DHS Individual Speech Students Perform Well at District Competition

Decorah High School’s individual speech participants—coached by Molly Holkesvik, Gabriel Twedt, Carrie Kauffman, Rachel Breitenbach-Dirks, Lyra McKnight, and Annika Krieg—competed Saturday, February 24th, at West Delaware High School in Manchester. Around 56 students participated in the contest. Out of Decorah’s 65 performances, 58 received I (excellent) ratings.

The directors shared, “Our students did an incredible job representing our school. They brought their talent, professionalism, and poise to district contest. We are so proud and excited to see what happens at state contest.”

State contest will be held at Hampton-Dumont High School on Saturday, March 9th.

Results for Decorah Speech Performers Grades 10-12

Receiving a I (excellent) rating:

Original Oratory: Kamryn Steines, Braunwyn Darrington, Klara Kelly

Public Address: Alex McGohan, Faith Meyer, Grace Blikre

Expository Address: Natalie Goodner, Lucas Hanson, Lily Sandhorst

Storytelling: Brynn Storhoff

Prose: Evynne Downing, Klaara Short, Luke Arendt

Poetry: Kathryn Kelly, Spencer Rix, Davis Coppola

Review: Bethany Hanson, Jensen Korsness, Elliana Brodbeck

Literature Program: Hannah Arendt, Annika Keefe, Evon Leitz

Solo Musical: Libby Phillips, Gwen Thompson, June Breitenbach-Dirks

Acting: Hayley Stowe, Julia Severtson, Miky Hiner

After Dinner Speaking: Greta Jones, Andy Kruger, Ezra Vorvick

Spontaneous Speaking: Gabriel Hiner, Corina Timm, Nat Roberts

Radio News: Simon Kutz, Anders Lovstuen

Individual Improv: Joe Stammeyer, Caleb Johnson

Receiving a II (good) rating:

Radio News: Karmyn Bakken

Storytelling: Henry Weis, Ariana Albert

Individual Improv: Lexy Walker

Results for Decorah Speech Performers Grade 9

Receiving a I (excellent) rating:

Original Oratory: Ava Hanson

Public Address: Thomas Davis

Expository Address: Colin Thompson

Storytelling: Teagan Menke, Isis Timm

Prose: Grace Stockman, Emma Cline

Poetry: Grace Stockman

Review: Emma Cline

Solo Musical: Noah Potvin, Vivian Searcy, Colin Thompson

Acting: Margaret Hahn, Jillian Volz

After Dinner Speaking: Spencer Christensen, Noah Potvin, Olivia Volkmann

Radio News: Olivia Rissman, Oskar Swanson

Individual Improv: Thomas Davis

Receiving a II (good) rating:

Acting: Isis Timm

Expository Address: Margaret Hahn

Original Oratory: Vivian Searcy

Luther College raises record-setting $1.2 million on Giving Day

DECORAH, IOWA—Luther College raised more than $1.2 million during the ninth annual Giving Day on March 7. The money raised on Thursday will support and enhance the Luther experience at the college through the Luther Fund, Luther’s unrestricted current fund that supports all students, faculty, staff and community endeavors on campus. 

“Together we had the biggest Giving Day ever, both in the amount raised and in the notes and stories about the impact Luther College has had on the lives of those in our community,” said Luther President Jenifer K. Ward. “Gifts came from all 50 states and over a dozen countries, and from lifelong supporters to first-time contributors. There is no “thank you” big enough to express our gratitude.”

Luther students wrote thank you notes to donors for Giving Day.

Giving Day capped off “Luther Gives!”, a weeklong campus event celebrating the generosity of Luther alumni, donors and campus community. Students wrote thank you notes to donors who funded their scholarships, sent Norse Notes valentines to anyone on campus who made a difference in their lives, and posted reasons they love Luther on the walls of the Dahl Centennial Union. 

This year’s Giving Day also included the first Luther Day at the Landing, where 100% of all sales made at Justin’s and The Buzz at the Landing Market were matched with an equal gift to the Luther Fund.

“It’s been great to double down on our partnership with Luther College today,” said Terry Ramlo, class of 1986 and manager of the Landing. “It was fun to see so many people stop by the Landing today. We’re glad to contribute to Luther and the Decorah community, especially on Giving Day.”

Mark your calendars for next year, as Giving Day returns on Thursday, March 6, 2025. 

