Schmidt hopes to unseat incumbents in upcoming school board election

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

On Tuesday, November 3, voters will select the candidates that will fill the two open seats on the Mason City Schools Board of Education. Campaigning for these spots are incumbents Kevin Wise and Courtney Allen, as well as community member Erin Schmidt. Of these three candidates on the poll this election, voters can choose two to represent the district. The elected officials will serve on the Board for four years.

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Courtney Allen, incumbent School Board President, hopes to continue to have a say in big decisions. Photo contributed by Courtney Allen.

According to Allen, incumbent Board President, being a current member running for re-election has both its advantages and disadvantages.

“I feel the district has faced some tough challenges during my first term,” Allen said. “The Board made some difficult decisions and worked hard to overcome those challenges and move the district in a positive direction. I feel we have been very successful which may provide an advantage. With any big decision, however, you’re going to have people who agree and people who disagree, which can convert into an advantage or a disadvantage, respectfully, when it comes time for re-election.”

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School board candidate Erin Schmidt hopes to gain a position on the Mason City School Board. Photo contributed by Erin Schmidt.

Schmidt said she thinks that introducing herself as a fresh face running for Board could work in her favor towards winning the election.

“I feel at an advantage running against two incumbents,” Schmidt said. “Sometimes being the new name and face garners more attention because people want to see what you are about…I also think many residents of the school district feel it is time for a change.”

According to Schmidt, her desire to run for the Board of Education stemmed from volunteering in her children’s classrooms and witnessing firsthand the problems students and teachers face on a daily basis.

“In the last couple of years, I have seen an increase in the stresses placed on classroom teachers in the form of testing mandates and unfair evaluation measures,” Schmidt said. “Those stresses affect you as students.  My interest in running for a Board seat began with a desire to be a voice for Mason’s amazing teachers and, in turn, a voice for the students.”

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Kevin Wise, incumbent board member, hopes to continue to represent the board. Photo contributed by Kevin Wise.

The three candidates were in agreement that state legislations and mandates, such as funding and standardized testing, were at the forefront of the issues currently facing the district. Kevin Wise, incumbent Board member since 2002, said he hopes to address these government regulations in Mason.

“Federal and State mandates are putting more and more pressure on school districts and Mason is no different,” Wise said. “I want to assure Mason remains able to defend against these intrusions and flexible enough to navigate all of the changes.”

The three candidates said they feel a pull towards the Board of Education because of their children’s involvement in Mason schools. According to incumbent Board President Courtney Allen, the board allows her to actively make changes to benefit all students, and in turn, her own children.

“My family is very important to me, as is the school district and community we live in,” Allen said. “I firmly believe that our school district is a great source of pride and plays a major role in the strength of our community. With my 3 most prized possessions–my children–all in the Mason School District, and my family being vested members of the community, the School Board continues to be a perfect opportunity for me to utilize my skills and passion to make a difference.”

Ultimately, the goal of any candidate that is elected is to represent and be an advocate for the students, teachers, and district as a whole, according to Allen.

“As a Board, our goal is to support and protect what makes Mason special and strong,” Allen said. “I want the Board to continue to show good financial stewardship, while prioritizing the educational needs of the students…The most rewarding part about being on the School Board is definitely seeing the successes of the students, the staff, and the district.”



Run, Roll and Sun 5K raises funds for Common Ground playground

Abbey Marshall | Managing Editor

In addition to raising funds for the Common Ground playground for disabled children, this year’s annual Run, Roll & Sun 5K on Saturday, May 30 honored Parks and Recreation Foundation employee Sheri Collins, who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

The Run, Roll & Sun 5K is an all-inclusive event that consists of both a timed 5K and a one-mile stroller and wheelchair-friendly course, followed by free admission to the municipal pool. Proceeds from participation fees go toward constructing a specialized playground called Common Ground that accommodates children of all abilities and encourages them to interact, according to the Mason Parks and Recreation Foundation.

It made sense to memorialize Collins’ death during this event because of the work she did for this project in her lifetime, according to Mason Community Center Wellness Supervisor Kelly Burchett.

“We thought it would be more than fitting if we honored (Collins) this year,” Burchett said. “The anniversary of her death was actually Monday and last year, her entire family came out, even though it was the weekend of her funeral, (to) support the event. Both the Parks Foundation and the City of Mason wanted to honor her and her family and all the work she did for the Parks Foundation.”

