November 30, 2018
Focus on Big Rock 1: Culture
In the coming months and years you will continue to hear about Mason City Schools' culture - what we call Big Rock #1. 
Our entire staff began this journey this summer when Tim Kight of Focus 3 spoke to all of our staff at Opening Day. Since then, nearly 70 members of our staff have been deeply trained to train their colleagues about things like "e+r=o" or "owning my 20 square feet" or being "above the line." These are all important components to what seems like a simple framework, but takes discipline to execute. Our culture will drive our behavior, our behavior will drive our results, our success is predicated on clarity of values and the culture we cultivate. Watch Superintendent Jonathan Cooper explain .
Little Library Honors Mason Teachers
Mason Middle School eighth grader Joseph Washington was looking for an Eagle Scout Project that would impact his community in a BIG way. And, at the same time, beloved retired Mason teacher Gayle Ertel was looking for a way to preserve the legacy of Mason Heights and Western Row Elementary Schools. 

Together, Washington and Ertel's dreams came true when they opened Little Library #1 on November 10 at the corner of Tylersville Road and Foxfield Drive. 

Little Library #1 is dedicated to “The teachers of Mason Heights and Western Row who taught our community to read. (1960-2019)” 
Read the community's reaction to the Little Library.
MADE Leaders Create Mural for Community Impact
The students in Mason High School's #MADEforAuthenticLeaders group, in partnership with the Mason Deerfield Chamber, tackled a community impact project aimed at creating foot traffic in downtown Mason and beautifying the area.
The students came up with a beautiful interactive mural as a way to do that - with butterflies chosen to represent the efforts at the Common Ground Playground. Thanks to MHS students Sophia Haller , Mandy Harper , Grace Koesters , Kevin Tull , Fiona Xie , artist Taylor Kling , and over 300 hours of work, everyone is invited to take their photos with the butterflies and show the community their #WingsOfMason. Even better - consider accepting the #WingsofMasonChallenge by posting your pic & donating to Common Ground!

Read more about MADE for Authentic Leaders .
Mason City Schools Celebrate and Honor Veterans
Students and staff throughout the Mason City School District celebrated and honored Veterans with parades, letters, breakfasts, songs, and more on November 9.

MI held its eleventh annual school-wide Veteran's Day Parade and Celebration sponsored by the MI PTO. The parade traveled the route from the 45 gym to the 56 cafeteria, with Jim Vennemeyer and staff band leading the way, and sixth, seventh and eighth grade students waved hand held flags in the hallways of MI as Veterans and their student hosts walk the parade route.  

Read more about MCS' Veterans Day Celebrations .
MMS Reads Refugee ; Hopes to Create Kindness Ripples
This fall, Mason Middle School students, staff and families all came together to read one powerful book, Refugee by Alan Gratz. Refugee chronicles the journeys of three different young people in their search for refuge: Josef, a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany, Isabel, a Cuban girl in 1994, and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy in 2015.
The classes considered questions like "How can small acts of kindness create a ripple effect?" and "What are small ways we can help people in our community?" MMS parents were then encouraged to talk to their middle schooler about Refugee, and to document kind acts using the hashtag #MMSRipple.

"The opportunity to read Refugee as a school weaves together the district's big rocks in a way that is tangible and concrete for our students," explained MMS Principal Lauren Gentene

Read more about MMS' one book, one school .
MECC Mindsets & the Comet Kid!
In early 2017, a small group of Mason Early Childhood Center teachers discovered a new book by favorite authors, Kristine Mraz and Christine Hertz, titled A Mindset for Learning .
The book inspired this group to dive into the need for building the skills and mindsets that students need to be successful. This group of teachers, along with instructional coach Robyn Thomas , formed a pilot team in the second half of the 16-17 school year.
These pioneers were some of the scouts for the district's Big Rock 3: Personalized Learning work.

As part of Mason City Schools' focus on making learning more personalized, educators recognize that we must empower students to learn about themselves so that they can take more ownership over the learning path they choose. Our teaching of social and emotional learning skills is not separate from academic learning, but rather is a critical part of every interaction we have with every student. Our aim is to make learning meaningful, with an ultimate goal of growing a community where students see themselves impacting positive change in their classroom, their school, neighborhood and beyond. 
"This team of MECC staff studied the book and created a plan to take this information school wide," shared MECC Innovative Learning Coach Krissy Hufnagel . "They created the definitions for the stances (habits), making sure that we would have a common language for all students."

