IBA bands shine

Jim Miller, Roger DeYoung, Steve Shanley (L-R)

The only two high school bands selected to perform at this year for the Iowa Bandmasters Associations (IBA) conference, Lisbon and Cedar Rapids Washington, held a free preview concert on May 11th at the Washington Auditorium.  Both schools selection is a culmination of months of individual and group preparation, recording of audition tapes, waiting for selection results and, most recently, weeks of intensive practice.  Lisbon performs Thursday night, 13 May, at the IBA conference in Des Moines, followed by Washington on Friday night.


Lisbon played 8 songs in their set, with each song being introduced by one of their band members.  They amazed the crowd with the expression they put into the music, showing quite clearly why they and they alone will represent the 1A class high schools of Iowa.


Roger DeYoung, Director of the Lisbon Band, noted this accomplishment is believed to be a first for Lisbon and is his first such selection in 38 years of teaching music.  Mr. DeYoung will have little time to rest with Middle School performances next week, preparing the band for the Lisbon graduation concert and marching in the Lisbon Memorial Day parade.  When asked to describe his favorite part of the entire IBA process, DeYoung admitted, I hope I havent had it yet!


Kate McKone, alto saxophone, said how she was excited to end her senior year strongly.

Mitchell Stevens, percussion, only in band for two years, It has been a great experience to join band and have all these great things happen.


Washington took the stage for the second half of the preview concert, also performing 8 songs.  While Washingtons two band directors, Jim Miller and Steve Shanley, conducted 6 of the songs, Robert Manson and Earle Dickinson conducted the remaining two songs.


Washington used the benefit of their size and depth to provide an innovative performance, including a brass and percussion only piece to start their set.  Wash also performed a highly entertaining version of Blackbird (Beatles) that included some incredible piano work by Jon Snell, and great rhythm work by Ian Draves on bass and Michael Olson on drum set.  Washs final song, Redline Tango, featured Madeline Young on soprano sax.  As with Lisbon, Washington showed the crowd some very elite skills.


Of the opportunity to perform at IBA, Kate Ernst, clarinet, said, I think its really great. We have a lot of great players and it will be a lot different next year.


Toby Ziemer, trombone, noted, The interesting thing about IBA is that you can only audition every 3 years, so when you have the chance to do this, its really a big deal.  Below are 3 audio clips from Washingtons performance.


Events and updates on all Washington High School performing arts are available at their website.

Scientist wants to create Iowa City-area space museum

Charles Miller operates one of his star projectors in his home in Iowa City on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. This projector was bought from a university in Louisiana; Miller also made a projector, which still functions, when he was a teenager. The projectors stars were precisely hand-drilled, due to the unavailability of home computers and printers at the time. 

IOWA CITY Charles Miller has two planetarium star field projectors in his Iowa City home one purchased on eBay and one he built from scratch.


The projectors havent had much of an audience so far besides the occasional Boy Scout troop that has stopped by to see them in action, but the engineer and scientist hopes to bring them to a larger audience.


I remember the fervor of the space race and the Apollo landings, he said. Now theres a real issue in declining interest in math and science.


Miller is the driving force behind the Iowa Space Science Center, a proposed museum in the Iowa City area. He hopes it could serve both as a tourism destination and as a vehicle to promote better science literacy.


Although his career has been focused on electrical engineering and auditory research, Miller has a strong personal interest in astronomy and space science, and he recently left his research work to devote himself full time to creating the center. He thinks theres a gap in local appreciation for space science, which is unfortunate given Iowas part in American space exploration.


Much of that legacy is focused around the legacy of James Van Allen, a Mount Pleasant-born scientist who was heavily involved in the launching of scientific probes to study outer space during the Cold War. Van Allen, who died in Iowa City in 2006 at the age of 91, is the spiritual father of the project, Miller said.


The center proposal comes at a time of national and state concern over science education. Miller points to 2010 report by the National Science Foundation, which concluded that America was not meeting the science and engineering education needs of its students, and that the countrys working engineers and scientists were getting older with fewer replacements on the way.


The problem has drawn attention in state government, with Gov. Terry Branstad recently creating a statewide advisory council for science, technology, engineering and math education in an effort to increase the subjects prominence in Iowa schools.


Miller hopes he can assist in those efforts, but first, he said, science museums need to be designed to better communicate their subjects.


If you compare the environment of an art museum to a science museum, its a much more focused environment. Id like to design a space that would focus more on contemplation and thinking, he said.