According to Collins’ mother, Donna Barker, the cause was very dear to her daughter’s heart.

“I worked in a special needs class,” Barker said. “I saw the disabilities and how they affected those children. We, as teachers, had to take the equipment out to the regular playground. It was very heavy (and) cumbersome…We know firsthand why this park should be built and Sheri did too; we discussed it quite a bit. It was her dream, so we (joined) her.”

Inspired by Collins’ efforts to construct an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities, Barker said her and her husband were prompted to donate $5,000 to the Parks Foundation the day of the race.

“Her dad and I had discussed (donating the money), and we wanted to do something to honor Sheri’s life,” Barker said. “Ever since she came into the world, she was a selfless person. She was a peacemaker, she was an arbitrator, and she loved her fellow man.”

Barker said she believes that her daughter would be pleased with the turnout for such a great cause.

“We’re amazed that people would take the time and effort to come out,” Barker said. “It’s heartwarming. I know our child would be thrilled that we could come together for one purpose.”

Click on an image below to enlarge and view in slideshow mode.

Originally posted on on June 1, 2015.

OPINION: Journals galore

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

abbey column

I know what inevitably awaits me behind every sheet of tissue paper I unfold, every ribbon I unravel, every piece of wrapping paper I mercilessly tear apart: a journal. The surprise of a gift eludes me each birthday I experience because I know beyond a doubt that a notebook lurks within the gift bags handed to me.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s really quite thoughtful of my friends for considering my interests and personality. I’ve loved the way a pencil felt beneath paper since third grade and I’ve been writing ever since. What people don’t consider, however, is how many spiral bound notebooks I have piled up in my desk drawer,crowding the little free space I have in my room. I often tell eager gift-givers there’s a queue of notebooks waiting to be used that may stretch on for years.

The problem with this endless string of journals is that the world is very tech-oriented. Most of the writing I do involves frantic revising, which is impossible to do without a digital copy of my work that can be changed with a click of a button. While the online world has it’s benefits, I find this to be problematic for the same reason. With one glitch, one glaring, red “x” button in the top right corner, one malfunction of a computer, everything you’ve done can vanish without a trace.

While the excitement of a gift has for the most part vanished, I find it reassuring to be surrounded by unused journals. It’s as simple as writing can be: pen and paper. No keyboards. No mouse clicks. No chance of viruses destroying your work. Blank lines are waiting to be filled with any thoughts I might have, any letters I may write, any stories I wish to tell.

So it’s okay that my pile of journals grow by the holiday. It’s refreshing to have something so simple to rely on, free from the distraction of the busy online world.

PHOTO GALLERY: NHS Winter Dance 2015

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

National Honor Society held their annual Winter Dance in the large commons on Saturday, January 17 from 8-11:30 p.m. The dance was Hawaiian themed and all proceeds went to benefit the The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Circus act

Performers express themselves in unique setting at Cincinnati Circus

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer


Click the videos above to watch the Cincinnati circus performers practice their acts.

Step right up and witness the unbelievable!

With juggling balls in hand and feet strapped firmly into stilts, students like senior Nikki Wood and Adolph Goetz are expressing themselves in the Cincinnati Circus.

The Cincinnati Circus, grounded mostly in the Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Columbus area, extends an invitation to anyone with a knack for performing to work carnivals and other festivals.

Wood is a trainee, spending most of her time swirling paint brushes on children’s cheeks and strutting around in stilts, but she said she aspires to become a high-flying performer.

“Right now I’m in training to be an aerial artist,” Wood said. “Basically, there’s a 12-foot silk hanging down from the ceiling and you have to climb it. It’s more of a beautiful, acrobatic thing…I used to be a gymnast and I like yoga and meditation so the aerial arts are really fun because of that.”

According to Wood, thorough preparation is needed to attain the performing spot. Wood takes strength training classes in hopes to achieve her goal, in addition to weekly circus practices. Wood also practices on her own, strapping her hammock to her tree. Wood said competition is high to become a performer.

“There’s high schoolers like me and high school dropouts who live at the circus,” Wood said. “There’s a lot of girls who actually ran away to join the circus. They ran away and wanted to become really good at it. I’m not as dedicated as those girls though just because I’m still in school.”

