2023 Spring Mid-Prairie Alumni Newsletter

Page 1

More Inside:

Alumni & Friends and Foundation Golf Tournament is Back!

Details p. 4


Alum Attends 2022

Olympic Games

Details p. 19-21

Showalter Publishes Leadership Book

Details p. 23

the Golden Hawks Spring 2023, Vol. 6, Issue 1

A Message from the Alumni President

Hello Alumni & Friends!

We are preparing for a great upcoming summer and fall full of activities, recognitions and fundraising for our alumni. The alumni award recipients will be recognized on June 17th at the Kalona Days celebration. We are looking forward to honoring our 2023 award recipients!

The Alumni & Friends and Foundation Golf Tournament is back this year. Check out page 4 of this issue for more information and the form to register for a team entry or business sponsorship. Team entry deadline is June 16th and business sponsorships are due June 2nd. It will be a great opportunity to enjoy a fun day of golf and support two important organizations that impact our Mid-Prairie community.

The work of our Alumni & Friends board members and the distribution of our biannual alumni newsletter is so important in keeping our Mid-Prairie alumni connected. However, we need your help to ensure this newsletter can keep going! Your membership dues and donations help to support the cost of our database software and the distribution of the newsletter. We truly appreciate your help in supporting the Alumni & Friends Association!

Thank you,


Mid-Prairie Community School District Board

Jeremy Pickard, president

Gabrielle Payne Frederick ‘98, vice president

Marianne Schlabach, member

Mary Allred, member

Denise Chittick, member

Jed Seward ‘05, member

Jake Snider, member

Brian Stone, superintendent

Jeff Swartzentruber, secretary

Mid-Prairie Foundation Board

Hayley Sieren Hershberger ‘11, president

Gerry Beeler, vice president

Junell Swantz Duwa ‘79, treasurer

Luann Miller, secretary

Phyllis Casper, scholarship secretary

Elisa Lyons, member

Katie Kemp Miller ‘01, member

Nicole Naraine, member

Doug Slaubaugh ‘63, member

Greg Gent ‘82, member

Jeremy Statler ‘90, member

Christian Swartzentruber ‘11, member

Mid-Prairie Alumni & Friends Association Board

Claudia Shaver Bishop ‘67, member

Pam Norman Green ‘68, member

Chris Yotty Brenneman ‘72, member

Nancy Reif Roth ‘89, member

Rebecca Frantz ‘17, secretary

Angie Young Goodwin ‘90, vice president

Sarah Griffith Huston ‘00, member

Kayla Duwa Wiles ‘09, member

Whitni Patterson ‘13, president

Madeline Stutzman ‘12, member

Taylor Weber, Editor & Communications

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023 2

Class Reunion Plans

Class of 1973

The class of 1973 will be celebrating their 50th reunion on Saturday, August 26th. The planning committee asks classmates to join the Facebook group, Mid-Prairie Class of 1973 / 50-Year Class Reunion 2023, to watch for updates. Contact Shirley Harland: harland@kctc.net.

Class of 1983

The class of 1983 will be celebrating their 40th reunion on Saturday, July 8th, at the Wollrabs’ pond. A catered meal and silent auction are planned. Contact Sue Wollrab: sue-wollrab@ uiowa.edu.

Class of 1988

The class of 1988 will be celebrating their 35th reunion this summer. They have golf planned on Friday, June 30th, at the Kalona Golf Course, then will be going to the Kalona Brewery that evening. On Saturday classmates will be golfing at the Blue Top Ridge Golf Course in Riverside, then gathering in the evening at the Riverside Casino. Contact John Wehr: wehrjohn@yahoo.com or 515-339-3260.

Class of 1998

The class of 1998 will be celebrating their 25th reunion on Sunday, July 2nd, at the Wellman Golf Course. Best Ball Golf will start at 1 p.m. Wood-fired brick oven pizza by Julia McNurlen will be available 5:30-7:30 p.m. Other sides provided. Contact Gabby Frederick by June 10th to register for golf and/or sign up for the meal: gabby7green@gmail.com.

Class of 2003

The class of 2003 will be celebrating their 20th reunion on Saturday, July 22nd. A family event will be held at the Wellman Skating Rink from 1-3 p.m. The adult event will be held from 5-9 p.m. at Tyler and Jenna Grout’s for socializing, games and a bonfire. Please bring a dish to share. Contact Hanna McDowell: thmcdowell5@gmail.com.

Class of 2008

The class of 2008 will be celebrating their 15th reunion on Saturday, July 15th. Classmates will be meeting at the Wellman Golf Course for rounds of golf and a potluck-style dinner. Contact Hannah Gent: hannahgent31@gmail.com.

Class of 2018

The class of 2018 will be celebrating their 5-year anniversary on Saturday, July 8th, at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City from 6-8 p.m. Contact Katie Palmer Reuman: kreuman@ mphawks.org.

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News
Don’t see your class on the reunion list? Check with your class representative for more information on possible reunion plans. Email alumni@ mphawks.org if you’re unsure who to contact for class reunion information.

Alumni Summer Schedule

The Mid-Prairie Alumni & Friends and Foundation 4-Person Best Shot Golf Tournament is back! The tournament will be held on June 23, 2023, with a 10:30 a.m. shotgun start. Team entry deadline is June 16th. Business sponsorships are available and due June 2nd.

The golf tournament is this year’s main fundraiser to help support the Alumni & Friends Association and the Foundation. Donations from tournament registrations and sponsorships help to support the alumni newsletter distribution, database software used by both the Alumni & Friends Association and the Foundation, educational opportunities within the district and scholarship opportunities for our Mid-Prairie students. We hope you’ll consider registering for a fun day of golf or participate through a sponsorship opportunity. Thank you for your support of these two very impactful Mid-Prairie organizations!

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023 4

Mid-Prairie Alumni Awards Achievement Award Cindy Malichky

Class of 1978

Cindy Malichky ‘78 remembers Principal Gilbert Christianson’s message to students on the first day of each school year, “This is your job!” Little did she know that Mid-Prairie would soon become her career. Board Secretary John McDowell hired her as his secretary. She started her first day as an employee on May 22, 1978, at 8:00 a.m. When she got off work that day at 4:00 p.m., she went to softball practice. Graduation was at 8:00 p.m. that night. Since that first day, she has never left Mid-Prairie. Malichky is this year’s alumni achievement award recipient.

When she was a senior, head girls track coach Phil Conaway asked her if she would type the results at the track meet. Soon that led to the same request from head boys track coach Dave Johnston. Malichky held this volunteer position from 1978-2019. There were no meets in 2020, and since 2021, Mid-Prairie has hired a timing service.

Malichky values knowing the skills she used to do her job before technology came along. Typing the results at the track meets began with an IBM Selectric II typewriter, purple masters and a razor blade for corrections. It progressed to a laptop using word processing, then a spreadsheet, and finally a track software program.

Payroll checks were handwritten when Malichky first started her employment at Mid-Prairie. That was one of her tasks, and she still has the stub of her very first check. Quarterly vendor reports were published in the newspaper. She regularly sorted check copies alphabetically on the large table in the very small board room next to the office.

Malichky’s office moved around. She first started at the high school, moved to Washington Town-

ship Elementary, and then back to Wellman to a chiropractor’s office situated on the south side of Highway 22, across the road from the high school. The plan was to remodel that building while employees had moved into a construction trailer, but plans changed due to mold issues. Offices were in the construction trailer for five and a half years until the current Central Office building next to the high school was built. She greatly enjoys her current office building and could not ask for better.

When thinking back to her time at Mid-Prairie, Malichky remembers a wonderful education.

Administrators, teachers, secretaries, associates, coaches, custodians, cooks and bus drivers all helped make Mid-Prairie special. She has not forgotten them and appreciated all of their support during those years. Taking all of the business classes, taught by Phil Conaway and Jane Miller, and math classes, taught by Bob Hall and Chuck Gustafson, offered in high school helped to prepare Malichky for her job today. Social studies teacher Ken Petrone was also her softball coach. She saw even more examples of how secretary Doris Fuhr helped students and staff when she became an employee. Junior high home economics teacher Lugenia Healey provided valuable guidance to Malichky with sewing. She still uses those skills today.

When Malichky started high school, she wanted to see how well she could do if she tried as hard as she could. She has continued with that mindset into her current career. She loves her job and enjoys helping the staff. She believes all staff have an impact on students and wants to help them be the best they can be. Her niece, Hayley Sieren Hershberger ‘11,

and nephew, Riley Sieren ‘14, both graduated from Mid-Prairie. Malichky attended many of their athletic events, and now has a great-nephew and great-niece here at MP. Their little brother will join them as a Mid-Prairie student in the future.

Volunteering to help others is a virtue that has been modeled to Malichky all her life, and she now strives to continue modeling the importance of volunteer work to those around her. Growing up on a farm, Malichky saw how hard her parents worked. She was an eight-year 4-H member and appreciated the efforts and help her leaders gave her. Her participation in 4-H activities included community service projects. She observed members of her church volunteering as she was growing up, and she now also volunteers at the church. She is a member of the Friends of the Kalona Public Library, and she enjoys helping with the book sales. Working at the Mid-Prairie track meets was a way for her to give back to the school community that supported her through her studies. It is clear to see in the community that giving back is something Malichky values and models for others.

Over the years, a fellow staff member gave Malichky a plaque as a gift. It sits on her desk today and says, “Work Hard & Be Kind.” She believes that the words of that phrase, along with giving back, are things to strive for.

