Category: News

Union students participate in student council elections

By Sam Glenn
While the 2020 primary is a year and a half away, another election at Union High School is just around the corner.
Student council at Union has always been a very important group for students to voice their concerns with the school. With a big group of seniors leaving, the juniors are going to have a big leadership gap to fill from last year’s successful group. With Bruce Wigg retiring last year, a new advisor for the student council was needed for the 2018-2019 school year. Lizzie Zondo, Union PEAK director, took the opportunity and ended with a very rewarding year with this group of seniors.
“I’ve always been interested in supporting student voice. I like students to have power with them at school and to be able to make decisions that affect the student body,” Zondo said.
Zondo works with students at Union that are at-risk of not making graduation requirements. It has always been very important to her that the students succeed. Even though it was her first year leading the student council, she has taught at Union for 11 years. She knows what needs to be done in order for student council to have a strong year.
“We are going to have a big leadership gap to fill next year,” Zondo explained.
This year the student council was led by eight seniors who contributed a lot to the student body. The biggest thing was the fundraiser for Sportability of Iowa. The seniors, made a goal of $3,000 to donate so they could buy a new wheelchair for the group. At the end, they reached that goal with a cancelled school dance that would’ve contributed even more to the end amount. The student council is known for accomplishing many goals and they want to elect new people who can supply the same proactive ideas for a fresh new school year.
“Definitely organizational abilities, accountability, responsibility, creative, thinking outside of the box,” Zondo said, talking about what strengths she looks for in student council members.
It is very important that the student body elect people who are willing to voice new ideas and have an innovative mindset. These new electors will be the new leaders of the school; not only will they have to bring new ideas to the table, the new president and vice president will also need to be good public speakers.
“You do a lot of talking in front of people, you have to meet with people. You have to be willing and open to talk in front of big groups and new people,” senior vice president Hannah Gates said. Speaking in front of people is a huge part of being president/vice president because they lead school assemblies.
“I’m opposite of most people, I love public speaking and talking in front of big groups,” Gates also said. She believes the new reps should have a hard work ethic and a more open and communicative personality so it is easy to talk in front of people. Gates is part of the eight seniors who will be helping elect these new 2020 senior leaders.
Students who want to be elected must turn in a one page essay explaining why they want to be a member of student council. Zondo took the names off of those papers and the eight seniors looked over each one and decided which ones are the best, using a rubric. After that, each class voted on who they think should win in their own class.
Elections took place on May 8. Even if you didn’t sign up this year, Zondo and the student council encourage new people to try it next year and in the years to come; it’s a great group to be involved with. Election results will be reported in the weeks to follow.

Nathan Dvorak receives Graduate Fellowship

Nathan Dvorak ’19, a Coe College physics and mathematics major, recently received a Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dvorak joins alumni Emily Roberts ’16 and Dahlia Baker ’18 as the third Coe graduate in the past four years to yield this prestigious fellowship.
The oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP recognizes outstanding graduate students in NSF supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.
“I now have the opportunity to become a Ph.D. student at a Top 10 graduate school in my field,” Dvorak said. “I was accepted into the electrical engineering Ph.D. program at University of Michigan.”
As a GRFP fellow, Dvorak will receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance along with opportunities for international research and professional development.
“At Coe, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in research, internships, Division III sports, Greek life and multiple clubs,” Dvorak said. “Being such a well-rounded student helped me earn this fellowship.”
“Coe helped make this happen for me. I received support from my physics and mathematics professors throughout the application process,” Dvorak said. “Dahlia Baker, a recent recipient of the fellowship, even offered advice on my research proposal.”
Nathan Dvorak is a 2015 graduate of Union High School. He is the son of Tom and Dori Dvorak of rural Clutier. His mother Dori Rammelsberg-Dvorak, D.C. is a 1986 graduate of Coe College.

