersister) – Alyson Christen
Flotsam – Emily Waldon
Jetsam – Abby Murty
Ursula – Taylor Naughton
Gulls – Journee Blaylock, Sindy Guadiana,
Reena Pearson, Lori Rivas, Madi Swartz
Maids – Averi Bolar, Lydia Hayes, Amanda Hoffman,
Kynlie Ladehoff, Ali Zamora
Chef Louis – Jack Elsberry
Chefs – Taeviss Fite, Colin Jensen, Dmitrii Kozlov,
Mackenzie Peter, Jenna Van Law
Princesses – Jovana Cordova, Taylor Hoffman, Kynlie Ladehoff,
Kaylie Cox, Ellie Seberger, Madison Pickett
Sea Creatures – Journee Blaylock, Trixie Cantrell, Jovana Cordova,
Kaylie Cox, Taeviss Fite, Sindy Guadiana, Taylor Hoffman,
Colin Jensen, Dmitrii Kozlov, Kynlie Ladehoff,
Garrett McKibbin, Reena Pearson, Mackenzie Peter,
Madison Pickett, Lori Rivas, Ellie Seberger,
Madi Swartz, Jenna Van Law

Production Crew

Drama Director Peter Grady
Music Director Amy Ose
Choreography Amy Ose & Cast Members
Production Ass’t Chandler Fisher
Stage Manager Emily Diggins
Light Design & Operator Rylena Hornberg
Lighting Ass’t Avery Hill
Sound Board Operator David Hernandez
Set Design /Construction Peter Grady; Mr. Raul Arevalo and his students:
Ezra Adkins, Xavier Bernal, Isaac Correa,
Eric Ocequeda, Jr., and Armando Torres;
Fr. Bernie Grady, Fr. Dewayne Thoman,
State Representative Mark Smith, Dee Warden,
Cheri Bolar, Sally Wilson, Janey Swartz,
Averi Bolar, Anna Diiorio, Raul Ruso, Alan Paxson,
Ken Walton, Kris Naughton
Costumes Shannon Naughton, Taylor’s Grandma,
Kya Naughton, Blanca de Leon Saiz
Props Shannon Naughton, Taylor’s Grandma,
Ken Rasmusson, Cast Members
Auditorium Manager Al Paxson
Poster/Program/T-Shirt Design Jocelyn Frohwein
Loft Organization Ellie Draisey
Stage Crew Bree Doiron, Ellie Draisey, Khaidencey Garrett,
Raul Ruso, Blanca de Leon Saiz

Pit Orchestra
Conductor   Mr. Brett Umthun
Piano   Annie Grieshop
Reed 1 (Flute, Picc, Alto Flute) Carmen Araiza
Reed 2 (Oboe/English Horn)   Mr. Christian Loaiza
Reed 3 (Bb Clarinet)   Hector De La Cruz
(Bass Clarinet)   Rebakah Stone
(Sop & Alto Sax)   Emily Manis
Trumpet   Moses Albarran
French Horn   Heather Junk
Jordan May
Trombone   Evalitzy Rangel
Bass   Tristyn Oberender
Drums   Trey Gardner
Percussion   Quinton Lacey
Violin Josiah Troutner
Cello   Anthony Sotelo Sanchez
Jolcey Santana

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