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News

Mid-Prairie Alumni Awards Vocational Award Jeremy Statler Class of 1990

For Jeremy Statler ‘90, hard work and determination are qualities that were ingrained in him from a young age. His success in the construction business has been a direct result of many years dedicated to his vocation. Jeremy is the vocational alumni award recipient for 2023.

After graduating from Mid-Prairie in 1990 and earning his BBA at the University of Iowa in 1994, he moved to Los Angeles to be with his now wife, Kari, and was more than ready to enter the workforce. He began working for a general contractor in Los Angeles as a carpenter framing houses, but was quickly moved into the office that same afternoon thanks to his impressive work ethic.

While Jeremy gained great experience working in Los Angeles, his father, George Statler, was building his own construction business here in Iowa. As George’s business grew, he invited Jeremy to come home and work together. Jeremy and his wife returned to Iowa in 1997, when he went into business with his dad at Statler Construction.

Jeremy and his father had a great partnership as coworkers. George loved to be out on the jobs and working with the crew, so Jeremy took over the office side of the business. They completed many different jobs together, from light commercial to agricultural businesses, but their main business was, and continues to be, new home construction. Statler Construction has built over 400 homes in Southeast Iowa. Jeremy was blessed to work by his dad’s side for 11 years before tragically losing George to a car accident in 2008. Thanks to the strong foundation built by George, Jeremy and his wife Kari have been able to continue operating and growing the company.

Jeremy feels one of the greatest parts of his job is the opportunity to work with so many different people. The motto of Statler Construction is, “Taking the headaches out of construction,” and he works hard to make that happen with every home they build or project they take on. Most recently, Statler Construction participated in the Iowa City Parade of Homes in 2020 and 2022. He was awarded the Builders Excellence Award for the home category in both of those years. He always strives to build the best home possible for his customers, and he feels it is a huge honor to be recognized for excellence by his peers. During his time at Mid-Prairie, Jeremy remembers many great teachers. He feels his business class teachers were the most instrumental in his career, from Mrs. Fickel’s accounting and keyboarding classes to Mr. Conaway’s business classes. Jeremy loved his time at Mid-Prairie, and he is very thankful to be able to raise his own children in the district. Growing up, Jeremy’s strongest influencer was his dad. According to Jeremy, “He was the hardest working guy I ever knew. He never worked just a regular work week and always had multiple jobs going on to provide the best for our family.” When George started the construction company, he built a strong foundation on the belief that building as many homes as he could and accumulating many happy customers would lead to keeping the company busy if times ever got tough. The year after George’s accident, the economy took a turn for the worst, but the business was able to survive and remain successful, thanks to George’s strong foundation.

Living and working in a small town has motivated Jeremy to strive

for excellence on a regular basis, as he wants to ensure his reputation is of the highest caliber. At Statler Construction, they do everything possible to make sure customers are as happy with the business at the completion of a project as they were at the start. Jeremy has two sons, Caleb ‘17 and Elijah, who are also interested in construction, so he is constantly motivated to continue working hard to keep the business strong in case they might choose to join him in the future. His daughter, Abigail ‘19, is currently pursuing the agricultural sciences at Iowa State and will graduate in May. Jeremy has powerful advice when thinking about his keys to success. He advises, “We live in a world that strives for instant gratification, for ‘likes’ and for social approvals, but there is so much more to life than that. Don’t be afraid to dream and set your goals high. Surround yourself with those who lift you up and push you towards your dreams, not those who drag you down into their lack of them. Live life for you, not for what others think of you! If you are willing to work hard and fight for your dreams, the sky is truly the limit to where you can go.”

Jeremy coaches for the Golden Hawk Archery Club, and he believes in their motto, “Your attitude determines your direction.” Life is full of challenges, but he firmly believes that if you keep your faith strong and a smile on your face, you can overcome anything that’s thrown at you.

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023

Mid-Prairie Alumni Awards Service Award Mary Ellen Miller Class

of 1961

Mary Ellen Miller is a sixth/ seventh generation Iowan with a lifelong interest in sustainable land use, hale environments and healthy food. She has lived a life dedicated to service, inspiring others with her passion and commitment to a variety of organizations and interests. Miller is this year’s alumni service award winner.

Miller graduated eighth grade from the last Johnson County oneroom rural schoolhouse, attended Kalona High School for three years and was a member of Mid-Prairie’s first graduating class in 1961. She discovered the value of sustainable land conservation practices through her participation in 4-H. Passionate about conservation and sustainable land use, she purchased her first farm in Washington County in 1975, and for twenty years raised and custom-sold organic black angus beef, all while pursuing a professional career at the University of Iowa. In the 1980s, she and her brother started a perennial plant nursery business on her farm, which she helped manage for 20 years as it expanded its marketing into three states. She currently owns Rose Haven Farm in Wayne County, focused on developing nut and fruit orchards.

Miller has a long history of public engagement, serving on many local and state boards and commissions. She was appointed by Governor Terry Branstad, and confirmed by the Iowa Senate, to the Iowa State Board of Education in June of 2014, and during her six-year term represented the BOE on the Iowa Community College Council and served as co-chair of the Committee on Student Assessment. She previously served three terms as an elected Trustee of North Iowa Area Community College and was a candidate for the Iowa

House in 1992 and the Iowa Senate in 2002. She has worked as a volunteer on many local, state and national political campaigns. Miller retired in January of 2019 as Executive Director of the non-profit 50-50 in 2020, a tenyear, non-partisan effort to recruit and train Iowa women to run for state-level public offices.

She believes strongly that it is important for citizens to be engaged at all levels of the political process for our democracy to be maintained and preserved. Post college, she spent two years in Washington, D.C., part of the time working in an Iowa Congressional Representative’s office. She later clerked in the Iowa House of Representatives. Miller attributes her public service commitment to hearing Barbara Jordan’s statement, “The stakes … are too high for government to be a spectator sport.”

Miller has spent much of her time serving on various organization boards and in leadership positions. In November 2018, she was elected as Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner after serving for three years as an Assistant Commissioner. She currently serves as Wayne County Conservation Foundation Secretary/Treasurer, Conservation Districts of Iowa Board Alternate, Iowa Nut Growers Association President, Sustainable Iowa Land Trust Treasurer, League of Women Voters of Metro Des Moines Vice Chair, LWV Upper Mississippi River Region ILO Board Chair, National Nineteenth Amendment Society Advisory Council and is a member of many other environmentally focused organizations. Miller has also previously served in leadership positions for a number of public service organizations. While at the University of Iowa, she served on the school’s Human Rights Commit-

tee and Public Relations Committee, and she was active in her state and national professional organizations. After a thirty-year career in public health research and grant administration at the University of Iowa College of Medicine (in 1970 she became the first female department administrator at the age of 27), Miller worked professionally as a non-profit fund-raiser and organizational consultant. She has helped raise vast amounts of funds for projects surrounding the Mason City area and Iowa’s statewide 2020 19th Amendment Centennial Commemoration Project. Miller’s favorite leisure activities include gardening, reading, cooking and birding. She shares her farmstead with her feline housemates, Tommy, Tabitha and Tinker, along with innumerable outdoor wildlife who believe the farm gardens and orchards are their personal buffet.

Throughout life’s journey, Miller attributes her strong work ethic, love for the land and life-long passion for reading to her parents. She has learned many life lessons along the way and continues to be inspired by The Talmud, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justice, now. Love, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News
Miller appeared on Iowa Press in December 2019 to discuss efforts to elect more women to state offices.

Mid-Prairie Alumni Awards Community Impact Award Meg Peterseim Nagel

Class of 1987

A community relies heavily on its impactful people who support others in a variety of ways. The Mid-Prairie community thrives because of those within our community who dedicate their time and efforts toward helping others. One community member who has made a huge impact in supporting those within our Mid-Prairie community is Meg Peterseim Nagel ‘87. Nagel is the year’s alumni community impact award recipient.

From a very young age, Nagel began helping her parents in their family funeral home, originally named Peterseim Funeral Home and later Beatty & Peterseim Funeral & Monument Services. Her father, Harold “Short” Peterseim, taught her to embalm when she was in high school. After graduating from Mid-Prairie with the class of 1987, she studied for two years at the University of Iowa before continuing on to mortuary school at Worsham College of Mortuary Science. When she graduated from Worsham in 1992, Nagel returned to Kalona and became a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She continued her education and attained a degree in Psychology at the University of Iowa in 2000.

Over the course of her career, Nagel remembers some highlights that have made the years memorable. A favorite memory was a recognition she received when graduating from Worsham College of Mortuary Science. Upon graduation, she was given their alumni award because her grandfather, Rollin Peterseim, graduated from the college in 1915. Being the third generation of funeral directors in

the Peterseim family business has meant a lot to Nagel as she has continued her career.

Throughout the years, Nagel has enjoyed music as an important part of her life. Her life-long love of music was fostered by her wonderful Mid-Prairie music instructors, including David Rhodes, Dr. Louise Frakes, Becky Curtis, John Woodin and Bob Gaston. They all showed her the importance of music in her life through their own commitment to their students and passion for their work. She gratefully attributes the impact music has had on her career to the support and inspiration of these Mid-Prairie staff members. Her line of work can be stressful, and music is how she unwinds and relaxes.

Nagel’s career is her way of making a positive impact in the Mid-Prairie community. She wants to support grieving families the best that she can. When she’s helping them make final arrangements and say goodbye to their loved ones, she tries to remember how she felt when she lost her own father and what she needed at that time. Nagel’s hope is to ease someone’s burden, even a little, as they go through one of their most difficult life experiences.

