DHS students awarded academic honors from the College Board

Four students from Decorah High School–Julia Phillips, Mya Redenius,
Rebecca Anderson, and Simon Kutz–have been selected as a College Board National Recognition Program awardees.

They earned this recognition because of their academic achievements in school and outstanding performance on the PSAT/NMSQT®, PSAT™ 10, and/or AP® Exams. They’ve accomplished these milestones during an immensely demanding period of their high school career.

National Recognition Programs grant underrepresented students with academic honors that can be included on college and scholarship applications and connect students with universities across the country, helping them meaningfully connect to colleges and stand out during the admissions process. All four of Decorah High School’s recipients received the National Rural and Small Town Award (NRSTA).

“We’re thrilled that our students have earned this recognition. We are very proud of them for their achievements in their classrooms and on College Board assessments,” said Pat Trewin, DHS guidance counselor. “These programs help students from underrepresented backgrounds stand out to colleges during admissions.”

Recipients National Rural and Small Town Award (NRSTA) from the College Board
Recipients National Rural and Small Town Award (NRSTA) from the College Board

Pride of the Vikings marching band will perform for the public October 7th

The Pride of the Vikings marching band will be holding a public performance on Friday, October 7th at 2:30 pm at Vikings Stadium. They will feature their 2022 show Night Watch, a musical production darkly agitated with suspense that describes the mystery and exotics of the night. This production concludes with highly energetic themes that dramatically portray the beginning of a new day.

The musicians are enthusiastic about this public performance as it helps them prepare for the Iowa High School Music Associations’ State Marching Festival. On Saturday, October 8th, the band will travel to Dubuque Senior High School to compete at this festival.

The Pride of the Vikings marching band is under the direction of Dustin Bliven, Matt Cody, and Emily Hahn. Color guard is under the direction of Laurie Walter, and percussion is under the instruction of Kassidy Steines. Music arrangements are by Jay Dawson, the drill design was created by Andy Clausen, and the color guard choreography was designed by Abigail Toussaint and Jenna Hartz.

Bliven stated, “I’m really excited and proud of this year’s marching band. They have really stepped it up, and I can’t wait for the public to see our performance!”

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DHS students learn horticulture skills on campus

Wednesday the Decorah Community School District nutrition department served up both a local breakfast and lunch to celebrate Iowa Local Food Day, with some of the food offered from the high school garden grown and harvested by students. School garden produce is featured every day on the menu at Decorah schools.

Another way students are involved in learning about horticulture is through the landscaping surrounding Decorah High School.

When plans for the remodel of the high school were being developed, the school board directed the school staff to use native plants to diversify the landscape. This was also a time when the ash borer was of great concern, and the goal was to choose trees that would be disease proof and require less maintenance. That is why there exists so many different trees throughout the high school campus. 

Decorah High School science teacher Brad Johansen shared that using native plants creates ample learning opportunities. Students harvest the seeds and grow more plants to sell, replant, and give way. In the process they receive hands-on lessons on stratification, putting seeds in the freezer to mimic nature. Without this step there would be no seed propagation. Having a variety of plants for students to work with allows the teaching of landscape maintenance through the principles of both perennials and annuals.

Using native plants honors the past as well. Johansen remarked, “Winneshiek County was covered in purple coneflowers and big bluestem in the early 1800s.”

“Every growing season is different,” continued Johansen, “and presents different challenges and opportunities that students can learn from.”

“In 25 years the trees around the school will be fully grown, and the place will look different than it does now. Tree-lined canopies that are maintenance-free will line the campus grounds, giving it a collegiate look,” said Johansen. He shared that the city of Decorah is also making strides in diversifying the landscape, noting the boulevards are no longer monocultural.

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DHS Botany students (l-r): Danny See and Bryss Ehrie harvest purple coneflower seeds for future use in the classroom.  Seeds from the big bluestem in the background will be harvested later in the fall.

DHS students donate to Winneshiek County Celebration of Life

While planning homecoming activities, students in Lori Crum’s Business and Marketing Communications class expressed a desire to give back to the community.  Two events from the week were fundraisers: the team admission fee for Viking Olympics and Wednesday’s Pink Out dress up day.  In all, the students donated $300 to the Winneshiek County Celebration of Life. Senior Kaeley Downing said, “We’re impressed with our classmates’ generosity.”