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Disability activist Lydia X. Z. Brown to give Price Distinguished Lecture March 1

DECORAH, IOWA—Lydia X. Z. Brown, director of public policy at the National Disability Institute, will give the Price Distinguished Lecture in Women’s Leadership at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall. The event is co-sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio. 

Lydia X. Z. Brown

Brown, a queer, disabled and East Asian advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist and writer, will give a lecture entitled “Until We Are All Free: Disability Justice Interventions in Queer, Trans, Feminist Movements,” which is part of Luther’s Women’s History Month events through March. ASL interpretation will be provided. Attendees should refrain from wearing any fragrances to this lecture. Childcare is available during the lecture. 

“After I heard Brown speak in Rochester, I knew I wanted to bring their expertise to Luther.  Brown isn’t advocating for disability rights but disability justice,” said Char Kunkel, head of the identity studies department at Luther. “We fundamentally need to change the systems of oppression, not just add in the various identity groups to achieve limited individual rights. We need societal transformation of the many intersecting oppressive systems so that all people can thrive. Justice for all means all, hence why the lecture is titled ‘Until We Are All Free’.” 

Brown has spoken and consulted throughout the U.S. and the world on topics such as disability rights and justice, especially at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality, as well as publishing scholarly and community articles on related topics. Their work addresses how ableism is tied to other forms of systemic oppression and marginalization. Brown’s work can be found on their website.

Brown is the founding executive director of the Autistic People of Color Fund. They hold a lecturer appointment in the women’s and gender studies program and the disability studies program at Georgetown University. Brown is also an adjunct professorial lecturer in American studies in the department of critical race, gender and cultural studies at American University. 

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Luther College Regent Dr. Michael Osterholm receives Government Service Award from AMA

DECORAH, IOWA—Dr. Michael Osterholm, class of 1975, was presented with the Outstanding Government Service Award from the American Medical Association in February. Osterholm, who serves on Luther College Board of Regents, is a world-renowned epidemiologist and the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota

Dr. Michael Osterholm accepting the Outstanding Government Award. Photo Credit: Ted Grudzinski

The award is presented to elected and career public servants at the state, local and national levels, who use science and medicine to promote public health. Osterholm was selected in the category of “member of the executive branch serving by presidential appointment.” He was named to Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board in November 2020 and served as Minnesota’s state epidemiologist from 1984 to 1999. 

“I’m very honored to have received this award, but I could not have achieved this award without the help of others I’ve worked with over the past 50 years,” Osterholm said. “My public health career began at Luther.”

He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the Council on Foreign Relations, and has served as the principal investigator and task force chair for the World Health Organization’s Research and Development Roadmap for both influenza and the zika virus as part of his role on the council. 

Osterholm, who published the New York Times bestseller Deadliest Enemy: Our War against Killer Germs in 2017, is the McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health at the University of Minnesota and has published more than 300 academic papers and abstracts on epidemiology and infectious disease. For years, he has been warning that the U.S. was ill-prepared for a pandemic. 

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Luther College Symphony Orchestra to perform across the country

DECORAH, IOWA—The Luther College Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Daniel Baldwin, will perform across the U.S. for their spring 2024 tour. The choir will perform a homecoming concert in Decorah on March 26. 

The concert is open to the public with a freewill donation taken at the door. 

Luther College’s Symphony Spring 2024 Tour begins in March.

The program begins with “Three Dance Episodes from Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town. The orchestra will once again perform Pelléas et Mélisande Suite, Op. 80, by Gabriel Fauré along with “Introduction and Gopak” from “The Fair at Sorochinsk” by Modest Mussorgsky, “Siegfried Idyll” by Richard Wagner and “Huapango” by Jose Pablo Moncayo. 

Symphony Orchestra, Luther’s largest and oldest orchestral ensemble, is one of Luther’s four main touring ensembles. The Symphony travels regularly in the United States and maintains a three-week residency in Vienna every four years, next scheduled for January 2027. More than 70 student musicians, representing a variety of academic majors, perform with the orchestra. Many are also involved in chamber music, choir, band or a jazz ensemble. 

“Apart from two, month-long residencies in Vienna, Austria in 2019 and 2023, this will be the

Dan Baldwin

orchestra’s first opportunity in more than six years to take an extended tour,” said Dan Baldwin, director of orchestral activities. We bring with us a beautiful program and a large, talented group of student musicians. We’re very grateful for all those who’ve worked to make our tour possible.”

Baldwin is the head of the Music Department and has served as director of orchestra activities at Luther since 1997. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. Baldwin is currently the conductor of the Luther College Symphony and Chamber Orchestras.