Nagel’s impact on our community has not been by accident. The way she conducts her family business and supports the community is intentional. She always tries to treat people with dignity and respect, and her goal each day, especially on the difficult days, is to help at least one person.

In reaching where she’s at today, Nagel is thankful for the

strong influence of her parents while growing up. Her parents, “Short” and Jan Peterseim, taught her the importance of community as they worked tirelessly to help make Kalona a place people wanted to visit and live. They also taught her the importance of helping others and always being available when needed, even when that requires personal sacrifices. With their mentorship, it’s no wonder that Nagel has continued to portray this same influence and support to her community.

The Mid-Prairie community is lucky to have such kind and helpful support through Nagel’s generations-long family business. She has touched the lives of many in our community, and she continues to contribute to making this one of the best places to live.

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023
Meg with children Warren (18), Sydney (26) and Charlotte (9).

Mid-Prairie Alumni Awards Athletic Award DaveClassSchlabaugh of 1980

Dave Schlabaugh ’80 has a strong passion for coaching basketball and has enjoyed success in a variety of coaching positions at both the high school and collegiate levels. His dedication, time and focus have led him to achieve all that he has so far. Dave is this year’s alumni athletic award recipient.

Dave is currently the head mens’ basketball coach at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon. He took over the program in 2017 and steadily elevated the program to consistent conference contenders. Dave enjoys the challenge of recruiting the best student-athletes to fit the Cornell culture, consistently building a culture that promotes both academic and athletic success and working to develop each athlete to be successful within the team framework. He enjoys working with and having an impact on each of his 28 players, which include both varsity and junior varsity players. During his first six years at Cornell College, the Rams earned the following honors:

* Their first Midwest Conference Title in 29 years (2021-22).

* Second most season wins in Cornell history (2021-22).

* Third team in 29 years to qualify for the NCAA DIII National Tournament.

* Several statistical records broken in the last two years, both by individual players and as a team.

Before moving to the Cornell position, Dave coached at Williamsburg High School for seven years in a very competitive WaMaC conference. He compiled a 106-60 record, going 24-3 his final season and finishing 4th in the state tournament. During his seven years at Williamsburg, his team won the WaMaC

conference championship twice, and he was selected as coach of the year twice. Schlabaugh was also Class 3A District Coach of the Year in 2015.

Prior to coaching at Williamsburg, Dave had coaching stints at Mid-Prairie (assistant boys basketball coach 1984-88 & 200308, where he was recognized Iowa Basketball Coaches AssociationAssistant Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2007), Iowa Lakes Community College (assistant coach 1988-90) and Morningside College (assistant coach 1990-96, and his 1995 team qualified for the Elite 8 in NCAA Division II).

Dave currently works with Snow Valley, a summer basketball camp, as a Camp Director. The camp runs for four weeks for both boys and girls in grades 6-12. Last summer the camp was attended by 1,550 campers.

He is also currently working with USA Basketball, and he has spoken at the USA Basketball Coaches Academy on three occasions in three different states. Dave has been a coach and speaker at the USA Basketball Gold Camp in Omaha, as well as a coach at a USA Basketball Camp in Houston. He enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with outstanding clinicians at these events and bring new ideas back to Cornell.

In reflecting on the influence of his high school experience, Dave remembers tremendous community support and an emphasis on athletic

success while receiving a quality, well rounded education. He remembers the basketball culture that Cal Hickman had established. The most influential person and mentor for his basketball journey is Don Showalter ‘70. Whether it was through teaching, advising, observing or providing opportunities, Showalter has been an amazing friend, colleague and mentor. “I would not be where I am today without his influence and support.” Dave’s favorite quote is from John Woodin, “Just try to be the best you can be; never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.”

Dave and his family currently live in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. His wife, Julie, works as a nurse. His oldest daughter, Lindsay, just received her PhD and works as a nurse practitioner. His son, Zach, played college basketball at Coe College and now works as an assistant on Dave’s staff at Cornell. His younger daughter, Carly, works as a traveling nurse. His youngest son, Gabe, worked with the team as manager last season. Dave has surely built a strong reputation over the years thanks to his hard work and dedication in the sport of basketball.

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News

Mid-Prairie Alumni Awards Fine Arts Award Collette Conway McClellen

Class of 1997

From a young age, the Fine Arts have been a big part of life for Collette Conway McClellen ‘97. Growing up, she was a member of her church choir, remembers singing at home with her mother playing the piano, participated in the STP Music program, was active in both band and choir programs and participated in all of the fine arts activities she could through high school. As she continues her music teaching career at Mid-Prairie High School, McClellen has built quite a resume of awards and experiences. She is this year’s alumni fine arts award recipient.

As a high school student, McClellen also participated in other groups outside of Mid-Prairie. She was a member of the Nite Express Drum and Bugle Corps and the Iowa State Fair Singers and Jazz Band. Performing with these two groups taught her responsibility, independence and perseverance. She also studied abroad in London while in college, experiencing a variety of cultures with her opportunity to visit other countries with a train ride. These early opportunities helped prepare her for her future professional journey.

McClellen has many career highlights to be proud of. She was the Iowa Choral Directors Association representative chair for the Southeast District for five years. In the 2022-23 school year, she was nominated and selected as the Southeast District award recipient for the Inaugural Honors Initiative through Iowa Choral Directors Association. In 2019, she was asked to be the OPUS Director for the 7th/8th Grade Treble Chorus. McClellen continues to perform and currently participates in the Vocal Artists of Iowa, of which she was a founding member. Being able to sing

and perform is extremely important to her. She believes it makes her a better director, as she gets to remember what it’s like to be in an ensemble.

At Mid-Prairie, McClellen loves to challenge herself and her students to make improvements in some way every year. Even though she is in her 21st year of teaching, she continues to make notes to herself after each event of possible improvements she could make. She tries to foster these same lifelong learning skills for her own students. May is a special month in the school year for her, as it brings Senior Recitals. To McClellen, it is such a joy to watch students put together all of their music and learning from their four years of high school into a cumulative event.

During her time as a Mid-Prairie student, McClellen found inspiration in her music teachers. Dr. Louise Frakes taught at MP for 30 years, and McClellen remembers her evident passion for music and high expectations for her students. Dr. Frakes had a firm belief that every child has the innate ability to sing, and a teacher’s job is to help bring out that ability. McClellen also enjoyed time with Becky Curtis during her junior high band years and remembers Curtis’ encouraging, upbeat attitude and belief in the power of positivity. In high school, McClellen enjoyed Jazz Band, Rock 101, Marching Band and Pep Band with Craig McClenahan.

When identifying her motivation to strive for excellence, McClellen immediately points to her students. She loves to see them excited for an upcoming performance, working hard while practicing for a contest and sharing their ideas about how to improve. While she strives for her best on a daily basis, her success has

taken a lot of hard work and dedicated time. McClellen believes the key to success is communication, and remembers a bit of wisdom from her father, “Consistency is key.” She strives regularly to incorporate these beliefs into her daily work.

Great mentors to McClellen growing up are her parents, John and Cathy Conway. They always were, and still are, her biggest cheerleaders. Their work ethic, moral compass and love of life are qualities she aspires to emulate. A quote she heard often from her father while growing up was, “You get what you expect.” That wisdom has influenced her teaching throughout the years. She expects her students to work hard, make meaningful contributions, be helpful and learn, which leads to her students striving for their best while learning to expect the same from each other as well.

McClellen wants to thank the amazing Mid-Prairie community for their extra support over the past year, as being diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2022 wasn’t how she wanted to end the school year. Since then, she has gone through six rounds of chemotherapy, a major surgery with another yet to come and 28 sessions of radiation. The students have all been very flexible and understanding, and she thanks her students and community members from the bottom of her heart for their support.

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023

No “Shopping” Was Necessary

Jerry and Pam Nelson “Added Up” to a Winning “Team”!

“Some 47 years ago a family bought a bungalow in Wellman near downtown on 4th – facing south, back to the north. “Nelson” was this family’s name – nothing that implied acclaim. Little did folks know back then, a legacy had just begun! Their story is retold below. Read it! Your hearts will overflow with love, respect, and mem’ries dear! They’ve giv’n so much year after year!”

Sports have always been a big part of my life. In high school I was in football, basketball, track, baseball and fast pitch softball. Dr. Tom Davis was the varsity basketball coach at a school in our athletic conference. When I made the All-Conference Basketball Team my senior year, Tom recommended that his alma mater, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, basketball coach recruit me, which he did. I had already decided I wanted a career that included coaching, but back then one had to be a teacher to coach. UW Platteville had an outstanding Industrial Education program, so that became my major with a minor in PE and coaching. A few years later, I earned my MA in Industrial Education from Northern Illinois University.

After graduating from Platteville in 1966, I began my teaching/ coaching career in Byron, Illinois, where I met Pam. We were married that spring of 1967. Our first 10 years of marriage were spent in Illinois, and I even got to teach and coach a few years in my hometown, Oregon, with teachers and coaches I had had as a student.

Then in 1976, Illinois was in big trouble financially. Schools were forced to make deep cuts, especially in elective courses, and my position was eliminated. This

was pretty scary, as we had four daughters by then, and Pam was staying home with them. I was the sole breadwinner. I interviewed at two Iowa schools, and Mid-Prairie was the clear choice. So our family moved to Wellman, and I taught woodworking and PE at the junior high in Kalona. Through the years, I coached football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ track, baseball and softball, with usually three sports in a given school year. That’s A LOT of bus rides!