Main Street reimagined

  La Porte City residents got their first look at conceptual drawings of a reconstructed Main Street, thanks to preliminary illustrations created by MSA Professional Services, the engineering firm the City has hired to oversee the project. The drawings were revealed at a pair of informational meetings, the first with downtown property owners on May 14. A similar presentation was conducted at a community meeting yesterday.
Leading the meeting with downtown business owners was MSA engineer Jake Huck, a 1998 graduate of Union High School. Huck first reviewed the history of the project, which began with a Main Street study in 2014 and included an evaluation of the existing infrastructure, pavement conditions, parking, intersections and open space along Main Street from the Wolf Creek bridge to Walnut Street. From that initial study, MSA developed multiple concepts for Main Street, ranging from complete to partial brick paving of the street surface. Feedback from those early concept drawings showed strong community support for a completely bricked street surface.
In 2015, the City was awarded a block grant of $500,000 for downtown façade improvements from the state. The grant required a 25% match from both participating property owners and the City, resulting in the refurbishing of the façades of several buildings on Main Street. The Downtown Façade program was completed in 2017.
Huck noted that the design phase of the Main Street Reconstruction Project is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year, which is why input from local business owners and the community at large is being sought at this time. Project bidding is anticipated to occur early next year with construction slated to begin as early as April, weather permitting. Due to the large scope of the project, construction is expected to last several months and conclude by November 2020.
The Project
Not only will Main Street be completely reconstructed from Locust Street to Walnut Street, the project will include new sidewalks, street lighting, signage and other amenities. Because all of the existing street and sidewalks will be completely removed, the new sidewalks will be leveled off, eliminating the second step up from the street that currently exists in the 300 block of Main Street.
The newly constructed downtown district will feature Unilock Pavers laid over a new concrete support pavement. Huck noted the “brick” pavers selected by the City Council are actually specially designed concrete pavers, which will serve as a durable street surface while maintaining the appeal and look of traditional bricks.
Other design features include intersection bump-outs, which serve the dual purpose of increasing pedestrian safety while providing visual appeal and space for amenities such as park benches and landscaping. One advantage the bump-outs offer is a shorter crosswalk for pedestrians. Huck noted the bump-outs also serve to “calm” traffic through the intersections, as vehicles must navigate a narrower portion of street in those sections. Bump-outs will also force vehicles to make wider turns at downtown intersections, which allows for increased visibility for drivers making a turn, as well as for drivers of vehicles pulling in and out of angled parking spots. The bump-out design will result in the loss of four parking spaces in each block, however.
In addition to a new street surface and sidewalks, the City will install/replace the existing storm sewers with reinforced concrete pipe and sanitary sewers between Sycamore and Walnut streets. La Porte City Utilities will be responsible for installing a new PVC water main pipe.
While the Main Street Reconstruction Project will give downtown La Porte City a much-needed face-lift, one prominent feature will be lost in the process- the City’s one and only stoplight. Because the Iowa Department of Transportation would require the City to upgrade the existing traffic signal, a cost that could easily exceed $250,000, City officials anticipate replacing it with a four-way stop. The combination of shorter crosswalks and requiring every vehicle to stop at the City’s busiest intersection, though, is expected to be safer option for pedestrians, especially for those crossing U.S. Highway 218.
Addressing downtown business and property owners, Mayor Dave Neil indicated the City expects to bond for the necessary funds to pay for the project, which is currently estimated to cost $2.5 million.