About Luther College Music 

Luther is home to one of the largest undergraduate music programs in the nation, with five choirs, three orchestras, two bands and two jazz bands. One-third of all Luther students participate in music, including large ensembles, faculty-coached chamber groups, private lessons and master classes. Nearly 175 music majors study music theory, ear training, history, education, composition, jazz, church music and performance. Learn more at luther.edu/music.


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Luther College announces 2024-25 Fulbright Program semi-finalists

DECORAH, IOWA—Luther College is proud to announce that four students have been selected as 2024-25 semi-finalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. All four students received nominations for English teaching assistantships. 

The Luther semi-finalists are:

  • Robert Clower, class of 2023, English Teaching Assistantship in Germany
  • Linnea Johnson Nordqvist, class of 2024, English Teaching Assistantship in Latvia
  • Nick Rogness, class of 2024, English Teaching Assistantship in Norway
  • Amy Webb, class of 2024, English Teaching Assistantship in Germany

The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program places recent college graduates and young professionals abroad as assistant English teachers in classrooms from primary through university level. Last year, three Luther students were selected as Fulbright teaching assistants in Slovakia and Norway. The finalists for 2024-25 will be announced this spring. 

These students were approved by the National Steering Committee and selected among the nearly 10,000 applicants on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. 

Operating in 160 countries world-wide, the Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The primary goal of the program is to increase mutual understanding between U.S. residents and people from around the world. 

Robert Clower, class of 2023

Linnea Johnson Nordqvist, class of 2024

Nick Rogness, class of 2024

About Luther College

At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.

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Decorah Elementary Dance Party a Success

The Decorah FEC (Family, Educator, and Community Organization) recently hosted its second annual Elementary Dance Party.  Over 460 students and family members enjoyed an evening of dancing, glow sticks, and popsicles.  

FEC President Shanna Putnam Dibble expressed gratitude for the Luther football team who volunteered at this event, as well as for all the FEC volunteers and district employees who made the event possible. Dibble noted, “The FEC is proud to support events such as this where educators and families come together for a night of engagement and fun. The smiles on our students’ faces–and their epic dance moves–say it all!”

Associate elementary principal Dana Bockman shared, “Whether it’s volunteering in the classroom, reading regularly with your child, attending FEC meetings, or simply showing up to events like the dance party, parent involvement makes a difference. It sends a powerful message to our students that their education matters and that they have a team of supporters cheering them on every step of the way. Decorah elementary schools are committed to continuing to work together with our families to create a nurturing environment where every child can reach their full potential. Our dedicated FEC is integral in supporting events that strengthen that partnership. We are incredibly thankful for their efforts.”

Elementary Dance Lights
Elementary Dance Circle
Elementary Dance Popsicles
Elementary Dance Luther Football

Luther College announces Winter Graduates 

DECORAH, IOWA—Luther College is proud to announce the winter graduates from December 2023 and January 2024. The 65 graduates come from 12 states, which include California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, plus 3 countries including Ivory Coast, Nepal and Spain. Congratulations to these new alumni as they start the next chapter of their lives. 

Below are the graduates, along with their majors and hometowns. 

Tamara Ayers
Music Education
Arlington, Virginia

Irelyn Baumberger
Evansville, Wisconsin

Kaitlyn Belger
Urbandale, Iowa

Isabelle Berg
Elementary Education
Chatfield, Minnesota

Evan Berth
Watertown, Wisconsin

Katie Bevers
Charleston, South Carolina

Samuel Bundy
Arvada, Colorado

 Analisa Buresh
Kasson, Minnesota

Suman Chapai
Computer Science
Pokhara, Nepal

Brandon Deas
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Mathea Diedrich
Allied Health Sciences, Nordic Studies
Windsor, Wisconsin

Adrianna Dirks
Exercise Science, Allied Health
Casey, Iowa

Carter Erickson
Camas, Washington

Madelyn Ess
Delano, Minnesota

Haylee Felt
Stewartville, Minnesota

Julian Garcia
Chicago, Illinois

Emma Gibson
Iowa City, Iowa

Molly Graff
Music Education
Holmen, Wisconsin

Maya Grocholski
Plymouth, Minnesota

Morgan Hansen
Hudson, Iowa

Victoria Harris
Elementary Education
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