Rather than moving straight toward establishing a building, Miller is raising money to create a traveling astronomy exhibit he can take to local schools. The portable dome and projector setup he wants would cost $30,000 for prebuilt equipment, but he hopes to possibly build his own, which would cost less.


He has established a non-profit foundation with a local board of directors to organize the fundraising effort.


Once the portable museum is complete, hell move on to create an after-school program and then the physical center itself. He hopes to collaborate with local educators so that the exhibits correlate to state science teaching standards.

If things go well, this could be a major regional attraction, he said. Well use space science to get people in the door, but the main mission is to get people talking about science again.

4 New Members Join Fields On Iowa City School Board

IOWA CITY – With five seats in play and only one incumbent running, change was coming to the Iowa City school board in Tuesday’s election no matter what.


And the four newcomers elected to the seven-member board said they hope they can improve communication and restore trust with the community – and among board members.


“It seems like it’s a battle on every issue” with the current board, said Karla Cook, a retired math teacher. “It seems like with what I’ve heard at the (candidate) forums, things will go more smoothly.”


Cook garnered 78 percent of the vote in a contest with Julie Van Dyke to fill a vacant seat with two years remaining on its term.


Winning the four seats with four-year terms were Marla Swesey (66 percent), Jeff McGinness (64 percent), Sally Hoelscher (51 percent) and incumbent school board President Patti Fields (42 percent).


Fields just edged vocal school board critic Phil Hemingway (41 percent) for the final spot, followed by Bob Porter, Jeff Alden and Jim Tate. See the results here.


Results are unofficial until they’ve been canvassed by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors Sept. 16.


Perhaps more than any recent election, the school board challengers expressed a desire to change the direction of the board. Their feelings were spurred by last year’s contentious redistricting debate, a desire for more openness among board members and administrators and recent financial problems.


Swesey, a retired elementary school teacher, said her sense is that the board has lost the trust of many members of the public. She thinks her experience in education can help the board tackle important issues in an engaging way.


“I know what it’s like in the classroom,” she said.

Hoelscher, a freelance writer, said one of the things she heard most while campaigning was the need for the board to be more accessible. She also wants the board to do a better job with long-term planning.


McGinness, an attorney, also spoke of the need for better planning and said he wants the board to be more forward-looking.


Fields, who works for United Way of Johnson County, has stressed the value her six years on the school board would bring with so many new members.


She said it’s exciting to have some fresh perspectives on the board, but her experience will be important “for continuity and as we’re getting through the next couple of years.”


Turnout was 5.95 percent, according to preliminary unofficial results from the Johnson County Auditor’s Office. That’s actually an above average turnout rate compared with board elections the past decade.

29 All-State Performers at CR Wash

29 performing arts students from Cedar Rapids Washington were selected for the 2011 All-State Music Festival.  Each year, the Iowa High School Music Association organizes the All-State Music Festival as part of their mission to recognize outstanding musicians and stimulate student-performers to their greatest possible potential.  The 2011 All-State Music Festival Concert will be held 7:30 pm, November 19, 2011 at the Hilton Coliseum.  Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the concert will be shown by IPTV on November 24, 2011 and November 27, 2011.

Washington has a long-standing traditional of significant participation in the All-State festival and this year was no exception.  Months of very detailed and deliberate practice go into each student-performers audition preparation, including All-State workshops and focused private instruction from area professionals including Washingtons band directors (Jim Miller and Brett Messenger), vocal directors (Peter Westphalen and Ryan Deignan), and orchestra director (Natalie Brown).  All-State auditions are held in multiple locations across the state and the eastern Iowa auditions were held October 22, 2011 at West Delaware High School in Manchester.


Below are the 2011 All-State musicians from Cedar Rapids Washington (note: * denotes student is a multi-year All-State musician).


Benjamin Garner-Prouty, viola
Evan Hataway, bass
* Anna Wolle, violin
* Katharine Bergman, alto
* Ian Butler, tenor
* Drake Hickok, tenor
Rob Hogg, bass
Hannah Lodge, soprano (alternate)
Rina Moore, alto
* Anna Noreuil, soprano
Nikki Stewart, soprano
Nick Paoli, bass
Connor Zuber, bass
* Emily Arkenberg, bassoon
Katharine Benya, flute
* Nathan Benya, percussion (alternate)
* Eric Carson, French horn
* Sarah Beth Coleman, bass clarinet
* Kate Ernst, clarinet
Keith Hammer, percussion (alternate)
* Megan Hepker, clarinet
* Hannah Johnson, flute
Sarah Lodge, trumpet
Hunter Loushin, trombone (alternate)
Tiffany Parr, baritone saxophone
Micah Rambo, French horn
Will Roberts, trumpet
* Zoe Wolter, French horn
Tim Woodhouse, euphonium

More information on the Performing Arts at Washington High School is available at the Patrons of the Performing Arts.