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Students from Mrs. Crum’s class who helped organize the fundraising efforts for Celebration of Life (l-r): Chloe Dixon, Rebecca Bruening, Kaeley Downing, and Chloe Chyle.

DHS Senior Jenna Hartz named to ISTEP Executive Council

The Iowa Students for Tobacco Education and Prevention (ISTEP) Executive Council is excited to welcome Jenna Hartz from Decorah High School as its newest member. ISTEP is a statewide movement of young people in grades 7-12 who are stepping up to take action against tobacco and nicotine. 

Led by youth, with the support of adults, ISTEP provides an opportunity for students to develop their skills as leaders to make a difference in their communities and throughout the state.

Executive Council members plan the ISTEP Summit and interactive events for ISTEP chapters statewide to facilitate at the local level. The ISTEP Summit is an annual event that brings ISTEP chapters together from across the state to learn about tobacco and nicotine prevention, meet other ISTEP members and have fun. 

Hartz’s new position will be an asset to Decorah High School’s organization TAATU (Teens Against Alcohol and Tobacco Use). “Our organization includes a number of outstanding senior leaders, and I’m thrilled Jenna took it upon herself to apply for membership on the executive council. Her leadership at the state level will be so helpful in reaching our goals,” remarked Liz Fox, TAATU advisor.

ISTEP is funded by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Tobacco Use Prevention and Control. To learn more about ISTEP, visit IowaSTEP.org.

Jenna Hartz

Two DHS seniors named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists

Today officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of over 16.000 Semifinalists in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, and two Decorah High School students, Justin Berlage and Diep Doan, are among those honored.  These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring.  

High school students entered the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of the program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 95 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and approximately half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. 

Today officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of over 16.000 Semifinalists in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program, and two Decorah High School students, Justin Berlage and Diep Doan, are among those honored.  These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring.  

High school students entered the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of the program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 95 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and approximately half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.

A Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test. 

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

Diep Doan and Justin Berlage
DHS National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists (l-r): Diep Doan and Justin Berlage

DCSD receives grant for therapeutic classroom and resources

The Decorah Community School District was recently one of ten school districts in the state of Iowa to receive a Therapeutic Classroom Incentive Grant from the Iowa Department of Education.  John Cline and Carrie Lee Elementary Schools received $266,000 in grant funding for a therapeutic classroom and supports. The Therapeutic Classroom Grant is part of a statewide effort to increase mental health supports for children, youth, and families.

Therapeutic classrooms and resources are designed to provide support for any student whose emotional, social, or behavioral needs interfere with their ability to be successful in the current educational environment. 

Grant writer Shanna Putnam Dibble shared that the funds will be utilized for a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral health supports, including classroom and curriculum materials, professional development for staff, and family and community learning opportunities and engagement.

Putnam Dibble states, “Now, more than ever, our students and families need social, emotional, and mental health supports, and the earlier that we provide these supports and resources, the better for all involved.  This funding will enhance our efforts across our elementary schools to support the social and emotional needs of our students and families, ensuring all students have the skills and resources they need to be successful in school and throughout life.”

The Decorah Community School District was recently one of ten school districts in the state of Iowa to receive a Therapeutic Classroom Incentive Grant from the Iowa Department of Education.  John Cline and Carrie Lee Elementary Schools received $266,000 in grant funding for a therapeutic classroom and supports. The Therapeutic Classroom Grant is part of a statewide effort to increase mental health supports for children, youth, and families.

Therapeutic classrooms and resources are designed to provide support for any student whose emotional, social, or behavioral needs interfere with their ability to be successful in the current educational environment. 

Grant writer Shanna Putnam Dibble shared that the funds will be utilized for a variety of social, emotional, and behavioral health supports, including classroom and curriculum materials, professional development for staff, and family and community learning opportunities and engagement.

Putnam Dibble states, “Now, more than ever, our students and families need social, emotional, and mental health supports, and the earlier that we provide these supports and resources, the better for all involved.  This funding will enhance our efforts across our elementary schools to support the social and emotional needs of our students and families, ensuring all students have the skills and resources they need to be successful in school and throughout life.”