Be in the know: UHS Cheer program

By Emma Harris
In our community around La Porte City, high school athletics are very important. People come to watch their children or grandchildren play, but while watching, they may not notice some people on the sidelines: the cheerleaders.
The cheer program at Union High School involves football, basketball, wrestling and a competition team. Football season cheer begins during the first or second week of August and lasts until late October. Basketball and wrestling cheer begins during early November and lasts until late February. Competition cheer begins in July and lasts until early March. UHS cheerleaders have an option to participate in Honor Squad, All-Star, All-State and Shrine Bowl.
During Iowa Honor Squad, each coach can choose up to three cheerleaders to bring to Ames, Iowa for an eight-hour long practice in November. During this practice, the cheerleaders are split into two sides; one side will learn a dance and the other side will learn a stunt sequence. Each side learns the same cheer and puts it all together to create a routine to be performed during the high school football championship at the UNI-Dome. Three girls from UHS participated in the 2018 Iowa Honor Squad performance: Kianna Gloede, Kaylie Bowers, and Emma Harris.
The Iowa Shrine Bowl is a football game held at the UNI-Dome in July each year. Football players are chosen from the North and South of Iowa to be on a team. Cheerleaders have to try-out in Altoona. Around 100 tryout, and only 60 are chosen, 30 from each side. The cheerleaders must raise $800 by selling ads to be placed in the Shrine book. They then spend a week in the dorms at UNI doing different activities with the kids from the Shrine hospital. This year’s Shrine Bowl will be on July 20. Kaleb Roach will be playing, and Carlie McNeal and Emma Harris will be cheering.
The cheer program at the high school is not considered a sport and does not receive funding through the school, but they raise their own money. Before the cheerleaders are able to practice they must have a current physical, concussion form, and medical release form. They also must go through the school board in order to buy anything for the program. The coaches also have to take an online class for safety, including concussion safety and Iowa’s statewide cheer rules.
“I value people who put in the time and sacrifice. I wouldn’t be opposed to cheerleading being considered a sport. I see sport as preparing for something. Putting in the time and then competing. And so, I think especially if you know there are competitions involved, I guess I can definitely see cheer being considered a sport,” said Jared Pospisil, UHS head football coach.
Pospisil has been coaching football for 19 years.
The cheerleaders at the high school not only cheer on the sidelines, but they do other things for the community and school.
“…We have girls who are involved in things other than cheer. We have girls who do Shrine bowl, Honor squad, and All-State. The girls have locker signs to do each season for each player that will be put up on their lockers for the season. They decorate the businesses around town for homecoming and clean them after, along with decorating the school. We have a winter and fall cheer clinic for the little kids. The girls do a lot that goes unnoticed,” said cheer coach Kayleen Glenn.
Glenn has been coaching since 2007. She has primarily coached Football and Basketball cheer.
“You take things very seriously and then I’m also very impressed with the behind the scenes you guys put so much time and effort into making the locker signs and obviously putting a lot of practice time outside of school hours and that’s really admirable,” Pospisil said.
“I admire any student or any anybody who has the guts to get up in front of people and do certain things so I think obviously like speech or doing a play, getting in front of somebody and performing like that when all eyes are on you. I wish the community knew how tough that is and how strong a person has to be mentally,” Pospisil said.
The next time you’re at a UHS athletic event, remember to keep an eye out for the cheerleaders. If you see a cheerleader around the community doing cheer-related things, consider thanking them.
“I just feel that the cheerleaders are expected to be there but we’re always overlooked,” said Glenn.
“I think it really does make a difference because the thing is, I think a lot of people don’t notice things until they’re gone,” Pospisil said.
For more information about Iowa Cheer go to http://www.iowacheercoaches.org/

UHS students at work in local businesses

By Lucian Rockhold
When thinking of a business, most people don’t usually think of students. That is exactly what Tootsies and Thriftway in La Porte City have in store for people coming to their business.
Student workers, like Jordan Holman of Thriftway and Margery Miller of Tootsies, know all about the life of a student worker. Each person has their own job that they need to do every shift, but the balancing of school and work remains a constant of their working life.
“Sometimes I am cashier and my main job is to ring people up. I also have tasks I need to do like cleaning which we do a lot of, and dusting,” Holman, a junior, said. Miller, a sophomore, also completes her tasks each and every shift.
“Well, we make everyone’s ice cream that they want, help Teresa [the manager] with as much as we can and when it gets to closing, just cleaning everything,” Miller said.
While both start their shifts with their tasks and end with those tasks finished, school is their main task they don’t get paid for. Holman and Miller have their own unique ways to deal with this task, all while making some money to do the things they want to do while they are young. Even when testing comes up and study time becomes borrowed time, they make it work.
“It is difficult at times. I don’t go to work right away, so I usually study for that first hour after school. I’ll take it after work, usually I am tired but I take three minutes out of that time to study,” Holman said. Miller tries to balance her track career with work also.
“I usually work on the weekends right now, because of track. It’s really nice not having school, then track practice, then work and to still get my school work done at home. So I usually just have to go home from practice [to study],” Miller said.
Upon entering high school, students often try to seek employment. Holman offers his advice to anyone who is interested in working within a community like La Porte City.
“When people come in and if they do get the job, they will meet rude people. Don’t let those rude people get to you. Just blow it off your shoulders,” Holman said.
While Holman’s advice warns potential students of possible challenging aspects of having a job, Miller’s advice focused on the positives that employees can bring to her job.
“Be really helpful! Like if you’re a really good people person,” Miller said.

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