Prairie G2 students share Two Months of Work at Exhibition Night

 15, Demonstrates her project showing elements of ancient Incan society that have been carried forward into life in Eastern Iowa to Renee Levi on Monday, Oct. 16, 2011, in Prairie High School’s study hall areas during the Global Generation Exhibition Night.

CEDAR RAPIDS High school student projects typically have a limited audience; usually just the teacher and the student.


Prairie High Schools Global Generation program wants to change that.


The 100-student school within a school for 10th graders had its first Exhibition Night on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. Students demonstrated the projects they worked on during the first part of the school year to parents and other members of the community while dressed in their finest.


The Global Generation program, which is in its first year, uses a curriculum model called project-based learning where the students spend most of their time working on projects with other students as opposed to traditional classroom activities such as lectures. The Prairie version is based on a similar one in the Muscatine school district and also takes inspiration from the High Tech High charter schools in San Diego, Calif.


The exhibition night is a huge component of the program, as students need to show the community the projects theyve been working on, said English teacher Nathan Pruett. Whether their projects are good or bad, they have to stand behind them in a public setting.


Many of them are presenting their academic work to adults for the first time, he said.


The projects themselves covered all of the different subject areas students are studying, but each has an added real world component.


Hannah Kapler, 16, took a picture of a cupboard in her familys house and traced the different shapes as part of her geometry project. She said the project helped her learn the different vocabulary associated with the subject.


Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, was the subject of Andrew Nabers history project. The 15-year-old interviewed a chemist as part of the project to get to know Nobels impact on the occupation.


Marquan Wilder, 16, studied ancient Greece and needed to find area landmarks that were heavily influenced by the Greeks, such as the Paramount Theatre and the Linn County Courthouse.


All three students said they were really enjoying their experience in the Global Generation program, also called G Squared.


In normal classes, we get lectures, but in G Squared, they just let you do it, said Wilder.


Im very nervous, but so far its been a lot of fun, said Naber. Ive been working with a lots of new people and making new friends.


Many of the parents in attendance were excited to see their students getting experience making a presentation in a public setting experience that may come in handy later on when they need to interview for a job.


Whats really intriguing to me is that they are being held accountable for their work, said parent Julie Willard. Theyre really coming out of their shell.

Highland High School Teachers Share Experience with the Marines

The following is an article submitted by Peggy Guetzko, a Spanish teacher at Highland High School in Riverside.

Guetzko and her colleague, English teacher Amy Stoltenberg, participated in the 2010 Marine Corps Educator Workshop from June 7 to June 11 in San Diego, Calif.


This is their experience, in their own words:


Highland High School teachers Amy Stoltenberg and Peggy Guetzko successfully joined the US Marine Corps for one week of training June 7 through June 11.


The two teachers traveled to San Diego, Calif., to the Marine Recruit Depot for a Teacher Educator Workshop. Eighty teachers, counselors, and principals from Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Nebraska participated in the workshop.

The purpose of the workshop is to develop an understanding of who the Marines are, the career and educational opportunities available to Marines and their families, and to experience some of the training that new recruits complete at boot camp.


Escorting the educators throughout the week were four Marines from the Midwest: Captain Randon Knoll, Executive Officer, Recruiting Station Des Moines Headquarters; Sergeant Joshua Benne, Recruiting Substation West Omaha; Sergeant Christopher Bruns, Recruiting Substation Lincoln; and Sergeant Jesse Ford, Recruiting Substation Cedar Falls.


A fifth Marine from Iowa, Sgt. Bryan A. Peterson, Recruiting Station Des Moines, organized and prepared the Iowa teachers, although he was unable to attend, due to the birth of his son during this time.


On the first day, Stoltenberg and Guetzko were a little nervous.


“We didn’t know what to expect and how much of the ‘real’ experience we would get,” Stoltenberg said.

The moment the two sat down on the bus, the drill instructors took over.


“There was a lot of yelling and we rode with our chins to our chest the entire drive to the Recruit Station. At that point in time, everyone was wondering what we had gotten ourselves into! And then of course, who would survive an entire week! Would we ever see our Highland students again?” explained Guetzko.