Lars Heinecke
Center City, Minnesota

Maddison Henry
Hesper, Iowa

Noah Hill
Data Science
Houston, Texas

Elizabeth Kauls
Allied Health Sciences, Exercise Science
North Oaks, Minnesota

Theodore Keller
Edina, Minnesota

Nathan Knautz
Music Education
Batavia, Illinois

Rachel Lapaczonek
Bettendorf, Iowa

Mafi Latu
Redwood City, California

Emma Lin
Des Moines, Iowa

Allison Marasco
Omaha, Nebraska

Kaylee Martin
Social Work
Romeoville, Illinois

Erin McCulloch
Social Work
West St. Paul, Minnesota

Adam Mertzenich
Computer Science
Decorah, Iowa

Destini Miller
Oak Park, Illinois

Sidney Miller
Global Health, Political Science
Hokah, Minnesota

Laura Miro I. Rodrigo
Computer Science, Management
Barcelona, Spain

Lauren Monosmith
Pine Island, Minnesota

Mackenzie Muehleip
Galena, Illinois

Calie Mundahl
Woodbury, Minnesota

Sydney Nelson
Albert Lea, Minnesota

Isaiah Nordine
Rochester, Minnesota

Jorgen Olson
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Annalie Piller
Kenyon, Minnesota

Shelby Pisney
Elementary Education
Lime Springs, Iowa

Megan Rasmussen
Shoreview, Minnesota

Brenna Reiland
Music Education
White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Kyra Rose
Golden Valley, Minnesota

Noah Rouw
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Emma Sanders
Elementary Education
La Motte, Iowa

Alex Sass
East Asian Languages and Linguistics
West Union, Iowa

Jasmine Schueler
Rushford, Minnesota

Elise Skellenger
Decorah, Iowa

Ella Smith
Larkspur, Colorado

Asher Smith
Communication Studies
Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Oumar Samassi Souare
Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Jake Stone
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Justin Taitano
Las Vegas, Nevada

Addison Tollakson
Elementary Education
Amery, Wisconsin

Emma Vanbenschoten
Byron, Minnesota

Zoe Warm
Long Grove, Iowa

Courtney Wendland
Elementary Education
Luverne, Minnesota

Blayre Wisneski
Neuroscience, Psychology
Shakopee, Minnesota

Levi Wolter
Exercise Science
Elysian, Minnesota

Angelina Zimmerman
Maquoketa, Iowa

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Decorah FFA Excels at Sub-Districts

Twenty-one Decorah FFA members participated at the Northwest Sub-District FFA Leadership Development Events on Monday, at Crestwood High School. The chapter competed in nine leadership development events and one quiz contest. 

The chapter advanced in six contests, with five of those contests receiving first place and one contest receiving second place.  Contests receiving first place with a gold rating and advancing to districts include Ag Broadcasting: Kiele Eberling; Ag Sales: Anders Lovstuen; Conduct of Meetings: Gabe Monroe, Brinlee Courtney, Madelynn Dahl, Andrew Carolan, Mara Lovstuen, Hadley Alexander, and Aiden Helgerson; Extemporaneous Speaking: Kamryn Werges; and Job Interview: Creed Monroe.

The chapter parliamentary procedure team received second place with a silver rating and also advanced to districts. Team members include Rylee Averhoff, Jerikah Dodd, Lyla Lovstuen, Annika Schmelzer, and Thea Zidlicky.

The chapter also competed in the following leadership development events: Chapter Program: Travis Nordheim and Eden Scheidel – 3rd place, silver rating, alternate to districts; Creed Speaking: Jackson Irwin – 4th place, gold rating, alternate to districts; and Public Speaking: Braunwyn Darrington – silver rating.

The Decorah FFA had one member participate in the Greenhand Quiz, an FFA knowledge exam. Isabella Schnitzler received second place in the Greenhand Quiz contest.

The Decorah FFA will now compete at the District FFA Convention on Saturday, March 9th at Waukon High School. The convention will begin at 9 a.m., and the public is invited to attend. 

2.19.24 Sub Districts at Cresco Decorah FFA Members

Photo ID:

Front row (l-r): Lyla Lovstuen, Madelynn Dahl, Hadley Alexander, Brinlee Courtney, Andrew Carolan

Second row (l-r): Anders Lovstuen, Braunwyn Darrington, Eden Scheidel, Isabella Schnitzler, Mara Lovstuen, Aiden Helgerson, Kamryn Werges, Kiele Eberling

Third row (l-r): Rylee Averhoff, Jerikah Dodd, Annika Schmelzer, Travis Nordheim, Thea Zidlicky, Jackson Irwin, Creed Monroe, Gabe Monroe

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