Read more about the Comet Kid!
MI Teacher Organizes Tree Planting Event
Mason Intermediate now has 14 new beautiful trees thanks to the initiative of fifth grade Health Education teacher Steve Tabar .
"I heard about an organization called Taking Root during a family camping trip a few years back. I personally have an extreme passion for the outdoors, and I'm a believer in the physical and mental health benefits that come with being outdoors," shared Tabar. "I wrote a grant last year to Taking Root and my grant was award during this past summer."

The project allowed for a few staff members, students and parents to complete it together and improve the MI campus. MI would like to say a special thank you to Taking Root and Natorp's for providing all the trees and mulch.

Read more about MI's Tree Planting .
Mason Dance Center's Nutcracker Raises $ for After Prom
Mason Dance Center and Mason High School have once again partnered to raise money for MHS' After Prom.
Ticket sales from MDC's The Nutcracker - All Jazzed Up! will benefit After Prom. The performance will take place on Sunday, December 9 at 1:00pm and 4:00pm at the Mason High School Theater.

What started off with meager costumes and sets the first couple of years has built from there. Seventeen years later, the MDC's Nutcracker donation has grown to almost $10,000 per year, and the production has expanded to a lovely annual family event.  
"It is a win-win for Mason Dance Center. We get to support the local HS students and teach our dancers about giving back to the community, all the while providing our dancers with the chance to participate in a full production each year," added MDC Owner / Director Bobbi Wyatt .

In this year's production, attendees will also have the chance to see a few MCS 'Stars' perform for the very first time! MCS Superintendent Jonathan Cooper and his wife Michelle , along with MECC Principal Melissa Bly and MHS Language Arts teacher and Varsity Baseball Coach Curt Bly will be performing during the party scene during Act 1.

"The Coopers and Blys are onstage for about 15 minutes of our 75 min show, and are learning three dances and lots of staging," explained Wyatt. "We also will have Western Row Assistant Principal Tom Doerflein , another MCS 'Star', reprising his feature role as Uncle Drosselmeyer for the second season. Mr Doerflein's daughter, Myra is one of our students at MDC and is also a Senior at MHS."

MI Students Help Florida Hurricane Victims
Mason Intermediate sixth graders on Team Venture participated in a recent service project to help with the recent hurricane that devastated Florida.

Twenty-seven students, parents, and teachers visited Hands Against Hunger to pack more than 120,000 meals to be sent to Florida.
“Hands Against Hunger is a wonderful organization, and the amount of meals they provide is amazing,” explained Team Venture sixth grade science teacher Dale Moberly . “I know this opportunity has made an impact on my students, as well as the residents of Florida.”

This marks the eleventh year for Team Venture’s community service program. Team Venture teachers created the group “Venture Out!” to provide students with service opportunities, at least once a month throughout the year.

Read more about Team Venture .
Moran's Birthday Supports Others
In place of presents for her birthday celebration, Mason fourth grader Alexandra Moran requested donations for the WR Backpack Program instead.

"Each week, my Girl Scout Troop packs 25 bags to help fellow classmates," shared Moran. "Each bag includes seven items including fruit, veggies, kids pasta, breakfast, soup and an entree."

Alexandra's Girl Scout Troop has supported WR's backpack program all school year with not only food, but also through service. Through her birthday party, Moran has over 500 items of food to donate to WR through her personal RAKE - Random Act of Kindness Everyday.

Read more about Moran's birthday donations .
Mason Schools Make a Difference All Month Long
Making a Difference week became Making a Difference month in October - providing even more for our community.

Mason Early Childhood Center and Western Row collected 5,517 non-perishable food items to support its backpack programs, which directly benefits students in need. Mason Intermediate and Mason Middle School collected 1,241 winter wear items for another successful Coat and Winter-wear Drive for local families in need of warm things for the coming cold months. 

The students making up the HOPE Club at Mason High School collected 1,520 personal care items and school supplies benefiting the Dragonfly Foundation that supports children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

Read more about Making a Difference Month .
WR PTO Funds Fort Ancient Presentation at MI
Mason Intermediate fourth graders learned all about artifacts from the Mound Builder time period in Ohio when director of Fort Ancient, Jack Blosser, presented to the students on November 6 and 7.

