Miller student, teacher honored at Belin-Blank Center


Miller Middle School student Derek Peng is pictured with his Extended Learning Program teacher Ann Jackson. Both were honored by the University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center on October 8.

Miller Middle School student Derek Peng was among the nearly 500 students from Iowa and throughout the nation who were invited to be honored at The University of Iowa Belin-Blank Center’s Recognition Ceremony on October 8 at the Iowa Memorial Union.

Derek was nominated for exceptional performance in the Belin-Blank Center student talent search.

Additionally, recognized students were given the opportunity to honor a teacher they credited for having a profound influence on their lives. Peng selected Ann Jackson, Miller Middle School Extended Learning Program teacher, for this honor.

Addressing the students, teachers and guests were University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld, Dean Dan Clay from the College of Education and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

To keep up with Marshalltown Schools Extended Learning Program news, “like” the new Facebook Page of the MCSD XLP.

Other MCSD Extended Learning Program updates:

NHD 10-6-17

A National History Day kickoff event was held October 6 at the State Historical Building in Des Moines.  Marshalltown XLP students from Lenihan, Miller and Marshalltown High School participated in an all day event that consisted of a panel of professionals involving the history of Six-on-Six Basketball.

Students then participated in breakout sessions to learn about the different project categories, explored the museum, and conducted research in the library.


Mark Smith

Miller Lego League team presents to Representative Mark Smith

Miller’s 8th grade Lego League team, the Robocats, has been working hard at understanding this year’s Lego League theme, Hydrodynamics.  All Lego League teams are tasked with identifying a problem related to human’s use of water and then creating a solution for the identified problem.

The Robocats have decided to improve water quality by trying to write legislation that would create a water bottle tax in Iowa.  The funds created by this tax would be distributed equally to each of Iowa’s Soil & Water Conservation Districts to help fund water quality initiatives that are endorsed by the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a science and technology-based framework to assess and reduce nutrients to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico.

State Representative Mark Smith visited Miller on October 9 to listen to the Robocats’ solution.  He offered tremendous insight into the legislative process and offered valuable constructive criticism for the Robocats to consider as they continue their project work.  The team also enjoyed showing him their robot and explaining how the table game is played.

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Miller students collecting hygiene products as part of class effort


Miller Middle School students are creating a hygiene cabinet, which will offer supplies for students at no cost. Pictured collecting supplies to stock the cabinet are students, from left, Joel Vargas, Leslie Rangel and Diyana Rabih.

A Miller Middle School personalized learning class project is part learning about business and part learning about helping others.

The class has started accepting donations for a hygiene cabinet to help provide these supplies for free for students if they need them. The class is taught by science teacher Dan Cibula.


Dan Cibula

The closet is still accepting donations and is expected to be able to open for students to select items later in the fall. Students wrote business letters to local businesses seeking donations and a few have already sent back donations.

“We are trying to get across to the students how to set up a business structure, but the main point is the importance of lending a helping hand,” Cibula said.

A donation box will be set up at the Miller Middle School office if anyone from the public would like to donate to the hygiene closet. For more information email Mr. Cibula at


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Bobcat Marching Band receives Division 1 rating at state


The Marshalltown High School Bobcat Marching Band received its 17th consecutive Division 1 rating at the State Marching Festival held on October 7 at Fort Dodge.
“Their growth this season is amazing and we are so proud of their hard work and dedication,” said MHS instrumental music director Brett Umthun.
Their last halftime performance of the season will be during the October 20 home football game. The band will also perform at the Band Extravaganza at 7 p.m. on October 16 in the MHS/Community Auditorium.

MHS Vocal Pops concert is Oct. 12
The MHS Vocal Pops concert is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 12 in the MHS/Community Auditorium.
The concert will feature a 40th Anniversary tribute of songs to Elvis Presley, but will also feature 11 student solo/duet acts in the first part of the concert with popular songs from 2004 – 2017.
Admission is $5 Adults / and $3 for students K-8.  Activity passes will be honored.

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Playground donation made in honor of former Franklin kindergarten teacher


Franklin Elementary School kindergarten students are pictured in the new playground made possible by a donation from the Ploeger family to honor past kindergarten teacher Carol Ploeger. Pictured standing with the children, are from left, current Franklin kindergarten teacher Amy Phillips, Jan Paper (Carol’s sister), Jeff Ploeger (Carol’s son), Franklin Principal Tim Holmgren, Dick Ploeger (Carol’s husband), Christine Cameron (Carol’s daughter) and Marshalltown Schools Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte.