“All students need support and resources that meet their individual needs,” said Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo. “The therapeutic classroom grants help schools build upon their great work to promote the overall well-being of students. I commend this year’s awardees and their community partners for their plans to grow and strengthen a continuum of therapeutic supports so that every student has the support they need to succeed.”

Decorah High School Celebrates Homecoming Week

Students at Decorah High School are preparing for a week’s worth of activities to celebrate Homecoming 2022.  

Homecoming week activities will commence with the Viking Olympics on Sunday, September 11, at Decorah High School. Viking Olympics aims to develop camaraderie and encourage team building among students across all grade levels. Each of the ten teams competing will consist of two boys and two girls from each grade level. They will compete against each other in trivia, kickball, bags, and tug of war. Proceeds from the Viking Olympics will be donated to a charity of the students’ choice.  

The student body’s choice for Homecoming king and queen will be revealed at the coronation ceremony on Friday afternoon, September 16, in the Decorah High School auditorium. 

Queen candidates from the senior class include Rebecca Bruening, daughter of Keith and Amy Bruening; Sophia Christman, daughter of Robert and Victoria Christman; Ella Grouws, daughter of David and Jennifer Grouws; Ellen Rooney, daughter of Dave and Annette Rooney; and Annalise Skrade, daughter of Paul and Miriam Skrade.

King candidates from the senior class include Jaden Baker, son of James and Wendy Baker; Ethan Bockman, son of Jason Bockman and Tonyia Seiler; Erik Hjelle, son of John and Tracy Hjelle; Jackson Knoke, son of Fred and Amy Knoke; and Benjamin Wymer, son of Curt and Sarah Wymer.

Junior class attendants are Hayley Stowe, daughter of Haywood and Erika Stowe, and Peter Essa, son of Jared and Tracy Essa.

Representing the sophomore class as attendants are Leah Holland, daughter of Steve and Krista Holland, and Grant Zilka, son of Keith and Jessica Zilka.

Lauren Luzum, daughter of Brian and Jennessa Luzum, and Trevor Kuennen, son of Ted and Nicholle Kuennen, will represent the freshman class.

A pep rally will immediately follow the coronation. The Homecoming parade will start at 2:30 p.m. at the high school and follow the traditional homecoming parade route down West Water Street and River Street.

It will be a clash on the gridiron as the Decorah Vikings take on the Comets of Charles City on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. The Decorah freshman football team will play at 5:00 p.m. 

The Homecoming queen and king, their court, and their parents will be presented at halftime of the varsity game, along with a performance by the Decorah High School Pride of the Vikings marching band.

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DHS Homecoming Attendants (l-r): Freshmen Lauren Luzum and Trevor Kuennen, Sophomores Leah Holland and Grant Zilka, and Juniors Hayley Stowe and Peter Essa
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DHS Homecoming Court: Front row (l-r): Ellen Rooney, Annalise Skrade, Sophia Christman, Ella Grouws, and Rebecca Bruening
Back row (l-r): Ben Wymer, Jaden Baker, Ethan Bockman, Erik Hjelle, and Jack Knoke

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Attendants and Court: Front row (l-r): Freshmen Lauren Luzum and Trevor Kuennen, Sophomores Leah Holland and Grant Zilka, and Juniors Hayley Stowe and Peter Essa
Middle row (l-r): Ellen Rooney, Annalise Skrade, Sophia Christman, Ella Grouws, and Rebecca Bruening
Back row (l-r): Jack Knoke, Jaden Baker, Ethan Bockman, Ben Wymer, and Erik Hjelle

Decorah Music Boosters to hold chili supper fundraiser

The Decorah Music Boosters will hold their annual chili supper in the high school cafeteria Friday, September 9 from 4:30-7:00 p.m. prior to the Decorah vs West Delaware varsity football game.  Tickets for the supper are $8.00.  Pre-school children may eat free. 

Tickets are available at the door or from high school band and choir members.  The menu for the meal includes chili (meat & vegetarian), crackers, hot dogs, carrots, assorted bars and cookies, milk and coffee. 

Proceeds from the chili supper support scholarships, activities and programming for music students in the Decorah Community School District.

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