When we retired in 2003, I had taught 37 years – 27 of them at Mid-Prairie. A good church friend helped me add a woodworking shop onto our house, where I have spent many happy hours these past 20 years, making over 1,200 projects and counting. I like golfing in the summer and have gotten two holes-in-one -- so far! At almost 81, I am the oldest golfer in the Wellman League among many former students – an interesting and rewarding


I work out nearly every day at our YMCA and have taken several fitness classes where the instructor challenged us out of our comfort zones. I also play basketball and shoot free throws at the “Y”, but my old record of 54 consecutive free throws in the MPJH gym still stands! I hope as a teacher and coach that I have affected my students and athletes in a positive way. When I look back on my past, I get a smile on my face, and Mid-Prairie is a big part of that smile. Having worked in several school districts, Mid-Prairie was, hands down, my favorite. GO HAWKS!

I graduated from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, in 1966 and started teaching math and science in Byron, Illinois. Jerry and I met at our very first teachers’ meeting and married 7 months later! The next school year, I was pregnant with our first child and decided I would take

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News 11
Compiled and composed by Becky Curtis Pam Jerry Nelson taught junior high / middle school industrial arts at Mid-Prairie from 1976 - 2003.

a break from teaching to stay home with our baby. Annabeth was born that summer of 1968, and three more daughters arrived in the next few years – Chloe, Nia, and Nicole.

for me is our 25th Anniversary. We walked into a daytime band concert to find a “Happy Anniversary” banner clear across the gym wall. Our dear friend and band teacher, Becky Curtis, had the bands play “Shop Class” for Jerry and “Ode to a Computer” for me! She also had the staff sign a lovely Silver Anniversary book for us.

Colleague Memories of the Nelsons

Ray Schrepfer (MP Junior High Principal 1965-1997)

We moved to Wellman in 1976, and I eased back into teaching at Mid-Prairie by subbing and teaching computer literacy classes to community adults, Mid-Prairie staff, elementary and junior high students. In the 90’s, I returned to teaching junior high math full time until our retirement in 2003.

As a teacher, I loved that every day was different and that one is constantly learning from both peers and students. I value the friendships made at Mid-Prairie, where I always felt a church influence from our community. All of my Mid-Prairie coworkers kept my job very enjoyable, but if I were to name two who stood out, they would be Ray Schrepfer (junior high principal 1965-1997) and Joyce Mattes (junior high secretary 1985-2010). They were exceptional leaders who provided guidance, kept us organized and made our jobs easy!

Some of my happiest memories include going to work with my husband every day and stepping out of my math room between classes to see him wave to me from his shop door at the opposite end of the l-o-n-g hallway. Once he sent a group of girls down to sing me a song he knew I would love – what a fun special delivery! I always enjoyed it when students came in to talk, discuss a problem, share a joy or just get some extra math help. An outstanding memory

One of our most difficult times was the year Jerry’s parents died right at the start of the school year. The beginning of school can be chaotic, so it’s important to be organized and set the tone and expectations for the year. I was blessed to have a recently retired friend and math teacher, Dick Oyer, step in and take over my classes requiring little input from me! (Sadly, Dick recently passed away February 19, 2023, at the age of 91 -- see obituary on page 26.)

My interests outside of teaching have included church choir directing for 30-ish years, church organist, gardening, computer projects, swimming, puzzles, walking, poetry, arts and crafts, and word and number games.

Jerry started at Mid-Prairie when Title IX was first implemented, requiring equal opportunities for girls and boys in the classroom and in sports. With that, Jerry had ample opportunities to coach and taught industrial arts to both girls and boys. I’ll bet there are many of his students who still have a shop project on a wall or sitting in their home! Pam re-entered the teaching scene just as computers were being introduced into schools. She was instrumental in researching, developing and teaching basic computer classes to junior high students. She was the advisor for the junior high newspaper, “The Hawk’s Eye”, and also taught math. The Nelsons were dedicated educators and great role models. I feel very fortunate to have associated and worked with them!

Joyce Mattes (MP Junior High/ Middle School Secretary 19852010)

I loved teaching and would probably do it all over again! I am well aware that it is tougher now, but it is still a fulfilling career that I would highly recommend. I will always be thankful that Illinois’ financial problems pushed us into Iowa, specifically the Mid-Prairie school district. That move blessed us with good jobs in a good school district, good friends, good church and a great place to raise our family!

Jerry and Pam were such a fun couple to work with; always smiling, kind to everyone and bringing positive vibes to the building! Jerry was the neatest, cleanest shop teacher I’ve ever seen. He took pride in his classroom and work area. His students built amazing wood projects as he taught them skills and safety with so much patience. I was the recipient of many of Jerry’s personal projects, which I have proudly displayed in my home! Pam was the computer teacher in the 80’s and taught me word processing, Excel and all the keyboard shortcuts on my Apple II. She put in hours of extra time to teach all of us with her knowledge, expertise and patience!

Nancy Hurd (MP Middle School Principal 2000-2013)

Jerry and I had an instant bond due to our previous basketball coaching

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023 12
Pam Nelson taught computer literacy classes before returning to teach junior high / middle school math from 1985 - 2003. Left to Right: Annabeth, Chloe, Pam, Jerry, Nicole & Nia

experiences. He and I shared stories and enjoyed each other’s perspectives! My favorite memory of Pam is how comfortable and competent she was with emerging technology in our school, all the while being one of the more veteran teachers on staff. She tackled many in house problems and was always gracious when helping others!

Gary Curtis (MP Junior High/ Middle School Counselor and Girls’ Track Coach 1978-2006)

Jerry is one of few industrial arts teachers with all his fingers! He is also very proud that none of his students ever got injured while using machines in his shop. He audio taped many of his lessons on safety to save his voice and to be sure he never left out an important step when teaching several classes in a row. Some of my favorite JH track coaching years were when we teamed up to coach boys (Jerry) and girls (me). Pam was the first junior high teacher who saw the need for computer education. With Ray Schrepfer’s support, she educated herself on computers and was willing and eager to teach both students and faculty to use them!

Becky Curtis (MP Junior High/ Middle School Band and STP Music Instructor 1978-2009)

Jerry and Pam believed in the importance of educating the “whole child”! They willingly excused students from their classes for Future Problem

Solving, music lessons, Math Counts, Knowledge Master Open, “away” sports events and Fall Festival without making the kids or sponsors feel guilty.

During my first 20 years at MPJH, band and choir shared one music room. This meant I sometimes had to give lessons in the hall, with no door to close off to the art or shop rooms. Instead of complaining about the squeaky clarinets or blaring trumpets, Jerry would ask me if his saws were too loud! I’ll never forget the time Pam helped me type my first concert program on a computer. I canceled

my afternoon lessons, and she set me up on one of the few computers in the building in an office near her math room. She kept running in and out to show me little tricks, answer my questions and give an encouraging smile or remark. I doubt much math was taught that day! But she must have felt it was worth it not to have to type my programs anymore!

Tom Gingerich (Wellman Elementary/MPMS 6th Grade Teacher 1976-2006)

I taught all the Nelson girls. They were exceptional students, and it was very clear they were raised by wonderful parents! Jerry and Pam were always friendly, outgoing and upbeat. They both gave a lot to the district and the entire community. Jerry and I discovered early on that we had both graduated from UW Platteville, which gave us talking points about common classes and professors. I especially enjoyed the “Male Chauvinist PigOuts” to the Amana Colonies that Jerry rarely missed. They were unforgettable bonding opportunities, and we shared hilarious career stories!

Phil Conaway (MP Junior High/ Middle School/High School Business Education Teacher 1974-2005)

The excellence Jerry and Pam brought to the Mid-Prairie District is commendable. The 27 years they spent at MP shows the employee satisfaction they felt with administration and the confidence they had in faculty to provide a fine education for their daughters. Jerry was a good PE teacher and often taught by example. One of his best lessons was unplanned and came at a high cost. Jerry arrived a little late to an afterschool pickle ball game with friends and didn’t have time to warm up properly. As a result, he severely pulled a hamstring that caused him extreme pain and required a lengthy period of rehab. He shared this with his PE classes – what a great lesson for students who are reluctant to warm up properly! On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed Jerry’s competitive nature. He and I competed in 1 on 1

basketball games at the “Y”. Being less than 5’10”, he has an awesome baby hook shot that would be the envy of 7’ tall players! Even ping pong games were intense – they were hard fought, and I felt good if I could win 1 out of 5. Jerry and I seem to have a similar philosophy: “If you have something that is important to you, don’t settle for mediocrity when excellence is still an option.” But Jerry can, admirably, also “turn off” his competitive nature and just enjoy the fun of teaching and playing games with his grandchildren or non-athletic friends!

Craig Shellady (MP Junior High/ Middle School/High School Art Teacher 1973-2005)

Jerry was a wonderful colleague! We had a unique relationship being “neighbors” down in the arts wing of the junior high. I always admired his quiet, gentle discipline, his commitment to safety and the way he taught his students to spend time organizing and planning out their projects before beginning. Jerry modeled respect for all, which resulted in colleagues and students respecting him in return. He willingly shared some of his tools with me from time to time, and I shared some of my art supplies with him. We worked together on several projects over the years, the most meaningful of which was the stained glass hawk that still hangs in the JH/MS cafeteria. I designed the glass picture, and Jerry designed the beautiful lighted wood frame in memory of Ruth Hitchings -- beloved MPJH math teacher who died of liver cancer in the middle of a school year. A few of our most devoted 9th grade students helped us complete it as a way of working through their grief while creating a lasting memorial for their teacher. Sadly, another dear colleague, Richard “Tony” Hancock, died suddenly a few years later. Since he and Ruth shared the same initials, R.H, those of us from that era think of the hawk memorial as a tribute to both of them. On a personal note, Jerry made cute little step stools for our first three grandchildren that they still have 20+ years later!