“We lined up on the yellow footprints and learned to move quickly. As we went through processing, I remember still hoping the hair cut was optional for teachers,” she added.


Then the teachers stood at attention and read a small yellow card. The card congratulated them for having completed the first two minutes of boot camp.  There was a huge collective sigh as the drill instructors laughed and then asked for questions.


The teachers experienced some of the training new recruits do. Everyone learned to make a formation and how to march. They learned that having the recruits yell or sing as while running increases lung capacity and endurance. The drill instructors explained the stages of the 12-week boot camp and the rigorous physical and mental demands placed on the new recruits.


The teachers continued with a class on Marine Corps martial arts and the bayonet assault course. There, Stoltenberg and Guetzko put on camouflage brown fatigues, helmet, Kevlar vest and grabbed an 8 pound AK16 with a plastic bayonet. Teachers ran the course in groups of four; crawling, jumping into pits, hitting the target, crossing a rope bridge, crawling more, running quickly, and hitting the final targets.


Career Marines spent time with the teachers as well. They explained the educational benefits that a Marine can receive all the college education wanted for up to ten years past an honorable discharge. What surprised most teachers, was that this benefit includes the spouse and children of the Marine.


An entire day was spent at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, the site for the movie “Top Gun.” The teachers examined static displays of aircraft, and talked with active-duty Marines. Later, they visited family housing, the base library, hangouts for Marines who live in the barracks, and the living quarters for single Marines. A brass quintet from the Marine Corps Band performed just for the teachers.


“The band teachers in our group were enthralled. The music was incredible,” Guetzko said.

The next day included travel to Camp Pendleton, 45 minutes north of San Diego, the site of the infamous Crucible.

The Crucible was the last test for new recruits. It was a tough 72-hour field training with a total of 48 miles of marching in the wilderness with minimal supplies. When recruits finished the Crucible, they earned their Marine pin of the globe, anchor, and eagle that declared them an official Marine. It was an emotional moment and everyone was very proud of the young Marines.


On the last day, teachers attended morning colors and had breakfast with the depots commanding general, Brigadier General Bailey. General Bailey clearly expressed his pride in the incoming recruits. He stressed that 92 percent of new recruits were high school graduates. The General expressed the importance of not only the physical and mental challenges, but the importance of moral training.


“Doing what is right is not always easy, and our new Marines have to walk a lonely road at times,” he said.

During the graduation ceremonies, the General also emphasized the concept of the Marines as family.

“Not only the new recruits, but you, as their families, have also joined the Marines” he said. “The few, the proud, the Marines. That’s you as well.”


Stoltenberg and Guetzko will return to their fall classes at Highland High School with a new concept of the diverse opportunities and experiences that Marines can offer recruits.


“We won’t use the same teaching techniques no one can yell that much except a drill instructor!” Guetzko said. “But we teach many of the same concepts; education is important, responsibility, pride in your work and more.”

“We plan to share this information with our colleagues and with our Highland students,” Stoltenberg added. “It was a very awesome experience.”

Waterloo Public Schools Survive Perhaps Final Dress Code Challenge

WATERLOO- The ongoing flap in Waterloo schools over a dress code policy for students may have finally come to an end.

On Thursday, an administrative law judge affirmed the revised dress code drafted by the Waterloo Community Schools.  The judge said the district had created a policy that complied with state code.

The decision by Judge Carol Greta goes against two Waterloo parents, Ricki and Teesha Peters, who challenged the rule on behalf of their school-aged children.  The Waterloo School Board first tried to adopted a policy that limited school dress to just certain types of clothing in 2010.  The Peters challenged successfully then in arguing that dress code violated state rules.  Waterloo schools revamped the rule to outline what students couldn’t wear instead of what students must wear later that year.  That revised dress code survived the challenge of a hearing last June.


One Waterloo parent applauded the decision.  Krista Dreyer said “I love it, I absolutely love it.  It saves a ton of time in the morning—what to wear, what not to wear.  It’s much easier for them (students).”


Mike Young, president of the Waterloo School Board, said the decision Thursday should end a source of friction both for the district and parents.  Young said “we’re very hopeful we can all move forward now—removing the distractions that have been in  place.  After all, one of the reasons behind the dress code was to remove the distractions from our classrooms.”


The Waterloo dress code policy is aimed that outlawing certain colors and patterns of clothing that have a gang connection.  It also describes clothing that might be considered inappropriate or too overtly sexual.


