One Day In May

The Monet Garden was started over 20 years ago by Jill Olsen Virlee, former Iowa teacher of the year and long-time Marion High School French teacher. It started as a service-learning project and has continued year after year.  Kris Knepper is the current French teacher and has been in charge of the garden for the past 17 years.  During the high school’s recent “One Day in May” annual day of service a group of about 20 students worked in the garden to do necessary weeding, transplanting and pruning. The garden is enjoyed by everyone at the high school and in the administrative wing.  Students from various classes often use the garden during nice weather. Funding for the garden is provided by the Jay White Educational Enhancement Fund. Photo from left to right: High School Students Trenton King, Alec Arcand, Carter Klauer, and Taylor Baumgartner.


Service Above Self Award Presented to Former MHS Teacher

Jill Olsen of Marion was recognized with the Rotary International “Service Above Self” Award. Given to only 150 Rotarians around the world this year, it is considered Rotary International’s highest honor for service work.

A member and past president of the Marion East Cedar Rapids Rotary Club, Olsen also has served Rotary as district governor, district trainer, team leader for a Group Study Exchange to Korea and assistant Rotary public image coordinator for Rotary Zone 28. She traveled to India and Nigeria to help immunize infants as part of Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign. She was a Rotary Foundation representative to Leyte, Philippines and participated in a Rotary service trip to South Africa.

Olsen’s work in the Marion School District was recognized with the statewide Governor’s Award for Outstanding Service and her 2010 induction into the Marion Foundation Hall of Fame. She is a former Iowa Teacher of the Year, Teacher of Excellence delegate to Russia and Fulbright Memorial Scholar to Japan. She chaired the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, is vice president of the Iowa Women’s Foundation and served two terms on the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service. She has received three Iowa Governor’s Volunteer Awards for Service.


Donation from Doris French Makes an Impact

The Foundation received a $5,000 donation from Marion community member Doris French. $4,000 went to the purchase of a new vibraphone for the Marion High School band, $500 to the Robotics Club, and the other $500 to the Foundation to be used as needed. Doris has close ties with the Foundation with her daughter, Doreen Zumwalt (MHS 1982), serving on its Board of Trustees and her late husband, Robert French (MHS 1955), previously inducted into the Foundation’s Hall of Fame. Doris’ grandson, Axel, attends Marion High School and is involved in the music and robotics programs, and her granddaughter Tara (MHS 2014) was also involved with both programs. The District was in need of a new vibraphone so the gift came at the right time. The old vibraphone, although not up to high school band travel, will be well utilized at Vernon Middle School. Photo: Doris French with Charles Oldenkamp, Marion High School band director.


Foundation Receives ACT Grant

The Marion School Foundation received a $1,000 grant from ACT. Headquartered in Iowa City, ACT is the leading college admissions testing company in the U.S. The Foundation will use the funds to support District projects in the next round of Marion Fund classroom grants. The ACT Corporate Giving Committee is made up of employees and facilitates gifts that extend the company’s mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success.


Scholarship Established in Memory of Rebecca Paulson

Rebecca taught at Starry Elementary for many years and her passion was helping her students achieve their goals. Ann Wicke taught Rebecca’s daughter, Katie, and remembers, “Rebecca was such a light in my life that year. She was one of those people you could instantly connect with.” Rebecca had a positive influence on her students, their parents, and her peers in education through kindness, commitment and a desire to always improve. To honor her memory, an annual scholarship has been established by Rebecca’s husband, Doug, and their family that will support an MHS graduating senior pursuing a degree in education. If you or your company is interested in contributing to the Rebecca Paulson Memorial Scholarship, donations can be sent directly to the Marion School Foundation. For questions or inquiries, contact Erin Steffen at 319-377-4691 x1106 or esteffen@marion-isd.orgPhoto: Doug, Rebecca, Seth and Kathryn Paulson


Marion Alumni Artifacts Exhibited to Honor Veterans

The Foundation was proud to loan artifacts to the Marion Heritage Center for their new exhibition Marion’s Veterans: Korea & Vietnam Wars. The exhibit tells the story of both wars focusing on the local service men and women and tells their stories through artifacts, photographs, video footage and audio recordings. Marion graduates featured in the loaned materials include Mary Lou Pazour ’55, Kenneth “Kenn” Churchill ’66, Richard Fontaine ’47 (pictured here), Thomas Spratt ’60, and John Robert Clark ’47. The exhibition runs through April 30, 2017.


Over $33,000 in Scholarships Available to MHS Seniors

Thanks to the generosity of many Marion supporters, the Foundation has over $33,000 available for MHS Class of 2017 students planning to attend college next fall. Applications are available in the high school guidance office, or on the MISD website. In 2016, the Foundation awarded nearly $30,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors.


trojan-lodge-cotyTrojan Lodge Honored as Citizen of the Year

In October, Trojan Lodge No. 548 was presented with the Marion Chamber of Commerce 2017 Citizen of the Year Award. The Lodge has long supported the Marion community, but their largest financial contribution came this year when they gifted $195,000 to both the Marion Independent School Foundation and Linn-Mar Foundation. MISD Superintendent Chris Dyer shared, “The Trojan Lodge’s generosity and contribution to the MISD Foundation reflects the proactive and positive spirit of the Marion community. The Lodge’s support provides future resources that allow our educational foundation to create and to fund grant programs for MISD teachers, and scholarships for students.” Lodge members present to accept the award included (l to r) Bob Murray (MHS 1955), Bob Bunting (MHS 1956), Jim Henderson and Larry Twachtmann (former Marion High School Principal.)

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