According to ECA teacher Andy Goetz, his son, a homeschooled senior, became inspired to juggle in a circus by former Spanish teacher Jen Mott, who has been a stilt walker for about eight years for the Cincinnati Circus.

“MBC did a story on Ms. Mott because she works for the Cincinnati Circus and is a juggler,” Andy said. “I went and I talked to her about it and she said it’s a great place to go and they would love to have Adolph. We took Adolph and he got really excited about doing that kind of thing…He was hooked from the first time.”

Mott also had an influence on Wood’s decision to join the circus. Mott and a daring sense of adventure are what drove Wood to perform on such an unconventional stage.

“I have a bucket list of 300 things I want to do before I die,” Wood said. “One of them was ‘join the circus’, so I said, ‘I’ve got to do it’…I really like adventuring and doing new things.”

Although Andy’s son is strapped into toweringly high stilts, he said the danger of it doesn’t bother him.

“Adolph has always had a very keen sense of balance,” Andy said. “He’s got a really kinesthetic sense about him. I suppose it can be dangerous, but he’s never fallen off of the stilts and so I’m not personally worried about it.”

Andy said he and his wife have a past in a circus performing environment, making it a sort of family tradition.

“My wife and I were both in the Kings Island clown band back in the day,” Andy said. “The key part of the clown band was the clown part; nobody thought, ‘Wow, that is the best sounding band ever’. We were just very entertaining and we were very funny.”

According Adolph being a part of the circus has improved his skill set.

“There are quite a few skills I would never have learned without the Cincinnati Circus,” Adolph said. “The first thing that comes to my mind is stilt-walking. I’ve also learned more juggling tricks, (such as) juggling 4 clubs, working on 5 balls, tons of variations, etcetera. I really enjoy passing clubs. That is a skill I acquired there. In addition, I’ve learned how to spot trapeze-artists, and some magic. The circus is very big on teaching whatever you want to know.”

Being a part of something so different and unique has exposed Wood to a variety of people. She said that learning about others’ cultures and backgrounds is important and interesting.

“I love to meet people and I’m super into finding out about different people’s backgrounds,” Wood said. “The more I went (to the circus) the more I learned to love the people and the environment. I’m just so used to being in Mason with all the typical Mason people then you go and join the circus and it’s a lot of different people with different backgrounds and ways of thinking and living.”

OPINION: Messy Detox

Abbey Marshall | Staff Writer

abbey column

My room is a mess.

Everyday, I strategically leap across an ocean of denim jeans, expertly sidestep a volcano spewing wrinkly t-shirts, and hurdle a mountain of mismatched shoes.

The irony is that I’m one of the most obsessively organized people you’ll ever meet. I’m someone that will pridefully lend my carefully highlighted notes (complete with diagrams) to someone in dire need of a good test grade. I’m someone that will spend hours on the first day of school surrounded by Sharpies and tab dividers labeling all of my school supplies. Yet, somehow, I’m someone whose room looks like the aftermath of a bombing. No soul possesses enough bravery to break through the barriers and trek across my floor (I swear there’s a rug down there somewhere!). My parents, however, will occasionally creak open the door and peer in just as I’m about to go to sleep, chuckling lightly and making a suggestion to pick up the mess, fully knowing that that is one task that I will never have the chance to complete.

To set one thing straight: I am not lazy. In fact, the reason my room has a ransacked-appearance is quite the opposite. In all actuality, the primary purpose of a bedroom is somewhere to put–surprise!–a bed. Eight hours a night and then I’m out. I don’t like spending monotonous hours upon hours cooped up in the same location, falling into the same repeated patterns and activities. While I hear my friends complaining about spending a whole day reorganizing their living chambers, my mind runs through a list of everything I accomplished on Saturday instead. That’s not to say that I don’t sporadically go on a cleaning spree and tame the wild mess I’ve mysteriously created, but afterwards, while having a slight twinge of gratefulness for the extra space, I feel like I hadn’t tackled the day doing something I truly would’ve enjoyed.

Every aspect of my life, aside from my room, has always been so organized. I always carefully plan a matching outfit, with clean, neatly folded clothes, and my pin-straight hair falls without a strand out of place. But when the sun sets on my perfected schedule, my disastrous, untouched mess becomes a detox. I surface amidst my room’s oceans, volcanoes, and mountains only on the way to bed, and once there it doesn’t matter if I can see the rug.

My eyes are already closed.