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News 13

Student Memories of the Nelsons

The Nelson Girls - Annabeth (Bonnesen) ‘86, Chloe (Yoder) ‘88, Nia (Schulte) ‘89 & Nicole (Wilson) ’93

We lived the “dream”, having our parents for teachers in JH! Seriously though, although we did get a little grief, it was mostly a positive experience. Our parents were well liked and respected as teachers. We remember Dad’s dedication in the gym every morning working on free throws with the basketball boys, his motivational quotes in gym class (“You’re a champ, not a chump!”) and of course, his very strong commitment to safety in his shop. In addition to teaching math, Mom was one of the early pioneers into the “new world” of computers at Mid-Prairie, and she loved being on the cutting edge of the “new frontier”. She had a huge heart for her students and many seemed to be drawn to her for help or advice. Dad and Mom were both champions at encouraging students and building them up! The hundreds of students and athletes over the decades had a great impact on Dad and Mom as well. Still today they are thrilled when they run into a former student. We were blessed to grow up in this community and to have “Mr. and Mrs. Nelson” as “Mom and Dad”!


Peterseim Nagel ‘87

I remember Mr. Nelson in shop class – he was the most encouraging teacher ever. He never seemed to get too worked up about anything, and I’m sure there was LOTS to get worked up about with a bunch of pre-teen kids using power tools! To this day when I see him, he remembers or introduces me as “one of his finest students”, although I’m pretty

sure I was one of the worst at building things from wood. The two of them together were the perfect dream team!


Curtis Iverson ‘02

Jerry and Pam have always been warm and welcoming! I can’t recall a time I ever saw them without smiles. They were caring teachers who clearly put all of themselves into their students’ safety and success.

Friend Memories of the Nelsons

Gary and Becky CurtisMPJH Friends

When we moved to Wellman in 1978, we got “hooked” on the Nelsons the first evening they invited us down for a simple soup supper and to watch the Muppets, eat popcorn and play board games! Pam and her girls gave a baby shower for our first daughter, Tiffany Curtis Strande ‘99, so the junior high female staff could meet her. Pam always decorated cute birthday cakes for her girls and got Becky doing it – we’ve both continued making cakes for our “grands”! We used to get together for DIY banana splits the night before the first day of school each fall. When Pam and Becky were “track widows”, we would load all our daughters in one of our vans with a picnic supper and drive to away meets to cheer on our husbands’ junior high boys and girls track teams. (Mid-Prairie only had a grass track at the junior high and a cinder track at the high school back then, so all meets were away.) Through the years, we have enjoyed countless fun times together – swimming, go-carting, carpetball, hot dogs & s’mores, golf, concerts, plays, July 4ths, a Branson trip, exchanging plants/flowers/garden produce and fishing! Jerry especially loves to tell about the time he and

Gary went fishing in Jerry’s canoe on the English River, and Gary fell in. We have remained good friends with Jerry, Pam and their four girls to this day – still exchanging Christmas letters and poems!

Carol Hulseberg - Asbury Methodist Church Friend

Jerry – CUBS fan extraordinaire; competitive – will not “let” anyone win; fair – treats everyone the same; life is an open book – tells funny, embarrassing tales about himself; builder and giver of beautiful wooden projects; children’s sermons – children and adults engaged and listening raptly; child at heart – children are drawn to him; loves all sports – still plays basketball most Saturday mornings at the “Y”! Pam – Christmas poems; draws and paints; church choir director – created a lovely choir out of a “mishmash” of people and talent; plays organ or piano when regular accompanist is absent; leads songs using a microphone; organizes annual programs for Garden Club and Friendly Circle; good cook – shares recipes; grows and shares beautiful flowers and vegetables; animal lover – feeds birds, adopted a stray cat, “Miss Kitty”, and “dog-sits” for her daughters! Both together – loving parents and grandparents; take fun, amazing trips; reliable – if they agree to do something it will be done well and on time; act out stories for Vacation Bible School; friendly and kind – everyone is truly a child of God in their eyes; genuine – no false pretenses; gracious hosts – invite others over for meals, cookies, coffee, tea; best friends – play games with each other and collaborate on projects – including the Little Church Library outside Asbury Methodist in Wellman – Jerry constructed it and Pam painted a representation of Asbury’s large stained glass window on the little church!

“Now you know from A to Z the Nelsons’ lasting legacy!

Jer coached and taught PE and shop; Pam introduced Apple desktops! Kids published Hawk’s Eye student news & learned math facts with Pam’s ‘how tos’!

Jerry golfs and visits the “Y”; Pam walks and gardens, age to defy!

They do projects and serve their church, and help folks who are ‘in the lurch’!

They’ve done so much for Mid-Prairie, their church, and their community! From former students they’d love to hear, whether you live far or near!”

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023 14

Mid-Prairie FFA Celebrates 75th Anniversary Year

Future Farmers of America or FFA has a long history, dating back to 1928, that has built it into the strong, student-centered organization it is today. This organization nationally consists of high school students and graduate members, and it strives to develop students for leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Through their participation in FFA, students learn how to speak in public, conduct and take part in meetings, handle financial matters, solve problems and assume civic responsibility.

The Iowa FFA organization dates back to 1929 and continues on today. During the 2022-2023 school year, the Mid-Prairie FFA chapter celebrated its 75th anniversary year. The Wellman FFA chapter first began on October 24, 1947, and was later merged into the current Mid-Prairie FFA chapter that continues to foster students’ growth and success. Elsa Schmidt, current Mid-Prairie High School Agricultural teacher, has been the Mid-Prairie FFA Advisor since July 1, 1999. This year the Mid-Prairie chapter consists of 64 members and 10 graduate members. Many members continue to utilize their agricultural learning well into their future careers. There are a large number of former Mid-Prairie FFA members who are currently teaching agriculture at various levels. For example, Brad Kinsinger ‘01 is currently the Dean of the College of Agriculture at Kirkwood, Renee Schrock Thompson ‘04 is currently teaching for West Branch, Alyssa Foster Amelon ‘09 is currently teaching for Clear Creek Amana and Noah Altenhofen ‘16 is currently teaching for Central Lee. At Mid-Prairie, students can begin their FFA memberships as a freshman in high school. During their participation with FFA at Mid-Prairie, members have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities. Students can take part in community service activities, such as helping to place flags at the Kalona and Wellman cemeteries, providing help with cleanup day in West Chester and roadside cleanup near the high school. Members can attend a variety of leadership events including State and National FFA Conventions, Ignite, Amplify and Transform Conferences and Legislative Symposium. They have the opportunity to exhibit a variety of projects at Washington and Johnson County Fairs, as well as the Iowa State Fair. Students have the opportunity to participate in leadership and career development events to improve their speaking skills, as well as learn about a wide variety of career areas in agriculture. The Mid-Prairie FFA chapter also participates

in a major initiative to promote agricultural literacy to elementary and middle school students.

State FFA Officers are elected annually at the State FFA Convention. State Officers are elected for a one-year term and have the opportunity to serve as President, Secretary, Reporter or Vice President. Members elected to Vice President of their district also serve as District President and lead a team of District Officers. Serving in a state officer position is a great honor and responsibility. These leaders are provided opportunities to influence, impact and serve FFA members, advisors, teachers and supporters of the organization. They meet with agribusiness representatives and government officials, and they have the opportunity to meet with people who influence agriculture and education on a state, national and regional level.

To date, only six Mid-Prairie graduates have had the honor to serve in a State Officer position. Terry Pemberton ‘67 served as Vice President from 1968-

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News 15
Mid-Prairie FFA students pose with the Mid-Prairie FFA banner in 1965 with sponsor, Paul Swank (standing).

1969. Curtis D. Stutzman ‘77 served as Reporter from 1976-1977 and President from 1977-1978. Curtis is the only Mid-Prairie graduate to be elected as FFA President. Lyle Stutzman ‘79 served as Reporter from 19781979. Jennifer Curl Shaw ‘95 served as Vice President from 1996-1997. Michael Huston ‘00 served as Vice President from 2000-2001. Kally Boehmer Sporrer ‘02 served as Reporter from 2003-2004. We are very proud of our Mid-Prairie graduates who have been elected to these state office positions and represented Mid-Prairie FFA at the state level. We took some time to catch up with these former state officers and see what they’re up to now.

Where Are They Now?

Terry Pemberton ‘67 - Vice President 1968-1969

Terry served as Vice President from 1968-1969. Following his Mid-Prairie graduation, he continued his education at Iowa State University, where he majored in agriculture. He then transferred and graduated from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Following college, Terry and younger brother, Scott Pemberton ‘70, ranched and raised cattle in Texas until his career led him into the insurance business. In the early 1970s, Terry and his wife, Jan, were married. Their three children, David, Jason and Alicia, currently reside in Texas. Terry passed away on August 15, 1985, at the age of 37. Throughout his many experiences, he is remembered as being very skilled at public speaking. His dedication to FFA and agriculture while at Mid-Prairie is still remembered today by many alumni.