The Mission of the Dayton Society of Natural History at Fort Ancient is to provide visitor and educational services focused on archaeology, Native American culture, and heritage stewardship as they relate to the site, on behalf of the Ohio History Connection.

"Jack was so incredibly entertaining and engaging. Our 4th graders were given a complete hands-on experience with artifacts from the prehistoric and historic time periods," shared MI fourth grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher Christine Work . "He explained how early people in Ohio had to be innovative and resourceful in order to survive.

Read more about the Fort Ancient Presentation.
Mason Bus Drivers Urge Caution
After the recent heartbreaking stories of cars hitting young students as they walk toward their bus, Mason City Schools bus drivers share that they are increasingly concerned about distracted drivers who don't pay attention when buses are slowing down or stopping

So what are the rules you need to make sure you know?

  • If you are approaching an intersection where the bus is stopped or approaching the bus while traveling the opposite direction, you must stop
  • If the bus is stopped on the other side of a divided highway, or in the opposite lanes when there are 4 or more lanes, you do not have to stop.
  • When in doubt, stop
  • When stopping for a bus, you must be at least 10 feet away
  • Also make sure children are clear of the roadway before you move
  • Remember to check corners and nearby crosswalks

MHS Senior, Alum Attend Neuroscience Meeting
Mason High School senior Jenny Hong and 2018 graduate Alex Wang attended the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego earlier this month. 
While competing at the National Science Olympiad tournament in Spring 2018, Hong and Wang placed first in the event Anatomy and Physiology. Each year, the Society of Neuroscience outreach division awards the first place winners of this event and their coach an all-expense paid trip to attend SFN’s annual meeting. 

"Over 28,000 doctors, researchers, therapists and graduate students from all over the world attend this meeting to share current advancements in the field," shared MHS Chemistry teacher and Science Olympiad Adviser Aimee Hansen , who attended the meeting in San Diego with the students. "Jenny and Alex were honored at a special awards ceremony and escorts in the field were arranged to personalize Jenny and Alex’s experience through the talks, poster sessions and symposiums."

Read more about Hong and Wang.
Our incredible Mason Marching Band & Color Guard had a triumphant showing at Bands of America Grand Nationals where Mason came in 7th in the nation for their moving show, "I see you!" Please join us in congratulating these hard-working & talented students, dedicated directors, and supportive families! #WithPride
MCS Administrative Assistant Theresa Bird was recently featured in Centerpoint Magazine. Theresa's interview includes the story of her journey to Mason which began in 1975 when she was just 7 years old and a refugee leaving Vietnam. Read about all she does for our district, and her powerful story.
Our MMS renovation project continues to be on time and on budget! Last week the Facilities Committee took a tour of all the progress that is happening. Can’t wait for our MMS staff to get to move back to their remodeled home this summer! Check out the FB album.
MI students in Kasi Hockensmith’s class helping their friend practice for the morning announcements. The team name was proving difficult so a classmate wrote it out phonetically in the student’s first language to get the sounds and syllables correct. 
MHS students in Dee Dee Messer’s classes who spent their Personal Learning Day visiting the Fermilab in Chicago to get schooled in the most recent particle physics research from Dr. Don Lincoln.
We’re so grateful for our dedicated staff , hard-working students , supportive families and a community that cares about its children. Hope you are able to take time to count your blessings during this season of thankfulness!
Wells Named Kiwanis November Student of the Month
Mason High School senior Xander Wells was recognized as The Kiwanis Club of Mason's November Student of the Month. Wells was nominated by MHS Science Teacher Barb Shuba .

“Xander always sees the positive and is a role model for our students. As a leader of the Black Hole, president of NHS, active member of SIBS, and leader in the Bank, he is the voice of our student body," explained Shuba. 

Wells is a HOPE Squad member, SIBS leader, member of NHS, helps lead the Black Hole student cheering section, plays Ultimate, and is an attack for the lacrosse team.

On November 15, the Kiwanis Club presented Wells with $100, a Kiwanis bell, and a certificate commemorating his achievement.

Read more about the November SOM .
F&R Meal Program for Mason City Schools
Mason City School District announced its 2018-2019 program year policy for Free and Reduced Price Meals for students unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. Each school office and the central office has a copy of the policy. The application is also available on-line at and may be reviewed by any interested party.