When Dick Ploeger’s wife Carol passed away earlier this year, he couldn’t think of a better place to donate her memorial fund than to Franklin Elementary School.

After all, Carol had so many great memories of the school after teaching kindergarten at Franklin in the late 1960s and 1970s.

A Ploeger family donation was made which resulted in a new playground at the school and new classroom equipment for the same kindergarten classroom that Carol used to teach, which is now taught by Amy Phillips.

“She loved teaching kindergarten here,” Dick said of Carol. “We thought this (donation) should stay here.”

Franklin will have a small sign with Carol’s name out by the playground and a plaque made to display in the kindergarten classroom with Carol’s picture.


Carol Ploeger as a Franklin teacher

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MHS to host groundbreaking ceremony for Roundhouse Phase II on October 12


Marshalltown High School will host a brief groundbreaking ceremony for the Roundhouse Phase II project at noon on Thursday, October 12.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature brief remarks by district and project leaders.

The project is underway to build a wrestling room and auxiliary gym at MHS, led by the general contractor Ball Team of Urbandale. Nearly $3 million was raised by the Renovate the Roundhouse group for the project including a $1 million grant from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation.

The project is expected to be completed in late 2018.

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Engineering a career in photography


Pictured is Payton Ruddock, a 2005 Marshalltown High School graduate who runs his own photography company known as Ruddock Visuals.

MHS graduate runs Ruddock Visuals in Texas

An engineer by trade, Payton Ruddock decided his future would come into focus in the field of photography.

The 2005 Marshalltown High School graduate is making a name for himself in sports photography as a commercial and advertising photographer, based in the Houston, Texas area. His company is known as Ruddock Visuals.

After his time at MHS, he attended Texas A&M with a focus on biomedical engineering, but fostered a love of photography. This eventually led to a full-time career in photography after several years in the engineering field.

“I think what I enjoy the most is the storytelling part of it,” Ruddock said of photography.

His engineering background helps him in photography as he works the technical aspects of his photo shoots and combines it with his creativity.

“I love creating a finished photo and getting to see people react to it and tell me what they see or how it makes them feel,” he said. “It’s awesome to show somebody a finished portrait of themselves or to work with a brand and help a vision they have for their product come to life in a way that they may or may not have even thought about beforehand.”

Ironman athletes and sports apparel companies are among his regular clients.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the top athletes in the sport of Ironman as well as some major brands like Lululemon, Adidas and Skechers,” he said.

Time at MHS
His said he has great memories of being a Bobcat at MHS. Among the fond memories include his time as a swimmer under coach Mike Loupee.

“The highlight would have to be taking third place at state my junior year or being present and cheering Matt Dahlke on to win his state title our senior year,” Ruddock said. “Both experiences were unbelievable to be a part of.”

Payton’s parents, Gina and Tom, still live in Marshalltown.

Loupee said Ruddock was dedicated to any task he was given and was a leader in and out of the pool.

“He was always well prepared and enjoyed challenges,” Loupee said. “In my opinion, he is an excellent example of what we hope to build in young people at MHS.”

Heroes on White
As part of a personal photography project, Ruddock has started what he calls “Heroes on White,” which are black and white portraits to celebrate the everyday heroes making a difference in the world. As part of the project, he has plans to profile several Marshalltown residents including a few MHS teachers.

For more on his work, visit


Photo by Payton Ruddock


Photo by Payton Ruddock

BobcatPride logoSMALL

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Nebraska potter visits MHS pottery class


Marlene VanDiest, a potter from Nebraska, works the clay in a demonstration to Marshalltown High School pottery students on October 3.

A potter from Nebraska visited the pottery class at Marshalltown High School and worked clay into several pieces on October 3. Marlene VanDiest, of Sandhills Pottery in Dunning, Nebraska talked to the class about some tricks of the trade as she made pots, dishes and other items.

“I don’t make fancy stuff,” she told the students. “I make functional stuff.”

She has a connection to the school as she is the aunt of MHS teacher Carissa Lewis.

Even at the age of 81, Marlene stays busy as a potter, as she works with approximately 2,000 pounds of clay a year.





Some examples of Marlene’s pottery

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