Curtis D. Stutzman ‘77Reporter 1976-1977 President 1977-1978

Curtis served as Reporter from 1976-1977 and President from 1977-1978. He currently resides in Kalona and is the founder and president of World Link, Inc. After working for the National FFA Organization - International Programs, he founded World Link, Inc. to work with government sponsored exchange programs in the countries of the former Soviet Union. After traveling and working in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia on embassy related projects, World Link was formed in 2002. Since that time, they have been operating both agricultural and leadership exchange programs with funding from the US Department of State and US Department of Agriculture. With World Link representatives in foreign countries and different regions of the USA, over 5,000 students and teachers have done international exchange programs

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023 16
For the 2022-2023 school year, the Mid-Prairie FFA chapter consists of 64 members and 10 graduate members. Current Mid-Prairie FFA members attended the Ignite, Amplify and Transform conferences in November 2022.

Where Are They Now?

through World Link in the 20 years it has been operating. Initially, World Link conducted exchange programs for agricultural students from other countries when the National FFA decided to close down the Work Experience Abroad Program. World Link still engages with rural youth development projects whenever they can. The leadership program that World Link uses is loosely based on the FFA program of leadership development and the recognition of achievements. Through their program called Public Achievement Leadership (PAL), students learn leadership skills that help them conduct service projects in their own countries. Curtis’s involvement with FFA provided him with the skills to not only develop a program like this, but also to demonstrate good youth leadership programs to over 50 countries that he has visited and worked in so far. Being an officer gave him an advanced level of leadership skills that made it possible to found an organization. While a member of the MP FFA chapter, his own experience with the FFA Work Experience Abroad Program gave him the motivation and experience to take the program to an international level.

What is a favorite FFA memory of yours?

My favorite memory is going to the National FFA Convention in Kansas City in the school station wagon before I-35 was built. Every time I visit Kansas City, I think of the memories of being at the convention in that city. My runner up is being in the Rose Garden at the White House as a newly elected State FFA President with newly elected President Jimmy Carter.

Stutzman ‘79Reporter 1978-1979

Lyle served as Reporter from 1978-1979. After graduating from Mid-Prairie, he was able to stay involved in agriculture through his career path. He served as President of Johnson Brothers of Iowa in a career that spanned 39 years. Johnson Brothers of Iowa is Iowa’s largest Wine Wholesale Company. He is now retired and splits his time between Panora, Iowa, and Fort Myers, Florida. He feels his involvement with FFA was instrumental in developing his public speaking skills and how to conduct a meeting through Roberts Rules of Order. Both of those skill sets have assisted him throughout his career and continue to in retirement.

What is a favorite FFA memory of yours?

My favorite FFA memory is the Iowa State Fair, where I had the opportunity to show sheep, serve as a Grandstand Usher and assist WHO Radio with interviewing fairgoers for their fair coverage.


Jennifer served as Vice President from 1996-1997. During her year as a State FFA Officer, she was a full-time student at Iowa State University and also worked part time. Time management was one of the most important life skills she learned that year, and she continues to use that skill daily with her career and raising a family. FFA also taught her how to have confidence. The leadership activities she participated in gave her confidence to speak in front of people, build relationships with peers and taught her that she can do hard things. Today, as the Senior Vice President of Quality at First National Title Insurance Company, she leads a team of auditors, problem solves issues and supports small and large businesses to develop internal processes to secure fiduciary funds. She currently lives in Severance, Colorado, on an acreage with her husband and three children. Jennifer and her family stay very involved with agriculture together. Her three children are involved with 4-H and raise show pigs and chickens. From April through August, they participate in CJSA Jackpots and the County and State Fairs, where her children show their pigs. This year, they are also raising more chickens to sell eggs.

What is a favorite FFA memory of yours?

I have two favorite FFA memories. My first was participating at the Iowa State Fair as a Grandstand Usher. I participated as an usher for four years and saw many famous artists perform in the Grandstand. My last year, I was Head Usher, where I led over 500 FFA members. Wearing the yellow shirt and walking through the fair grounds with my fellow FFA members was a great feeling. My second favorite memory was having my name called as the Southeast State FFA Officer and running to the stage with my new team. Serving as a State FFA Officer was fun and very rewarding.

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News
Lyle Jennifer Curl Shaw ‘95 - Vice President

Where Are They Now?

Michael Huston ’00 - Vice President 2000-2001

Michael served as Vice President from 2000-2001. He and his wife, Sarah Griffith Huston ‘00, both graduated from Mid-Prairie. They have 13 year-old twins, Caedyn and Adelyn, who are in 8th grade at Mid-Prairie Middle School, as well as an 8 year-old daughter, Aftyn, who is in 3rd grade at Mid-Prairie West Elementary. They currently reside in Wellman. He farms their family’s century farm in Winfield, Iowa, with his father, and they have a small acreage outside of Wellman as well. Since graduating from Iowa State in 2004, he has spent his entire career in the seed industry. For the last 7½ years, he has worked for Pioneer Seeds as a Territory Manager and Field Sales Agronomist. Agriculture has always been a part of his life. He’s thankful to be able to farm, but what he enjoys more than anything is helping his customers be more productive and successful. As he believes quality communication skills and the ability to work effectively with others as a team are important skills in life, he is thankful that FFA helped him to strengthen his communication skills and allowed the opportunity to work in a team environment. Through FFA, he learned how to set goals and work towards achieving them, and those are things he still focuses on today. He tried to learn from the talented individuals he would compete against from other schools in contests, in order to strive to reach his fullest potential. It comes as no surprise to him that he now sees many of them experiencing success in their careers and personal lives as they’ve gotten older.

What is a favorite FFA memory of yours?

Our annual Program of Activities (POA) trip was always a highlight. This trip was an opportunity for our FFA officer team to get together and learn more about each other while we set goals for the upcoming school year. This was when we could work hard, but also have some fun.

Kally Boehmer Sporrer ‘02Reporter 2003-2004

Kally served as Reporter from 2003-2004. She currently resides in Bouton, Iowa, with her husband and four children, Hailey (11), Parker (9), Gavin (7) and Logan (5). She works for Farm Credit Services of America as a Financial Analyst. She also helps with coaching softball and basketball and assists with her family’s small row crop farm. Since Mid-Prairie, agriculture has remained an integral part of her life. She earned her Ag Business degree from Iowa State University, where she met her husband and served as a State FFA Officer. This led her to a rewarding ag lending career. She is also very involved with her family farm, and her children are involved with 4-H. She feels her involvement with FFA helped her with her own personal growth and career success through agricultural education and participation in career development events. She gained hands-on leadership experiences through the different offices she held, which prepared her for both college and her career, and also enabled her to meet people from across the state.

What is a favorite FFA memory of yours?

While there are many FFA memories and events that still make me smile, one of the best is the State Officer team of talented individuals with whom I served. The countless hours we spent planning and hosting different leadership events for the members of the Iowa FFA Association and the members we were privileged to serve and interact with were a treasured part of my experience.

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023 18

An Olympic Experience

Many people dream of one day experiencing the Olympic Games firsthand. For most, that dream remains just that, a dream. But for Paul Baumert ‘78, that dream became a reality in 2022 when he accompanied the competing United States athletes to Beijing, China, as the Deputy Chief U.S. Team Physician at the Beijing Games.

Growing up, Baumert wanted to pursue a career in medicine for as long as he can remember. This was a goal of his even before he knew the steps he’d need to take to get there. He believes his interest and abilities in the sciences were definitely fostered by his Mid-Prairie teachers at all grade levels. As a “Kalona kid”, Baumert grew up around Dr. Sattler and Dr. Beckman. They were always available for him to ask questions along the way. He’s grateful for the strong foundation and guidance he received from his roots that helped him pursue his medical studies.

After graduating from Mid-Prairie, Baumert attended college and medical school at the University of Iowa. He completed a family medicine residency at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, and later completed a sports medicine fellowship at the Hughston Clinic in Columbus, Georgia, in 1992. Following his fellowship, he took a position in the orthopedic department at Kaiser Permanente in Kansas City, taking care of patients with non-surgical orthopedic concerns. In his after-clinic hours and on weekends, he covered the training room and athletic events for Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. After a brief period of private practice, Baumert moved back to Iowa City in 2000

to take a team physician position for Hawkeye football. He was also responsible for coordinating the primary care coverage for all University of Iowa sports and athletes. Since moving to the Des Moines area in 2011, his work has included taking care of the homeless and underserved at Broadlawns Medical Center, as well as primary care work at the McFarland Clinic and the Veterans Administration. Along with his full-time clinic work, Baumert has also dedicated his time to medical volunteer work throughout his career. He has been a volunteer team physician at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs since 1997. He was made aware of the U.S. Olympic Training Center volunteer physician program during his sports medicine fellowship. As soon as he finished his fellowship and passed his sports medicine boards, he applied for the volunteer program. The program is structured as a two-week assignment to one of their three training centers – Colorado Springs, Lake Placid (New York) or Chula Vista (California). During the two-week rotation, the volunteer physician

functions as the primary medical contact person on-site for any medical issues that arise during that two-week period. Following the rotation, the USOTC staff evaluate the physician and decide whether or not to keep the physician on their list to be invited back. He initially applied to the program in 1992, and he received his first two-week rotation offer in 1997.