Teesha Peters, one of the parents who challenged the dress code, said those who still oppose the rules will have to decide what to do now.  One way to challenge might be to file on behalf of a student who was disciplined for a dress code violation.  The administrative judge noted that none of the Peters children had run afoul of the dress code rules. Baring any new appeal, the State Board of Education is expected to approve Waterloo’s dress rules in a final version on September 15th.


About half of Waterloo’s public schools began using the revised dress code standards last year.  The remainder began using it in this school year that is just a week old.

Special Needs Troop Joins in Centennial Boy Scouts Celebration

CENTRAL CITY — Elliott Hodgson,17, has trouble coming up with one favorite thing he likes best about being in the Boy Scouts.

Canoeing. Swimming at the Y. Eating, Hodgson said, going through the list of his favorite scout activities. Everything. I like everything.


Hodgson is a member of Cedar Rapids Boy Scouts Troop 2, which has a special focus on children with special needs. Many of the boys in the troop have autism or posses mental disabilities of some kind.


The troop began last fall by a group of parents who felt a regular Boy Scouts troop might not be the best fit for their sons. But Scoutmaster Lloyd Plume is quick to point out that he sees no difference between Troop 2 and other local groups, proclaiming their motto to be Second to none.


These boys are trusted and expected to perform the same tasks regular Boy Scouts are, Plume said. It’s maybe just a bit different techniques.


The boys were among many of the Eastern Iowa troops at the Howard H. Cherry Scout Reservation in Central City on Saturday for the Council Camporee celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. More than 1,400 scouts from the Hawkeye Area Council and their families came out for the days activities, with many staying for an overnight camping trip.


Activities at the Camporee ranged from traditional scout pursuits, such as archery, to more recent additions, such as Guitar Hero and a realistic flight simulator. Plume said the boys were looking forward to doing some fishing, using BB guns and watching the balloon glow, providing the weather cooperated.


Hodgson joined the troop last spring when Plume spotted him during a Special Olympics practice at the YMCA and invited him to join. Hodgsons family moved to Cedar Rapids from Maryland in the last three years, and being in the group has really helped him grow socially, according to his mother, Maggie Hodgson.


Scouts has given him the opportunity to make friends, she said. He hangs out and plays video games with them, its really been great.


Cindy Zenk said the troop has become the highlight of the week for her son, 16-year-old Zachary.

As soon as Tuesday rolls around, he knows right away and says Tuesday, going to Scouts, she said. Hes doing it his way.


There are about four dedicated members in the troop right now, but the group is hoping to recruit more for its first full year of operation. The troop has an open house Tuesday, Sept. 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church in Cedar Rapids, which is the groups sponsoring organization.


Were trying to grow it, Zenk said. We’re all learning how to get this off the ground and find something things that work for the kids.

Google film Crew to Visit Clear Creek Amana Middle School Students

Software company Google is sending a film crew to Clear Creek Amana Middle School to highlight the work of students in the schools Creek Squad.

The Creek Squad is a group of technologically-minded students who act as a first line of defense at the school in helping students, teachers and staff learn how to use technology.

Principal Brad Fox said he was contacted by Google representatives after the company learned of work the Creek Squad was doing to help students at College Community schools learn how to use Google Sites.

Representatives from Google will be visiting the school Thursday, March 10, 2011, along with a film crew to record the visit. Fox said he wasnt sure yet how the company was planning on using the video they record.

Ann Nicholson named 2011 Linn County Educator of the Year

A technology and curriculum integration facilitator at the Educational Service Center, has been named the 2011 Linn County Educator of the Year. She will be recognized at the Linn County Educator of the Year Awards on Tuesday, May 3.

Farmers State Bank sponsors the Linn County Educator of the Year Awards, which began in 1991. This year’s ceremony will take place on National Teacher’s Day, May 3, at the Kirkwood Continuing Education Center.


The reception will begin at 4:30 p.m. followed with the presentation at 5 p.m.

Nicholson is an educational leader and has brought the latest in technology and online learning to staff and students throughout Cedar Rapids for years.


The Cedar Rapids Education Association has awarded Iowa House of Representative Tyler Olson and Iowa Senator Rob Hogg the Friend of Education Award.


Other educators recognized at the ceremony will be teachers that earned their National Board Certification – John Pauly, Ann Timm, Traci Maxted, Richard Scearce, Mary Holubar, Marcia Andrews, Heather Adams, Bret Hoyer, Matt Miller, Chris LaFrenz, and Nanette Gunn.