A typical workday for Baumert in the USOTC volunteer physician program starts by reporting to the Sports Medicine Clinic when it opens in the morning. Usually there are some scheduled medical appointments for athletes who request to see the doctor about non-urgent concerns. As various sports begin their practice schedules for the day, athletes are sent to the clinic for further evaluation as medical issues arise. Occasionally, an urgent medical issue arises at one of the other buildings on campus, and he is summoned to that location to evaluate the athlete. There are also scrimmages and competitions that are scheduled during the rotation, when a physician presence on-site is often requested. At the beginning of the

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News 19
Paul Baumert ‘78 shows off his Hawkeye loyalty on the Zhangjiakou slopes at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

two-week rotation, the physician is given a pager and is expected to remain available to be contacted at any time, whenever needed.

A volunteer program like this has given Baumert his fair share of exciting and rewarding experiences. In his opinion, the most exciting part of this program is simply the opportunity to work and learn from some of the best sports medicine providers in the country – athletic trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists, dieticians, psychologists and others – all in one location. For him, the most rewarding part of the program has been the opportunity for him to play an integral role in the medical team delivering care to some of the best athletes in the world. The athletes he has treated over the past 25 years span from seasoned gold medalists to those in the early stages of their journey.

These exciting and rewarding experiences also bring about their own challenges to work through. To Baumert, the most challenging aspect of the program is the need to learn quickly about a specific athlete’s medical history and their individual health care needs. During the rotation, the physician is expected to respond promptly and efficiently to meet the needs and expectations of any athlete that presents for care.

The USOTC leadership extends invitations to travel internationally with the U.S. team to volunteer physicians who have successfully completed multiple two-week rotations over time. Baumert wasn’t certain if he would be given a future opportunity to travel internationally with a U.S. team, but he continued to be invited back for two-week rotations at the USOTC. In 2019, he was contacted by the USOTC with the exciting news of an invitation. He accepted placement on the physician list for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. However, the COVID pandemic pushed the Tokyo Games back to 2021, which ended up changing the USOTC staffing assignments for Tokyo. He then re-

ceived and accepted an offer for the assignment to travel to the Beijing Games in 2022 as the Deputy Chief U.S. Team Physician.

At the Beijing Games, there were three different competition zones – Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou – based on the sport.

Baumert and his Chinese interpreter after the U.S. sled hockey team’s gold medal victory.

Baumert was centrally based at the Beijing Village and had daily Zoom meetings with all physicians and staff members at the other two villages to discuss medical issues. His primary team event coverage while in Beijing was the sled hockey team and the wheelchair curling team. While working at the Beijing Games, Baumert was able to attend the closing ceremony. In his words, “It was incredible!” The ceremony combined color, lights, music, beau-

The Chinese laundry staff kindly helped Baumert finish his load of clothes. ty, culture, choreography, athleticism and fireworks in a way he had never experienced before. Another favorite memory of his while in Beijing is riding the “bullet” train from Beijing to Zhangjiakou. The “bullet” travels at a top speed of 347 kilometers per hour, or about 215 miles per hour. While riding the train, he was able to catch a glimpse of the Great Wall from the train window. He also remembers the tremendous hospitality of the Chinese physicians, nurses and other staff at the Beijing Village. The sled hockey gold medal game is another exciting memory that stands out while reminiscing about his experience.

Throughout his USOTC volunteer physician experience, Baumert said that he has truly enjoyed every athlete he has worked with. He views it as a privilege to be able to serve our U.S. athletes, and possibly contribute in his own very small way to their success at the Olympic Games. Currently, he remains hopeful that he’ll be contacted for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023 20
Baumert had a fantastic view of the closing ceremony from his seat with the U.S. team.

He studied French for four years at Mid-Prairie (for which, he thanks the late Mr. Hancock), and says he still has some basic conversational ability to speak it. That skill may be a deciding factor in his chance of receiving his most exciting French assignment ever!

When asked for his advice

to new Mid-Prairie alumni hoping to pursue a career in the medical field or an opportunity similar to this, he advises to trust that the opportunities provided at Mid-Prairie are a solid foundation for the future. Talk to people working in your desired field to gain a better understanding of what will be required to pursue

your goals going forward. Finally, consider taking advantage of every opportunity related to your field that comes your way – no matter how remote the possibility may seem. He believes in the wise advice, “When one door closes, go out the window!”

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News 21
Baumert received a special departing gift from the Chinese medical staff. He also receiced a Peking duck balloon, made and gifted by another staff member.

Hall Scholarship Focuses on Kindness & Respect

This article is a continuation of a series featuring each scholarship fund that is provided through the Mid-Prairie Foundation.

The Mid-Prairie Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1987 to improve educational excellence. Thanks to the Foundation, over 55 education scholarships were awarded to Mid-Prairie graduates in 2022. Graduates received over $95,000 in funding to support their dreams of a college education. Thank you to the many donors who make a yearly impact on our Mid-Prairie students and their opportunities to reach for the stars. In this 5th article in our series highlighting the Foundation’s scholarships awarded to Mid-Prairie graduating seniors, we would like to recognize the Leo and Martha Hall Scholarship.

Leo “Chub” Hall and Martha England Hall were both born on family farms near Wellman and remained life-long residents of the area. Martha graduated from Wellman High School in 1942. Leo was drafted into the US Army, and following his junior year of high school in May of 1943, he was inducted into military service. Leo and Martha were married in 1946, a few months after his discharge from the Army. Martha taught in rural schools near Wellman until 1958. She loved her role as a teacher and always fondly recalled her teaching career and former students. After leaving teaching to raise her family, Martha volunteered in numerous capacities, including with the Wellman American Legion Auxiliary, Asbury United Methodist Church, Wellman Heritage Society and others.

Leo was hired in 1946 as a mechanic at the newly established Wade Ford dealership in Wellman. He became the dealership’s manager in 1959 and owner in 1965, continuing until he retired in 1999.

As a local businessman, he was an active supporter of his community and of Mid-Prairie schools. He was also active in the Wellman Community Club and the American Legion.

Leo and Martha had two children who graduated from Mid-Prairie. Their son, Tom Hall, graduated in 1976, and their daughter, Pamela Hall Moore, graduated in 1979.

As students are considered for the Leo and Martha Hall Scholarship, preference is given to students with an interest in entrepreneurship, a career in education or a career in technical, scientific or engineering fields. These areas reflect Leo’s technical and business expertise and Martha’s teaching career. In order to be eligible to receive this scholarship, students must be generally great citizens and hard workers. Leo and Martha believed in giving back to their community. When establishing this scholarship, children Pam and Tom wanted to recognize students who demonstrate positive contributions by showing respect, kindness and care to others in the Mid-Prairie school community. Just as Leo and Martha worked hard throughout their lifetimes, Pam and Tom also believed hard work can result in future students achieving their goals. They wanted this scholarship to be an encouragement to future generations to continue on these paths of treating others with respect and working hard for the future.

The Leo and Martha Scholarship awarded its first recipient,

Bailey Hershberger, in 2017. Additional recipients of the scholarship include:

2018 - Katie Palmer

2019 - Kylee Kos

2020 - Abbi Patterson

2021 - Nasya Leaton

2022 - Madelyn Bender

Are you interested in making a donation to the Mid-Prairie Foundation and supporting future Mid-Prairie graduates? Your contribution can help ensure that our Mid-Prairie students have the opportunity to reach for their dreams. If you have interest or questions about contributing, contact Hayley Sieren Hershberger ‘11 (319-430-4346) or Junell Swantz Duwa ‘79 (319330-8882). You can also find more information about the Foundation at https://www.mphawks.org/district/ partners/midprairie-foundation.

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023

Mid-Prairie Alum Publishes First Leadership Book

Don Showalter ‘70 has a long history with the sport of basketball. As a Mid-Prairie Golden Hawk, he was a part of the 1970 basketball team, taking MP to its first state tournament apperance and finishing as runner up. Upon graduating, Don continued his career into the teaching and coaching world. During his 28 years at Mid-Prairie, he finished with a 446-202 record. After many years of coaching success, several other honors and records also decorate his resume. Recently, Don has incorporated his knowledge and experiences into his first book, Cornfields to Gold Medals.

Cornfields to Gold Medals is an all-American story that takes the reader on Don Showalter’s life journey through the sport of basketball. The tale begins on a classic American family farm perched atop the rolling hills of southeastern Iowa and extends to gymnasiums in every corner of the world. Coach Showalter’s rise to international recognition can be traced to his time at the helm of USA Basketball’s Junior National Team, where he went 62-0 and brought home 10 gold medals. Yet, for all his success he remains grounded in the midwestern values that shaped his character, principles that guide his actions as a leader and interactions with others, making him an ambassador for the sport of basketball around the world. There is a curiosity as to how he did it. But for those that know Don Showalter, very few are surprised about his rise from the cornfields of Iowa to international recognition as a coach. It is through the reflections of coaches, athletes, colleagues, friends, family and his own, that his story is told.

Included are 10 leadership strategies readers can implement in daily practice. Each Gold Lesson will begin with an example from Coach Showalter’s experience leading the USA Basketball Junior National Team and include key points in how to teach the lesson.

The book release date is June 27, 2023. It is available for preorder through Amazon or wherever you get your books. Use your camera app to scan the QR code below to preorder through Amazon.

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News 23

Golden Hawk Highlights

District Struck by Tornado Staff and Students Give Back

On Friday, March 31st, the Wellman area of the Mid-Prairie district was struck by an EF-4 tornado that devestated several homes and farms. The people of the Mid-Prairie community immediately banded together to support those who had been affected. On Thursday, April 6th, 211 Mid-Prairie High School students and 52 high school staff members helped with recovery efforts following the tornado. On Friday, April 7th, 261 Mid-Prairie Middle School students and 24 middle school staff members also helped with the cleanup. Students and staff helped to remove debris from yards and fields in several locations west and north of town. In addition to outdoor cleanup efforts, many MPHS students and staff prepared 34 freezer meals to be distributed to those still recovering. In the Mid-Prairie district, we strongly believe in giving back to the community that supports us every day.

On April 14th and 15th, Mid-Prairie Drama presented their 2023 spring play, The Play That Goes Wrong

Back Left to Right: Jeremiah Rempel (Trevor), Jacob Carrill, (Dennis), Haydon Bailey (Max), Jack Greiner (Chris). (Front) River Gehling (Rachel), Logan McClellen (Jonathan), Avery Slaubaugh (Sandra), Caroline Schrader (Annie).

The first ever girls state wrestling tournament was held February 2-3, 2023. Five Mid-Prairie students qualified for state, and Gabi Robertson earned an 8th place finish. State qualifiers and coaches pictured at the Xtreme Arena in Coralville, Iowa: (Left to Right) Coach Randy Billups ‘80, Coach Dylan Walther, Grace Conway, Gabi Robertson, Mia Garvey, Ellie Callahan, Ellie Brenneman, Coach Justin Garvey

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023

Alumni News & Notes

Mid-Prairie graduate, Tom Butters ‘19, finished an unforgettable football season with the Wartburg Knights. In the fall 2022 season, Butters earned the recognition of First Team All-Conference for the American Rivers Conference. He played tight end for the Knights and helped them to advance to the NCAA Division III Semifinals, the farthest Wartburg football has ever advanced in program history. The Knights had an undefeated season until their semifinal game versus Mt. Union, where they fell in a close game of 34-31. This ended their spectacular season with a 13-1 record.

During his 2022 season, Butters had 34 receptions for 423 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. The Wartburg offensive line collectively averaged over 215 rushing yards per game during the season with 38 rushing touchdowns. As a senior, Butters certainly worked hard to earn these accomplishments, and head coach Chris Winters agrees. Coach Winters was quoted as naming Butters “instrumental” in Wartburg’s offensive success throughout the season.

While at Mid-Prairie, Butters was highly involved in multiple sports. He participated in football, basketball and track. While playing football for Mid-Prairie, he was a two-year starter at defensive back, wide receiver and punter. By the end of his MP football career, he had 63 tackles and 18 receptions for 456 yards and 5 touchdowns. He averaged 37.1 yards per punt. According to head coach Pete Cavanagh, “Tom has a natural, raw talent. I am so proud that he stuck with football through college, and I’m sure it helped him focus through school. His accomplishments at Wartburg are a direct result of his resilience and work ethic.” Although football was a highlight for Butters, he also earned recognition at Mid-Prairie in basketball and track. Through his basketball career, he earned All-Conference recognition his senior year, as well as All-Substate. He ran track for two years at Mid-Prairie. His senior season, he helped MP qualify for the Drake Relays.

True success and achievement takes hard work and dedication. Butters’ story is a great example of setting goals and reaching them.

yet and accomplishing all of this at the age of 64!

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News
Madeline Gent Voracek ‘13 and husband, Alec, welcomed their first baby boy, Lyle Voracek, in August 2022. Allison McArtor Rice ‘11 and husband, Ryan, welcomed their second baby, Chase Lee, on November 11, 2022. Chase was born at 4:18 a.m., weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. He was welcomed home by big sister, Lexi Mae (2 1/2 years). Steve Kemp ‘76 graduated from the Masters in Nursing program from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. He is studying for the certification exam to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. He’s not quite ready to retire

Alumni News & Notes

teach for 5 additional years. While education was of high importance to Richard, he also enjoyed many hobbies, including gardening, traveling, reading, puzzle solving and volunteering. He and his wife, Margie, traveled frequently all across the United States and to 15 foreign countries. Volunteering was very close to his heart. He spent time volunteering with multiple organizations in Colorado, Iowa, Indiana and Maryland. He worked to support various organizations and spent many years serving positions such as treasurer, vice president

and president with organizations like The United Fund in Kalona, The Council of Mid-Prairie Churches, Kalona Public Library and Kalona Public Library Foundation, The Kalona Garden Club, College Mennonite Church in Indiana and Men’s Fellowship.

Richard remains a great mentor for his selfless service and caring heart. He served many important roles throughout his lifetime that impacted countless lives in a wonderful way.

Richard “Dick” Oyer died at the age of 91 on Sunday, February 19, 2023. As a child, Richard grew up on a dairy farm near Fisher, Illinois, and attended a rural school for the first eight years of his education. He then attended Fisher High School and graduated in 1949 as valedictorian. After completing high school, Richard then continued his education at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Education clearly played an important role in Richard’s life, because he then earned his master’s degree from the University of Colorado in 1959 and took additional graduate hours at the University of Iowa Teacher’s College, Columbia University and the University of Redlands in California.

While pursuing his educational career, Richard served in the U.S. Army as a non-combatant from 1953-1955. He was married to Margaret “Margie” Yoder on August 16, 1958 in Denver, Colorado. He was hired by Kalona Public Schools in August of 1955 as a high school and junior high math teacher. When Mid-Prairie officially began in 1957, he then became a math teacher at Mid-Prairie. From 1957-1992, Richard taught math at the junior high and high school levels. After teaching for a total of 37 years in Kalona, he then continued to substitute

Check your answers below for the fall 2022 trivia questions:

What is the official name of Mid-Prairie’s mascot? Herschel the Hawk

Who is the longest serving current Mid-Prairie employee? Cindy Malichky, Assistant Business Manager

Which Mid-Prairie sports have won a state title throughout district history?

Girls Cross Country - 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

Boys Cross Country - 2016

Girls Basketball - 2002

Boys Track - 2008

Girls Track - 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022

Baseball - 2004

How many attendance centers / options does Mid-Prairie currently have?

7 - East Elementary, West Elementary, Middle School, High School, Home School Education Center, Alternative Learning Center, Virtual Academy

How many square miles does the Mid-Prairie district cover?

215 square miles of gently rolling landscape in southeastern Iowa

Mid-Prairie Alumni News | Spring 2023
Photo from Yoder-Culp Funeral Home

Alumni News & Notes

In Memory

Jeremy (Bud) Gatlin ‘98 died October 13, 2022.

Sharon Furgason Ellis ‘70 died August 19, 2022.

Sheryl Van Voltenburg Proenneke ‘74 died December 26, 2022.

Rosamond Goodlander died January 31, 2023. She taught at Kalona Elementary, Wellman Elementary, West Chester Elementary and Pleasant Hill rural school from 1966-1995.

45 Years Ago...

On March 23, 1978, Mid-Prairie High School held a memorial service for Mid-Prairie Junior High 8th grade student, Jon Swartzendruber. Jon and his father, Wallace C. Swartzendruber, were killed in an airplane accident in Arizona on March 11, 1978. In the Mid-Prairie Junior High newsletter, The Hawk’s Eye, Jon was remembered as a student active in many school activities and deeply involved in science. Along with his demonstrations of metal detecting and rock polishing for his science classes, he also invented a working solar radio at home. He was remembered as a student who set an example for others with his patience, consideration, responsibility and perseverance. As the original Editor-in-Chief of the 1978 issue of The Hawk’s Eye, the paper was dedicated to him in recognition of his interest in journalism and in appreciation of his guidance.

Von Miller ‘65 passed away December 20, 2022, with his wife, Pamela, by his side. He grew up in Kalona and graduated from Mid-Prairie in 1965. While attending Mid-Prairie, Von participated in various activities. As a senior, he participated in basketball, vocal music, science club, chess club and Future Teachers of America.

After graduating from Mid-Prairie, Von attended the University of Iowa and went on to begin a career for the United States Geological Survey, which he continued in for 37 years. He and Pamela were married in 1972, and together they raised two children, Jennifer and Jeremy.

After his retirement from the U.S. Geological Survey, Von worked part time as a courier for Hills Bank. However, he kept his focus on his passion for helping people. He volunteered and served for 25 years as an adult leader on mission trips with the First United Methodist Church and the Appalachia Service Project. During this volunteer work, Von led many housing projects for low-income families. He was also a very dedicated blood donor, achieving a 16-gallon donor status.

Von dedicated much of his life to serving others. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and classmates.

Beth Janecek, former Wellman Elementary teacher from 1961-1985, passed away on January 16, 2023, at 100 years old. Beth was born June 1, 1922, on the family farm near Wellman. She was the youngest of six children and graduated from West Chester High School. Following high school, she attended Parsons College in Fairfield for two years to earn her teaching certificate, and later returned to Parsons to earn a BA degree in 1965. She taught elementary school in Salem, Kalona, West Chester and Mid-Prairie (West Chester Elementary and Wellman Elementary). Beth taught for a total of 30 years and loved it. She was also an accomplished pianist and taught piano lessons for many years. She was a member of the West Chester United Methodist Church and served as the church pianist for her churches in West Chester for over 60 years. Beth enjoyed collecting and displaying rocks and sea shells. She enjoyed living on the family farm and watching her grandchildren and great grandchildren grow up. Her two children, Carmen Griggs ‘64 and Tracy Janecek ‘69 (Susan Kinsinger Janecek ‘69), and three grandchildren, Amy Janecek ‘93, Curt Janecek ‘96 and Chris Janecek ‘00, are all Mid-Prairie graduates. Her six great grandchildren are current students and continue to carry on Beth’s loyal legacy at Mid-Prairie.

Spring 2023 | Mid-Prairie Alumni News
Photo from Lensing Funeral & Cremation Photo from Jones & Eden Funeral Home

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